Innovation Index: Pear Deck goes global and other Creative Corridor startup news for Sept. 12

Innovation Index: Pear Deck goes global and other Creative Corridor startup news for Sept. 12

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: Iowa City-based Pear Deck, an education technology startup making presentation software for Google Drive, left its limited beta release and is now available globally. Earlier this month, Pear Deck was named New Startup of the Year at the Silicon Prairie Awards and became one of three finalists in the Iowa Business Plan Competition (final placements will be announced during an Award Luncheon September 18). Congrats! Read more via ICAD Group, Silicon Prairie News. Three local companies will be featured on START UP, a public television show based out of Detroit. Keep your eyes peeled for Eco Lips (Cedar Rapids), Yotopia (Iowa City and North Liberty) and Zaza’s Pasta (Iowa City). Discount tickets to Startup Weekend Iowa City are available to those who register for a September class from Dev/Iowa. There will be five week-long classes, and five weekend workshops, all aiming to teach introductory web development skills. More via enterprise.uiowa.edu. Speaking of Startup Weekend: Fanstreamm, formerly Turnstile Cards, formerly Major Trading Cards, which won Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids, pitched to more than 350 people at NMotion Demo Day this week. Find coverage via Silicon Prairie News. Thanks to all who made BBQ and Beer a fun night with great conversation! Special thanks to the Iowa City Area Development Group and Sculpt for letting us join in on the fun. Recap the highlights here, and download the ICAD Group annual report here. The Tippie College of Business at the University…
Innovation Index: Creative Corridor cleans up at Silicon Prairie Awards and more startup news for August 23

Innovation Index: Creative Corridor cleans up at Silicon Prairie Awards and more startup news for August 23

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: “It’s not just that lions are badass. It’s what the lion represents in the history of Cedar Rapids. Ours is a story of resourceful people dominating the industries they enter. It’s a story of courage, strength, and perseverance.” —David Tominsky, program Manager of the Iowa Startup Accelerator, on his personal mission to associate Cedar Rapids with lions. #lionsarebadass News and notes: Creative Corridor companies and people represented well again this year at the Silicon Prairie Awards, hosted Thursday evening in Kansas City. Five of 13 Golden Analogs came home to Iowa (bolded below), with four of those coming to the Creative Corridor region. New Startup of the Year — Pear Deck  Silicon Prairie Champion — Brian Ardinger, David Tominsky & Kevin McGinnis Student Entrepreneur of the Year — Ryan Martinez (Sioux City) Investor of the Year — Built by Iowa Service Provider of the Year — University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center Startup of the Year — MindMixer Best Creation — ShotTracker Executive of the Year — Toby Rush, EyeVerify Technologist of the Year — Caitlin Bales, Bulu Box Designer of the Year — Katie Hottovy, Nobl Best Culture — Bulu Box Congrats to all the winners and nominees! Read more via Silicon Prairie News, Des Moines Register. The Inc. 5,000 list was announced, inlcuding 30 companies from Iowa. The annual list is Inc. Magazine’s ranking of the fastest-growing privately-held companies in America. Read more via Des Moines Register. In less cheerful news,...

Turnstile Cards co-founders split, Sanderson returns to Iowa City

Eleven weeks into Lincoln’s NMotion Accelerator - and three weeks away from the Sept. 9 demo day - the Turnstile Cards team of Jason Kristufek and Zach Sanderson have decided to part ways. Sanderson has returned home to Iowa City, while Kristufek is re-building his team and will pitch at demo day alone. Sanderson chalked it up to a simple realization that the experience wasn’t working for him, and a desire to pursue other opportunities. He said the lessons he learned at NMotion made the decision to leave easier - since he will be able to apply the entrepreneurial mindset to any future endeavors. “It’s not a bad thing at all,” Sanderson said. “The biggest thing I have trouble with was, at NMotion I really had fun.” Turnstile Cards, a mobile platform hoping to solve the problem of unsold seats at sports and entertainment events, launched under the name Major Trading Cards at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids, where the team of five took first place. The team was narrowed to two when the startup moved to Lincon for NMotion in June. Kristufek hinted that more changes may be in store before demo day. “The company has validated through several interviews with sports teams that the problem is real,” he wrote via email. “What solution and what business name is announced on demo day will reflect what the company has learned that also puts it in the best possible position for future success.” He said he wishes Sanderson well. “I appreciate his contribution to this point, and I wish him the best.” NMotion Managing Director Brian Ardinger also declined to comment. Editor’s note: In light of this update...
News from NMotion: Hype and humility

News from NMotion: Hype and humility

From the outside of the startup community six months ago, most of my knowledge of the ecosystem came from random tech articles. Because of this I knew more about Silicon Valley news and personalities than I did the Creative Corridor or Silicon Prairie. Something I struggled with before jumping in was the subject of humility. From my perspective, I read an awful lot of hype articles. That’s where I started to hear Silicon Valley*-esque phrases like “Making the world a better place.” I would find the occasional article about what someone learned from the failure of their company, but that generally started with “what I learned from my failure…” and ended with “… and why I’m now awesome again.” Now that I’m in it, I do get something out of these articles. The cheerleader element does help get me pumped up, think about the future or at least slog through a tough day. I’m not suggesting that Sarah Binder starts writing articles about all the different ways people are screwing up, just there are definite surface perceptions of startups that can be off-putting. I know I’m not saying anything profound, otherwise Silicon Valley (the show) wouldn’t be so funny. Recently I cracked after hearing one too many “growth hacks” which could have also been described as “just emailing some folks.” I understand the distinction people are trying to make with this phrase versus the apparently outdated word “marketing.” There are certainly some pretty backwards ways that marketing has been done and is currently being done. But I had to get it out, so I turned to an outsider in...
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...