Startup Fair draws 100 exhibitors, more than 400 visitors across Iowa
Some of the sights of Tuesday's statewide Iowa Startup Fair included (clockwise from top left) Fair-goers in Cedar Rapids; the Arch booth at StartupCity Des Moines; conversation in Pella and bountiful beverages at StartupCity.
Given the record temperatures on the last day of January, Tuesday evening's Iowa Startup Fair could probably have been held outdoors at the state fairgrounds. But since meteorologists' predictive powers are still far short of Nostradamus, the crowd at StartupCity Des Moines, Amici and other area locations would have to just crack some windows to approximate that fairground feeling.
As it was, six locations between Des Moines, Pella and Cedar Rapids opened as public, free exhibition space for any startup entity in Iowa.
"We had more than 150 people visit (the Startup City Des Moines location), plus about 50 ... exhibitors," said StartupCity's Becky Mollenkamp, the organizer of the largest Des Moines location and one of the coordinators for the statewide event. "The event exceeded our expectations in all ways."
Tej Dhawan, a principal at StartupCity and the founder of Pikuzone, said the fair was conceived to be part of a larger wave of startup news and events happening across the country yesterday, which marked the one-year anniversary of the Startup America Partnership's launch.
"A whole series of events have been planned, starting at 7 a.m. this morning, all the way through midnight in Hawaii," Dhawan said. "As we were talking with the Startup America group about how we could celebrate their anniversary, and therefore the anniversary of the whole startup community, we figured the best way to highlight (it) would be to highlight the startups in the state of Iowa and our communities."
"We figured the best way to highlight (it) would be to highlight the startups in the state of Iowa and our communitites." - Tej Dhawan
"We knew that startup activity was not just in Des Moines, but outside Des Moines as well," said Dhawan. "So we connected with the Startup Alliance, which consists of accelerators and incubators, and co-working spaces statewide. We received awesome feedback, thinking we'd hit about 30 to 40 startups statewide."
In all, 102 companies participated in the statewide event.
Assisted Transition's owner, Steve Ferguson, who occupied a booth at BitMethod, agreed: "I'm glad that they have this event where small businesses can get out and see what else is going on in the community."
In turn, those businesses were seen by over 400 attendees, according to a press release from StartupIowa.
“Startups in this state are really well-connected with each other and the same seems to be true within the broader business community,” said Christian Renaud, principal at StartupCity Des Moines.
Organizers say they plan do hold a similar event again this fall.