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GALLERY: The second cohort of the Iowa Startup Accelerator

GALLERY: The second cohort of the Iowa Startup Accelerator

<>People who participated in the 2014 accelerator program were on hand to talk to the media and 2015 cohorts. Will Pattison and Beth McKeon chat in a classroom in the ISA. Check out photos from the first day of the 2015 startup accelerator and get a glimpse of the teams that are going to call the Geonetric building home for the next three months. Check out Sarah’s write up of who these companies are here. This year there are more companies focused on getting a bite of the sharing economy, and improving healthcare. The ISA is also taking lessons learned from it’s first cohort to evolve the... read more
3 ways the Iowa Startup Accelerator hopes to evolve its program in year two

3 ways the Iowa Startup Accelerator hopes to evolve its program in year two

The nine teams are here, they’ve done their first pitches, the countdown clock is ticking: The Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 program is underway. ISA managing director Eric Engelmann and Program Manager David Tominsky have promised an evolved program for this year’s class. When teams arrived last year, they were part of Iowa’s first-ever intensive, time-boxed accelerator program. Since then, Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has changed – especially with the debut of the Global Insurance Accelerator in Des Moines and the rapid expansion of the University of Iowa’s Venture School across the state. (Matt Patane at the Des Moines Register has a good recap of these changes.) “For this class, it’s about getting more done faster, period,” Engelmann said. First, the accelerator selected more advanced teams for the class of 2015, and vetted them with a three week pre-accelerator program. Several of the teams already have products in the market and are generating revenue. “That will make a big difference in how they execute and get things done,” Engelmann said. During the 90-odd days the teams spend in Cedar Rapids, Engelmann and Tominsky have a few more changes planned. Here are three Engelmann outlined for us: Mentor matching: Like TechStars and many other Global Accelerator Network-affiliated accelerators, the ISA calls itself a mentor-driven program, where the selected entrepreneurs learn from experts and other founders in the community. Last year, all 10 teams met with roughly 100 mentors in the first few weeks in a series of rapid-fire meetings. “We felt like last year, we weren’t able to tap into the potential of those people – their intellect, their capability or their energy,”... read more
Meet the nine teams in the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 cohort

Meet the nine teams in the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 cohort

Let the countdown begin. Nine startup teams, five of them from Iowa, have arrived in Cedar Rapids to take part in the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 program. They’re in for 90-odd days of education and business development, with a countdown clock to the Nov. 5 launch day already staring them down. The teams represent industries including health tech, agriculture, consumer-facing and business to business software and apps. Overall, this year’s cohort is more advanced than the class of 2014, with several companies already generating revenue. Staff said the ISA intentionally searched out teams that were farther along, and tested them with a three-week vetting process. “That will make a big difference in how they execute and get things done,” said ISA managing director Eric Engelmann. Although the ISA had budgeted for 10 teams to receive $20,000 apiece for each of five years, only nine were selected for the class of 2015. “There were a lot of amazing applicants right on the bubble,” Engelmann said. This change, plus one team being affiliated with an existing corporation and opting not to take seed funding, will leave  $40,000 in the ISA’s seed fund. Without further ado, here are the nine teams. Check back this week and next for stories on each. Information via the Iowa Startup Accelerator, startup profiles on f6s, companies’ websites and previous reporting: Care Academy Boston An online education platform for nannies and caregivers, giving them the option of Care Academy’s custom certification.   Care Drop Cedar Rapids Care packages, resources and coaching for millions of non-professional caregivers looking after a loved one. Community connection: We first met Care... read more
Innovation Index: Updates from Venture School, the Iowa Startup Accelerator, and 1 Million Cups

Innovation Index: Updates from Venture School, the Iowa Startup Accelerator, and 1 Million Cups

Welcome to the Innovation Index. This is our weekly(ish) spot to round up links and news items from around the web relating to startups, innovation and entrepreneurship in Iowa’s Creative Corridor and beyond, so you never miss a thing. You can help! Email me news and notes.  News and notes: Congrats to the 11 teams that completed Venture School‘s student accelerator yesterday! Final pitches and demonstrations happened at hotelVetro, with question and answer from a panel of judges and several prizes awarded. Laugh out loud moment from video game blog Bosscaster (pictured): “We got out of the building, we went to do our customer discovery. The first thing we learned is, our customers are not outside.” Prizes: $500 for business continuity to Flourish and Post Grad Nation $500 for best customer discovery to Baby Brusher $1,000 for best pitch to Bosscaster $1,000 for best pivot to inVisible $1,000 for best opportunity to SwineGuard $1,000 for most improved to Podmi Hydroponics More from Venture School: Read about the new program just for university faculty, that is being developed with a grant from the National Science Foundation. Applications are open. (Iowa Now) (Hopefully) exciting announcement from 1 Million Cups, the weekly event for education and inspiration (that I help organize): On August 5, we’re testing out a new location! We’re going to FilmScene, in hopes that a setting in the heart of the Iowa City ped mall can make the event that much more engaging. Please attend (RSVP and info on meetup) and help us spread the word. Nate Matherson, co-founder of Iowa Startup Accelerator portfolio company LendEDU, wrote a great blog post on ‘how to launch... read more
Innovation Index: toddlers using tech, company updates, and more startup community news for July 12

Innovation Index: toddlers using tech, company updates, and more startup community news for July 12

Welcome to the Innovation Index. This is our weekly(ish) spot to round up links and news items from around the web relating to startups, innovation and entrepreneurship in Iowa’s Creative Corridor and beyond, so you never miss a thing. You can help! Email me news and notes.  News and notes: Not sure which says more about our modern times: that toddlers are prolific users of tablets and smartphones, or that research on how said toddlers use tablets and smartphones was completed “through an analysis of relevant YouTube videos.” Either way, the University of Iowa is on it. (IowaNow, full research paper) You can now charge your Tesla in the Corridor. You know, assuming you have a Tesla. (CBS2, The Gazette) Some very nice press coverage: Telepharm, which now operates 122 pharmacies in nine states, in The Gazette, Fanstreamm, almost a year out of Lincoln’s NMotion Accelerator, in Silicon Prairie News, and Built By Local, the new media-for-equity venture (ok, it’s more complicated than that), in Capital New York, and anchors of local Main Street Iowa districts in The Gazette. Kudos to Venture School, the University of Iowa’s customer discovery and business model canvas bootcamp, on a $300,000 federal grant to expand its impact. Since launching in 2013, Venture School has worked with 81 startups and fledgling businesses in Iowa. (The Daily Iowan) Check out several updates on Western Wise, a UI student startup that provides one-on-one virtual English language tutoring to Chinese youth. The team has participated in several competitions and was named Student Startup of the Year by the college of Engineering. (eVenturing, College of Engineering) Blake Rupe, founder of Sift, will take her passion for environmentalism and social entrepreneurship to... read more
Learning to code, week 3: teeming with terms and tools

Learning to code, week 3: teeming with terms and tools

This summer, Sarah is getting outside of her comfort zone by taking Dev/Iowa, a nine-week course in web development fundamentals. We’ll be blogging along the way, highlighting the local tech community, and probably asking for help. Here’s a smattering of the terms, tools and concepts we were introduced to in week three of Dev/Iowa’s web development bootcamp: Ajax Angular Backbone (sadly not the state park) Bootstrap Bower Browserify CoffeeScript and TypeScript Fetch, Pull, Push, Commit, Sync, Clone, Fork and many other Git commands Git and Github Grunt Gulp HomeBrew IDEs like Intellij Magic numbers Mustache (seriously?) MVC (which does not actually stand for minimum viable code, as years of learning about minimum viable products led me to assume) NodeJS SASS Skeleton Slush Swig Yeoman Every industry has its share of jargon – journalism has slugs, morgues and CQs, startups have MVPs, angel rounds and growth hacks. Learning the terms is part of getting acclimated to any new subject. But it seems like the world of web development brings quite a few new words to learn, and when you pair all of these with a few nonsense lines from my class notes (“Functional languages are like the movie Inception” and “Uglify is a direct dependency of Swig”), it’s enough to make your head spin. Oh, and did I mention that you have to do all this from the command line? That using your mouse will make you look like a N00B? This part was brand new to me, and trying to get acclimated to a whole new way of interacting with a computer added another level of confusion. But at... read more
Innovation Index: Gifts, grants, coolest places and more community news

Innovation Index: Gifts, grants, coolest places and more community news

Welcome to the Innovation Index. This is our weekly(ish) spot to round up links and news items from around the web relating to startups, innovation and entrepreneurship in Iowa’s Creative Corridor and beyond, so you never miss a thing. You can help! Email me news and notes.  News and notes: In an increasingly technical world, should all Iowa high schoolers take computer science before graduation? A state committee has recommended that Iowa join 25 other states with similar requirements. “We recognize that’s a very bold recommendation. We acknowledge that, and we don’t apologize for that,” said one committee member. (The Des Moines Register) ICYMI, $40,000 was invested into six female-owned companies at Invest in She earlier this month. The funds were provided by several local investors at an event produced by the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference. Des Moines-based businesses took the top prizes, with Elizabeth Caven’s UpCraft Club receiving a $20,000 investment and Liz Lidgett’s Adore Your Walls receiving $10,000. Ashton Hill Farm & Vineyard, Burst Cycle, Flaggers National Traffic Control Systems and Kittd also pitched for awards. Congrats all! (IWLC, The Gazette) Coralville-based Foundations in Learning was awarded a $900,000 federal grant from the SBIR program. The company is developing an educational software product to help students who struggle with reading. (Corridor Business Journal). Also note: SBIR officials will visit Iowa City in July to meet with additional entrepreneurs. Locally: several companies earned loans and grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority last week. Coralville’s Higher Learning Technologies, maker of test-preparation apps, was awarded a $300,000 loan, and Iowa Startup Accelerator graduates Sift and ProduceRun were each awarded $25,000 grants. (IEDA) HLT was also awarded at the Corridor Business Journal’s “Coolest Places to Work” breakfast, taking home... read more
Learning to code, week 1: An adjustment in course

Learning to code, week 1: An adjustment in course

This summer, Sarah is getting outside of her comfort zone by taking Dev/Iowa, a nine-week course in web development fundamentals. We’ll be blogging along the way, highlighting the local tech community, and probably asking for help.  Week one brought HTML, CSS and a program in transition. Dev/Iowa, the nine-week bootcamp I’ve joined in search of a better understanding of all things web, faced a change when program coordinator Zach Sanderson announced he was stepping down on the second day of class. Sanderson had been the coordinator since October and pitched a community-focused model for the tech training program. Here’s the official statement from Hayley Yearian, associate director of economic development with UI Partners (the parent department of Dev/Iowa at the University of Iowa): Zach prepared an intense Summer Series which includes a 9 week class option or the choice of taking 1 week classes a la carte.  We are excited about the program and the opportunities for Dev/Iowa students and partners this summer.  We wish Zach well with his future endeavors and thank him for all of his hard work within the Dev/Iowa and UI Partners programs. There aren’t many more details to share, and Sanderson has asked to remain out of the spotlight as he moves on. Two of five students have left the class and UI Partners cut the cost of the course in light of the announcement. While the summer bootcamp is still moving forward with lead instructor Steve Davis, the change definitely made me reconsider my motivations for joining the program. A balance of skills When I blogged last week about joining the class, many... read more