Yesterday afternoon I was suprised by a congratulatory tweet from Lynn Hicks at the Des Moines Register letting me know that I had been nominatated for a Silicon Prairie Community Champion award at the inaugural Silicon Prairie Awards late this month. I am humbled to be nominated for the award and included in such a group with Joni, Thad and Dusty.
As usual, I have mixed feelings. I think the rapid progress across the Prairie is the result of not one, or four, or forty individuals, but the entire community rowing in the same direction. Publications such as Silicon Prairie News, the Des Moines Business Record, and the Des Moines Register continually highlight the multiple accomplishments across the region by entrepreneurs of every species. It is the aggregate of all of these accomplishments that deserve 99.999% of the credit for the renaissance in entrepreneurialism we are experiencing.
That said, I cannot emphasize enough the outstanding accomplishments of my co-nominees. I met Dusty two years ago at my first BigOmaha and he has been relentless in his regional collaboration and open-door attitude so seldom found in traditional economic development organizations. He is cut from a different cloth, and I use him often as an example to his Iowa peers as the personification of a 'abundance, not scarcity' mindset that is going to get us from where we are to where we need to go.
Joni and I met at this last BigOmaha via an introduction by the indefatigable Bart Dillashaw. She immediately impressed me by having a fiercely entrepreneur-centric compass by which she steers Pipeline, an excellent program for mid-stage startup CEOs to work with one another to share learnings and collaborate. She showed more of this same zeal at a recent three-state collaboration event hosted by Gallup in Omaha that we attended where she brought in CEOs from Kansas City and Omaha and discussed cross-border ecosystem building.
Thad was also at the Gallup event and immediately distinguished himself to the group by having the pragmatic, no-nonsense attitude of a serial entrepreneur. I had not met Thad prior to the event, but was quick to grab his business card as it is obvious that he is going to go through the (somewhat labrinthine by Iowa standards) Kansas City entreprenurial ecosystem like a tornado through a trailer park.
Finally, Iowa. The considerable progress we've had in Iowa has been the direct result of the entire tribe leaning in and taking an ownership role in the future of the community. StartupCity would not exist without Tej Dhawan shouldering an ever-increasing amount of weight. The guy puts circus strongmen to shame. Ditto for Mike Colwell at the BIZ who has 4-5 meetings per day with wantrepreneurs across the entire spectrum of ideas, and who created (the desperately-needed) Plains Angels out of thin air in June. The entrepreneurs and mentors of StartupCity, like Brian Hemesath (who is both a mentor and entrepreneur), who selflessly give their time and energy to help one another along the bumpy entrepreneural journey. StartupIowa missionaries like Amanda Styron of SeedHere, Joel Bennett of Veel Hoeden, Josh Cramer of CramerDev, Ben Milne of Dwolla, John Schnipkoweit, Levi Rosol, Andrew Kirpilani, Tom Chapman (who is selflessly advancing the Iowa cause from Nebraska regularly), Dan Shipton, Andy Stoll, Alexander Grgurich, and about a million more that I will kick myself repeatedly in the ass today for not including in this short pre-caffeine list. All of these people deserve an award for their constant exertions to make Iowa a better place for startups and entrepreneurship in general.
Collectively, everyone above, and everyone they work with and everyone THEY work with (and so on, ad infinitum) deserve the real credit for being the champions of the Prairie. Don't vote for me.