I/OWA Conference 2013 Wrap Up


Karin Brandt, Iowa native and founder of Boston-based coUrbanize, was one of the I/OWA speakers.

As the end of 2013 approaches, it seems a fitting time to put into words some of the reflections and musings I’ve heard echoed amongst organizers and attendees in these past few months about the inaugural I/OWA Conference.

The story of I/OWA is simply the fact that it happened. The conference was pulled together in a mere four weeks by an all-volunteer group of Iowans who felt it was important to fill a void in our community. October 10-11 had initially been reserved by many for a different conference planned to take place in Des Moines, but when its out-of-state organizers cancelled on short notice, our community took action. Within hours of the announcement, a name was picked, Trello boards were set, Google Hangouts were scheduled and I/OWA was born.

The fact that 250 people were in attendance, six keynote speakers from all over North America shared their stories, seven workshop presenters dropped knowledge all over Startup City and one ping-pong tournament champion was crowned is just a bonus.

Did you miss the keynotes? Click here to watch their presentations: Karin Brandt of coUrbanize, Shannon Drake of Shantastical.com, Greg Isenberg of 5by, Mike Knoop of Zapier, Erin Rollenhagen of Entrepreneurial Technologies and Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle.

A tremendous thank-you to our sponsors: The Greater Des Moines Partnership, CenturyLink, City of West Des Moines, BrownWinick, StartupCity Des Moines, LendTrade, Dwolla, Hatchlings, Goodsmiths, Startup Genome, Iowa Sourcelink, The Start-up Launchpad, By Design and the countless others who provided in-kind services, goods and support. Each of your organization’s contributions – given on such short notice – helped to make I/OWA a success and speaks to the strength of this community. Your support, monetary or otherwise, made all the difference.

Looking forward, we’re excited to announce that we’re planning to do it all again. I/OWA 2014 will be held next fall (official dates to come) and you can only expect it to be better now that we’ll have ample time to plan and execute the event.

Additionally, we’re planning several evening events under the I/OWA banner throughout 2014. In preparing for this year’s conference, we talked to many speakers who were really interested in the Iowa startup community but couldn’t make it happen on just a few weeks’ notice. So rather than wait for the full conference in the fall, we’ll be hosting a sort of ‘mini-conference’ event several times throughout the year. These mini-conferences will integrate some of our favorite parts of I/OWA – the keynote talks, highlights of Iowa startups, and yes, we’ll probably work in a drink or two.

On behalf of everyone who contributed, sponsored, organized, or attended, thank you for making the inaugural I/OWA Conference a success!

I/OWA Organizing Team (James Eliason, Levi Rosol, Lyndsay Clark, John Jackovin, Aaron Hoffman, Tej Dhawan, Brad Dwyer, Steven Schipper, Kaylee Williams, Jake Kerber, Jon Thompson and Geoff Wood)