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…
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...

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...

Innovation Index: Involta, Dwolla, summer tech for kids and more community news for June 10

Welcome to the Innovation Index. This is our 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: After a brief haitus, we’re back. Two fast-growing companies had big announcements while we were away: Dwolla, the Des Moines-based payment network, removed all fees from their transactions, including real-time transactions. Characteristically, founder and CEO Ben Milne explains the potential implications best in his blog: ‘Generally obvious things about real-time and $0 transactions.’ (CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Des Moines Register) Involta, the Cedar Rapids-based owner/operator of data centers around the Midwest, announced an acquisition of an Ohio company that will nearly double Involta’s assets and employees.  (The Gazette, Des Moines Register) More  news:    A lane of one’s own: it’s still a concept at this point, but the Iowa Department of Transportation is considering creating a roadway just for self-driving vehicles between Coralville and North Liberty. (The Gazette) Deadline extended: Apply for the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Venture Competition and a chance at a $25,000 top prize by Monday, June 15. WorldBlu, the company that  has certified groups like ICAD, Geonetric and Hagie Manufacturing as freedom-centered workplaces, released a whitepaper on the performance of these companies compared to the S&P 500. Spoiler: the freedom-centered workplaces did better. Much better. They also proved more resilient through the recession. (WorldBlu) Meet the six female investors pitching for up to $40,000 in cash, goods and services this week at Invest in She via IWLC, and an explainer on the event from The Gazette. ICYMI, Iowa still ranks pretty abysmally on most measures of women’s business...
Innovation Index: Recapping EntreFEST, the latest numbers on Iowa women in business, and more community news for May 29

Innovation Index: Recapping EntreFEST, the latest numbers on Iowa women in business, and more community news for May 29

Welcome to the Innovation Index. This is our 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: Who’s still enjoying a post-EntreFEST buzz? Recaps keep flowing in - see ours, with links to all the immediate coverage, Welch Avenue’s five thoughts plus ‘why the brain drain is awesome for Iowa, Zing Coaching’s leadership lessons learned, and Little Village’s interview with FINNEGAN’s CEO Jacquie Berglund (“I totally believe that we can make profit and do good.”) There’s more coverage of HowFactory’s $16,000 Dream Big, Grow Here win too, via the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Plus, hundreds of photos on Facebook! Three Iowa companies are repeat awardees on this year’s list of WorldBlu most democratic companies - congrats to ICAD Group, Geonetric and Hagie Manufacturing! (ICAD, WorldBlu) Curb your stereotypes of engineers - the University of Iowa is guiding them toward more creative classes, too. (The Gazette) Speaking of creative, The Artisan’s Sanctuary, a sort of coworking for artists type of space, is running a crowdfunding campaign to fund a few upgrades. (GoFundMe) Direct flights from Des Moines to the Valley? There’s a survey to gauge interest. (Des Moines Register) Some less bright news: Iowa continues to lag in the rates of women’s business ownership. Although, we have seen 276 percent growth since 2007. (The Gazette) Maybe the worst fear of an economic developer: ‘Iowa spent $50 million to lure IBM, then the firings started.’ Worth a read. (Bloomberg) Employers: If you want a direct connection to Iowa college students who are...