A Startup Weekend Iowa story


In a complete coincidence, I was wearing a Startup Weekend Des Moines 2009 t-shirt on the day I launched this blog. That event was my introduction to the startup community in Iowa and also the subject of my first ever post about it. I’ve been thinking about that event a lot this week.

At the time, my wife and I (and our one month old son) were living in Indianapolis. We’d made the decision to move closer to family to help support us as we both changed careers. I was in the last few weeks of my MBA at Indiana University and my wife was getting set to start law school at Creighton (spoiler alert: we switched it up and decided on Drake Law and Des Moines a few weeks after this story and never did move to Omaha). I’d found out about a Startup Weekend Indianapolis a few days after the fact and thought it sounded like an awesome event. I checked their website for upcoming events and saw that one was scheduled shortly in Des Moines. It seemed like a good way to network so I bought my ticket. I caught a flight to Omaha, rented a car, and met with several folks there on Thursday and Friday morning before driving east to Des Moines to check it out.

Startup Weekend was held at Impromptu Studio - Des Moines’ first coworking community - and I remember that I was the only one in the room wearing a sport coat. I remember there were way too many pitches for the number of people in the room and many of them were really bad (I didn’t have the guts to pitch myself). I was part of the “Toy Bin Trader” team and we suffered from a fate that’s affected many Startup Weekend’s I’ve been around since - not enough developers. While we ultimately did not win anything or even continue on after Sunday, what I remember most is that was an outstanding way to get introduced to the Iowa startup community.

Off the top of my head, I know that included in the thirty participants at that event were: Mike Bird, Gabe Glynn, Rob Jensen, Drew Larson, Torey Maerz, Shane Reiser, Levi Rosol, Dan Shipton and Mike Templeton. SmartyPig was the main sponsor and Mars Cafe provided the coffee.

In the four and half years since, our community has hosted a dozen or so Startup Weekends in five cities. The sixth city to host will be Cedar Rapids when they host on February 28. If you get the chance I encourage you to participate and get to know that part of our startup community.

Bonus Trivia!

  • A quote in my post about the event identified that 52 cities had hosted Startup Weekends at that point. According to their website that number is now 478.
  • Cedar Rapids becomes the sixth city in Iowa to host but the fifth city to actually have the title. The others are Ames, Des Moines, Iowa City and Spencer. The second Startup Weekend Des Moines was actually held in Clive.
  • Last November I participated in Startup Weekend Arkansas (in Fayetteville) and our team won 2nd place. I have a medal. I wear it for at least an hour every couple weeks.

Photo Credit: my wife's iPhone