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Drake, startup leaders reach out at 80/35 under Startup Central tent

Zach Edwards (far left) was just one of the Des Moines startup founders who stopped by Startup Central.

Des Moines’ annual 80/35 music festival generally is the site of rock ‘n’ roll headliners, summer fashion and even a mosh pit or two, but this year Drake University‘s Buchanan Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership brought an added element with Startup Central, an entrepreneurship-focused tent at the two-day event. 

“In a way, Startup Central served as a public announcement of our entrepreneurship program’s renewed outreach to the Drake community and the Des Moines area,” said Tom Swartwood (left), an assistant professor at Drake and StartupCity Des Moines mentor.

The university plans to open a new entrepreneurship center later this month that administrators believe will offer more opportunities not only for students but also for local entrepreneurs. A number of Des Moines startup leaders and business owners also came out for the event, including Phonebank.org co-founder Zach Edwards

“80/35 was a great opportunity for the startup community in Iowa to network with creative and engaged young people,” Edwards (pictured above) said. “I think a lot of us made connections and brainstormed things that will improve our respective businesses.”

Overall, Swartwood said organizers were pleased with the turnout for this year’s involvement with 80/35 and noted Startup Central is only one of the ways Drake is beginning to reach out to startups more.

“We welcomed more than 100 music lovers into the tent to chat with local entrepreneurs and small-business leaders, fostering numerous connections that we hope will empower local entrepreneurs to develop and enhance their businesses,” he said. 

Festival-goers also were asked to contribute to Startup Central’s “big idea boards” by recording what they love about their city or things they wish Des Moines had. By the end of the weekend Swartwood said attendees’ hopes for Des Moines included “everything from ‘more pro sports teams’ to ‘solar-powered communities’ to ‘a movie theater downtown.'”


Credits: Event photos courtesy Drake University. Swartwood head shot from StartupCityDSM.com

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