Techstars Iowa announced the 10 international startups making up the accelerator’s inaugural class for 2020, including two Iowa startups: Deetz, a hyperlocal platform connecting users to local community deals and events, and Openloop, a health care platform connecting providers to job openings in hospitals and other facilities requiring extra staff assistance. 

The inaugural class represents a variety of industries among startups — which range in maturity from a pre-revenue company to companies that have already launched initial products, said managing director Kerty Levy. 

“There’s so many different verticals and so many different industries that we can support here in Iowa, that we went pretty broad,” Levy said. “We wanted to look for entrepreneurs who are pretty outstanding — people who have the drive, the vision, the passion and the resilience to bring forth something that they were working on.” 

Flexibility did end up being a recruiting factor for Techstars Iowa, which will hold all programming virtually without pressuring founders to travel if they are uncomfortable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Techstars Iowa has space available at Gravitate Coworking Downtown for program participants and staff members in Iowa, but participants there will still take part virtually. 

The program’s Demo Day will be open for community members to view, and those outside the Techstars Iowa mentor network interested in meeting a startup can contact Levy directly on LinkedIn or via email,

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s be comfortable with uncertainty,” Levy said. 

Despite a different format than initially planned when Techstars Iowa was announced in October 2019, the existing Techstars network provided support and an already-existing playbook for holding a virtual accelerator program. Techstars Iowa’s partnerships with Grinnell College, Iowa State and the University of Iowa also connected the accelerator to a wide range of mentors who are better able to participate in the program virtually rather than if traveling were required, Levy added. 

“This is hopefully just the beginning of a big, big drive to increase entrepreneurial activity in the state of Iowa,” she said. “It’s 13 weeks of program, but it’s Techstars for life. So I’m with them until they exit, and then who knows? Maybe they’ll come back and start up something else.”

2020 inaugural class: 
Civic Champs
Deetz (Cedar Rapids)
Lingco Language Labs
Openloop (Iowa City)