Eastern Iowa a top spot for entrepreneurs? It soon will be. Eric Engelmann and Ben Dillon, co-owners of Cedar Rapids-based software company Geonetric, have announced plans to launch Iowa’s first 90-day accelerator program for pre- and early-revenue startups. While the Corridor currently has significant resources available to entrepreneurs, most are aimed at companies that have already proved themselves viable. This newly-formed accelerator will attract and cultivate early stage startups, helping to turn concepts into businesses ready for funding.
Teams will compete for up to 10 spots in the accelerator program, which has begun taking applications. Accepted teams will receive seed funding, access to a broad mentor network, and entrepreneurial boot camp training. The 90-day program culminates in a “demo day” in which each startup shows off its progress for potential customers and investors.
“We have a number of high-growth startups in the Corridor, but we need to have dozens more to really build the critical mass of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can survive over the long term,” says Engelmann, president and CEO of Geonetric and founding sponsor of the accelerator. “Accelerators are designed to attract and produce early stage startups, and rapidly increase the odds of each startup’s success – exactly what we need.”
In addition, accelerator participants will have access to the fastest Internet bandwidth available in Iowa through a 10 gigabit fiber optic connection provided by founding sponsor ImOn Communications.
“Startups need every advantage they can get,” says Jeff Janssen, vice president, sales and marketing at ImOn Communications. “ImOn Communications is proud to provide ultra-high-speed broadband service for our startup community, delivered by one of the most fiber rich networks in the country. And we believe it will be a compelling reason for companies to start here.”
During the program, the 10 teams will work in a fully-furnished, collaborative workspace in Geonetric’s currently-under-construction 45,000 square-foot building in the New Bohemia neighborhood. The accelerator is set to induct its first teams in the summer of 2014, shortly after the building officially opens.
“Boulder, Nashville, Kansas City and many others have built successful accelerators as part of their entrepreneurial communities,” says Engelmann. “We need this type of program in the Corridor so that entrepreneurs – the risk takers, innovators, dreamers – build their companies here and keep the knowledge they’re gaining right here in Eastern Iowa. This is a long-term play: these startups will be pillars of our local economy in ten or twenty years.”
Geonetric is a 14-year-old software company that builds websites for hospitals around county. The Cedar Rapids-based company employs more than 70 creative and talented individuals. Named to the Inc. 5000 list for seven consecutive years and a two-time recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness, Geonetric is continuously recognized for its exceptional work environment. In addition to the company’s efforts in advancing the healthcare technology industry, Geonetric is also focused on improving the Cedar Rapids community. Whether by supporting local entrepreneurship efforts or building websites for non-profits during the company’s annual Operation Overnight event, community involvement is built into the foundation of Geonetric’s culture. Visit the Geonetric website or @Geonetric for more information.
About ImOn Communications
ImOn Communications is the local provider of high-speed Internet, cable TV and phone services to residents of Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha. Delivered by one of the most fiber rich data networks in the country, ImOn Communications provides businesses with advanced communications services including dedicated and redundant Ethernet Internet, point-to-point fiber connections, access to multiple regional data centers, and SIP trunking. Learn more at ImOn Communications homepage.