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Recap of Iowa Entrepreneurs Conference & Venture Forum

Former CEO of CNBC International Bill Bolster in the opening keynote. Photo by Geoff Wood.

Entrepreneurs, investors, students, and startup service providers from around the state gathered in Des Moines this week for the annual Iowa Entrepreneurs Conference and Venture Forum. In practice, two events, the Venture Forum and Entrepreneur’s Conference, were held on adjacent days in the same space.

The Iowa Venture Forum kicked off with a welcome from Bret Mills, director of Iowa’s Department of Economic Development, and a keynote address delivered by Roger Hargens, CEO of Accu-Mold, LLC, an Ankeny-based micro molder who creates components smaller than 0.5 cubic inches for use in electronics and other devices all over the world.

The afternoon was composed of pitches from 11 startups who had been pre-selected by a committee of venture capitalists and advisors from a pool of more than 25 applicants. A twelfth startup, T8 Webware, also pitched by virtue of winning last week’s Technology Association of Iowa‘s Pitch & Grow II competition. The entrepreneurs pitches were examined and questioned by both local venture capitalists, angels and other investors as well as others from as far away as Denver, Memphis, and New York City.

The Iowa Entrepreneur’s Conference was a mixture of keynote addresses from accomplished entrepreneurs reflecting on their careers and breakout session presentations from entrepreneurs at all stages of building their companies. The keynote presenters included William Bolster, a Waterloo native and retired CEO of CNBC International, James Altucher, a New York City entrepreneur and investor with several successful exits, and Joe Crookham, president of Oskaloosa-based Musco Lighting.

Above: Nathan T. Wright of LavaRow presents in a breakout session. Photo by Geoff Wood.

Several companies were honored throughout the event including the winners of the 2010 John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition: Energy Control Technologies of West Des Moines (First Placee), IDx of Iowa City (Second Place) and LuCella Biosciences of Ames (Third Place). Additionally, Kum & Go founder William A. Krause was honored with a lifetime achievement award.

Attendees at the Iowa Venture Forum networking during a break. Photo by Geoff Wood.

Companies involved in the event ranged from a franchise coffee to medical devices, but an overwhelming majority were in the categories of clean tech, biotech, and energy. Looking ahead to the 2011 event, it’d be great to see an increase in the number of software and internet companies involved in the day, such as T8 Webware in this year’s pitch competition.

To learn more about the conference, see our pre-event coverage: Q&A with Doug Lewis on the Iowa Entrepreneurs Conference.

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