Innovation Index: This week in Creative Corridor startup news, July 11

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.  News and notes: The big news of the week was from ClusterFlunk, which closed a $1 million round led by Lightbank, a Chicago venture capital firm. Built by Iowa, a local angel fund, and a few individual investors also contributed to the round. Congrats to AJ Nelson and Joe Dallago, who were college students themselves not long ago. The co-founders hope to build out their team and open a satellite office in Lightbank’s coworking space. Coverage: We Create Here, Des Moines Register, Silicon Prairie News. Members of Plains Angels, an association of independent angel investors in Iowa, collectively invested $325,000 into Iowa Approach, a UI spinout creating a medical device – via Silicon Prairie News. Virtual Software Engineering, a UI spinout which has received funding from the state of Iowa and Wellmark’s venture capital fund, is doing beta testing. Read about how the founder wants to “make circuit boards sexy” in this piece from the Iowa Centers for Enterprise. ‘The Supermarket,’ a new open-source resource from owned by Chef and developed by Iowa City-based FullStack, opened. We checked in with JPEC’s Venture School, which is guiding 11 student-led teams through the ups and downs of launching a business. One team in particular has experienced several pivots. Another JPEC program is chugging along this summer, Dev/Iowa Bootcamp. The coding students are now working on client projects, including a few for Venture School teams. ACT acquired…

Tech companies court college students on TAI tours

[View the story “Experience Iowa Technology - February 2014” on Storify] Every company is a technology company now. That was the message to 80 students from 11 Iowa colleges and universities who participated in the Experience Iowa Technology tour, hosted by the Technology Association of Iowa on Friday. “Technology is how we reach our customers – through our tools, through our website,” said Pat Steinbrech, CIO at ACT.“There’s an ability to directly connect with making someone’s life better.” The 10 companies on display spanned industries, including education (ACT), manufacturing (Crystal Group), biosciences (Integrated DNA Technologies) and service (RuffaloCODY), and ranged from large (Rockwell Collins, which employs more than 9,000 in the Corridor) to small (BlendCard, run out of founder Paul Kongshaug’s home). At Rockwell Collins, the focus was on the latest technology, such as virtual 3D modeling, and opportunities for students before they graduate. The company hires hundreds of interns per year, with a clear end-goal in mind. “We truly want an intern or a co-op opportunity to end up with a full-time job at Rockwell Collins,” said Steve Schulz, director of global talent acquisition. “You’ll find many companies that don’t take that attitude. The internship is a moment in time, and applying for a job is a different moment entirely.” To compete for top tech talent, Rockwell even offers interns a comprehensive benefits package, including pay, benefits, paid holidays, housing, tuition reimbursement and the option for a 401k with company match. Additionally, the company tries to expose students to multiple departments internally, as well as networking and community events. “It’s very competitive – there are not nearly as...
Innovation Index: This week in Creative Corridor startup news

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: “Half our company’s growth and success is a direct result of the literature we have read.” — AJ Nelson, along with Joe Dallago, co-founders of clusterFlunk, blogged a list of their favorite business books. The duo have previously spoken and written about their dedication to constantly reading and learning. Earlier this week, clusterFlunk announced the studying platform has attracted 25,000 users, up from 10,000 at the end of the fall semester. Shout outs: Eric Engelmann officially opened applications for the Iowa Startup Accelerator while presenting at 1 million Cups in Des Moines Wednesday. (Read more: Silicon Prairie News). Today, the Technology Association of Iowa is introducing college students from around the state to high-tech employers large and small throughout the Corridor (think everything from Rockwell Collins and ACT to BlendCard) through it’s Experience Iowa Technology day. $58 million in research tax credits were awarded in Iowa in 2013, up from previous years. The lion’s share goes to 12 of the state’s large companies. More via the Des Moines Register. Entrepreneurs, the EDC wants to give you a free t-shirt. Information on corridorentrepreneur.com. Nice press mentions for CodeDay, the STEAM Room Fab Lab and the Coralville CoLab, which hosted its official ribbon cutting Tuesday. Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids (which begins one week from today) was featured on Created in the Corridor: Mark your...

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: If you wouldn’t marry them, don’t take a check from them.  You’re going to live with them until your startup is dead, for all intents and purposes.  Pick them like you would a spouse.  And like a spouse, it helps considerably if they live nearby, because all the non-check related expertise and relationships they have work best in a local context, and not two or three timezones away. - Startup City Des Moines Principal Christian Renaud blogged on “The birds and bees of startup investing.” Shout outs: More details about Higher Learning Technologies’ recent raise continue to emerge, including that it totaled more than $1 million and included notable local investors from education (former ACT CEO Dick Ferguson) and tech (Cramer Dev CEO Josh Cramer, Involta CEO Bruce Lehrman). In an interview with We Create Here, HLT CEO Alec Whitters credited the supportive environment the former students found in Iowa City for helping them raise more than they even planned: “We didn’t approach the meetings as, ‘we are going to raise money,’” Whitters said. “We were just looking for their perspective, we were building relationships.” The co-founders have spent this week in Silicon Valley, including a trip to Google’s HQ. (Read more: Higher Learning Technologies’ first funding round nets $1 million via Des Moines Register; HLT closes $1 million seed round, strives to release 24 new apps...

Relationships key to $1 million raise, Higher Learning Tech CEO says

Previously: With new funding, tech team, Higher Learning Technologies plans to release more apps on We Create Here; Higher Learning Technologies’ first funding round nets $1 million via Des Moines Register; HLT closes $1 million seed round, strives to release 24 new apps this year via Silicon Prairie News; Keep your eyes open, opportunities are everywhere, guest column by HLT CEO Alec Whitters on Silicon Prairie News.  The road to $1 million may start with a single hello. That was the case for Coralville-based Higher Learning Technologies, anyway. CEO Alec Whitters was a dental student when he started working on the idea for a test preparation app, and didn’t have connections in the business and startup world, he said. The team - three co-founders who had been friends since high school - started attending events and meeting community members. And those connections were what led to the startup’s recent announcement that their seed round totaled just more than $1 million. “We didn’t approach the meetings as, ‘we are going to raise money,'” Whitters said. “We were just looking for their perspective, we were building relationships.” HLT specializes in preparation apps for intensive exams, such as dental and nursing boards. The apps retail between $25 and $50, and have been downloaded in more than 150 countries around the world. The nursing app, NCLEX RN, quickly broke top 10 lists for education apps. The $1 million seed round included around a dozen investors, Whitters said, and includes leaders from education, health and technology. The company had initially planned to raise “significantly less,” Whitters said, but their advisors told them to expect things to take...