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Our 10 favorite Iowa startup stories of 2016

Upcraft Club founder Elizabeth Caven at White House round table discussion on women entrepreneurs. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Caven.

Silicon Prairie News covers the tech startup scene across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. Here are our most popular stories from Iowa this year:

1. Why Dwolla made its transactions free (and what happened next) (Des Moines)

In June we sat down with Jordan Lampe, Director of Communications and Policy at Dwolla, to discuss the company’s move away from the traditional transaction fee model that has defined most of the payment processing sector. Since then the company has decided to drop their mobile app and focus entirely on their API and Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments.

2. Pear Deck expands from Iowa City into Kansas City (Iowa City)

Nationally recognized ed tech startup Pear Deck expanded its team earlier this year into the Kansas City area. The company now serves over 100,000 classrooms worldwide.

3. This simple device from KinoSol could feed millions (Ames)

The KinoSol dehydrator uses a natural convection system to dry produce using only solar power, offering a low-cost way to preserve food in areas without electricity. The company launched a successful Kickstarter this fall.

4. CareDrop connects family caregivers with the resources they need (Cedar Rapids)

CareDrop developed out of a Startup Weekend in Cedar Rapids, leading to the University of Iowa’s Venture School and a successful launch out of the Iowa Startup Accelerator in 2015. The platform helps connect caregivers with local resources.

5. AgriSync seeks to end agricultural downtime (Dallas Center)

“AgriSync aims to do for farming what Zendesk did for the business world.” With AgriSync farmers no longer have to wait for an expert to come out to their farm., saving many hours of wasted time for farmers.

6. Upcraft Club wins $40,000 at national InnovateHER competition in DC (Des Moines)

Upcraft Club, founded by Elizabeth Caven,  is an online marketplace for sewing patterns in the indie clothing design community. Caven has won numerous pitch competitions across the country and participated in 500 Startups in San Francisco this year.

7. New ag tech accelerator in Des Moines plays to Iowa’s strengths (Des Moines)

Des Moines is looking to add an agriculture accelerator after its success with the Global Insurance Accelerator started in 2014. They plan to announce their first class in early 2017.

8. FliteBrite brings big data to the craft beer industry (Des Moines)

This fall Flite Brite co-founders Ben McDougal and Ethan Davidson unveiled their new smart beer flight paddle, which is rolling out in exclusive Iowa brew pubs this year. This month they won $10,000 at the TS Bank REV business pitch competition.

9. DigiFarm puts the precision in precision agriculture (Monticello)

As of August, precision ag startup DigiFarm is now live in 35 states, including three Canadian providences. The company was the first of its kind to come to market fully supporting Apple hardware.

10. Lienwaivers.io streamlines lien waivers for the construction industry (Sioux City)

Lien waivers create massive amounts of paperwork for construction companies. Lienwaivers.io solves that headache by generating and distributing lien waivers in bulk and tracking them all with a simple dashboard. “It may not be as sexy as building Pokemon Go, but if you really look at the construction technology landscape it’s the Wild West,” said Arnold in July. Lienwaivers also won $10,000 at the TS Bank REV business pitch competition earlier this month.

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