$30M fund investment director: the surprising state of Iowa startups

How many startups do you think are launching in Iowa? Would you have guessed Kaylee Williams, Investment Director of the InnoVenture Iowa Fund has spoken to 60 in the last 3 months? And that represents a tiny percentage! What on earth is going on? She breaks it all down. 

Listen on Apple Podcast Badge
Listen on Spotify Badge

Williams explains why startups are drawn to Iowa from bigger cities like LA, and why Iowa is seeing major startup growth. She explores the state of AI and ChatGPT and how that will impact Iowa. Plus she tells all of the success stories she sees like an Iowa company collecting energy from ocean waves, a small surgical light that responds to voice commands, and more crazy stuff. It’s all happening in Iowa! 

Stay informed about everything Iowa

IowaPodcast.com is home to The Iowa Podcast, Iowa Manufacturing Podcast, and Iowa Agriculture Podcast. Enter your email address to get the latest Iowa stories before your neighbors. (It’s free!)

Startups in Iowa

What startups is Williams seeing? She’s seeing a ton of incredible innovation coming out of our Universities and basements—these startups have potential to change the world. It might surprise you that the majority of them are not ag-based.

iotaMotion – A device that helps doctors insert cochlear device in the ear canal. Gen Z is facing more incidents of hearing damage and loss.

Laminar Scientific – Developed robots that float in the ocean that generate hydraulic electricity from ocean waves. Also has a solar component.

Steel Therapeutics – Combing product and pharmaceuticals to help us in our lives.

“Iowa has innovators across industries” Williams says. In fact, she talks to around 60 new startups every 3 months. “I would say 90% of them are early stage. A third are pre-revenue. I would say 2/3 of that 90% are post revenue but not much. There still in that validation stage…a few are scaling actively, that would be that 10%. And these are companies that are raising money.” Williams said. “If you think about it, those 61 companies I’ve met with in the last 3 months are just a sliver of the activity that is happening in our state.”

The Iowa startups she’s seeing in biotech and advanced manufacturing but there are also a few outside that space too.

Why startups come to Iowa.

Williams also discussed how even failing startups impact the state of Iowa by bringing new investment, new talent, and new localized lessons. She went into detail on why more startups can be created out of period of inflation and recession.

Dollars do go further in Iowa. Williams has received two offers just recently for companies offering to relocate their businesses into Iowa, seeking investment.

She also explained the level of A.I. startups in the state and why Iowa startups are able to spend their investment more carefully. She mentioned Roboflow* an AI / computer vision developer tool built right here in Iowa.

*Williams previously worked at Roboflow. Roboflow was also a client of the host, Justin Brady.

Kaylee Williams

To reach out to Kaylee Williams, Investment Director of The InnoVenture Iowa Fund find her on LinkedIn or go to the official InnoVenture Iowa website.