News from NMotion: Love of the Game

News from NMotion: Love of the Game

At an NMotion meetup two weeks ago, I walked away from my other bajillion dollar idea. Justin Wilcox was here and was digging deeper into his customer interviews. He was going over how to select a customer segment using the SPA treatment. Using the SPA treatment, Justin encouraged us to look at the Size of a segment, Pain a segment has (or in other words, what they’d be willing to Pay to solve the problem) and the Access we have to that segment. We could then use our estimates on these numbers to decide which segment to focus on and interview first. Justin uses a great teaching tool where, after covering a topic, he says he’s going to take a certain number of questions and then move on. If he doesn’t get that number, he waits. It encourages you to think and not feel like you’re wasting time by asking questions. In fact, you’re wasting time by not asking questions. If he didn’t do this, I wouldn’t have asked my stupid question. “What if I could maximize all three of those categories but it’s for a different customer segment and completely different business idea?” Someone suggested, “You pivot,” meaning completely change the business. I said, “Well, Jason’s not here…” “You pivot without him,” they joked. Before I started rewriting corporate governance documents to focus on healthcare, Justin jumped to his whiteboard marker and scribbled “SLAP” on the board. “In this case, we move on to the SLAP method.” With the addition of the L to SPA, Justin asked if I “loved” my market segment and opportunity. Imagining a future…

Innovation index: This week in Creative Corridor startup news, July 3

Welcome to the Innovation Index! Each week, I’ll round up links and stories from around the web relating to startups, innovation and entrepreneurship in Iowa’s Creative Corridor and around the state. You can help! Email me news and notes.  We’re publishing the Index early this week because of the holiday, but there was certainly no shortage of news. Have a safe and happy fourth of July, all! News and notes: At right: Seed Here Studio‘s Amanda Styron-West, Kris Fassler and Andy Stoll, hanging out with AOL founder Steve Case. Recap their #Riseoftherest road trip here: riseoftherest.tumblr.com Involta closed a $50 million round of financing led by M/C Partners of Boston and Morgan Stanley of New York. The Cedar Rapids company has data centers in five states. The company previously received local investment from the Iowa Seed Fund (managed by AccelerateIT, LLC and the EDC’s Curt Nelson) and the ECICOG (the East Central Iowa Council of Governments) revolving loan fund. Read more via the Des Moines Register. The Entrepreneurial Development Center is seeking exhibitors for its annual Innovation Expo. Contact Christie Remley for information, or learn more about the event on Eventbrite. Cedar Rapids-based Geonetric was noted for its healthy culture, and how that factored into its new building in New Bohemia, in this piece from NPR: Targeting overweight workers with wellness programs can backfire. After a week of wild weather, learn about advanced radar being tested by Rockwell Collins in this piece by Iowa Public Radio: Testing new weather radar over the rocky mountains. If you’ve flipped through photos from Creative Week, EntreFEST or other events in the Corridor, you’ve probably seen the work of photographer...
12 teams accepted to JPEC’s Venture School accelerator

12 teams accepted to JPEC’s Venture School accelerator

The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa has selected 12 teams for its first accelerator program, which is designed to help students rapidly grow businesses. Twenty-four student-led companies applied, representing a variety of industries and colleges around the region. The summer accelerator program has a few tweaks from JPEC’s Venture School programs that run year-round. It was limited to students and recent graduates; it will run for 10 weeks instead of eight, and students can earn class credit and funding. Students are granted a $2,000 stipend for living expenses, and can earn an additional $3,000 for meeting a series of benchmarks in customer discovery, finding product-market fit and planning for the growth of their businesses. Accelerator companies will also have the opportunity to work with web development students in JPEC’s Dev/Iowa class, also running over the summer. “It’s Venture School-plus,” said Jennifer Ott, JPEC’s training and engagement liaison. The course content, however, will be similar to venture school, with a focus on the lean launchpad methodology, customer discovery and product-market fit. Students will spend the majority of their time talking to potential customers and working on growing their businesses, and a few hours each week checking in with the accelerator’s mentors and instructors. “They will very much be launching a business this summer,” Ott said. “Does that mean we expect them to make $1 million? For me, it’s more about the learning experience. I bet there are a lot of entrepreneurs who wish they had had this information while they were in school.” The accelerator will also connect students to mentors and resources available locally. “We hope that these companies...

Turnstile Cards accepted to Lincoln’s NMotion accelerator

Turnstile Cards, a sports marketing app which took the top prize at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids as Major Trading cards, will travel to Lincoln, Ne. for the NMotion Accelerator. NMotion practices a similar format to TechStars or the Iowa Startup Accelerator, with an intense, mentor-driven 14-week program, an initial investment of $15,000 in exchange for six percent equity, and a demo day to additional investors at the end. The program begins June 2. This is NMotion’s second cohort, and will focus on sports-themed startups. Three of the seven accepted teams directly deal with sports, and one has a serial entrepreneur with a prior sports startup. The fledgling teams will join several sports companies around Lincoln, including Hudl, opendorse, Lockr, EliteForm, Hail Varsity, Bulu Box, Powderhook and others. “There are collaboration opportunities, since most of these startups are not directly competitive in nature,” said Brian Ardinger, managing director of NMotion. The Turnstile Cards team has been covertly preparing for the accelerator for a few weeks, as co-founder Zach Sanderson resigned from his day job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and the team announced a name change Wednesday morning at 1 Million Cups Iowa City/Cedar Rapids. “It was tough when I was quitting my job, and people didn’t know what it was based on,”  Sanderson said. Turnstile Cards is a mobile marketing platform for sports fans, with the nostalgic twist of a digital baseball card. Of the five team members who launched the company at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids, only Sanderson and Jason Kristufek, a product manager at Fusionfarm (our colleagues at The Gazette Company), are taking the leap. The duo...

Innovation Index: This week in Creative Corridor startup news

Welcome to the Innovation Index*! Each week, I’ll round up** links and stories from around the web relating to startups, innovation and entrepreneurship in Iowa’s Creative Corridor and around the state. This is a content experiment and I’d love to hear feedback on whether this is useful. -Sarah Quotable “Previously, I think we were conflating culture with cutesy perks and events. Having a foosball table and no dress code is not the same as having a strong culture, at least in terms of driving the performance of an organization.”  — Geonetric eliminated it’s management structure a year ago, and CEO Eric Engelmann blogged about the successes, challenges and next steps. Shout Outs: Martin Wissenberg of Riders’ Club of America (pictured, right) completed the Points of Light  civic accelerator for social good innovations nationwide, and was voted the startup with the best pitch. The accelerator is now taking applications for its next cohort. (Read more: Previous We Create Here story, Points of Light press release The Ponsetti Method, an innovative approach to treating club foot developed at the University of Iowa in the 1950s, was featured in NPR. BlendCard released a hockey stick-like graph indicating more than 12,000 eastern Iowans are using the service. (Via Facebook, previous We Create Here story) Tons of news for makers this week: New Meetup alert: Change Makers of Iowa is organizing around hackers, makers and those who prefer to innovate with physical things. From their meetup page: Biotech, renewable energy and new energy sources, transportation technologies, Internet and the Internet of things, space commercialization, 3D printing, micro manufacturing, UAV technologies. These industries will shape the future of the...