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Wright: Highlights from the Summer Startup Tour
The Summer Startup Tour has finished, and here’s what we learned. People are taking bets on themselves (again). Iowan’s are starting new businesses at a record pace. Sparked by the pandemic, there is a resurgence of people solving problems, creating, trying a side hustle, and starting businesses.   Why is Des Moines, Iowa unique to the…
Startup Champions Network Summit coming to Des Moines this fall
The Startup Champions Network (SCN), a national network of entrepreneurial ecosystem builders, has picked Des Moines to host its annual Fall Summit from Oct. 12-14 at Gravitate Coworking, the organization announced recently. The goal of the summit is to convene ecosystem builders from around the country to discuss key ways to collaborate and improve the US…
Gravitate Coworking to celebrate National Entrepreneurs Day
This Tuesday is National Entrepreneurs Day and to celebrate Gravitate Coworking is offering free coworking for the day. Those interested in trying out coworking or learning more about the space can work out of either of Gravitate's locations—Downtown Des Moines and Valley Junction—to see if coworking is right for them. The free day will…
Gravitate holding “Intro to the Des Moines Startup Scene”
Gravitate Coworking will be hosting Intro to the Des Moines Startup Scene this Wednesday with Geoff Wood, founder and owner of Gravitate Coworking. Wednesday evening, Wood will give a presentation sharing information about local accelerators, investors, incubators, advisors and other local resources for those interested in learning more about Des Moines' startup ecosystem. "The goal…
Gravitate Coworking 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
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