Technology Association of Iowa


Branstad-Reynolds campaign joined by Perry at special event

In conjunction with its introduction of its Coworking Thursday programming, StartupCity Spencer hosted the Iowa Republican administrative team of Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, as well as their guest, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and offered the campaigning a look at the entrepreneurial think tank.
Perry was in town to attend a fundraiser for the incumbent Republican Iowa leadership duo, hosted at Gary's On The River in Spencer, prior to the StartupCity Spencer event. The technology hub is located on the ground floor of the Gary's complex. All three were quite impressed with where SCS has come since its doors opened in 2013.

"There are a lot of jobs that are going to come from start-up businesses," Branstad said, looking forward. "This is a grass roots effort to help start businesses."

Noting tax legislation passed last year, Branstad added, "We want to provide assistance, guidance and the resources necessary to help launch businesses here in Iowa. We need to make Iowa look as attractive as possible."

StartupCity Spencer is a technology startup incubator and collaborative workspace serving the Iowa Lakes area and northwest Iowa at large. It addresses the business development needs of early-stage firms that need mentoring, education and space to grow into viable companies. The incubator represents best-in-class rural economic development that leverages the area's unique attributes and opportunities with statewide alliances. It also provides a visible demonstration of technology and innovation occurring in the region, and gives entrepreneurs in northwest Iowa a supportive environment to grow their companies locally.

"This is the center of creativity and entrepreneurial energy in northwest Iowa," SCS founder Leann Jacobsen said. Noting the center's early successes with lunch and learn opportunities, two statewide Pitch & Grow events, mentorship and collaborative efforts, she indicated this may be one of the tools necessary to keep some of the state's developing creatives home.

"Now we can support their business ideas," she said.

"That's what your doing right here in Spencer," Reynolds agreed. "They don't feel they have to go to California to do this."

Jacobsen credited Spencer Municipal Utilities with providing the broadband capabilities necessary to allow the interface between those in the Spencer area and business and technology experts at various locations around Iowa and across the globe.

Perry said Iowa offers a nice alternative to the major metropolitan areas where young creatives and technology-oriented business professionals typically locate because its more cost-friendly.

"You've created the infrastructure strong enough to support technology growth," Perry commented. "People are looking for places to relocate to. Your home growing your own innovation. There are people looking for places like this to go."

Branstad added, "We want to get broadband service to all parts of the state. We're glad you've got it here, but we need it everywhere."

Among the guests in attendance, one regional business operator complained about the impacts the health care changes at the federal level have had on his ability to operate a competitive business on a global scale.

All three agreed the health care mandate is "unaffordable, unsustainable and changing every day."

"It's sympathetic of a problem that's been in Washington for a while - centralization of power in Washington is a bipartisan offense," Perry said.

The Texas governor, whose name is being mentioned for another possible GOP presidential run, said Washington needs to limit its scope of focus and then excel at those.

"Leave everything else for the states," he continued, suggesting issues such as health care, education and infrastructure be left to those who know their own needs better than the federal government.

Perry joined the Branstad-Reynolds campaign as it traveled across the state Thursday. Following the Spencer stop, the group departed for the Blue Bunny Ice Cream parlor in Le Mars.

Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: May 29, 2014, 6:00 am

Via The Des Moines Register by Marco Santana

If you have yet to connect with Des Moines technology and startup scene, you might want to get on that.

The metro area was named as one of the top five under-the-radar tech hubs in the U.S. by SpareFoot, an online marketplace for storage containers.

Only Boise, Idaho, topped Des Moines on the list, which was compiled by the Austin, Texas,-based tech startup.

Mike Colwell of the Business Innovation Zone in Des Moines was quoted in the piece, saying the startup ecosystem was strong and highlighting some of the upcoming initiatives that aim to enhance startups in Iowa even more.

Colwell included Technology Association of Iowa's Pitch and Grow, Plains Angels investment group and the area's 1 Million Cups program, among others.

The piece on the SpareFoot website pointed out the presence of Meredith Corp. and Wells Fargo, while reminding readers that the city has been named on to several lists during the past year.

Dwolla, Social Money and ScoutPro were singled out as tech startup stars.

Little Rock, Ark., Baton Rouge, La., and Portland, Maine, rounded out the top five.


Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: May 22, 2014, 6:00 am

The Braintrust Consulting Group, a worldwide leader in Agile transformations, will offer two Scrum certification classes: Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) June 16-19, 2014 at the Hampton Inn & Suites – Ankeny location. The certification classes are intended to teach attendees how to learn, plan, and implement Agile processes with the goal of increasing predictability of delivery, decreasing time-to-market, and improving overall client satisfaction.

Certified ScrumMaster (June 16-17) class is an in-depth two-day immersion into the world of Scrum. Scrum is a simple yet incredibly powerful set of principles and practices that help teams deliver products in short cycles, enabling fast feedback, continual improvement, and rapid adaptation to change. As the leading Agile development framework, Scrum has predominantly been used for software development, but it is also proving to be effective in efforts far beyond.

This class is ideal for IT Professionals (Architects, BAs, DBAs, Developers, Testers, etc.), IT Leadership (Managers/Directors/VPs/CIOs/CTOs), and Project Managers. Members of the Project Management Institute will earn 14 Professional Development Units (PDUs) toward maintaining their existing credentials by attending this class. For additional details about the Certified ScrumMaster class, please visit:

Certified Scrum Product Owner (June 18-19) class offers attendees a two-day in-depth immersion into the world of Agile Product Management. This class is full of practical, real world techniques that attendees can implement immediately. Hands-on exercises demonstrate key concepts and let attendees experience the benefits of Scrum firsthand. For additional details about the Certified Scrum Product Owner class, please visit:

This class is ideal for Product Managers/Business Analysts, Functional/Operational Managers, Project Sponsors, and IT Leadership (Managers/Directors/VPs/CIOs/CTOs). Members of the Project Management Institute will earn 14 Professional Development Units (PDUs) toward maintaining their existing credentials by attending this class.

The Braintrust Consulting Group chose Iowa because of the state’s reputation as one of the best places for business and careers, according to Forbes Magazine. Braintrust President, Brian Rabon said, “Our decision to host classes in Iowa was based on Des Moines’ commitment to the growth of technology-based companies. Through the efforts of the Technology Association of Iowa, Des Moines boasts a strong and talented ecosystem of technology professionals. We are proud to participate in their technology industry by bringing our world-class training to Des Moines.”

Lonnie Weaver-Johnson, CST, will teach the classes. Weaver-Johnson is the Agile Practice Lead for The Braintrust Consulting Group. She obtained a degree in communications and then went on to a 20+ year career implementing IT projects and leading people through change. Lonnie enjoys transforming people through coaching, conflict resolution, performance management, and imparting knowledge. Since 2006, Lonnie has worked with Scrum and her experience has taken her across the United States and to foreign lands such as India and Canada.

Individual attendee and group pricing are both available. To learn more about the Agile approach to training and additional upcoming classes in the Des Moines area, please visit:

About The Braintrust Consulting Group

With offices in Birmingham, Alabama, Los Angeles, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. The Braintrust Consulting Group is a worldwide leader in Agile transformations. Through practical, hands-on training and enterprise and team coaching, we help our clients learn, plan, and implement Agile processes, such as Scrum and Kanban. Our goal is to teach our clients how to increase predictability of delivery, decrease time-to-market, and improve overall client satisfaction.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:


The Braintrust Consulting Group, a worldwide leader in Agile transformations, will offer two Scrum certification classes: Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) June 16-19, 2014 at the Hampton Inn & Suites – Ankeny location.

Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: May 13, 2014, 6:00 am

Via the Omaha World-Herald

The Technology Association of Iowa is bringing its monthly networking event, TechBrew, to Council Bluffs the first Tuesday of every month beginning in May.

Entrepreneurs, technology buffs, students and venture capitalists are invited to mingle at Dixie Quicks restaurant at 147 W. Broadway from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 6. The event is open to anyone interested in attending.

Said Leanna Jacobsen, president of the Technology Association of Iowa: “We buy the first beer and invite everybody in and they take it from there.”

Seven other Iowa cities host the monthly, informal networking events, which Jacobsen said have “produced a new dynamic for technologists, creatives and funders to collaborate.”

Leadership at TAI have been working to expand the group’s presence in southwest Iowa for about two years. The group launched a monthly TechBrew event in the northwestern community of Spencer, Iowa, last year.

For more information or to RSVP, visit

Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: May 3, 2014, 6:00 am

Via the Des Moines Register by Marco Santana

A Coralville-based technology business owner has been named one of 24 finalists for a regional entrepreneur award.

MediRevv president Chris Klitgaard was one of three Iowa finalists for Ernst & Young's Upper Midwest Entrepreneur of the Year award, Ernst officials announced this week.

MediRevv helps health care companies manage patient records and other aspects of their revenue cycle, from patient acquisition to insurance payment.

Last month, Klitgaard received the Technology Association of Iowa's award for top growth company of the year.

Klitgaard joined Duane Smith of the insurance and financial company True North in Cedar Rapids and Van Miller of Waterloo's VGM Group on the finalist list.

Minnesota-based Ernst & Young is a professional services company that recognizes entrepreneurs with its annual award in several regions for the last 28 years.

The Upper Midwest region includes Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: May 2, 2014, 6:00 am

48 Hour Community Hack-a-thon coming to Des Moines in Early Summer

Computer coding opportunity to benefit local charities

DES MOINES, Iowa – (April 30, 2014) Des Moines is excited to announce a statewide hack-a-thon event, dsmHack. The event will take place June 12-14 at StartupCity Des Moines (317 6th Avenue, 5th floor, Des Moines, IA).

This tech-agnostic event will bring together engineers, computer programmers, software developers and designers throughout Iowa to encourage collaborative spirit and build technological solutions for local non-profit organizations.

“Our goal was to bring the Des Moines tech-industry together without having one specific company back or sponsor the event” stated Jennifer Oswald, of Source Allies. “As an added benefit to Des Moines, we also get to do something good for a charity and to give back to the community”

Charities interested in having their problems turned into technology related solutions can submit a proposal at . Participating non-profits will be selected by the hack-a-thon review committee.

“This hack-a-thon is focused on community.” said Jodi Jones, Principal Financial Group. “It is an event where we can come together, build software, learn from each other, and give back to the community.  Build. Learn. Give.”

DSMHack will kick off Thursday, June 12 where selected charities will pitch their need to the group of industry attendees. Participants will then divide up into groups for a 48-hour coding rush to work on the charity project of their choice, promote innovation and build camaraderie. 

Registration is $20 for participants and includes meals, drinks, snacks and a t-shirt. For more information or to register, please visit



Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: April 30, 2014, 6:00 am

Via the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier by Jim Offner

CEDAR FALLS | As far as the Technology Association of Iowa is concerned, Wade Arnold went out on top.

TAI recently honored Arnold as its CEO of the Year in its annual awards ceremony in Des Moines.

The award came weeks after Arnold sold Banno, the company he and partners Ken Lockard and Bob Smith launched as T8 Webware in 2008 in Cedar Falls.

Monett, Mo.-based Jack Henry & Associates Inc. recently bought the company for an undisclosed sum.

Arnold now is managing director for the new entity, Banno at ProfitStars.

“For me, what was neat about that was it was a bookend to the last six years to what I’ve been doing at Banno,” Arnold said. “It was a really neat way to close out a journey.”

When asked what led to his success, Arnold shifted credit to others.

“I really think it’s simple as surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and being honest that you don’t know everything and filling those gaps -- from board members to senior-level management and people we’re able to attract,” he said.

As a manager, Arnold said, it always has been his job to get out of the way as much as to lead.

“No. 1, we believe it’s management’s role to unblock the people doing their work,” he said. “Our job is to work for them, not see them as working for us. When you have a leadership team that does that, you have people who aren’t afraid to innovate and grow a successful company.”

That philosophy captures the essence of Arnold’s success, Lockard said.

“Wade is one of the few people -- let’s call him an inventor -- he’ the first guy I’ve ever met that also had the business side of the brain, where he could run an organization, but one of his other main skill sets is finding a great workforce and building a culture in that workforce,” Lockard said.

Whatever the reason, the company grew. And, only six years after launching T8 Webware and two years after renaming it Banno, Arnold sold the tech firm to Jack Henry & Associates, which had collaborated with the company beginning last year.

The company employs more than 80 workers in Cedar Falls.

Jack Henry & Associates will grow the company further, Arnold said.

“One of the weaknesses of Banno was not having a strong sales team and support infrastructure,” he said. “(Jack Henry & Associates) is the No. 1-rated company in customer satisfaction in IT. Their tenured sales team, which is indicative of their success, is the top, as well, in the country. The team I’m now a part of complements areas we had strengths in, so that’s why I think it’s going to be a great fit.”

Arnold received the award in front of a contingent representing Iowa’s biggest technology firms.

“It’s pretty incredible when there’s 800 people in the room that represent every major company in the state of Iowa and then having (Iowa Economic Development Authority Director) Debi Durham there giving shout-outs to me when she’s giving her talks. I think it’s a great way to celebrate a growing part of Iowa’s economy.”

Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: April 27, 2014, 6:00 am

TAI members are hopeful that lawmakers work out their differences on infrastructure incentives aimed at growing broadband access in underserved areas of Iowa.  Although there has been bipartisan support in both chambers at the committee level to address broadband needs in Iowa,  House File 2472 fell shy of the votes needed yesterday in the Iowa House of Representatives. 
“We know that there is interest among all parties to get something done on broadband this legislative session” said Leann Jacobson, TAI President.  “In addition to the broadband incentives, TAI members actively sought and support the STEM internship program that is included in the broadband initiatives”. 
“The STEM internship program is critical for growing the pool of talent available to Iowa employers of all sizes and in every corner of the state.  Legislators who could not provide support for the bill today should recognize that this is a first step in an ongoing process to expand broadband access throughout Iowa.  We urge policy makers to roll up their sleeves and find a way to resolve their differences before adjourning for the year”.  
About TAI
TAI is a member-based, nonprofit organization accelerating the success of Iowa’s technology industry. TAI creates and sustains a positive environment for technology-based economic growth and job creation through innovation, advocacy, and leadership. TAI members include organizations of every size, involved in every aspect of technology creation, production, application and education in Iowa. Go to or call 515-280-7702 for more information. 


Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: April 26, 2014, 6:00 am

Via The Des Moines Register by Marco Santana

The Technology Association of Iowa's leader for nine years will step down at the end of August.

Leann Jacobsen told the Des Moines Register that she will resign to spend more time in her hometown of Spencer, working on local projects like a musical festival, farmers market and the coworking space StartupCity Spencer.

"It's time for me to start a new chapter," she said in an interview at the association's downtown Des Moines office. "The association is so healthy and strong and positioned to do great work."

Officials with the organization say that is a direct result of Jacobsen's work.

Jacobsen has been the driving force behind the organization's most-popular events like the Women of Innovation and Prometheus award ceremonies, which recognize outstanding achievements in Iowa technology. She also helped create Pitch and Grow, a pitch competition that gives new entrepreneurs an opportunity to show off what they have been working on.

"This job has offered me the privilege to work with the smartest, most talented and inspiring risk takers on the planet," Jacobsen said.

Networking events like TechBrew, which Jacobsen credits to StartupCity Des Moines co-founder Christian Renaud, needed her team to execute and make it a popular weekly event in different areas of the state.

"The technology community in Iowa owes Leann a debt of gratitude for bringing us to where we are and having the vision to know we don't have to stay where we are," said Joy Grosser, chief information officer of UnityPoint Health and chairperson of the TAI board. "We are devastated but we are grateful she will continue to work with us both now and into the future."

Jacobsen, 51, said Aug. 31 will be her last day. In a short news release Friday, association officials say they will announce details of a formal search next month.

When she was selected president in 2005, Jacobsen immediately put her stamp on the group, changing its name from Software and Information Technology of Iowa to the Technology Association of Iowa.

The name change, Jacobsen has said, reflected a growing technology community in the state, one that includes some of the largest Iowa companies like Principal Financial Group and Rockwell Collins alongside smaller, growing startups like Des Moines-based Dwolla and Banno in Cedar Falls.

"We have unified the state's technology community so much in those nine years," said Banno's Wade Arnold, whose company recently was acquired by a Missouri firm. "She was the glue that made that happen. She was always just looking out for the technology employees in Iowa. She was soon feeding that tech employee to the good technology employers."

Arnold first met Jacobsen shortly after she took over as president.

The CEO of what was then known as T8 Webware, a development company building technology products for financial companies, said Jacobsen got to know him during a meeting with executives from some of the state's largest companies.

"That was why I was attracted to TAI," he said. "Because I didn't feel like I needed to surpass some threshold of success in order to be involved. Leann took the agency from nothing into what it is today."

Jacobsen's path to the association was hardly conventional.

After graduating from Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, Minn., in 1981, she spent nine years jumping from college to college.

She flirted with careers in areas like psychology, education and medicine. At her fifth college, Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., she received her bachelor of arts degree in business management at age 27.

After working as a lobbyist for AT&T, Jacobsen created her own lobbying firm. Her clients included the agency that would become the Technology Association of Iowa.

"She took it from a very young association that was just trying to get its foot in the door to a nationally connected organization," said Wayne Hansen, who was chair of the board when Jacobsen was appointed in 2005. "I don't know of anyone else that could have done the job through this period of time."

Jacobsen took over an organization of less than 100 active members. Today, more than 300 people and 66 paying members and organizations have become involved.

The first step for Jacobsen was to gather information from other state technology associations, most notably in Utah, across the country in an effort to compile a best practices list to pursue. After that, she identified the key issues the organization would tackle by surveying focus groups and members.

Then came the education part.

"We were the new kids on the block and it took a while till it felt like people understood the technology industry in Iowa was alive and well," she said. "It was frustrating."

But Jacobsen continued to push and now has Gov. Terry Branstad and other lawmakers as regular guests at technology events.

"She was exactly the right person to initiate the tech association," said Gary Scholten, chief information officer of the insurance giant Principal Financial Group. "She was able to enlist so many different people. She got them all on the same page and demonstrated that you get value from bringing us together as one voice."

Scholten said his company, which employs more than 1,400 technology employees, had been trying on its own to alert the state of an impending technology talent shortage when Jacobsen came calling.

"She made the case that doing it collectively, we could have a bigger impact," he said, noting that Jacobsen convinced him that startups and large corporations alike faced the same issues. "She said we all needed a talented workforce. It was an issue we could get together on. She has a way of building that coalition."

As much as the association will miss her leadership, officials agree that because of her work, the transition to a new leader will not be too difficult.

"She has it positioned very well," Scholten said. "I told her that's the definition of great leadership."

Jacobsen will bring that leadership to projects related to Spencer's business community. In addition to StartupCity Spencer, Jacobsen and her husband own two restaurants in town.

She said she looks forward to being able to ride her bike to work.

She said attracting people like Scholten was a deliberate effort to grow the association early.

"It's getting the right leaders on the bus," she said. "When you have someone like Gary Scholten, when they believe in what you are doing so much they offer to lend their valuable time and support, you know you are on to something."

Despite her successes, Jacobsen was low-key when asked what has motivated her since she became president May 15, 2005.

"We are all born a certain way," she said. "There are those needs out there and somebody has to do them."

Scholten said he appreciates her work with the organization.

"She's a good friend and has made a huge impact," he said. "I'm happy for her being able to live her life in Spencer."

Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: April 18, 2014, 6:00 am

Via The Business Record by Kyle Oppenhuizen, Staff Writer

Three finalists for CEO of the Year award talk about failing and innovation

The Technology Association of Iowa hosted its ninth annual Prometheus Awards ceremony Wednesday, honoring companies and individuals in Iowa’s technology sector. 

Winners were announced in 13 categories, including Software Company of the Year, IT Service Provider of the Year and CEO of the Year.

Winners were announced after this issue of the Business Record went to press (check out our website,, for the list of winners). However, before the awards were announced, we asked three of the finalists from the CEO of the Year category about challenges they’ve faced and their take on current events affecting tech companies.


founder, Dwolla Inc.

About Dwolla: Dwolla operates an online payment system. It has earned national attention and received investments from some well-known venture capital firms as well as tech investor and actor Ashton Kutcher.

Tell me about a time you failed as a startup CEO and what you learned from it.
The first day you step on a field, you aren’t the best in the world at any sport. It takes time, and it takes ups and downs to learn the ropes. Failing days are more like winning days than you’d think; you just prepare for tomorrow after each one. You can never forget, tomorrow is guaranteed to show up right on time.

How has your company dealt with the tech worker shortage in the state?
We actually don’t believe there is a tech worker shortage in the state. We just recruit the best people and will keep doing so. There’s a huge pool of talented people here, and with just 60 employees, we’ve filtered around 1,200 applications to hire that small team. We’re very fortunate.

What is your opinion on the patent reform case* in front of the U.S. Supreme Court right now?
It’s important. Patents can be confusing, expensive, and in some cases can even be a source of abuse. We’re a big supporter of fair reform and feel fortunate that we have representatives, like Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has been a fierce supporter of anti-patent-troll litigation.


managing director, ProfitStars

About ProfitStars: ProfitStars recently acquired the company that Arnold founded, called Banno. Banno provides data-enriched Web and transaction marketing services.

What is one thing the more-established business community could do to help startup growth in Iowa?
Buy something from a startup and license a sweetheart deal. Every large business is seeking innovation because the constructs of their business are designed to alleviate risk. Innovation, by definition, is risky. The broader business community would be well served by partnering with startups that are attacking hard problems in their respective industries. Even if the startup fails, they now have great relationships with innovative talent that could become full-time hires. The Members Group has met, invested in or partnered with every financial technology company in the state. They are the model to mimic. 

What is your opinion on the patent reform case* in front of the U.S. Supreme Court right now?
As a company that has been in a lawsuit for allegedly infringing on two patents, I have a very strong opinion on how the system doesn’t work. Patents should defend innovation. Patents should not be used by deep-pocketed litigators to create monopolies by using the expense of trial and appeals to keep emerging industry players out of the market. Patent litigation is a guilty-until-proven-innocent system. To prove your innocence with appeals will easily cost more than $2 million. If you “win,” which means you were wrongfully accused, you have no recourse other than you can continue selling your product. ... We need major reform in the patents in the technology space or all-out alleviation.

*The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case looking at what new apps should get patent protection. According to a recent USA Today story, the number of software patents in the United States has grown from about 2,000 in 1980 to more than 40,000 a year. The debate is essentially whether existing regulations harm innovation because of the cost of lawsuits for infringement, versus whether reducing the number of patents issued would reduce the incentive to invent new apps.

How has your company dealt with the tech worker shortage in the state?
Banno’s engineer culture and software development practices are created by some of the best developers in the nation, which compounds the talent by attracting developers who want to work in that environment. Banno places an engineer as a first-class citizen who is not undermined by its technical founder. ... How we work is how we attract people.  

Banno has created a nationally recognized internship program. We attract people from universities as far away as Carnegie Mellon (University in Pittsburgh) to live in Cedar Falls for the summer. Banno’s focus is on teaching our interns how to code, how we work, and to be challenged with real problems. We have a 100 percent retention of interns who are offered a full-time position.


founder, Hatchlings Inc.

About Hatchlings: Hatchlings develops and operates an online game on Facebook Inc.’s Web platform.

Tell me about a time you failed as a startup CEO and what you learned from it.
My biggest mistake was not recognizing the enormous potential of “Hatchlings” early enough. “Hatchlings” began as a weekend project while I was a sophomore at Iowa State (University). It quickly took off.

At the time, I was a full-time student and I treated “Hatchlings” like a hobby. 

The game continued to add users and grow revenue at a breakneck pace, but growth was constrained by the amount of users my servers and code could handle. I missed a huge opportunity during this time period. The game grew to over a million users in those first couple of years, but we could have grown by more had I been willing to hire a team capable of building the proper infrastructure to support them. 

I should have been out raising capital to hire people. But I distinctly remember being dumbfounded when one of our competitors raised a $100 million venture capital round. I just wasn’t thinking big enough. They’d discovered one of the same things I had: Using the nascent Facebook advertising platform, you could buy a user for 10 cents that was worth over a dollar in revenue. This competitor used that venture capital to buy up the entire Facebook advertising market. This cemented their dominance and drove up the price of user acquisition tremendously.

By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. That was a wake-up call for me to double down on the team. I quit school to work on “Hatchlings” full time and started hiring exceptional people who could help me grow “Hatchlings” into the business it deserved to be.
What is one thing the more-established business community could do to help startup growth in Iowa?

I think the most important role they can play is contributing to making Iowa a desirable place to live.

If we have a diverse and modern city, it makes recruiting and retaining talent easier. If we have quality entry-level jobs, it helps us keep our best and brightest students. If we have a good and growing economy, it makes it less risky to leave your job to start or join a startup. And if we have strong and stable anchor companies, it gives talent from failed startups a chance to stay local.

When Iowa wins, we all win.

How has your company dealt with the tech worker shortage in the state?
We’ve had success finding students and recent graduates from the local universities who are enthusiastic and willing to learn rapidly. I like to think of Hatchlings as a “graduate school that pays you.” Our pitch to developers is: work for us for a few years and your skills will develop so quickly that you’ll be twice as valuable by the time you’re ready to move on.

Some companies look exclusively for people who dream about working for their company for the rest of their careers. That’s not us. Many recent graduates are not looking for lifelong careers within one company. They’re looking for jobs that provide learning, improve skills, challenge them and grow with them. We’re open to hiring people we know won’t be with us in five years; helping them get to where they want to be is a win-win.

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Author: Technology Association of Iowa
Posted: April 11, 2014, 6:00 am