CBJ on Small Business
Your weekly roundup of news and views impacting small businesses around the Corridor for Thursday, April 7, 2016.

Compiled by Adam Moore, adam@corridorbusiness.com
Voxello pushes to close $1.2 million Series A round
Coralville-based Voxello is notching some big wins as part of a busy eight-week fundraising push, which should help the company soft launch a new medical device later this year. 
The startup, which is developing the noddle, a device to help disabled patients communicate, last week was awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health worth $154,000. It also announced a new investment from the Dakota Venture Group.

The SBIR program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development. The Dakota Venture Group is a University of North Dakota student-managed venture capital investment fund with a focus on high-growth entrepreneurial ventures.

Voxello has to date secured about $525,000 in nondilutive funding from the University of Iowa Research Foundation, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Wellmark and the NIH, and the Innovation Iowa Corporation. It has also secured more than $300,000 in private equity investments, which is about a quarter of its $1.2 million Series A funding goal, according to CEO Rives Bird.

The company has presented at several tech and venture capital forums in recent weeks, including the Iowa Biotech Association's Innovation Showcase in Ankeny, the InvestMidwest Venture Capital Forum in St. Louis and the 3 Rivers Venture Fair in Pittsburgh.
Mr. Bird was upbeat about Voxello's prospects for closing its Series A round, but expressed disappointment at the lack of venture funding opportunities in Iowa. The company met with Des Moines-based fund Next Level Ventures, but "it's a little disheartening that the majority of our money is likely to come from out of state," he said.
The funds raised will be used by Voxello to get the noddle through safety and compliance testing, clinical trials in a handful of hospitals and FDA approvals, Mr. Bird said. The noddle provides patients with limited motor capabilities the ability to control up to three different devices with a single touch or click of the tongue.
Once the company receives FDA approval, it hopes to hold a soft launch of its product in Philadelphia and Boston by the end of summer, Mr. Bird said.
"That soft launch will take us through the end of the year," Mr. Bird said. "That will get us to the point where we'll do widespread channel distribution, and then we'll be doing a Series B once we're into that soft launch."
Otter Creek Convenience store opens in Robins
The Otter Creek Convenience store at the corner of County Home Road and Interstate 380 opened for business on April 1, offering a new amenity to travelers and residents in Robins and Toddville.
The 6,200-square-foot store, located at Exit 28, will provide the usual range of convenience offerings, including foods from its in-house kitchen and BP-branded fuels. It also features an array of modern touches, including USB charging outlets, free Wi-Fi and electric vehicle charging stations.
The store is the first major development at the busy intersection, but likely won't be the last, according to Dean Helander, chair of the Robins Economic Development Initiative. County Home Road is a busy thoroughfare for many in the area, connecting people and services between I-380 and Highway 13, with traffic counts in the tens of thousands each day, he said.
"We think it will be a catalyst for promoting a wide range of potential activities," Mr. Helander said. "Just down the road from County Home is the Tuma Soccer Complex, and further down Highway 13 in Marion are 17 baseball diamonds, so there's going to be a lot of demand that will promote the possibility of future hotels and conveniences to serve that demand."
Otter Creek is owned by the Burd family, which purchased 14 acres of land on the northeast corner of County Home and I-380 more than three decades ago, according to a news report.
New vegan dining option coming to NewBo City Market

By Cindy Hadish/HomegrownIowan.com

Cedar Rapids-area diners looking for raw and vegan alternatives are in luck.

Rawlicious, a raw food, vegetarian and vegan cafe, will open in the NewBo City Market, 1100 Third St. SE, as an anchor merchant in July.

The cafe offered a preview tasting April 1-2 at the market, including samples of mango chia pudding, almond milk and brownie bites with avocado or coconut frosting, all made without sugar and dairy.

Owner Jessica LaFayette said she and her husband, Tony, had heard from many people who travel to Iowa City to find vegan dining options, which encouraged them to open Rawlicious in Cedar Rapids.

Read the full story at www.homegrowniowan.com.
SynderBio receives IEDA funding
Biotech startup SynderBio Inc. has received $25,000 in proof of commercial relevance funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, which will allow it to take additional steps toward commercialization.
SynderBio Inc. is located in Coralville and founded on a patented technology developed at the University of Iowa. The company's core technology platform is based on an innovative mechanical technique that can isolate and enrich malignant cancer cells from specimens in which there is a mixture of cancer and non-cancerous cells.
Initial research has been supported by grants from the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health, and the development of prototype devices has been supported by GAP funding from the University of Iowa. The next milestone for SynderBio will be development of a manufacturing-ready instrument for use in research laboratories, according to co-founder Sarah Vigmostad .
The company is planning to use the IEDA funding to develop a commercialization strategy and business plan. "The POCR funds will allow us to confirm our regulatory strategy and timeline, and identify strategic partners moving forward," Ms. Vigmostad wrote in an email.
The IEDA's Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) Fund provides financial assistance to innovative businesses that are pursuing proof of commercial relevance and marketability of a technology. SynderBio was one of four startups around the state receiving POCR funding in this round.

Evereve signs lease for IRL location

Minnesota-based Evereve, a casual contemporary women's clothing boutique for the fashion-loving mom, signed a long-term lease for a 3,800-square-foot store at Iowa River Landing in Coralville The store, Evereve's second in the state, will open later this summer.
The company operates 61 stores in 21 states across the country. The company also operates the personalized online styling service Trendsend.
The Iowa River Landing store will hire full-time and part-time staff and is currently accepting applications for store managers, stylists, and inventory specialists for the new location and its other stores at www.evereve.com/info/careers.
"We are excited to open our second Iowa store in the great city of Coralville," co-founder and executive chairman Mike Tamte stated in a press release. "The response to our Des Moines store has been fantastic, and we are looking forward to connecting with and styling more moms."
Consulting: New rules released for Work Opportunity Tax Credit

In this week's consulting spotlight, Brandon Yuska of Terry, Lockridge & Dunn explains how employers can take advantage of new transitional rules for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit:

The new Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, signed by the president late last year, restores the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), retroactive to the beginning of 2015. The credit is available to employers who hire workers from several target groups. The IRS has recently issued transitional rules for employers claiming the WOTC.

The transitional rules give employers until June 29 to get all paperwork completed for qualified employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2015, and on or before May 31, 2016. Additionally, a new target work group has been created.

Currently, the WOTC for an employee who works at least 10 hours is equal to 25 percent of first-year wages up to $6,000, for a maximum credit of $1,500. If the employee works at least 400 hours, the credit is equal to 40 percent of first-year wages up to $6,000, for a maximum credit of $2,400.

The PATH Act extends the WOTC through Dec. 31, 2019, for taxable employers that hire members of a targeted group and for qualified tax-exempt organizations described in 501(c) of the IRS Code that hire qualified veterans.

Read the full column at the TLD website.
From around the web:  
  • The Harvard Business Review offers up three questions you should ask before adopting a platform business model.
  • Inc.com lists the seven things you need to know before launching Facebook ads
  • San Francisco has become the first city in the nation to mandate paid parental leave, NBC reports.
  • Here's what you need to know about health savings accounts in 2016, according to Fox Business.
Corridor Stocks

AEGON AEG 5.22 -0.07 -1.32%
Alliant Energy  LNT 73.42 -0.05 -0.07%
Deere & Company DE 76.18 -0.16 -0.21%
Dow Jones ^DJI 17,541.96 -174.09 -0.98%
General Mills GIS 63.12 -0.56 -0.88%
GoDaddy Inc. GDDY 31.6 0.77 2.50%
Great Western Bank GWB 26.77 -0.6 -2.19%
Heartland Express HTLD 17.2 -0.33 -1.88%
ITC Holdings  ITC 42.48 -0.24 -0.56%
KemPharm KMPH 18.48 -0.2 -1.07%
Marsh & McLennan MMC 60.17 -0.57 -0.94%
MidWestOne  MOFG 25.6 -0.6 -2.29%
Pearson PSO 11.52 -0.25 -2.12%
Pepsico PEP 103.6 -0.32 -0.31%
Principal Financial  PFG 38.69 -0.8 -2.03%
QCR Holdings QCRH 23 -0.29 -1.25%
Rockwell Collins  COL 91.69 -0.47 -0.51%
S&P 500 ^GSPC 2,041.91 -24.75 -1.20%
Tanger Factory  SKT 36.05 -0.39 -1.07%
Procter & Gamble  PG 83.24 -0.57 -0.68%
United Fire Group UFCS 43.32 -0.74 -1.68%
U.S. Bank USB 39.1 -0.99 -2.47%
Wells Fargo  WFC 46.93 -1.15 -2.39%
West Bank WTBA 17.42 -0.42 -2.35%
Whirlpool  WHR 180.44 -1.91 -1.05%

Short-Term Event Planner
April 7 
Minnow Tank, by Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois and SuccessSHE, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Mount Mercy University Graduate Center, 1650 Matterhorn Drive NE , Cedar Rapids. Minnow Tank provides girls in grades 6-8 the opportunity to gain business skills through creating a project, setting goals, and pitching their ideas to investors. A team of featured investors from the business community will guide the girls through the process of making their philanthropic ideas a reality. Visit bit.ly/1UU2Fbw for ticket information.
April 8
Great Plains Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference, by the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence, 8 a.m.-5 p.m, April 8-9, University of Iowa College of Public Health, 145 N. Riverside Drive, Room 100, Iowa City. This conference will serve to bring together public health professionals, researchers, faculty, and students in microbiology, infectious diseases and related fields working the Great Plains and Midwestern states. For more information, call the Healthier Workforce Center at (319) 335-4200.
Headlines from CBS 2/FOX 28
hese news items are provided by CBS 2/FOX 28  

One person was seriously injured in a crash Wednesday morning in Benton County. According to a crash report from the Iowa State Patrol, the crash happened just after 9:45 a.m. near the intersection of Highway 30 and 21st Avenue. A car driven by a juvenile entered the intersection and was struck by a semi truck. The juvenile driving the car was airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The Iowa State Patrol says the driver was not wearing a seat belt. The driver of the semi was not injured. The Iowa State Patrol is investigating.
T hese news items are provided by CBS 2/FOX 28 
CBS 2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast
Cloudy skies will be here again today with scattered showers continuing through the evening. Highs today will be a bit cooler as temperatures warm to the 40s this afternoon, and cool to the mid- and lower 30s this evening. The forecast does dry out with sunshine expected tomorrow and Saturday; highs will stay cool in the mid- to lower 40s with overnight lows in the 20s tomorrow night.