An Incubator for Start-up Ag Companies Names Its Executive Director

Jun 13, 2017

Ten months after the announcement of its creation, the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator has a permanent executive director. The incubator for start-up companies involved in agriculture also is bringing in its first class of five.

(l-r) Tej Dhawan, who has been serving as the interim executive director of the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator; newly named executive director Megan Vollstedt; Brent Willett, executive director of the Cultivation Corridor; and Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership
Credit Reid Chandlet, Trilix Group

News of the establishment of the AgriTech Accelerator came at last summer’s Farm Progress Show. Several companies with ties to agriculture put up money for its creation. A local woman has been named its executive director. Megan Vollstedt has been at the Ames-based technology company Workiva the past six years. The company has gone from being a start-up to becoming publicly traded.

“I know what it takes to be in a start-up and the intense work it takes," Vollstedt says. "And also how they are going to feel working through these 100 days.”

Vollstedt says it’s a good time to be involved with ag start-ups.

“Right now you find ag tech is huge, you find innovation in Central Iowa and elsewhere is huge," she says. "It makes sense we can do this in Des Moines and the Central Iowa area because we have such a great background for Des Moines and Ames and our partnership between those two.”

None of the companies in the initial class are from Iowa. Two are California based, WISRAN of Sunnyvale and Pyursolutions of Los Angeles. Rabbit Tractors is based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Hintech in St. Joseph, Mo., and Phenomics Labs in Burnsville, Minn. They will receive $40,000 in seed funding and mentoring from 60 volunteer mentors before graduation in October.