From the trenches: Founder’s lessons learned in 2014

From the trenches: Founder’s lessons learned in 2014

We love getting to hear startup stories firsthand. We also love when founders open up online, giving all of us a raw look into their experiences and lessons learned. Looking back over 2014, here are some of my favorite reflections from founders and entrepreneurs all across Iowa. From the hard facts of startup life to the joys of finding community with others, from the triumphs to the failures, all blogged in detail. What did we miss? “I rarely have more than 2-3 days clean laundry and my big trip is being home. I get to visit places all over the world but it’s never for the reason the uninitiated would go and I never do the things they’d do there. I commonly find ways of telling people where I was last week while seemingly disappointing them with what I didn’t do there.” Ben Milne, founder of Dwolla, ‘Rituals in transition.’ See also: ‘Sometimes, it’s just time to go home.’ “You don’t “finish” in three months. Accelerators guide you in your business, because they know that after those three months, it’s not them running your business—it’s you. It’s amazing what you can get done in those three months but in the grand scheme of things, three months is such a minuscule amount of time in the life of a business.” John Schnipkoweit, founder of NextStep.io, ‘Accelerators are about going slow to go fast,’ see also: ‘Entrepreneurial imbalance.’ “Closing down a business is harder than starting one. The odds are constantly stacked against you while building. Closing it down, breaks your mold. You never want to give up, until you wake up that one day and realize its the only…

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: “I felt as though my heart was living and pumping outside of my chest.” Cedar Rapidian Eric Ungs, on the stress that led him to create the “Unless You Care Project.” Ungs released the project’s manifesto this week as an e-book.     ICYMI: “For tech investors, the Midwest is flyover country no more” in TechCrunch - nothing local to Iowa or the Corridor (and note that the data in the map is from CrunchBase and not super up to date), but interesting read on how Midwestern entrepreneurial hubs Shout Outs: Kim Reynolds and Carl Blake joined the EntreFest! lineup. Will Lenzen Jr., formerly with the Blue Zones Project, made the leap to go full-time with Cycle Studios earlier this week. His goal: to create “unforgettable brand experiences online.” Congrats! ClusterFlunk co-founder AJ Nelson shared the startup’s origin story on the Welch Avenue blog. Geonetric was featured in a Silicon Prairie News story on Iowa companies using hackathons to give back. Iowa native and Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann appears in a new video promoting STEM in Iowa (via ICAD Group, Des Moines Register) Shawn Cornally, everyone’s favorite high school hacker (and a former Gazette Company employee) spoke at a TedX event in Seattle:  Mark your calendar: March 27-28: Beyond Rubies women’s conference. Information on kirkwood.edu. March 28: Hawkeye Innovation Summit. Information on iowajpec.org. March 28-30: Intermediate Ruby...
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...

Iowa City startup clusterFlunk announces expansion to 50 major universities

It’s not uncommon for athletes to become campus celebrities - and now, clusterFlunk is hoping that high-achievers in academic pursuits can achieve the same star status. AJ Nelson, co-founder of the Iowa City-based education startup, said clusterFlunk will rely on these super-users to spread the word as the company plans a nation-wide expansion. “The end goal is for it to perpetuate on it’s own,”  he said. The startup announced plans to expand to 50 public universities at the start of the next semester via Facebook today. Around 33 percent of undergraduate students at the University of Iowa have registered for the social studying site. Ten percent return to the site at least once a week. And around 500 of the top users spend an average of 40 minutes online per session - dedicating their time online to help their fellow students learn. Nelson recalled taking one of these top users out for a drink, and having him be recognized from his clusterFlunk profile. While clusterFlunk’s growth in Iowa City has been fueled in large part by grassroots efforts by Nelson and his co-founder, Joe Dallago - including throwing huge parties at the beginning of each semester - the company does not plan to put feet on the ground at each university. The methods they have used at the UI, including developing a “cult-ish” following online, are more scalable than an in-person presence at each new site, Nelson said. clusterFlunk had previously tried to expand to Kirkwood Community College, Cornell College and the University of Northern Iowa, before pulling back and reducing their presence in those schools. A mentor told...