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The University of Iowa BioVentures Center

Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

The professional and personal challenges, the high and lows, the failures and the success?

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 1800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!



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.

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.

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.

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.

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