Start-Up Central to put tech startups on display at 80/35 Music Festival
Music fans headed to Des Moines' Western Gateway Park on Saturday for the 80/35 Music Festival (right) probably have designs on catching Death Cab For Cutie, the concert's second-day headliner. Other concert-goers may be drawn in by acts like Atmosphere, Greensky Bluegrass or Leftover Salmon.
That trio, along with Bawte, FreeBeeCards and ShareWhere, will be on display from 2-6 p.m. Saturday as part of Start-up Central, a first-year effort to highlight Des Moines entrepreneurs in conjunction with 80/35, an annual summer concert now in its fifth year.
The six startups (plus potential late additions to the lineup) will set up shop under a tent on the grounds of the music festival, providing the companies exposure to a potential audience of some 15,000 concertgoers — and vice versa.
Justin Schoen is president of the nonprofit Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, which organizes 80/35. He helped spearhead the effort to incorporate startups into this year's festival and says Saturday will provide the companies — which are all tech-based and consumer-facing — a golden opportunity to acquire users.
"I mean, we're expecting over 15,000 people a day," he said, "so over a four-hour period for many of these (startups) it's kind of one shot to hit more people in a short amount of time than they'll ever have, a way for them to meaningfully connect with consumers or customers."
Schoen (left) said the Des Moines community stands to benefit just like the companies.
"For Des Moines, I think it's a great way to highlight innovative companies that are developing in the community," Schoen said, "and to showcase the connection between entrepreneurship and arts and culture and that it's all part of a creative scene in Des Moines."
Schoen points to South by Southwest as an example of what's possible for an event at the intersection of music and tech. While Schoen said 80/35 isn't necessarily out to duplicate SXSW, Start-Up Central definitely has aspirations of building upon the foundation established this year.
"Growing it is really what we want to do," Schoen said. "We wanted to get something started this year … and really grow this into something that can be bigger and could be a big partnership moving forward.”
Disclosure: Silicon Prairie News is a media sponsor of Start-Up Central.
Credits: Photo of 80/35 from 80/35 on Facebook.