Teams pick up the pace at the Iowa Startup Accelerator

Nine selected to take part in program

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The clock is ticking at the Iowa Startup Accelerator.

The nonprofit on Monday announced nine teams that will take part in an intensive 95-day program, which will conclude in a launch event Nov. 5.

The group of startups includes a a taxi service application and a team hoping to prevent piglet deaths.

“The rule of thumb is they will get a year’s worth of work in (95 days),” said Eric Engelmann, managing director of the Iowa Startup Accelerator.

The nine teams were picked out of about 110 applications, Engelmann said. Most of the teams consist of two to three people. While eight teams each received $20,000 from the accelerator, one team, Care Drop, received local funding, Engelmann said.

Jurell Tanksley, co-founder of Home Scene Pro, a service that aims to connect customers to professionals with skills such as photography, interior design and culinary services, said his team is excited to begin. He also said it plans to reach out to as many schools and students as possible to grow the service.

“This is a great experience being out here from New York,” Tanksley said.

Another team taking part is GolfRz, a Des Moines-based startup that is creating customizable mobile applications for golf courses. Co-founder Ryan Knutson said the team is finishing development and soon will begin testing with the goal launching into the market.

Nine of the 10 teams that went through the accelerator last year still are in business, Engelmann said.

Engelmann said he picked participants based on three main criteria — the team, their ability to execute, and the idea.

“So it’s got to be a team that we believe could execute, and without the team there is really nothing there,” Engelmann said. “So it doesn’t matter how good the idea is if the team is awful.”

Engelmann said this year, Iowa Startup Accelerator will introduce more mentors who will spend time interacting with the teams.

The program also selected teams that were further along in their business plan, Engelmann said.

“(In an) inaugural year, you learn a lot,” Engelmann said. “And it was a fantastic program, but we definitely made a lot of adjustments to really focus on places we could be stronger.”

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