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Silicon Prairie: The makings of a new startup scene – Part 2

You, the Silicon Prairie News community, know the stories behind Dwolla, Hudl and Zave Networks, which I shared in the Part 1 of this post. You also know that Scott Harrison of New York-based charity: water gave one of the most memorable presentations to the world in Omaha and that Ben Silbermann of Palo Alto's

In October, Pinterest co-founder and Iowa native Ben Silbermann spoke at Thinc Iowa, delivering an inspirational presentation to entrepreneurs based in the Silicon Prairie. Photo by Anna Jones | Art of Photography and Ikonix Studio.

What’s next for the growth of the Silicon Prairie?

You, the Silicon Prairie News community, know the stories behind Dwolla, Hudl and Zave Networks, which I shared in the Part 1 of this post. You also know that Scott Harrison of New York-based charity: water gave one of the most memorable presentations to the world in Omaha and that Ben Silbermann of Palo Alto’s Pinterest, who’s leading what some are calling Silicon Valley’s hottest startup, still refers to Des Moines as “home.” You know what “Silicon Sixth” is and that some lucky founder will net a $100,000 prize for his or her idea on how to best utilize Google Fiber.

You know these things because you read this blog. You’re interested in technology and love to hear about the next person taking that leap into a startup. You’ve probably been to South by Southwest Interactive or at the very least considered going. You’re the choir that we, collectively, preach to.

“Literally, if you go to a bar and people are drinking, they’re more likely to be talking about a new cell phone or a new website or a new service than they are to be talking about who won the Iowa-Iowa State game.”

– Ben Silbermann on living in Silicon Valley (From Thinc Iowa)

The next phase is to get the masses on board. To get your parents and the business community at large to take an interest in startup culture and the ideas that are being worked on throughout the region. It’s getting your college buddies and your neighbors to take notice. It’s to get the people who are more likely to be talking about “who won the Iowa-Iowa State game” (psst … that would be Iowa State) than they are a “new cell phone or a new website or a new service” to think about these things, too.

We’re starting to turn a corner and I’m excited to see what’s on the other side. Speaking of football fans, I was excited to see a thread discussing Silicon Sixth and Thinc Iowa show up in October in a forum on CycloneFanatic.com (left, screenshot from cyclonefanatic.com). I’m even more excited that the Des Moines Register, the largest general interest publication in this state, has hired a reporter exclusively for a “tech and startup” beat. The Business Record has a part-time position dedicated to a similar beat, as well. Each publication serves a more widespread audience than Silicon Prairie News and their coverage of the startup scene will only serve to grow the community.

I’ll admit, this just starts to touch on the new activity we’re seeing in the Silicon Prairie. There’s also the StartupIowa initiative, Kansas City’s goal of becoming America’s “most entrepreneurial city,” the invest/build model that Nebraska Global is developing and many other examples.

What are your thoughts on the Silicon Prairie as a developing “startup scene?” What else did I miss and what to do you think is next?

Let me know in the comments below or email me at geoff@siliconprairienews.com.

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