As 2021 comes to an end, take a look back at what happened in Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem this year.
Here are some of our top stories from 2021.
John and Mary Pappajohn announced a $10 million gift commitment to continue entrepreneurship education and programming through the state’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers.
John Pappajohn made the announcement on Thursday, Sept. 23, at a 25th anniversary celebration for the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers, held at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown.
The $10 million commitment will support all five of John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers across the state at the University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, Drake University, and North Iowa Area Community College.
Cedar Rapids nonprofit NewBoCo teamed up with Kiva US to launch a statewide hub called Kiva Iowa. The new program aims to help underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners in the state gain access to much-needed capital.
San Francisco nonprofit Kiva US offers access to a platform for small loans—with zero-percent interest, extended-grace periods and zero fees—to businesses and individuals that can have difficulty obtaining loans from traditional lenders.
Des Moines computer vision company Roboflow raised a $20 million Series A led by Craft Ventures. Additional investors named include Lachy Groom, Jack Altman, DJ Patil, Max and Sam Altman, Cassidy Williams, Harry Hurst, Greg Brockman and Mike Maples.
“Computer vision is one of those foundational technologies that – like the personal computer and smartphone – will transform every industry,” wrote Roboflow CEO Joseph Nelson in a blog post announcing the raise. “Software is limited by its ability to receive structured information from the world as input, and that structure is traditionally interpreted from the environment via a human brain. Computer vision enables software to directly interface with every part of the world around us, unleashing a Cambrian explosion of new possibilities. It’s helping us merge the physical and digital worlds. That’s why computer vision needs to be a part of every developer’s toolkit, not reserved for a few teams of machine learning experts.”
The Series A round comes less than a year after Roboflow raised a $2.1 million seed round in January.
Carlos Argüello started Sevelyn with the goal of bringing on-demand healthcare to patients regardless of insurance coverage or a language barrier. Initially, Argüello focused on providing primary care, but with too many logistics to navigate as a startup, he quickly pivoted to focusing on mental health.
“We started diving more into our customer discovery, went back through the 400 customer discovery interviews that we had done at that time, and started sifting through all the interviews,” said Argüello. “And we found that about 80% of our interviewees, when they were talking about their health care issues, or the pain points they have with health care, mentioned mental health.”
Parametric Studio, an Ames-based edtech company, is developing project-based STEM games, software, kits and curricula for K-12 students that can be integrated into classrooms and other group activities.
Founded by Chris Whitmer in 2016, the company hopes to improve student STEM outcomes, and interest more students in STEM careers in their formative years.
For the past two years, UnityPoint Health Ventures—the venture capital arm of UnityPoint Health—has been investing in early-stage health care companies.
Founded in May 2019 with an initial $100 million fund, the Des Moines-based venture firm makes direct investments in healthcare companies and helps them scale and deploy their technologies across UnityPoint Health hospitals and clinics.
Nora Crosthwaite is on a quest to disrupt the staging industry.
After spending 17 years in IT, Crosthwaite made a sudden shift in career paths and decided to start her own real estate business in 2015. It did not take her long to discover that having to constantly schedule in-person staging consultations for her listings was not an efficient or effective process for sellers and stagers.
After being unable to find the service she was looking for, Crosthwaite started Stagerie, an online home staging consultation solution, connecting realtors who list homes for sale with expert stagers who stage homes for sale.