Silicon Prairie News

4263_622c4a8079_small June 6, 2012 by Michael Stacy

Ames Silicon Prairie News: Can you explain the mission of College Info Geek and why you decided to launch the site? | Thomas Frank: This answer has two parts, because my mission has drastically changed over time. In all honesty, I had no plans of launching my own site in the beginning. At the time, one of my favorite college blogs was taking applications for writers, and I wanted to be one. Unfortunately, they rejected my application. That rejection (and the fact that I had a full post I had sent to them) motivated me to start my own college tips … read more

4254_f3d55d76c1_small June 5, 2012 by Michael Stacy

Olathe Silicon Prairie News: You're one of a handful of Dwolla team members not based in Des Moines. What do you do to stay tapped in to the company's culture from afar? | Brandon Ratzlaff: There are a couple of things we do that I think really help keep the remote members aligned with the rest of the team. The first is a daily G+ Hangout (G+ may lack much content, but its video chat features are pretty great) that everyone on the team is involved in at 11:11am. We each quickly go over our biggest "win" for the morning and what we'll be tackling that afternoon. It's a great way to bring up any roadblocks you have that involve other team members. Regular video calls in … read more

4240_fb9afaf06a_small June 1, 2012 by Michael Stacy

Des Moines Silicon Prairie News: In the nine months since you started your gig with the IEDA, what are a couple of the most important things you've learned? | Brian Waller: 1. Know your role. When working for a state agency such as IEDA, I realize that sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow and sometimes we get out of the way, but we always advocate for our state’s business community, both big and small. 2. There are no “stop and dance” moments after victories in economic development. You simply move on to the next project and try to advance your state’s cause in a way that would benefit its citizens today and build a platform for the future. | SPN: What's your typical elevator pitch to IT companies for why they should set roots in or relocate to Iowa? | BW: The goal of the “elevator pitch” … read more

4235_7f90b6bd88_small May 31, 2012 by Michael Stacy

Des Moines Silicon Prairie News: Give me your elevator pitch for Torsion Mobile's Mojaba. Why are mobile-friendly sites preferable to native apps? Tony Leo: Our official one-liner is Mojaba is a mobile-web publishing platform exclusively for agencies. Basically, it's a pretty cool piece of web-based software that allows an agency to create a mobile-optimized website without contracting with a development shop. Mobile sites are great because they can be accessible by a lot more devices than a native app. Smartphones are growing in popularity, but a lot of Americans are still using feature phones (non-smart), and even with the availability of apps, iOS owners are still using their browsers — more … read more

4230_ecd1a743f1_small May 30, 2012 by Michael Stacy

Omaha Silicon Prairie News: As the new guy at Corporate 3 since starting there in January, what have you tried to bring to the team? | Dylan Baumann: The coolest, quickest, most efficient way to get new websites up and running. Not to mention new resources/ideas/ways to look at problems. | SPN: You've said that the biggest part of your job is keeping up to date with technology. What are three of your favorite resources for keeping current on tech, and why do you like those? | DB: Design blogs (,, etc.), Twitter and music videos (love me some music videos). It's a great inspirational mixture without overloading yourself on pure design. … read more

4219_b0a1f2d716_small May 25, 2012 by Michael Stacy

Omaha Silicon Prairie News: With Oriental Trading Company, you're designing for users looking to make purchases that are usually fun and whimsical. How if at all do you try to reinforce those feelings with your design? | Josh Lawler: While the majority of our current product selection at Oriental Trading Company is geared towards children, our users are adults planning events for those children. As far as our web presence is concerned, we attempt to bridge this gap by using subtle design elements such as rounded corners and fonts to reflect safety, bright colors to reflect our culture and mission of making the world more fun and photographs of human faces to make emotional connections to … read more

4207_e30360e013_small May 24, 2012 by Michael Stacy

Omaha Silicon Prairie News: As a developer, you've been largely self-taught. What are a couple of resources you found most valuable to the learning process when you made the decision to eschew classroom instruction and teach yourself? | Adam Lassek: My friend Aron was instrumental in getting me interested in web development. When I was first starting out he would give me programming puzzles to solve. I spent an enormous amount of time on StackOverflow — I can't recommend that highly enough. Screencasts are also an effective way to learn — my favorites are Peepcode and Tekpub. I wish was around when I was getting started. … read more

4199_936eedfdd1_small May 23, 2012 by Michael Stacy

Omaha Silicon Prairie News: In the short time that you've been interning at VoterTide, how has your understanding and appreciation of the political landscape changed? | Paul Graff: To be honest, I had always assumed that politics were over my head. The whole thing seemed impossible for me to keep up with. Being at VoterTide has reinforced the fact that I don't need to listen to talk radio all day to know what is happening — keeping up with what Obama and Romney are doing can be done easily through platforms I already use daily, like Twitter. Now I follow all of the presidential candidates on Twitter, and it is slowly creating a clearer picture in my mind of what the landscape looks like. | SPN: You've described yourself a passionate about building stuff people love to use. What are three apps that… 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.