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Des Moines Startup Foundation: Progress update, initiatives now live

Update: Startup Foundation officially launched on Tuesday. See our post: “Startup Weekend launches Startup Foundation, announces board“.

This summer, we announced the Startup Foundation, a project by the non-profit organization behind Startup Weekend to put an institutional presence in cities around the world working year-round to grow local entrepreneurial ecosystems. Des Moines was chosen as one of the pilot cities for the project, which was funded through a grant to Startup Weekend by the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation.

Silicon Prairie News and I are were asked lead the Des Moines version of the Startup Foundation as it gets established, and I wanted to fill you in on how the project’s going.

First, we had an initial kickoff meeting here in Des Moines with several members of the community who had expressed interest in what we’re working on. They included new and veteran entrepreneurs, members of community organizations already working toward growing Des Moines and service providers who work directly with the startup community.

At that kickoff meeting, we discussed the entrepreneurial climate in Des Moines and central Iowa and began the process of identifying various initiatives that the Startup Foundation could assist in implementing to help the ecosystem evolve faster. These include things like extending the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s “buy local” initiative to specifically include local startups and creating a resource guide with vetted service providers who understand and give back to the startup community and price their services in a startup-friendly manner.

These initiatives and more are at the Des Moines Startup Foundation website, desmoines.startupfdn.org. I’d like to encourage anyone and everyone to visit the site. You have the opportunity to suggest new initiatives (just click on the pink “new initiative” button on the right side of the hompage) and vote on proposed ones. Additionally, some initiatives will need a budget to be fulfilled and if one of those initiatives moves the needle for you, you can pledge some money toward its completion on the site as well.

From the overall perspective, we’re excited that Las Vegas is the most recent community to join the Startup Foundation project, bringing the total count of cities to eight including Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Sao Paulo, Seattle and, of course, Des Moines.

The eight of us coordinating the local foundations are physically in Kansas City right now working alongside the Startup Weekend/Startup Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation researchers. Our goal is to learn from each other. I’m looking to see what’s working really well in New York City and think about how we can apply it here in Des Moines. On that same note, the folks from Los Angeles are looking at what’s working in Des Moines to see how they can apply it back in their home.

It’s only been a few months, and we’re really still in the preliminary stages of this whole concept. It’s been exciting, and I’m proud that Des Moines was chosen to be part of it so early. Now, it’s your turn to be a part of it. Check out the initiatives in progress and suggest new ones that you think will provide an impact, either large or small.

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