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5 Startups to Watch in Iowa

1. Steel Therapeutics

Steel Therapeutics is a pharmaceutical company founded by Matt Stahl, Robbie Schwenker, and Allen Phillips in 2020. The team at Steel is working to bring innovations in compounding drugs to the masses. At the moment, compounding drugs are not FDA approved, which is why the team is working to bring these “potentially safer and more effective drugs through the FDA approval process to open several billion-dollar markets that increase access to better medications… [that are] covered by insurance.” (Clay & Milk) Steel Therapeutics has raised $378k in seed funding to date. This funding which took place in June 2021, is helping to support Steel as they bring their first product to market; the Fizurex wipe is expected to come to market in 2026 and will work as a single-use flushable wipe to treat anal fissures that affect 1 in 350 adults. 

2. Hellcat Technologies

Hellcat Technologies is a company empowering telecommunications providers as they provide the latest in technology to those across The Middle and beyond. Founded in 2019 by Steve Wozniak and Jason Blackburn, Hellcat offers easy-to-use software that helps to eliminate common problems in the telecommunications industry, such as delayed invoices and inventory inaccuracies. Taking the processes, digital Hellcat helps these companies save time and money while improving their bottom line. Hellcat Technologies recently based $350k in total funding with $250k being angel capital which will help them expand the number of telecom providers they service. More than $87 billion is invested in telecom/broadband construction annually. Hellcat Technologies has some of the highest growth potentials of an Iowa-based startup. To learn more about Hellcat, check out our article with CEO Steve Wozniak:

3. Roboflow

According to the company’s website, this Des Moines-based startup gives companies the power to “train a working computer vision model in an afternoon,” according to the company’s website. The company was founded in 2019 by Joseph Nelson and Brad Dwyer. The two created Roboflow as a flexible digital recognition program where clients could easily upload images and teach AI units to perform various tasks, including counting pills, keeping shelf inventory, and much more. The adaptability of the software is why engineers in half of the Fortune 100 have adopted Roboflow for their unique business purposes including Pfizer, Walmart, and Amazon, to name a few. With $20 million in series A funding, led by Craft Ventures, in September of 2021, the company is moving out of the startup space and well into the realm of established companies because the global computer vision industry is worth an estimated $11.32 billion and growing with adoption Roboflow has seemingly limitless potential for growth in coming years. 

4. Sevelyn

According to their website, Sevelyn is the digital emotional wellness platform bridging the gap between Latinos and emotional wellness services. Less than 5.5% of therapists speak a second language. Sevelyn can connect Latinos with therapists who speak their language and understand the culture that Sevelyn clients live in. Founder Carlos Argüello created founded the company in 2020 initially, Argüello was focused on providing primary care, but “through the 400 discovery interviews that we [did]… we found that about of 80% of interviewees when they were talking about their health care issues or the pain points they have with health care, mentioned mental health” (Clay & Milk). To this point, Sevelyn has raised $150k in seed funding, which is being used to expand its services to the Latino community. 

5. PeachPay

Founded by Aaryaman Anerao, John Jango, and David Mainayar, PeachPay is a company streamlining online checkouts for consumers and merchants. The platform was officially launched in January 2021 and has already raised more than $3.1 million in total funding. PeachPay is a plugin for WordPress users to add to their website. Instead of the dozens of fields most online stores require, PeachPay offers a one-click and done experience to make the online shopping experience quick and easy. Because it is easy for customers to buy, PeachPay results in a 35% increase in sales for merchant users on average. Thanks to a partnership with WooCommerce, the leader in online store payment processing with 40.6% of online stores as customers, PeachPay is set to process more payments than any other one-click service. 


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