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Clay & Milk going on indefinite hiatus

As of this post, Clay & Milk is on an indefinite hiatus. It’s been a good seven (7!) year-ish run for us. We started in 2016 with a goal of bringing you daily news about the Iowa startup community and our collective role in the future of Iowa’s innovation economy.

I’m proud of what we’ve done, and while I know the need for what we do is as great as it has ever been, it’s time for this publication to cease—at least in this iteration.

Clay & Milk is something that Gravitate has funded and/or heavily subsidized for the last several years because I believe in its importance to the community. It’s an altruistic endeavor but it is not without expense. Our goal was never to make profit—and don’t worry, we haven’t—but I had hopes that we’d get to breakeven and be able to carry on for the long term.

Personally, I recognized a year ago that the best use of my time, efforts, and resources is on making Gravitate Coworking the best company possible and that is somewhat at odds with continuing to carry forward Clay & Milk.

Over the last year, I’ve talked with several groups and individuals interested in taking over Clay & Milk, both locally and from out-of-state. It’s come very close to being acquired twice but ultimately I’ve chosen not to move forward for various reasons. 

As I’ve talked with potential acquirers I’ve had the following criteria for what I think is a good fit:

  • Commit to a daily publication schedule
  • Be something that is additive to the local news landscape in Iowa and not a roll up of other startup/innovation news coverage
  • Have a structure that plausibly shows the opportunity for long term success*
  • Employ professional journalists 

*Clay & Milk is my third “startup news” effort in Iowa after Silicon Prairie News (4 years) and Welch Avenue Weekly/The Pull Weekly Newsletter (5 years). I promised my wife I wouldn’t ever go through the stress of starting one of these again.

If you have an idea for the future of startup and innovation community news that is somewhat in line with the above, send me an email at and I’d be happy to chat with you about it. If you have an idea for a publication that is significantly different, don’t worry about me, just go for it.

Thanks to all our supporters, sponsors, and friends along the way and to all of you for reading and sharing our posts.

Special thanks to Ben Milne for coming up with the idea of Clay & Milk (and choosing the name) and for co-founding the publication and to our editors over the years: Matt, Jami, Joey, and, for most of our publication’s life, Jake.

Clay & Milk going on indefinite hiatus | 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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