Past event…

Event Ended

The University of Iowa BioVentures Center

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Oct 3
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome & Speakers
  • Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Oct 4
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • Dinner
  • Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Oct 5
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS
  • Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
  • Dinner
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • Go home!
Platinum Sponsors
Gold Sponsors

Adam Ingersoll

Entrepreneur & Executive

Adam Ingersoll's two decades of experience in entrepreneurial ventures includes roles as an owner-operator and advisor in ed-tech, performance marketing, CRM, professional services, and SaaS businesses.

Adam leads Compass Education Group, an educational services firm he co-founded in 2004 and still actively manages. With offices in Beverly Hills and San Francisco, Compass employs 400 instructors and provides services to thousands of students annually through in-home tutoring in CA and web-based tutoring internationally.

In 2007 Adam co-founded TigerLead Solutions, a leading CRM system and online marketing platform for the real estate industry. TigerLead grew rapidly and Adam led the sale of the company to Move, Inc. (also owns in 2012 for $26 MM.

Locally, Adam's investments and advisor roles include Higher Learning Technologies, Tutor Universe, Telepharm, GolfCenter, ClusterFlunk, the Iowa Startup Accelerator, and many other equity investments. Adam, along with partners Ravi Patel and Roby Miller, is a co-founder and managing member of BBI ("Built By Iowa"), an equity fund created to support Iowa-based businesses in need of capital and strategic guidance.

Adam is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California where he was a member of the varsity basketball team. He lives in Iowa City with his wife and four children and commutes to Los Angeles semi-monthly.

Beth McKeon

Founder / Kids Calendar, Inc

Beth McKeon is founder of the local startup, Kids Calendar, which curates local activities and services for families. She started the Kids Calendar in Lawrence, Kan. and has now expanded the company to five other cities. She is currently attending the GAN accelerator, Iowa Startup Accelerator in Cedar Rapids. She is also the co-founder of Startup Lawrence.

Ravi Patel

Cofounder & Lead Investor / Built by Iowa ∙ Princplal & President / Hawkeye Hotels

Built By Iowa is an early to mid-stage business fund/incubator to be launched in the Fall of 2013. BBI will bring growth capital, mentors, and strategy to budding entrepreneurs looking to take the next step. Stay tuned for further developments!

Principal and President for Hawkeye Hotels, one of the fastest growing, privately-owned hotel companies in the country. Hawkeye Hotels currently owns and operates over 45 hotels, with ownership in an additional 30. Since joining Hawkeye Hotels, Patel has personally overseen development or acquisition of over 50 hotels with total raised capital exceeding $500 million. Since his involvement, the total portfolio of Hawkeye Hotels has seen growth from a handful of hotels to being a premier developer with Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental, with more than 6,500 rooms open or soon to be, and employs over 1,500 employees. These properties will create an estimated 20-year economic impact of over $5 billion in the state of Iowa alone. Furthermore, Patel oversees all aspects of the company from daily operations to strategic positioning.


Blake Rupe

Founder / Re-APP

Blake Rupe is the founder of Re-APP, a mobile application that enables users to earn rewards from the brands they love for the recycling actions they take. Blake began Re-APP in January, 2014, after spending months talking about it with her friends at bars on Friday nights. Blake is a member of the inaugural cohort at the Iowa Startup Accelerator where she represents startups from the University, Iowa City, and Iowa. Blake is an innovative and motivated conservationist turned entrepreneur who grew up on an idyllic farm in a small town in southern Iowa. When not working, Blake loves to play tennis and go jogging with her dog, Grover Cleveland. On Saturdays you can find her hiking in a state park or trying out a new cupcake recipe. Follow Blake on Twitter @BlakeRupe and always feel free to email her at

Michael Ott

Entrepreneur In Residence / Nidus Investment Partners & Founder / Terra Biologics

Michael Ott is an Entrepreneur In Residence for Nidus Investment Partners and the founder of Terra Biologics, an algae biofertilizer company. For the last 9 years, he has helped raise capital and create strategic partnerships for young companies looking to grow. Over the course of his career he has raised over $150 million for various projects and been the first employee at 6 different startups. He has a Master's degree in Chemistry but has mostly worked in finance.

Tim McDougall

President of Strategic Innovation / Gazette Company, Fusionfarm, and Vernon Research Group

Before coming to Cedar Rapids, Tim McDougall held lead responsibility for innovation and marketing in a number of different companies, including Miller Brewing Company, P. F. Chang’s restaurants, the New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets. He was the Publisher The Gazette in Cedar Rapids before deciding that the position was an anachronism in today’s media age. He is currently the Vice President of Strategic Innovation for The Gazette Company, Fusionfarm, and Vernon Research Group. In that role he focuses on helping media companies live in the disruption instead of fighting it, evaluating investments and partnerships with startups and technology companies that can help local media transform and thrive in a digitally-driven, hyperconnected world.​

Thane David Oliver

Entrepreneur, Operations Manager, Sales & Marketing Executive and Consultant

Working as an Entrepreneur, Operations Manager, Sales & Marketing Executive and Consultant for more than twenty-five years, David Oliver has experience creating and leading companies in the healthcare, financial services, publishing, telecommunications, software, real estate and manufacturing industries.

Jay Johnson

CEO & Entrepreneur / Summit Technology Group LLC

CEO and Entrepreneur experienced in start up through divestiture business leadership with proven track record in turn-around, management transition and troubled asset environments. 30 years of steering companies through growth, recognizing market opportunities and negotiating profitable financial partnerships. Background in developing expansion strategies through product commercialization, identifying advantageous acquisitions and leveraging competitive landscape. Excellent ability to identify future leaders, nurture talent and create sustainable succession plans.

Amanda Styron West

CEO / Seed Here Studio

Amanda Styron West is the CEO of Seed Here Studio, a community building program development agency dedicated to building a stronger community of entrepreneurs and creatives in Iowa. She leads strategy and production of multiple community building efforts including events, programs, media and coworking spaces.

Before starting Seed Here, Amanda earned a degree in economics at the University of Iowa. While in college she co-founded the Iowa City non-profit community building organization The James Gang and launched a student engagement program called The 10,000 Hours Show that went on to be acquired and expanded by United Way Worldwide. After college, she worked with creative class expert Richard Florida and The Knight Foundation to support mid-size cities around the country with their creative community building efforts.

Thomas Hornbeck

Co-founder / Tutor Universe

Thomas is the co-founder of Tutor Universe where he led early stage product development, fund raising, strategy, operations, marketing, engineering, and growth. Under his leadership, Tutor Universe has grown from an idea into a global learning platform used by thousands of students in over 50 countries. Thomas has a wealth of experience working with technology startups across many industries having worked at VIDA Diagnostics and Positive Networks (acquired by Microsoft). Prior to Tutor Universe, he worked on a PhD in computer science at the University of Iowa. He has also published peer reviewed research in the fields of computational epidemiology and computer security.

geemus (Wesley Beary)


geemus (Wesley Beary) [] is an avid Rubyist, Open Sourcer and Herokai. He spends days designing APIs at Heroku and free time working on open source [], developing games, prototyping world domination schemes, building furniture and hacking his health.

Todd P. Smith

Managing Director & founder / Dreamfield Ventures

Todd Smith has a knack for taking the complicated and making it simple.

“I tend to cut to the essence of things and push aside all the noise,” says Smith. “I try to do this in marketing, in business – and in life for that matter.”

As a marketing executive in the auto industry for seven years, was instrumental in taking the Saturn brand to market and led the development of the first consumer e-commerce shopping platform at DaimlerChrysler Corporation.

Leaving ChryslerDaimler was a big career move — but one that allowed him to pursue his true passion. An entrepreneur at heart, Smith leveraged his industry experience and marketing acumen and co-founded an innovative communications agency. Under his leadership, the company reached $30 million in revenue, grew to employ more than 70 people and was at one time ranked the 20th largest privately-owned public relations firm in the U.S.

During this time Smith was selected for the highly competitive Birthing of Giants entrepreneurial program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The program brings together entrepreneurs from around the globe, all under the age of 40 and a founder of a company that grosses more than $1 million. Smith learned a lot and walked away with a new admiration for his fellow classmates.

“The world of ridiculously talented entrepreneurs is vast yet small,” says Smith.

Now the managing director and founder of Dreamfield Ventures, Smith is able to combine his marketing, entrepreneurial and venture capital expertise and help early to mid-stage companies build solid business models and increase their value.

“Believe in yourself and your idea,” advises Smith “And don’t let naysayers hold you back.”

Scott Swenson

Regional Director / Kirkwood SBDC

Scott Swenson is the Regional Director for the Kirkwood SBDC which is a funded program to assist entrepreneurs and small business in the Corridor region. He works with entrepreneurs daily to explore their ideas, develop business models, financials, revenue models, business plans, obtain capital and connect with other entrepreneurs and resources.
Scott has executive experience in the media industry including publishing, direct marketing, customer service, advertising sales and commercial printing. He co-founded a Floor to Ceiling Store which he owned for 10 years and later sold. In addition, he is one of several founding partners of what is now Preferred Brands, a home improvement retail franchisor. Scott led a flood recovery case management program offered through the Chamber for business affected by the flood. During that experience, his focus transitioned from recovery to innovation and entrepreneurial community building. He has been involved with the founding of Vault Coworking and more recently the Science Center Maker Space.

Nicole Forsythe

Scrum Master / Iowa Startup Accelerator & HowFactory

Nicole Forsythe is Scrum Master for the Iowa Startup Accelerator and HowFactory, and is the Digital Services Librarian at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. Nicole believes in the power of rapid iteration, creative play, and generally kicking butt and taking names. She grew up in an entrepreneurial household and understands the hustle, ingenuity, and dedication it takes to make ideas live in the world as Businesses. Prior to moving to Iowa City, Nicole trained nonprofits at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and earned a Masters of Science at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She is a native of Denver, Colorado, an extraordinarily fun Mom, and also highly modest.

Fitzgerald Steele

Director of Marketing / Integrated DNA Technologies, Inc.

Fitzgerald is passionate about helping organizations understand their customers and deliver delightful, engaging customer experiences. With over 15 years of customer research and user interface design experience, Mr. Steele brings a wide range of tools to understand users’ needs and goals, align them with business goals and technical solutions, and establish a shared product vision between business, development, and operations teams.

Pete Fry

Entrepreneurial Business Consultant

Originally from the United Kingdom Pete has lived in Iowa since 2003, working with several entrepreneurial businesses as an independent consultant, with the Entrepreneurial Development Center in Cedar Rapids and with the New Ventures Initiative in Davenport. His business planning, financial planning and mentoring has helped businesses with funding from both public and private sources.

After serving in the military Pete worked for Barclays Bank for 10 years where he gained experience working with small businesses and start up companies as well as in operations, project management and human resources. Based in London, England for most of this time, Pete also spent a year in New York City in risk management.

Pete is a graduate of Oxford University and London Business School, where he specialized in entrepreneurship and internet business as well as completing consulting assignments in Poland and India.

Shannon Younger

Doctoral Candidate in Entrepreneurship

Shannon Younger is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently a doctoral candidate in Management and Human Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She studies entrepreneurship both from a micro standpoint (how entrepreneurs manage stress and work in teams) and from a macro perspective (how entrepreneurs utilize cultural resources, like language and story-telling, to their advantage). In short: she researches startup accelerators and micro-distilleries and finds them both super interesting.

Prior to her doctoral studies, Shannon was in development and raised major gifts for the University of Iowa Foundation. A native of Ames, she considers Iowa City home. She takes her water with lemon and her old-fashioneds with bourbon.

Kenny Stevenson


Kenny Stevenson is an entrepreneur with 15 years experience. He started his first business, Skyway Enterprises, at age 18. After three years, when Skyway had grown to revenue over a million dollars and 18 employees, he sold the company. Kenny then built a high-end kitchen cabinet manufacturing facility in New Jersey. He next spent a decade owning the industrial consulting firm AWFI, where he managed operations, sales, and built a research and development wing of the company.

In 2010, Kenny met his current business partner, Trace Steffen, then with the University of Northern Iowa. They envisioned an industrial training center for the application of coatings. The team shopped the idea around the country and finally settled in VA for the location of the center of C-CARE. After a three-year effort and capital raising the center opened for operation in 2013. It represents over $6 million in investment and is considered the most advanced lab of its kind in the country.

In 2013 Kenny left his position as C-CARE Director to co-found HowFactory a software startup that has developed a revolutionary way to help companies manage their manufacturing standards. The company is currently in development of the product and the founders are attending the Iowa Start Up Accelerator.

Isaac Ingersoll

Entrepreneur, Digital Marketing Consultant, Affiliate Marketer

Isaac Ingersoll is the Founder and CEO of GolfCenter, where he leads the multi-platform product development, digital marketing, and partner relationships. He has experience as an

Entrepreneur and Digital Marketing Consultant in a wide range of industries including real estate, telecommunications, and mobile apps.

Eric Bailey

Designer/Developer / Sculpt

Eric is a designer and front-end dev, with a healthy obsession for books, beer, and bikes. Having been a part of young startups and an avid member of the startup community for the past 2 years, he now spends much of his time working for Sculpt in Iowa City, starting too many side projects, learning new skills, and blogging about design, code and craft beer.

David Tominsky
Andy Stoll
Mark Nolte
Ashley Zierath
Devyn Alexander
Josh Krakauer
Sarah Binder
Joshua McNary
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