I said last time that this week would be busy and that has certainly been the case.
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!).
We're excited to welcome Paul Singh and Dana Duncan back to Iowa for the second year as part of their 40+ city North American Tech Tour. Last year, we based the majority of the visit in downtown Des Moines with day trips to both Cedar Rapids and Ames. This year, we're changing things up. They'll start the trip with two days in Iowa City and before anchoring their Central Iowa visit at our our new Gravitate Valley Junction location in West Des Moines.
I had a great time on Thursday at the Technology Association of Iowa's Prometheus Awards event in Des Moines. This was TAI's 12th annual iteration of the event and I'm pretty sure that I've been to half of them. I'm always impressed by how well they're produced and they seem to get better every year.
I know that sometimes industry awards get a bum rap as being too self-congratulatory—I understand where that comes from—but I really like the Prometheus Awards for three reasons.
I'm excited to share that Iowa will once again be well represented on Paul Singh's North American Tech Tour. We had Paul and Dana in Des Moines for a few days last July—most likely the hottest days of the summer a/k/a the time I learned the term "heat dome"—filled with presentations, investor pitches, a slew of office hour meetings and day trips to both Cedar Rapids and Ames (here's the full recap).
Last week I was invited to give a five minute talk at Steve Case's Rise of the Rest Summit in Washington, DC, about Clay & Milk, a venture I'm involved in to help tell the story on the Iowa startup and innovation community. The Rise of the Rest Summit brought together entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem builders from the nearly 30 cities who haver participated in Case's bus tours over the past few years. This post is the narrative of that talk.
Late last week our home for the past 2.5 years, the Midland Building, was sold to a developer that has exciting plans for the place. Those plans require a massive renovation of the 100+ year old structure and that’s an opportunity for us to evolve Gravitate into something stronger—in a new location.
One of my favorite things to do is to get out of Des Moines and visit other cities to see how their startup communities work, how they've implemented things like coworking and to build relationships with the people who make it all function. The only problem is that I rarely make the time to do it.Last Thursday, however, I packed up the Honda and drove west across the Missouri River.
I did something yesterday that I've never done before. I stopped in to my Congressman's office to talk to him about an issue that concerns me (I live in Iowa's 3rd District and I'm represented by David Young). The issue is the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare), the current efforts to repeal and replace it, and how I think that will impact entrepreneurs and small business owners in Iowa.
Last week I wrote a post about the broader Iowa innovation community's achievements in 2016 and this week I want to highlight the good things that happened a little closer to home here in the Gravitate community. All in all, it was a pretty eventful year in 2016 so even though we’re already a few days into January, I wanted to take a few minutes to share some things that I'm proud we accomplished.
The following is a look back at the things that really stood out in the Iowa innovation community in 2016. To create it, I combed through the past 51 issues of The Pull and grouped the highlights into three pretty handy categories: Acquisitions, Accelerators and Investment. Of course, there were several other items that I wanted to include that didn't fit as neatly into one of the categories so you'll find them at the end in the "The Year in Other Stuff" section.
Putting together a post like this really makes one appreciate how much ground we cover as a community in the course of a year. You're all pretty great.
When I moved back to Des Moines from out-of-state in mid-2009, the idea of a "startup community" in Iowa was pretty new. We had always had people building scalable companies here and many of the supportive elements of the community (funding, mentorship, events, business assistance, social scene, etc.) already existed or were in the early stages of developing. However, something was missing.
No one was telling the story of individual local startups or the Iowa startup community.
DEG is full-service agency headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., but they also have a team located at Gravitate. DEG brings together strategy, creative, and technology to deliver the best solutions for it's customers. I recently was able to chat with Ben Robie, an architect at DEG, to learn a little more about what he does, and why he loves working at Gravitate.
We’re hiring two part time Community Managers—one to help us expand in the Des Moines metro area and one to do the same in Ames.
The ideal Gravitate Community Manager is equal parts connector, community builder and caretaker. They look forward to meeting new people and helping them find their place in the community. They’re also self-directed and willing to take on a variety of tasks as part of a small team.
As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to take time to reflect and remember all the reasons we have to give thanks. At Gravitate, we’re thankful to be part of Des Moines’ strong, vibrant entrepreneurial community. We’re thankful for innovative ideas, supportive community partners, and a diverse collection of passionate members. So as Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we’d like to introduce you to some Gravitate members who originally hail from outside of the United States.
Paul Singh shared something on his blog this week with regards to comparing many of the 38 startup communities (including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Ames) that he had visited throughout the last year: "In short, it’s pretty much the same everywhere."
It isn’t uncommon to still be searching for your passion in life several decades in. Many of us are still asking ourselves what we want to be when we grow up far into our 30's, 40's and beyond. Some of us, though, find that spark so quickly it is electrifying and it drives us further than anything we ever dreamed.
Brad Dwyer first started programming at an age when many of us hardly knew how to use a computer, and has continued to push boundaries and challenge himself since then. I had the opportunity to chat with Brad about his Des Moines based startup Hatchlings, his background, and why he has decided to call Gravitate home.