By Amy Kuhlers, Program Manager, Iowa Economic Development Authority
With EntreFEST happening later this month, it seemed like a good time to catch up with the event organizers at NewBoCo and get an inside scoop for attendees. Conference scoop they did, but in addition to running the Midwest’s biggest entrepreneurial event, the team at NewBoCo have their hands in a lot of other ‘pies’. In this month’s Resource Partner Spotlight, NewBoCo Director of Marketing, Jessalyn Holdcraft, filled us in on the upcoming conference, as well as the other innovative, educational and entrepreneurial programs and resources they provide.
1. The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, or NewBoCo, is an organization that I cannot sum up in a single sentence. Can you share how you best describe this innovative nonprofit?
- From the classroom to the boardroom, NewBoCo helps students, teachers, entrepreneurs, startups, nonprofits, government, and businesses respond to a changing world. NewBoCo creates and runs initiatives focused on entrepreneurship, education, and innovation to help Iowans of all ages succeed in a changing economy.
2. IASourceLink serves businesses across Iowa. Are there particular services or programs offered through NewBoCo that entrepreneurs not located in the Cedar Rapids area can take advantage of?
- Our mission is to accelerate world-changing ideas, from Iowa. We have a number of statewide and Midwest-wide programming that has attracted participants from across the country and the world.
- First off, attend EntreFEST! EntreFEST is a two-day conference that is one of the largest celebrations of the Midwest’s entrepreneurial and innovation community. Our speakers and attendees come from across the state and country to participate. Tickets are available now.
- Second, companies can apply to the Iowa Startup Accelerator! ISA is Iowa’s first tech-accelerator, and we have companies in our portfolio from across the country and the world. Teams can apply to be part of the Fall Batch (2018 cohort) here.
- Third, startups can apply to present to Corridor Angel Investors! CAI is group of accredited angels interested in investing in early-stage, Iowa-connected companies. The application is open to present on May 17 (during EntreFEST!), and applications close on April 24.
- Fourth, organizations can apply to present at 1 Million Cups! There are 1 Million Cups chapters all across Iowa: Cedar Rapids, the Cedar Valley, Des Moines, Iowa City, and Pocahontas.
- In addition to our statewide programs for entrepreneurs, we are the Code.org Regional Partner for the state of Iowa (teaching educators all across Iowa how to implement computer science classes in their districts), companies across the state benefit from our DeltaV Code School students, any established organization can be part of the educational and immersive experiences in Intrapreneur Academy, and we are the Regional Coordinator for Future City Iowa.
- We also offer Agile Coaching, and our staff is available for private workshops throughout Iowa. If your company is interested in adopting Agile, or you want to improve how you use Agile, we can work with you directly and get your team ready to sprint!
3. I’ve been very impressed with the educational programs launched through your organization that will help to build a strong skilled future workforce and better yet, new young entrepreneurs. Can you please share a bit about one or two of your favorite programs and some of the results you’ve seen?
- We are the Code.org Regional Partner for the state of Iowa! Through this partnership we train teachers from across the state how to teach computer science (link to Iowa map). So far in our first year, we have trained 32 middle and high school teachers who have reached 1,719 students to date. Applications are open now for our 2018-2019 teacher cohort. (link).
- DeltaV Code School, Iowa’s premier code school, had a successful first year. Our graduates all found jobs within two months of graduation with an average starting salary of $58,333. In a little over a year, we’ve introduced more than 100 adults to coding; in case you’re wondering, there are more than 4,363 open computer science jobs in Iowa, but last year Iowa’s public universities only had 364 graduates in computer science. There is a huge tech talent gap in Iowa and we’re trying to help narrow that. At our last Launch Day event, Naomi Homrighausen from UFG spoke about how happy they were with the hires they made out of their sponsorship of DeltaV.
- GirlsCode++, our girls-only code camp, has to be one of my favorite programs because it connects girls in grades 8-12 with women in technology, so the students get to learn from female instructors and the instructors get to mentor the next generation of ladies interested in STEM. Due to interest, we’ve been able to offer beginner and advanced coding courses as well as launch a gender neutral code camp, Code++, on Saturday, April 28.
4. Are the educational programs something that can be replicated in other parts of the state?
- Absolutely! Our stellar instructors and volunteers can’t be replicated, but our curriculum and offerings are well-documented. We have a number of K-12 educational programs that could be held in other cities as well as DeltaV Code School, which has held a course in Iowa City. Several of our K-12 programs stem from other national organizations, such as Future City, CoderDojo, and FIRST LEGO League, so schools and organizations across the state can start their own teams or chapters in order to bring these programs to their communities.
5. Finally, EntreFEST, Iowa’s largest conference for entrepreneurs, is just around the corner! Can you inform readers on why they should attend and any ‘insider’ tidbits you might be able to share?!
- First and foremost, EntreFEST is not just for entrepreneurs building startups. Over the years programming has expanded to include innovators, futurists, young professionals, marketing professionals, intrapreneurs, nonprofit professionals, small business owners, and economic and community developers.
- Take advantage of a low-cost, local professional development option
- Challenge yourself and your ideas
- Connect with peers who are facing similar challenges
- Take back innovative ideas from others you can apply to your role and organization
- Connect with people who can help you achieve your goals and grow
- Share your knowledge and expertise with others to help our business community thrive
- Show off what a great place our region is to live and work to other attendees so we can continue to attract and recruit new workforce to the area
- Keynote Speaker Scott Belsky: Scott Belsky is an executive, entrepreneur, author, investor, and now serves as Adobe’s Chief Product Officer. Scott’s passion is to make the creative world more productive, connected, and adaptive to new technologies. It’s so cool to have a keynote who is well-respected in the design community as well as someone who is an entrepreneur, investor, and now and now sets product design and strategy for a multi-billion dollar company. He is a great representation of all of the different types of people who should attend EntreFEST.
- Thursday Nightlife: Thursday night of EntreFEST is packed with so many opportunities to meet people over a drink and to see a different side of the city. Enjoy drinks with other conference attendees while seeing a live mural painting, hearing standup comedy, listening to a live podcast recording, and sharing stories about startup failure and success.
- Female Founders on the Hour: The Dostal House, Iowa’s first women’s only coworking space, is hosting a female founder every hour.