Silicon Prairie News

4301_87f6ffe9b0_small July 12, 2012 by Geoff Wood

Des Moines Last December, I wrote a post asking “Who’s the No. 2 startup in Des Moines?” In that post, I shared the results of an informal (and unscientific) poll that I conducted around the community to seek out which companies were the "top startups." While Dwolla was a unanimous selection at No. 1, there was no consensus on No. 2 or even what makes for a "top startup." The folks I talked to clearly felt like Dwolla was doing the correct things to be at the top even though most people didn't necessarily have a concrete opinion on what those "things" were. It seemed it was Dwolla and then everyone else. Fast forward to today, and progress within the local startup scene has helped bring greater clarity to the question I posed in December. Rather than defaulting to one company to characterize the startup … read more

4430_099d779101_small July 7, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Kansas City One Week KC was Kansas City's first major step towards realizing the vision established by our Chamber of Commerce: to make Kansas City America's Most Entrepreneurial City. It was one week (nine days, rather) of activities all around the city to help local entrepreneurs connect, form bonds, get inspired and celebrate entrepreneurship. It was an opportunity to spotlight the regular meetups and events that are already going on … read more

4421_2f26a621f0_small July 6, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Kansas City (Guest post by Matt Watson.) Software developers are usually very good problem solvers. So are entrepreneurs. I think a lot of software developers want to start their own business, but they struggle to find the right business idea and problem to solve. I have always loved the challenge of a big problem and I am a third generation entrepreneur. So I would say it was in my blood. But like other developers, I always struggled with what kind of business to start. Lucky for me, one day the opportunity presented itself. While I was in college I sold computers at Sears. On one random day a car dealer came in to buy a computer. He also needed some help with some software he had. Next thing you know, I was … read more

4393_9260260903_small June 30, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines (Guest post by Brianne Sanchez.) I traveled 7,317 miles to Qatar and came back wanting to go to Fargo. Yes, that Fargo. Let me tell you why. But first, a confession: I am not an entrepreneur. (Well, at least not yet.) I'm a lurker here in this space where ideas meet action, repurposing your #-ed wisdom for my more 8-4:30 career at a nonprofit. … read more

4378_6a87b9d214_small June 28, 2012 by Jeff Slobotski

Chicago I participated Monday in a Chicago TechWeek panel titled "Stories from the Silicon Prairie: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Outside of the Valley." I was joined by Naithan Jones of AgLocal, Thad Langford of Open Air Equity Partners, Ben Milne of Dwolla and Greg Kratofil of Polsinelli Shughart, who served as our panel's moderator. This was the first time that most of us had presented on the same panel, and I was interested in hearing stories … read more

4360_db7bf567a4_small June 23, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Omaha (Guest post by Daphne Eck.) For one glorious year, Fresh Juice entrepreneur and creative consultant, Elle Lynch, was the owner and chef of Daily Grub. If you're from Omaha, you probably know the joint as 2010's Best New Restaurant. A whole food, farm-to-table lunch spot that didn't necessarily sell itself as a vegan restaurant, but was. Everyone … read more

4355_6edd7cb125_small June 22, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines (Guest post by Michael Ferrari.) Sure the idea was mine, but to bring my idea to life, I needed help. This may or may not hold true for everyone starting a company. And more power to you, if you can design, build and launch your product on your own. Aaron Patzer, founder of, once told me that he basically locked himself in a room for months and coded the first rev of Mint all by himself. God bless him. But if you aren't a programmer (like me), chances are you won't get far with your idea until you bring on some help. Be it a business partner, outsourcing or hiring. I'm a firm believer that if you want to be taken seriously with a product, especially an online financial product where people will be entrusting you with their money, branding and design … read more

4315_beb0fc7c09_small June 15, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines Startup founders establish the culture of their companies. Culture means different things to different people, but here we're discussing the way the startup works, how team members interact, their work ethic, how they behave and how they react to outside inputs. How that culture expresses itself can be a strong asset to the startup or a destructive force that contributes to its death. We all have vague ideas of what we'd like to see in our working culture and more can say exactly what constitutes a toxic culture. Far too many have experienced the abusive boss, the stifling bureaucracy and resistance to change. For some, those factors caused them to start a company to begin with. The founder has the obligation and challenge to set and perpetuate … read more

The polls are open!

Through August 22, help us decide the winners of our inaugural Silicon Prairie Awards, which will recognize 12 companies and individuals. You can vote once per day per category.
Winners will be announced live on stage at
our August 30 event.