Silicon Prairie News

Q&A: TAI leader Leann Jacobsen teases next week’s “TriTECHta”

Des Moines April 5, 2013 by Megan Bannister

Technology Association of Iowa's Prometheus Awards aims to honor individuals and companies who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in technology.

For the second year, the Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) is hosting its "TriTECHta," a trifecta of events that kicks off Tuesday with its i2iowa Investors and Innovators Forum and Prometheus Awards and closes Wednesday with Pitch & Grow.

To learn more about what's in store for next week's three TAI events, Silicon Prairie News conducted an email interview today with the organization's president, Leann Jacobsen. (Answers have been edited for length.)

Silicon Prairie News: This is the second year for i2iowa Investors and Innovators Forum. What's changed since 2012 and what can attendees look forward to this year?

Leann Jacobsen: This year's i2iowa event has expanded to bring together angel investors and early-stage companies form across the upper-Midwest. Our goal is to provide a super strong environment for regional networking and relationship-building. While the majority of companies presenting are from right here in Iowa, several companies are coming from Minnesota, Indiana, and even Colorado. The format of the event has changed a bit this year, as well. Instead fo dividing guests into different rooms throughout the day, all presenters will pitch back to back in one room. This ensures no one misses a presentation.

SPN: What are some of the factors or qualifications that are used to judge finalists nominated for the Prometheus Awards?

LJ: Each award has its own set of criteria. Percentages of the score are determined by how well the nominee meets criteria, such as market position, business impact, growth and management team. This is always an extremely difficult process—due to the large pool of high achievers—luckily we have an accomplished and diverse judging panel.

SPN: How are speakers chosen for i2iowa? What do you hope they bring to the conference?

LJ: The presenting companies are chosen by a committee of seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and business experts from around the state. This group of companies will bring energy, innovation, and a glimpse of the exciting deal opportunities investors can find in the Midwest.

SPN: Why do you believe these events are an important part of the Iowa tech community?

LJ: Collectively, they raise awareness of the incredible technology and innovation occurring across the state, as well as building statewide—and regional—community. Each individual event in the TriTECHta has an important role in the industry ecosystem:

  • i2iowa showcases early-stage companies before an important and influential group of angel investors.
  • The Prometheus Awards is an industry celebration of the past year's successes.
  • Pitch & Grow gives anyone with an idea an outlet for feedback and constructive advice.

More than anything, these events bring the industry together. The state's geography doesn't always make it easy for connecting, networking and making new friends. It's not easy for a business leader in Mason City to connect with someone in Iowa City. These two days make those connections possible.

SPN: How does TAI work to connect Iowa startups and tech developers outside of the TriTECHta?

LJ: Connections are what TAI does best, and some of the best opportunities to build relationships are at the TAI TechBrew events. TechBrew is an informal gathering that brings technologists, business people, and investors together over drinks. TechBrew happens in cities all over the state monthly. The complete schedule can be found on the TAI Calendar.


Note: Silicon Prairie News is a media sponsor of the Prometheus Awards.

Credits: Photo from Technology Association of Iowa on Facebook.

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