the PULL #199

May 10, 2017
I said last time that this week would be busy and that has certainly been the case. Thursday and Friday were all about the return of EntreFEST and I'm happy to share that despite the one year break the event hasn't missed a beat.

I've read countless tweets and heard from a lot of people on the great sessions they attended during those two days in Iowa City but I must confess that I dedicated most of my time to my favorite EntreFEST tradition: hanging out in the Ped Mall and catching up with friends and colleague from all over the state who had gathered together in that one place. It doesn't happen often but I really appreciate opportunities—like EntreFEST—when it does.

I also participated in another EntreFEST tradition: staying out way too late on Thursday night. This year the venue of choice featured karaoke and while that made Friday morning start a bit slow I smile every time I think about how many folks from Iowa's entrepreneurial community I've seen try their hand at imitating the works of 90's boy bands.

Since EntreFEST wrapped, we've been hosting Paul Singh, Dana Duncan and their North America Tech Tour all over Greater Des Moines. This year they brought angel investor friends from Baltimore, Ann Arbor and Fort Wayne along for the visit, too, so its been fun to show off our community over the past few days. 

The Airstream is parked on the street in front of our new place in Valley Junction so West Des Moines has been home base for most of their 1-on-1 meetings, but we've also been up to Urbandale to meet with the Mayors and Economic Development officials from Urbandale, Clive and Ankeny and we've been downtown to tour Gravitate, Dwolla, the Global Insurance Accelerator and Square One DSM. Yesterday afternoon, the whole group spent a few hours in Ankeny meeting with folks from Ankeny Angels, FIN Capital, Ames Seed Capital and Plains Angels and talking about investment strategy.

The Tech Tour wraps up today so the last chance to meet the crew on this visit is to attend the Full Time Founders meetup tonight at our place in Valley Junction (318 5th St). If you're working full time on your company or have a side project startup that is to the point of earning revenue, come out and join us at 6 PM. This was my favorite part of the Tech Tour last year so I hope we'll see you there.


P.S. Pop Up Coworking is on for tomorrow in Waukee! The Gravitate crew will be working for the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center from noon to 4 PM. Bring some work and join us! Details here.
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EntreFEST builds innovative community
CBS2Iowa (Joseph Huisinga, May 5)

EntreFEST returned on a strong note last week after a one year hiatus attracting more than 600 attendees, according to CBS2Iowa. The long standing event, now under the leadership of NewBoCo and supported by the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, once again took over multiple venues throughout downtown Iowa City.

“Of the hundreds of entrepreneurs I know I would bet a quarter of them would say ‘some conversation that happened at EntreFEST helped me build my business or help to me leap into the dream of being an entrepreneur’," Eric Engelmann, NewBoCo's executive director, told CBS2Iowa.

Related: Jami Milne produced a striking portrait project on EntreFEST attendees for Clay & Milk
New Iowa City space wants to incubate the next brick-and-mortar stores
The Gazette (Matthew Patane, May 7)

Three entrepreneurs—Simeon Talley, Andre Wright and John Engelbrecht—have opened a new space in Iowa City: RADinc, short for "retail arts design incubator". More than just an incubator, the facility is also provides a retail store front, space for events and a coworking community.

"Incubators have popped up and gone away with very mixed success and reviews. If we can figure out how to do that correctly on the creative, artistic side, that would be great, but also just this idea of incubating the next generation of brick-and-mortars, of local artisans, of makers and providing an intentional, supportive ecosystem for people in Iowa, I think that would be a very powerful and compelling thing," Simeon told The Gazette.
Teaching STEM to New Americans
dsm Magazine (Jane Schorer Meisner, May/June Issue)

dsm Magazine highlighted the work of Nancy Mwirotsi in their most recent issue. Nancy in the founder of Pi 515, a non-profit program that gives low income and refugee youth in the Des Moines-area exposure to the STEM fields. She launched the program in 2014 and it's seeing results as the five high school seniors currently under her charge are all entering college.

“I’m going to brag about that,” Nancy told dsm. “They accumulated more than $200,000 in scholarships. One girl is in medical engineering, and a boy at Simpson wants to be a doctor. Another recently texted me that he got a full ride to Iowa State.”
We're growing! Gravitate Valley Junction is now open

Over the past few months we've been in talks with several community leaders in West Des Moines about expanding the Gravitate community and programming to their fine city and I'm excited to share that we're now officially up and running with a second location: Gravitate Valley Junction at 318 5th Street (yeah!).

See the full Gravitate calendar
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The Pull is curated by Geoff Wood and produced with help from Megan Bannister. I don't believe in no-win scenarios.

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