Silicon Prairie News

StartupCity welcomes residents, coworkers; now allows “part-timers”

Des Moines February 12, 2013 by Danny Schreiber Only 19 days until Big Omaha. Get your tickets before they sell out!

StartupCity Des Moines, an early stage tech startup incubator in its second year, announced today the addition of two Des Moines startups to its group of residents.

PosterZen, a web-based tool to create and order custom posters, came on board in November and PhoneBank.org, an online platform that aims to make it easy for users to organize a calling campaign to lobby Congress, enrolled this month.

"They're both great companies. Ryan (Morrison) and Zach (Edwards) are both really, really sharp guys," StartupCity principal and co-founder Christian Renaud said in a phone call today. Morrison founded PosterZen last year and Edwards teamed up with Virginia Davies to create PhoneBank.org in 2012, as well.

With the addition of Phonebank and PosterZen, StartupCity now has seven resident startups. Early residents Real Estate Fan Pages, Tikly and Pikuzone are all still a part of the incubator. Meidh, Present.io and ShareWhere, three other early residents, have since departed.

Meidh, as announced by StartupCity, "graduated" in January and relocated to an incubator at Simpson College, where its founder will serve as director.

In December, Renaud announced that he had folded his startup, presentation recording software Present.io. Earlier this month, Renaud held a "wake" for Present.io in which he shared his learnings with attendees.

ShareWhere, a social location service, is no longer listed on StartupCity's resident page. Renaud declined to comment on the startup's status, but he said there would be news on ShareWhere coming soon.

Part-timers now welcome

In a blog post last month, StartupCity said it had expanded its charter – the incubator is funded by government and private entities – to include part-time startups. Renaud (right) distinguished between the two as whether the entrepreneur has "primary focus" on their startup or somewhere else.

That said, even a "full-time startup" is hard to define.

"I think everybody in the entrepreneurial realm has other things that they will either get distracted on or maybe that provide some additional income, some consulting and such," Renaud said, referring to StartupCity's full-time residents.

Coworkers, too

StartupCity now hosts 3-4 entrepreneurs in a coworking capacity, Renaud said, each added through individual invites by the incubator.

"The other thing we did – in a very, very limited way – we started bringing in … tech, startup, entrepreneur folks that were working from home or whatever, but they would do better in a shared environment," Renaud said.

He noted that StartupCity, however, isn't "trying to become a coworking space," it doesn't want to compete in that sector.

Coming soon: biotechnology and manufacturing

Renaud said the other "big addition" to StartupCity is two new focus areas: biotechnology and advanced manufacturing. In Iowa, these industries, along with information technology, are known to be a focus for economic development agencies, including the Iowa Economic Development Authority, one of StartupCity's investors.

"I think there's a huge opportunity as Midwesterns to do something really unique in intersecting those disciplines and having companies that combine the best of information technology, bioscience and manufacturing," Renaud said.

The incubator, which announced its expanded focus in January, is already in initial conversations with companies in both areas. The companies, Renaud said, wouldn't require 3D printers or wet labs, but would benefit from StartupCity's shared environment.

 

Credits: Photo by Anna Jones | Art of Photography. Christian Renaud photo courtesy of Renaud.

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