10 people to grab coffee with if you’re new to the Creative Corridor

While the Silicon Prairie may span across several states, include vastly different types of companies and entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds (and football rivalries), supportive communities are one factor that tie them all together. Whether you're in Omaha or Des Moines, Kansas City or Cedar Rapids, you'll find people who really care about helping their fellow

Creative Corridor Coffee List

Creative Corridor Coffee List

While the Silicon Prairie may span several states and include vastly different types of companies and entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds (and football rivalries), supportive communities are one factor that tie them all together. Whether you’re in Omaha or Des Moines, Kansas City or Cedar Rapids, you’ll find people who really care about helping their fellow entrepreneur thrive.

That being said, it can still be intimidating to be the new kid on the block. So we wanted to help.

This week, we’re sharing lists of the 10 people from each community who are go-to points of contact who can help a new entrepreneur, designer or developer get connected with the local scene. Thanks to everyone who helped us pull it together. There are many, many others worth connecting with—drop them in the comments—but you have to start somewhere.

Earlier this week we kicked things off with our Nebraska lists—Omaha and Lincoln—and yesterday we shared connectors in Des Moines, but now we’re headed a bit farther east. The Creative Corridor encompasses Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and the seven surrounding Iowa counties.

We asked each community member to tell us a bit about themselves, what they’re passionate about and where you can find them.

 Sarah Binder

Sarah Binder

Journalist & startup community builder for We Create Here 

Twitter@SarahEBinder

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I’m constantly inspired by the entrepreneurial community—the drive, the passion, the belief that we can change the world one day at a time—and I’m always looking for ways to use my media background to help or to make connections. Also interested in supporting women in startups and ways to add diversity to the tech pipeline.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I’m happy to meet with anyone who wants to get plugged in to the community. I love hearing about different perspectives and interests.

Oh, and I’ll probably grill you about your news consumption habits.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

When I’m co-working, it’s usually Vault Coworking and Collaboration Space in Cedar Rapids. Or you can find me hanging out at Brewed Cafe (Cedar Rapids) or Prairie Lights (Iowa City).

 
Josh Cramer

Josh Cramer

Founder of FullStack

Twitter: @JoshCramer

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I’ve been working with early- to mid-stage tech startups over the past 10-plus years in the area of software development and business strategy. After starting my business in the Midwest in what seemed like a tech and startup vacuum in the early 2000s, I was inspired to help create a culture and ecosystem that would be encouraging and supportive of entrepreneurs in our region. I think we’ve made tremendous progress over the past five years in the Silicon Prairie. Because of my background, I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to upwards of 1,000 different startups and small businesses and many more ideas. After seeing a lot of success and failure, I’ve become a fan of Agile, The Lean Startup, the Business Model Canvas and other similar resources. I think this new modern entrepreneur tool set is a game changer for anyone building a company today.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I believe in the power of community. I think that if I can find a way to contribute value into the community, it will eventually catch up with me somehow. I’m not concerned with connecting every dot before I decide to help someone. Because of this, the first thing I look for in making a connection is how I can provide value in the form of sharing my knowledge, my network or offering encouragement. I think those are the three things that all of us need to be successful in business. I’ve been benefited many times over what I have given in receiving these things from others.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I work out of downtown Iowa City and also travel a fair amount. I try to make time for everyone who is interested in meeting with me and I am able to contribute more to a select few with whom I feel like I can provide significant value. Though this can be challenging at times, I think making new connections with entrepreneurs is always worth the effort. I end up doing a lot of Google Hangouts and an occasional meeting over coffee.

 Eric Engelmann headshot

Eric Engelmann

Founder & CEO of Geonetric & Iowa Startup Accelerator organizer 

Twitter@ericengelmann

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Building startups, tech companies and people; learning from everyone.

What are you looking for in new connections?

People who want to contribute and make the world a better place.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Geonetric and Iowa Startup Accelerator, usually with coffee mug in hand.

 Aaron Horn

Aaron Horn

CIO at Radiology Protocols & president of BeatCancerToday.org

Twitter@HornIt

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I’m passionate about business strategy (business plans, marketing plans, technology integrations, how to better utilize IT within an organization, etc.), pioneering technology (especially dealing with ag or health care or increasing efficiency in global business), and childhood cancer research and family support. I’m also passionate about entrepreneurship and supporting the startup community, especially in Iowa.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I enjoy expanding my network to cover many different industries and skill sets. When I hear that someone is looking for help in a certain area, I love being able to say, “I know someone who has experience with that, let me connect you.” Often times it’s not quickly apparent how a relationship will be beneficial and it isn’t until several years down the road when you have a reason to tap back into a resource. Quite simply, I love meeting new people to hear about what they are working on and to watch ideas turn into successful business ventures.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I can typically be found at 1 Million Cups on Wednesday morning in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, randomly hanging out at the Iowa Startup Accelerator or the Iowa City CoLab, or working at the Radiology Protocols office in downtown Iowa City directly above the Java House on East Washington Street.

 Josh Krakauer

Josh Krakauer

Founder & CEO of Sculpt

Twitter: @JHKrak

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Talk to me if you love social media, digital marketing, entrepreneurial community building, startup things or Iowa City anything. Or, talk to me if you hate those things, but want to hate them less.

What are you looking for in new connections?

A deeper understanding of who they are, and if my knowledge or networks can help. Also, beer and book recommendations, in that order.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Find me at the Iowa City CoLab, Waterstreet Coffee Bar, or that creepy yellow park bench facing the fountains in the Ped Mall.

 
Josh McNary

Josh McNary

Marketing technologist

Twitter@McNary

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I’m a marketing technologist. I mesh business strategy, marketing knowledge, technology and corporate savvy with entrepreneurial passion to provide solutions to problems. I have done extensive work developing cloud-based solutions and brands for business, nonprofits, startups and other organizations. Let me help your effort by finding or implementing the digital tools and techniques best to persuade, intrigue or sell your service, idea or concept.

I also am a productivity nut. I love being efficient to get more done with less time. A disciple of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methods combine with my own ideas about productivity, I’ve taught others how to get their inbox to zero, introduced the latest and greatest tools to turn your computer into your workhorse, and helped folks find their work passions by consider their life mission.

Lastly, I’m a proud member an ever-growing entrepreneur/technology community in Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa’s Creative Corridor. I do everything I can to empower this community’s growth. This will provide the sustainable organic development need by the next generation of builders to support the Corridor’s economy, way of life and expanded growth for years to come.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I love to connect with anyone interested in pursuing a passion. Let’s look for ways to help each other and network where we know others who can help. Come into meetings with an abundance mentality knowing if we work together we can make the entire pie bigger and therefore the pieces we all take (while maybe thinner) are bigger by volume. Always be looking for win-win-wins.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

You’ll find me in Cedar Rapids’ New Bohemia (Newbo) district many days. My home base is at Vault Co-working & Collaboration Space (of which I serve on the community council). When at Vault, you’ll find me at the Geonetric Building’s co-tenants Iowa Startup Accelerator helping out teams or the Catalyst Cafe attending various community events or playing a game of Foosball.

On the second and fourth Fridays of the month, join me at Brewhemia’s back room as I help shepherd the Newbo Open Coffee Club (#NBOCC). We discuss entrepreneurism, business, life, community and more. Of course, feel free to reach out on social media or via my website.

 Mark Nolte

Mark Nolte

President of the Iowa City Area Development Group 

Twitter: @MarkNolte

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

My passion is connecting people together and helping to build and promote an authentic sense of community. There is so much potential to help build new companies and grow existing firms through innovation. It is an amazing time for Iowa if we step up and realize how to embrace change while preserving what makes us special as Midwesterners.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I want to learn what someone has to offer, what their passions and skills are as well as what their needs are. When we can help someone or a company find the missing piece of the puzzle, that mentor, partner or collaborator, our whole community benefits.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I’m generally at one of the CoLabs or wandering around exploring with my kids.

 Andy Stoll

Andy Stoll

Co-founder of Seed Here Studio & Iowa Startup Accelerator

Twitter: @andystoll

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Inspired by the early growth of the startup communities in Omaha, New Orleans and Boulder, I co-founded Seed Here Studio in 2010 with Amanda Styron West, with the goal of building the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem starting in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and eventually looking outward from there. I am passionate about the mechanics, the theories and the practices of building startup communities.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I look primarily for a “give, before you get” mentality, and a willingness to collaborate to find more ways to create mutual benefits in the relationship.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I-80 or Terminal G at O’Hare (there’s a yoga room and a vertical garden)! I spend much of my time today traveling and trying to connect the Silicon Prairie to the bigger, badder world and entrepreneurial ecosystems across the U.S.

 David Tominsky

David Tominsky

Program manager at Iowa Startup Accelerator

Twitter@tominsky

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Education and startups and startup education. You’ll get me jazzed up if we are talking about ways to foster creativity and entrepreneurship. I’m focused on improving the ecosystem and allows people to thrive.

What are you looking for in new connections?

People who want to talk about ways to make a positive impact on our community and are willing to take action.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

You can usually find me in the Iowa Startup Accelerator space next door to Vault Co-working and above the Catalyst Cafe that is in the Geonetric building on a brownfield in the New Bohemia District of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, probably drinking coffee.

 Amanda West headshot

Amanda West

Co-founder of Seed Here Studio, the Iowa Startup Accelerator, Vault Co-working space & EntreFEST

Twitter: @mandastyron

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Innovation community building.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I love meeting genuine people who are boldly pursuing their big ideas to change the world for the (much!) better.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Vault Co-working & Collaboration Space at the Iowa Startup Accelerator.

 

Want to get plugged into another community? Check out our lists from across the region.  

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