Godin inspires, community celebrates at EntreFEST 2015

Godin inspires, community celebrates at EntreFEST 2015

Or, what we learned in three packed days. The industrial age is over. And if EntreFEST is any indication, whatever new, yet-to-be-named age we are entering will be a lot of fun. “We’re fun, we’re weird, we have a lot of energy,” said Andy Stoll, EntreFEST’s co-producer and emcee, to a packed Englert Friday afternoon. “Welcome to the tribe.” The eight-year-old conference for startups, small business owners, corporate innovators and community builders brought about 1,000 people to downtown Iowa City for three days. There were more than 100 speakers, 90 breakouts and dozens of meetups, plus a rooftop fashion show, a pitch competition, street magic and an 87-year-old who trended on Twitter. It was all capped by Seth Godin, bestselling author of Linchpin, Tribes, Purple Cow and 15 other books. “Iowa is the center of the universe, if it wants to be,” Godin said. “I came because it was worth it.” The industrial age was based on doing things faster and cheaper, but today, Godin argued that strategy is “a race to the bottom.” Mass production means making average things for average people, but today fewer people want to be average, he said. “The problem with a race to the bottom is that you might win,” he added. In contrast, the “connection economy” will be based on four things, according to Godin: coordination, trust, permission and exchange of ideas. Then, generosity and art are the critical factors that can ignite the other four. Godin encouraged the audience to say “here, I made this” rather than “what do you want?” “Art is what we call it when we make change,”…
Running list: Everything you need to know for EntreFEST 2015

Running list: Everything you need to know for EntreFEST 2015

- EntreFEST 2014 photos via EntreFEST on Facebook. EntreFEST 2015 hopes to be the biggest entrepreneurial event Iowa has ever seen. With a multi-faceted approach to innovation (like last year, EntreFEST will have different tracks for high-growth startups, small business owners, corporate innovators and more), a multi-venue setting in downtown Iowa City, and seven (seven!) keynotes, the conference hopes to draw 1,000 people from around the Midwest in its eighth year. We’re counting down the days. Come back to this post for more updates as they come, and make sure to get your tickets here. November 18, 2014: Organizers announce that the conference will return to Iowa City, with all three regent universities and Iowa’s five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers as sponsors. Although the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa are frequently cast as competitors, scrabbling for students, dollars or touchdowns, working together for ‘Iowa’s Entrepreneur Conference’ “just made sense,” organizers said. With the additional support, the conference hopes to have another record-breaking year and attract big-name keynotes. (Read more here.) Dec. 31: First ticket increase January 21: Ben Milne of Dwolla is announced as the first keynote speaker. Dwolla, a Des Moines-based mobile payment system, was named one of the world’s “50 most innovative companies” and Milne himself has been honored by the likes of Forbes, Goldman Sachs and the MIT Technology Review. (Read more here.) Conference organizers promise to announce another keynote each week at 1 Million Cups Iowa City/Cedar Rapids until seven have been named. January 28: Jacquie Berglund of Finnegans, a charitable beer company, is announced at the second keynote speaker. Based in the Twin Cities, Finnegans has donated close...
Innovation Index: EntreFEST announcements are coming, Patel for 2016?

Innovation Index: EntreFEST announcements are coming, Patel for 2016?

Welcome to the Innovation Index: Each week, we’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: EntreFEST, Iowa’s largest conference for innovators and business owners, started announcing its slate of speakers this week with Ben Milne, founder of Des Moines-based Dwolla. Dwolla was named one of the world’s “50 most innovative companies” and Milne himself has been honored by the likes of Forbes, Goldman Sachs and the MIT Technology Review. The conference plans to announce one keynote per week at 1 Million Cups until all seven (seven!) have been named, so stay tuned for more. Built By Iowa for 2016? The Daily Iowan is reporting that entrepreneur and investor Ravi Patel is considering a run for the U.S. House of Representatives. 29-year-old Patel is the president of Hawkeye Hotels, one of the fastest-growing privately held hotel chains in America, and is also known for his involvement with Built By Iowa (previous story here), Ellison Eyewear, Backrow Studios, and other local startups. Read more via the DI. Reminder to business owners: Take the Iowa Small Business Survey, conducted annually by the UNI Regional Business Center in conjunction with UNI’s Strategic Marketing Services, here. (And find 2014’s report here, if you’re curious about statewide trends.) Iowa City-based College Raptor was featured on ‘Created in the Corridor‘ this week. You can find our previous story here for more. Community news from Des Moines: Gravitate officially celebrated it’s grand opening (even though the coworking space has been operational since September 2014 and...
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, May 30

Innovation Index: This week in Creative Corridor startup news, May 30

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.  Quotable: “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 of Dwolla writes openly about the life of an entrepreneur. News and notes: The Turnstile Cards co-founders officially departed for Lincoln, Ne., per this (probably accurate) tweet from Zach Sanderson. The Startup Weekend CR alums begin the NMotion Accelerator Monday, June 2. Wellmark and Elevar, a Boston-based healthcare consulting firm, are encouraging health-related startups to apply for their Mentor+Match program, coming to Cedar Rapids July 12 - apply by June 10. Mentor+Match is a one-day event including “speed dating” for mentorship, networking and pitching. Intern season is upon us. Many local companies have hired UI interns via the Iowa Innovation Associates program, new this year. Phil Jordan, the program’s coordinator, writes: We currently have 34 interns working with 24 Iowa companies. These companies range from entrepreneurial start-ups (both student and non-student) to long established companies. The size of the companies range from 1 employee to over 400 in 6 Iowa counties. They include manufacturing firms, retail, software and IT, medical device, financial services, and advertising/marketing organizations....