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Highlights from education-focused Startup Weekend
Startup Weekend Iowa City took place over the weekend but with a twist—the event was focused exclusively on building education and edtech startups. More than 20 people showed up to participate in the 54-hour event Friday night before narrowing their pitches down to four business ideas to work on over the weekend. On Sunday, afternoon,…
Startup Weekend Iowa City goes virtual, tickets now available
Startup Weekend Iowa City is partnering with Techstars Iowa to bring back the 54-hour event in a new, virtual format next month. During the weekend-long event, entrepreneurs, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more will pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and then deliver final presentations at…
Middle Bit: ‘Des Moines Emerge Stronger Virtual Fair’ set for May 14-15
Next Thursday and Friday Curated Growth will be hosting a virtual fair for business to share stories about how their businesses have pivoted and share insight about how they plan to emerge stronger. Throughout the event will be several live sessions including yoga, laugh therapy, business pivot inspiration, in-home fitness training, cooking at home classes,…
Artwork rental platform MoRA wins Startup Weekend Iowa City 2019
Over 25 people arrived at Merge last Friday, excited to participate in Startup Weekend Iowa City 2019. Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event, during which groups of developers, startup enthusiasts, and more pitch ideas for new startups, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop a working prototype, demo or presentation by Sunday…
Startup Weekend Iowa City 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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