This week Tej Dhawan, Andy Stoll, Amanda Styron, and I trekked to Boulder Colorado for the StartupAmerica Partnership Regional Leaders Summit to represent StartupIowa. Over the two days, the SUAP team and our peer regions (states) were relentless in sharing best practices and programs that they have developed to build their entrepreneurial ecosystems.
The Summit has had me thinking deeply about where we are in the gestation of StartupIowa and the overall ecosystem within the state. Iowa has had a long history of innovation and entrepreneurialism, and we are in the middle of a transition from the prior model of economic-development-driven scarcity-silos to one of open-innovation, regional sharing and the recognition that abundance comes from collaboration and not the zero-sum-game of competition.
From the beginning of this journey, I’ve considered it a multi-phase process to fully develop a culture of big risks, continual innovation, and the resultant successes that are the hallmark of any thriving entrepreneurial hub. I will call Phase One our ‘Enlightenment’ phase, and is/was as simple as getting the tribe together, meeting each other, networking, and building a sense of self as a community. The community moves from one of isolated individuals to a sense of pride of being part of the startup tribe.
We are here.