The Des Moines-based Cultivation Corridor has announced its inaugural cohort of five startups for the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator, as well its permanent executive director, Megan Vollstedt. Vollstedt is taking over from Tej Dhawan of Entrepreneurial Technologies, who served as interim managing director until the executive director was named.
The AgriTech Accelerator is modeled after the Global Insurance Accelerator, with the intent of bringing companies from around the world to central Iowa for the 100-day program starting July 10. The companies receive $40,000 and will give their pitch presentations at the World Food Prize in October.
Meet Megan Vollstedt
The AgriTech Accelerator’s new executive director got involved with the startup community while still a student at Iowa State University in Ames. She interned at Workiva (then called Webfilings), a cloud platform for reporting, compliance and data management.
“I learned what it takes to be in a startup and as the company grew and scaled, so did my role,” Vollstedt said. “Eventually I got to the point where I was a senior editor, managing internal communications. I got to work with the company as it grew and went through a name change, and I’m grateful for those experiences that helped me develop professionally.”
Meet the cohort
WISRAN: A Sunnydale, CA, company that measures time variations of farming activities. WISRAN uses a software platform to increase operation efficiency.
“They’ve got great potential and a great platform,” Vollstedt said. “We think this is a company that will be very successful.”
Pyur Solutions: Based out of Los Angeles, Pyur Solutions is developing non-toxic, plant-based herbicides and pesticides.
“They’re in a really niche market, which is something that’s very attractive in agriculture, but also to retail and homestead outlets,” Vollstedt said. “They’re in a great place to figure out their next step.”
Rabbit Tractors: An Ann Arbor, MI, startup building miniature autonomous farm equipment.
“They’re making really unique machinery equipment, and they’re going to get a lot of value out of working with our mentors here.”
Hintech: Based out of St. Joseph, MO., Hintech has built Decimator, a cornstalk remover and crusher used in no-till farming.
“This is a company that is in a good place in its development to work with our mentors and investment companies,” Vollstedt said.
Phenomics Labs: A Burnsville, MN, startup that makes portable labs with data collection cameras that evaluate plant growth.
“It’s a really interesting product, and the data they collect will show some unique opportunities for growth,” Vollstedt said.
About the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator
The accelerator has a team of 58 mentors from central Iowa companies who are available to the cohort. Investors in the AgriTech Accelerator include Farmers Mutual Hail, Grinnell Mutual, John Deere, Kent Corporation, The Peoples Company, Pioneer and Sukup.
While five teams have been named, applications are still open for the 2017 initial class. Startups may apply on the Agritech Accelerator site.
Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.