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BluJaket updates app as it plans for big growth in 2020
For the last two years, BluJaket, a Davenport based company, has been helping local businesses send targeted deals and coupons to users that have the BluJaket app. BluJaket is a subscription-based platform for businesses to create and distribute digital coupons within a targeted, geotagged locations. Starting at $50 a month, businesses have unlimited control over what…
Comic Sandwiches offers unique superhero gadgets and props
While he was a student, Grayson Burgess started to design superhero gadgets and props. In 2015, he established Comic Sandwiches and began creating selling his collection for superhero fans. Comic Sandwiches creates authentic, life-size prop replicas and collectibles for cosplay and superhero fans. Every piece is handcrafted and made to order. The company also provides…
Fluttr: A video sharing platform designed for creators
Two entrepreneurs are working to find a solution to the growing concern of demonetization and censorship on video hosting platforms. Kyle Marvin and Evan Pischel noticed a growing frustration among the online video creator community in 2017 when their income began to get cut based on the extent to which advertisers liked or disliked their content. “Evan…
ActWorthy: Social media for social change
In the midst of the 2016 election, Ross Katz found himself questioning what he had once felt were a shared sense of values and wanted to do something about it. After looking around, Katz soon discovered that a lot of other people were asking the same questions: How can I get more involved? That is when…
Principal: Going from a startup to corporate
A familiar face in the Des Moines startup community, Tej Dhawan was looking for his next challenge. What he found qualifies. Dhawan is the Chief Data Officer at Principal, the Des Moines-based financial services company with 19 million customers and over 14,000 employees worldwide. "I'm one who likes the big problem, and not even so much as a…
VolunteerLocal: Sustaining momentum
Slow and steady wins the race... That's the mindset Kaylee Williams uses with VolunteerLocal, a company that developed a platform to manage volunteer scheduling, registration and communications. As her role has grown—going from intern to President—over the last six years...so has the brand. The company went from 30 customers doing some free testing in Central Iowa to…
Hunterra
Scouting Report: Hunterra Mapping comes from D.C to Iowa City
A Father's Day gift from a cartographer at the National Counter Terrorism Center in Washington D.C turned into a business. Hunterra is an Iowa City-based company that creates custom hunting maps for hunters, land professionals and farmers.  Hunterra started in 2009 after Ben Harshyne, who at the time was the lead cartographer at the National Counter Terrorism Center…
Marmoset
Marmoset: A tool bag for 3D designers and game developers
A group of game developers decided they would rather make tools for game developers and 3D artists rather than develop games themselves. So four developers founded Marmoset in January of 2012, a computer software tools company that makes a 3D rendering software for game development and product digitalization/visual effects for film. "We're making the software tools that others…
Resume Assassin
Resume Assassin: Help with getting hired
As someone who has worked in human resources departments and higher education, Mary Southern has helped students and established professionals get jobs. So four years ago she took that knowledge and turned it into a business. Southern founded a resume writing business Resume Assassin while working for the University of Texas in Austin to help students and…
Stories Archives | 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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