AMES, Iowa (June 30, 2020) – The Iowa State University Startup Factory today announced its ninth cohort of entrepreneurs entering the Iowa State-based program.

Ten teams joined the program, with one honorary member selected to participate, starting with a virtual kick-off reception held June 25. Cohort members, program staff, mentors, advisors and investors joined the virtual ceremony held to celebrate program successes, honor past and graduating cohort members, and introduce the incoming cohort.

Interim Vice President for Economic Development and Business Engagement David Spalding and ISU Startup Factory Interim Director Kris Johansen provided opening remarks.

“What a time this has been over the last six months for everyone, for the country, the world,” Spalding said. “With everything we’ve had to go through, I really thank our current cohort, the mentors, teachers, everybody involved in our program, for the great work they did in transitioning this program [to a virtual format] and keeping very strong momentum going for this cohort throughout their effort.”

Spalding gave a special nod to Johansen for her work since taking over in February after Startup Factory President Bill Adamowski’s departure. “Kris stepped right up, took on responsibility for the program and did a great job working with this cohort and recruiting a wonderful new cohort,” he said. “Then, no sooner did she take on sole responsibility for leading the program, she had to switch to the virtual approach and did a really wonderful job with that. We thank her for all her hard work.”

Spalding detailed some of the program’s most recent successes.

“Since its June 2016 launch, with this new cohort, the ISU Startup Factory has accepted 123 startups into the program,” he said. “From that beginning, our companies have attracted almost $33 million in external funding. When you look at that over a four-year period, that’s an impressive dollar amount…that’s a tribute really not only to the quality of the program, the quality of the team involved in it, but also, the great opportunities there are here in Central Iowa, coming out of Iowa State, coming out of this region, to be in a position to start up scalable businesses here in our area.”

Spalding announced startups who have recently received accolades and awards, including: Gross-Wen Technologies and Tractor Zoom being named 2020 TAI Prometheus Awards finalists, with Tractor Zoom taking the award for Startup Technology Company of the Year, and GWT a finalist in the Creative Technology Solution of the Year category; ETALYC’s selection to participate in the 2020 APLU-AAU University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase; Gym-n-Eat Crickets taking first place and the $7,500 prize for the “Dream Big Grow Here” competition at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Conference; and FarmHand App being featured as the #1 app in Successful Farming’s “9 Apps You Shouldn’t Farm Without” article.

In her opening comments, Johansen said the program has not only made terrific progress, but it addresses a critical need. “What we are looking for are companies that are trying to solve real problems, with real solutions and big ideas, and boy, if there is ever a time in our history where we needed innovators, where we needed startup companies and entrepreneurs, it is today. And so, what and honor it is to work with all of you,” she said.

Johansen led cohort introductions, which included graduating members of Cohort 7; Cohort 8 members transitioning to the second half of the program; and, incoming Cohort 9 members who were welcomed to the program.

For more information on mentoring, advising, and investment opportunities with the ISU Startup Factory, please email Kris Johansen at or visit

The following are the names of the participating startups in the ninth cohort:

Cyber Manufacturing and Metrology Solution, LLC (CM2S) — Led by Hantang Qin, is an Iowa start-up consulting firm with a commitment to excellence in the field of additive manufacturing, cyber-metrology, and nondestructive testing and inspection. CM2S performs testing and inspection on a wide variety of fabricated structures as well as industrial and commercial products. Team Members: Zhan Zhang, Xiaolei Shi, Yanhua Huang, Xuepeng Jiang

iO1 – Led by Scott Neff, Mary Beth Neff, Doug Svendsen, and Linda Svendsen. Iowa leads the nation in the production of corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, and ethanol. iO1 is developing a brand for products that primarily uses those commodities as their main ingredients.

Novus Technologies – A biotechnology company which manufactures and distributes graphene for biomedical applications. The team provides guidance with understanding properties and characterization of graphene using smart prediction tools for pioneering research. Team Members: Mohammed Ruman Ahmed, Steven De Alwis, Kuldeep Saini, Ashfaque Mohammed, Yusuf Hussain

Peach Pay, Inc. – Led by Aaryaman Anerao and John Jago, is a mobile app creating seamless checkout experiences for online shoppers.

Salen 247, Inc. – Founded by Dave Krog and Saeed Arabj, is an Iowa-based company developing small-scale, light-weight, electric-powered, autonomous farm equipment used for growing crops. Team Member: Ben Krog

seedBiome – Founded by Rodrigo Pedrozo, exists to explore and harness the microbiomes of commercial and wild seeds to design microbiological solutions to boost food production, quality, and safety.

SoilSerdem – Led by Yones Khaledian, produces soil fertility maps based on an optimized soil sampling method. Machine learning algorithms and remotely sensed information is utilized for map creation. Team members: Bradley Miller, Jeffery Mullen

Sushi3D – Led by Eric Weflen, helps product development teams create functional, testable prototypes in-house to increase speed to market. Subtractive 3D printing technology allows for fully solid rapid prototyping in final production materials. Team Members: Matt Frank, Dan Weflen

VisiHut – Founded by Tim Garrett, specializes in connecting building plans for architecture, engineering, and construction professionals with immersive, collaborative, and interactive experiences in augmented and virtual reality. Team members: Adam Kohl, Jack Miller

Transport Sect – Led by Mubark Jedh and Lotfi Ben Othmane, is developing a platform to detect malicious attacks on today’s connected and smart vehicles and alert vehicle owners to potential cyber security concerns.

The following is an Honorary Cohort 9 Member selected to join the group:

Pediatric Assistance – Founded by Shawana Tabassum, is developing a point-of-care diagnostic device for infants that detects three major diseases – sepsis, jaundice, and hypoglycemia – in a single biochip.


About ISU Startup Factory
The Iowa State University (ISU) Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park (ISURP). Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs. For more information on the ISU Startup Factory program, call 515-294-7444 or visit 

Julie Lelonek, Iowa State University Startup Factory Communications

Iowa State University
Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations
1805 Collaboration Place
Ames, IA  50010