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Q&A with Mikayla Sullivan of ISA Ventures
Venture Capitalist. Social Entrepreneur. World Traveler. Mikayla Sullivan does it all. Mikayla recently started a new position as an Associate for ISA Ventures (ISAV), a venture capital fund that invests in Iowa-based companies. Prior to joining ISAV Mikayla co-founded KinoSol while at Iowa State, where she received a degree in Global Resource Systems. She was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence…
Q&A with Gabe Glynn of MākuSafe
Gabriel Glynn is a serial entrepreneur with multiple successful exits over his startup career. His current venture, MākuSafe, aims to reduce workplace accidents with a wearable device and SaaS platform. The company has developed a wearable technology and software platform that gathers human motion and environmental data to identify risk to labor workers. Earlier this…
Q&A with Jill Wilkins of NewBoCo
Since 2016, Jill Wilkins has been the Events Director at NewBoCo — producing and running all of the nonprofits' major events including EntreFEST, ICR Agile, NewBoCo's Annual Meeting and more. NewBoCo recently announced multiple leadership changes including Wilkins being named as the company's new Chief Operating Officer. Before her time with NewBoCo, Wilkins spent 10…
Q&A with Lee Robinson of Hy-Vee
Lee Robinson does it all. A software developer, writer, videographer, and creator living in Des Moines, Robinson currently serves as a Tech Lead at Hy-Vee where he helps develop Aisles Online, Hy-Vee’s e-commerce grocery shopping platform. Earlier this year, Robinson launched Mastering Next.js, an online series of video courses on React and Next.js. An ISU…
Q&A 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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