The best outcomes of Thinc Iowa are the unexpected ones
Startup America Partnership CEO Scott Case (middle) speaks with attendees at the Thinc Iowa 2011 speaker and sponsor reception.
It's hard to believe, but we're just three weeks out from our second annual Thinc Iowa conference. Our team is heads down, working hard to execute the small details that go into putting on our Silicon Prairie Series events. We do our best to make sure everything fits into the overall experience: from the parties to the speakers to the venue.
As we look forward to the event kicking off October 9, however, we're most excited about the things that will happen that we didn't plan. It's these unexpected outcomes – the ones that have nothing to do with us – that come from bringing together 500 people in cool venues for two and a half days that intrigue me most.
In thinking about last year's Thinc Iowa, two such outcomes come to mind:
Scott Case meets Tej Dhawan and Christian Renaud
When we asked Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America partnership and founding CTO of Priceline.com, to join the speaker slate, we didn’t know anything about his organization's plans to foster entrepreneurial communities in each state. However, when Case was in town for the event he met local community leaders Tej Dhawan and Christian Renaud and together they laid the groundwork for what would launch a month later as StartupIowa. Nearly a year later, Case often lauds StartupIowa (such as in his recent Huffington Post column) as one of the most active and interesting regions. He's also returned to Des Moines twice for speaking engagements.
Paige Craig meets Ben Milne
Los Angeles-based serial entrepreneur and angel investor Paige Craig had not spent a significant amount of time in Des Moines before last year's event. He came in a day early and immediately asked us to show him the local startup scene. Craig took a brief tour of Sixth Avenue the next morning and had a chance to meet the Dwolla team in their office, even though founder and CEO Ben Milne wasn't present. Milne and Craig, both speakers at the conference, did meet the next morning and a few months later it was announced that Craig participated in Dwolla's $5 million series B round. Marc Eckō, who Milne met at Big Omaha 2011, also participated in the round.
Looking back at all five Silicon Prairie Seres events we've produced (four Big Omahas and one Thinc Iowa), there are countless other unexpected outcomes that can be traced back to the serendipitous combination of elements involved. We didn't foresee them, we didn't plan for them and – other than providing the forum – we had very little to do with them. That's what makes them my favorite part.
I can't wait to see what will come from this year's Thinc Iowa.