At the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator’s second annual AgTech Day, nine agritech startups – mostly from Iowa, and two from Nebraska and California – jumped at the chance to meet the experts.

Some of the founders have bootstrapped their business off the ground for initial sales. Others were seeking insight on some of their early product pitches from Iowa AgriTech Accelerator mentors deeply entrenched in Iowa’s industries.

“It is a way for mentors and startups to engage. Some of the mentors get excited about the summer cohort, and also to meet new companies,” Iowa AgriTech Accelerator interim director Kerty Levy said. “A few of these companies also applied for the summer accelerator program … But this is not a screened process. We kind of take the first 10 who fit within agriculture, and who have enough to talk about that it would be a very valuable experience for both the mentor and the business in these one-on-one meetings.”

AgTech Day was launched in 2018 as an annual event to attract potential applicants considering whether a 100-day accelerator would be a good fit for their startup.

“I do think it made an impact, because the [applicant] pool was bigger than the year before,” Levy said.  

This year, founders taking part went through seven 45-minute meetings with mentors during the day-long session at Maple Ventures, an entrepreneur support center for startups that have graduated from accelerator-stage but are not yet profitable enough to support administrative and facility needs.

“I hope they walk away having had really constructive conversations with people and … helping them overcome their challenges,” Levy said. “I also hope they walked away with a new network of people to contact in Iowa.”

Applications for the 2019 accelerator cohort are due March 31. After an initial sorting by Levy to ensure applicants meet general expectations, the board of directors will make the final selection of the five startups joining the 2019 cohort.

This year’s AgTech Day participants are:

Ag-EZ (Des Moines, IA): Delivering a platform designed to enable virtual farming

Big Data in a Box (Ames, IA): A one-stop shop data and analytics tool for organic farmers

DroneSAR (Des Moines, IA): Improving crop yields with radio cameras for drones

Dynamic Motion (Herman, NE): Robotic power washer

Gym-N-EAT-Crickets (Ames, IA): Raising and processing crickets for development of protein snacks

Industrial Hemp (Ankeny, IA): Supply chain services and platform for hemp production

Shift.Aero (Sunnyvale, CA): Unique technology/approach to unmanned aerial vehicles for crop spraying

Tractor Zoom (West Des Moines, IA): Simple, trusted and transparent heavy equipment auction marketplace

Vilicus Capital (Des Moines/Dubuque, IA): A platform and service for regenerative, ecological farming