Candy canes, cotton candy and gumballs lined the walls of the Ho-Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa as a crowd of entrepreneurs, business owners and other community members gathered for the sixth annual Base 3 event Thursday.
After a candy-themed Biz Brew happy hour filled with craft cocktails and snacks, three speakers took the stage to share their stories about innovation, community building and entrepreneurship.
Fostering inclusivity in Iowa
Brian C. Waller, President of the Technology Association of Iowa, started his talk by sharing his vision of uniting and furthering the tech community of Iowa. After a brief history of Sioux City, Waller stressed the importance of inclusivity in the tech field.
“If you’re working at a company where everyone looks like you, sounds like you and thinks like you, your product is going to suck,” said Waller. “When you’re around people that think differently than you, and go home to a different part of town than you, those collaborations are the best ideas.”
Waller added that developing talent is one of the key priorities of the Technology Association of Iowa. He said that youth need access, opportunity and mentorship to be successful.
The power of culture
Next, Caleb Ulffers, Events and Community Manager at Flywheel, took the stage to talk about the power of community, culture and making connections.
“I believe that bringing people together in a community moves those people and the community forward in all aspects,” said Ulffers.
Ulffers added that a company’s mission and culture do not necessarily have to mutually exclusive.
“[Flywheel] is a WordPress hosting company essentially, but we wanted to bring in our own style of culture to our company,” said Ulffers. “While our mission is focused on helping web designers and developers, it doesn’t mean we have to be a traditional, stodgy hosting company like GoDaddy.”
“If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no.”
The last speaker, Scott Siepker, cofounder of Iowa Filmmakers, wrapped up the evening with a talk about his experience on going viral. Spieker is an actor, writer, producer and filmmaker from Iowa, and created the Iowa Nice series, a series of hit videos that included a two season run on ESPNU’s College Football Daily.
Siepker started his talk by sharing his story of how the Iowa Nice videos came about. He stressed the importance of asking for help when creating new projects.
“In the Midwest we are great at offering help, but we terrible at asking for it,” said Siepker. “Surround yourself with talented people, and ask for help.”
Midway through his talk, Siepker asked the audience for questions and one person asked how to make a video go viral.
“You can’t predict what’s going to go viral, but you have to be ready to capitalize on that moment,” said Siepker.
When asked about how to price projects, Siepker said that his prices have obviously varied, but he always tells himself one thing before committing to a project:
“If it’s not a hell yes, than it’s a no,” said Siepker. “It’s hard to say no, but all Midwesterners need to get better at saying no, (Politely of course).”
Siepker ended his talk by encouraging the audience to stay active on their social media accounts. He added that some of his best connections have come from people reaching out to him through those channels.
“If you can connect your brand and continue to build your platform on social media, people will feel more comfortable investing their time and money in you,” said Siepker.
Mel Lucks is a regional freelance journalist and former intern for Silicon Prairie News and AIM.