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Take the Iowa Founder Survey and help map the needs of our state’s startup community

This was originally published by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

It’s more important than ever to know where Iowa’s startup ecosystem stands. And without representative data, it’s hard to measure the current state of the startup community. For that reason, we are currently conducting the Iowa Founder Survey. The survey dives into questions on the fundraising climate, working environment, the challenges of operating a startup and future outlooks of Iowa founders. Our hope is that data from this survey data will be key in pushing conversations about Iowa’s startups forward.

Below is an overview of what we are asking in the survey and why we think it’s important.

Density + Ecosystem Value

A first step to mapping Iowa’s startup community is to look at its actual size, growth and value. Using this survey, we will track the number of new startups founded in the state during a specific period and the total combined value of all these companies over time — jobs created, job growth, total revenue generated, etc.


Diversity can play a major role in the performance and success of startups. By collecting data on gender, ethnicity and other demographics, we hope to provide metrics that will help Iowa startups be more diverse and inclusive. It will also show us where we see gaps in business ownership and shine more light on which underrepresented groups need more support.

Venture Capital

An important part of assessing the health of the state’s startup ecosystem is measuring and tracking investment rounds and ease of access to funding. Measuring the amount of investment activity in the state will help identify which industries and areas of the state have seen the highest value of venture capital investment and which areas are lacking. For entrepreneurs, we want to start tracking the “shots on goal” or number of deals happening in Iowa to measure the long-term impact that startups contribute to the entire business community based on exits, mergers and job growth.

Perceptions + Outcomes

The survey will also analyze founders’ views and current perceptions regarding Iowa’s startup ecosystem. What do founders believe are the top-selling points of founding a startup in Iowa? How optimistic are founders about their company’s growth plans? Where do founders’ perspectives diverge and align? Our hope is that these questions and added perspectives will present an even sharper understanding of what company founders think, feel, fear and value.

By taking the Iowa Founder Survey, you are helping us better understand the companies being founded in our state. The information will remain strictly confidential, and all data will only be reported in aggregate. All founders who take the survey will be emailed a full report of aggregate findings and insights.

Take the Iowa Founder Survey and help map the needs of our state’s startup community | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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