The Cedar Valley Startup Community organizes

Last Friday I had the opportunity to present to about 40 people in Cedar Falls at “Up the Valley”, an event put together by several folks hoping to organize the Cedar Valley (Waterloo, Cedar Falls & surrounding) startup community.

With a relatively new open coffee group, the recent debut of 1 Million Cups and their first Startup Weekend coming up this week, the Cedar Valley startup apparatus is in the process of going from 0-to-90 mph in just a few months. So, some of the organizers thought it would be a good idea to take a half day and see if they could get a wider section of the community all on the same page.

Brian Hemesath reprised his I/OWA Conference talk on “selling” but through the lens of selling your community while I gave a talk on what we’ve experienced in the Des Moines startup community.

When he first contacted me, Michael Caraway asked me to share the “Des Moines strategy” and what we’ve seen work/not work here in Central Iowa. I initially chuckled, as there have been a lot of individual and group efforts in Des Moines but never a community-wide strategy (or at least one that the whole community has gotten behind).

I tried to set the stage a bit by talking about the Six Tenets of an Entrepreneurial Community (derived from a blog post by Sarah Lacy) that I wrote about a lot back in the Silicon Prairie News heyday and then I gave my thoughts on things that have worked really well for community and some others that we’re still working on [more on this in a future post].

Following the talks from Brian and I, the room broke into groups and did some guided brainstorming on next steps.

It seemed the keyed in on two points that we had shared:

  1. The need for someone to tell the story of the community.
  2. Creating an entrepreneurial hub—a place for folks to get started or new folks to get oriented to the startup community.

Overall, I was really flattered to be invited and enjoyed the chance to take it all in. I expect big things to come from the Cedar Valley in the future.