We are six months into building the InnoVenture Iowa Fund, the State of Iowa’s first publicly funded venture capital co-investment fund designed to help early-stage Iowa startups scale. In total, we have made eight (8) investments in companies ranging from eco-friendly shipping pallets for solar panels to software solutions for real estate agents, small business owners and swine producers.
Our portfolio is nearly 40% women-led, and our startups are geographically distributed across the state of Iowa, with companies headquartered all the way from Montrose to DeWitt, Ames to Coralville. These last few months have been a whirlwind tour of entrepreneurship in our state, and we are pleased to report that deal flow remains strong as we head into Q2.
Our first InnoVenture Challenge was a tremendous success. Over 200 attendees packed the Temple Theatre in downtown Des Moines to watch three (3) startup finalists pitch on-stage for a $100,000 non-dilutive prize. Our winner, Hawkeye Surgical Lighting, has made significant strides in both the advancement of their product and team since the Challenge. We caught up with them just last week to discuss progress and tactics for the year ahead.
Our Investment Committee is comprised of six (6) remarkable Iowans with deep expertise across industries. In May 2023, we added Dan Cosgrove to our ranks, formerly the CEO of Growers Edge and a Venture Partner at Radicle. This spring, we’ll kick off a series of spotlights on each member of the InnoVenture Iowa Investment Committee so that entrepreneurs, community builders and all Iowans can better understand what drives each of them to do this important work for our state.
InnoVenture Iowa has co-invested alongside many fantastic partners in Q1, including angels (individuals) and institutional funds. Our relationships with Next Level Ventures, ISAV, Ames Seed Capital and UI Ventures have been instrumental in establishing our first-year deal-flow, and we’ve been fortunate to collaborate with funds outside the state, including M25 in Chicago, Invest Nebraska and even Y-Combinator, to support early-stage Iowa startup companies.
The investment outlook for Q2 and Q3 is strong. We are emphasizing a renewed focus on bioscience this quarter and next, and will seek to maintain equitable gender and geographic distribution as we continue to build our portfolio of early-stage startup companies with high growth potential. If you know an Iowa startup company that should pitch to us, please encourage them to reach out directly at email@example.com or by using the form on our website. We will be touring the state this summer and would like to meet with as many founders as we can while we’re on the road – check here to see if your town is one of the stops along our route!