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Investing in Iowa: Q1 2022

Investing in Iowa is a quarterly review of all investments made into early-stage companies that are located in Iowa. The series is sponsored by America’s Cultivation Corridor, an organization focused on building opportunities for agricultural bioscience research, innovation and entrepreneurship in Iowa.

Iowa startups raised nearly $28 million in Q1 of 2022. Since the beginning of 2018, Iowa startups have now raised a total of more than $450 million.

The following is a list of all known investments raised by Iowa companies in Q1 of 2022.

CompanyAmount RaisedDate
Alquist 3D$1,000,00001-20-2022
Cargofy$2,000,00002-01-2022
GW Nutrition$450,00002-02-2022
Haber Technologies$2,900,00002-23-2022
Hellcat Technologies$200,00001-12-2022
Koloni$1,300,00003-29-2022
No Limbits$100,00004-01-2022
OpenLoop Health$8,000,00003-15-2022
WorkHound$12,000,00003-16-2022
$27,950,000

Multiple Series A rounds of more than $5 million

Two Des Moines companies raised Series A rounds of more than $5 million this quarter.

WorkHound, an employee feedback and retention platform, announced in March that it had successfully completed a $12 million Series A fundraising round. The capital, funded wholly by Level Equity, a growth equity firm based in New York City, will be used by WorkHound to add to its employee headcount, expand product offerings, and grow its presence in trucking and additional supply chain verticals. 

Des Moines health tech startup OpenLoop raised a Series A financing round of $8 million. OpenLoop will use the capital to continue to expand its telehealth services and to grow its team. The company currently has 45 employees with plans to add another 25-30 employees by the end of the year.

Other notable rounds

Some of the other largest rounds from Q2 are:

Koloni, a Midwest-based startup, announced today that it has successfully completed a seed round of $1.3 million. The round was led by Jason Calacanis’ Launch Fund with additional investments from ISA Ventures, Twelve19 Ventures, Chicago Early Growth Ventures, Locker One Ventures and others. 

No Limbits received a $100,000 investment on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ from investors Mark Cuban and Emma Grede.

More news from Q1

• University of Iowa spinoff hC Bioscience, a drug discovery and development company focused on tRNA-based therapeutics targeting protein dysfunction, closed a Series A financing of $24 million led by ARCH Venture Partners, Takeda Ventures and 8VC.

• The Iowa Center for Economic Success, a nonprofit based in Des Moines, announced in February that its Loan Fund has been certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

• Bahrain-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange Rain Financial raised $110 million in a Series B funding round. Two of Rain’s co-founders, AJ Nelson and Joseph Dallago, attended the University of Iowa, where they created clusterFlunk, an online platform that offered college students a place to meet, discuss college courses and share notes

• Workiva announced that it has acquired Denmark-based ParsePort for $100 million.

• A new monthly email digest called the Startup Iowa Hot List was launched to better connect Iowa-based startups with investors in Iowa and the Midwest.

This list was made from a combination of SEC filings, Crunchbase and previous Clay & Milk stories from throughout the year. If you are aware of investments we have missed, please post them in the comments or send us an email and we will be sure to add them.

Clay & Milk composes a similar list of investments for every quarter to build a credible track record of capital raised throughout Iowa. Over time, we will continue to add analysis to these posts, comparing past time periods and noting trends as they appear.

Investing in Iowa: Q1 2022 | 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 mpatane@clayandmilk.com.
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