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Ag Startup Engine invests $50,000 in Phinite

Phinite, a startup that makes a regenerative fertilizer product from manure, has received a $50,000 investment from Ag Startup Engine.

Phinite is aiming to create a more sustainable solution to meet the growing demand for fertilizer. Currently, essential minerals like phosphorous are mined as a finite resource. The cost of fertilizers has doubled in the past year and is still growing. Through Phinite’s drying technology, farmers can avoid soil degradation and nutrient pollution while using what would otherwise be wasted.

Ag Startup Engine believes that Phinite fills a critical niche that complements its portfolio well.

“Phinite turns waste from animal farms into a dry fertilizer using a proprietary automated drying system,” said Joel Harris, Executive Director of Ag Startup Engine in a release. “The fertilizer is regenerative, renewable, and prevents pollution. Phinite plans to deepen its strategic partnerships with strategic investors to build its brand and grow rapidly to capture new markets.”    

Phinite is producing regenerative fertilizer for sale originally through the Southeast United State, from their first production base — hog farms in North Carolina.

“We partner with farmers to help them make money out of their manure. It’s a win-win relationship that helps the environment and farm profitability,” said founder and CEO Jordan Phasey.

Ag Startup Engine was launched five years ago to help address two fundamental gaps that prevent agricultural startups and entrepreneurs from being more successful: early seed-stage investment and organized mentorship from successful entrepreneurs. The program recently announced the closing of its second fund with the goal to accept and invest in 45 agriculture and animal health startups in the next five years. To date, Ag Startup Engine has invested in 24 companies.

Previous coverage

Salin 247 receives $50K investment from Ag Startup Engine

Ames startup Farmers Risk receives $50,000 investment from Ag Startup Engine

Ag Startup Engine raises second fund of $2.25 million to invest in startups over the next five years

Ag Startup Engine invests $50,000 in Phinite | 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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