Skip to content Skip to footer

Since 2016, Clay & Milk has been covering and connecting the Iowa entrepreneurial ecosystem, producing stories about the entrepreneurs, artists, startups, makers and trends that are the shaping the present and future of the state’s economy.

New and innovative endeavors happen every day throughout Iowa and too often they fly under the radar.

Clay & Milk’s mission, then, is to bring these ventures to light.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, a daily conversation straight to your inbox, with a front row seat to the people, organizations and ideas driving the Iowa innovation economy forward.

If you have a story to tell, or want to be a part of ours, send us a note.

What’s with the name?

In order to build something you first have to form it (Clay) and then help it grow (Milk).

This applies to our venture, how you nurture a community, and the entrepreneurs, artists and others in the middle trying to build something.


We’re a startup that covers startups. We also cover investors and we have our own financial backers.

Clay & Milk was founded as an independent entity by three individuals in 2016 and as of 2018 is now wholly owned and under the corporate structure of Gravitate Coworking.

Gravitate Coworking makes money by supporting the creative class and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Iowa.

It’s easy to see how this arrangement can result in conflicts of interest. This means we need to be transparent and that’s a goal we put in high regard.

To the extent we can, we plan to disclose the involvement of any entity backing Clay & Milk, including in our content. Should stories arise involving Gravitate, our editorial team will judge them as they would any other story: based on merit.

In addition, we do not guarantee or promise to write about an individual or a company solely because they are a sponsor or back us financially.

About us | 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
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now