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CEDAR RAPIDS — As the director of Innovation Services at NewBoCo, Jennifer Murphy is used to having conversations about new ways to do things.
This year, those conversations became a show.
With Murphy at the helm, NewBoCo launched season one of the Iowa Innovation podcast in early April. Now on its seventh episode, the show features a variety of business leaders, educators and other experts from throughout the state as they describe how they do what they do.
Iowa Innovation rose from the ashes of NewBoCo’s Innovation Coffee chats, which Murphy held virtually over Zoom video during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She and a roundtable of guests would tell stories and bounce topics regularly, but the program began to lose steam as audiences became, in her words, “Zoom-fatigued.”
“I thought, ‘How can we capture these conversations? How can we record ideas and information, and have them be out there for people to tune in to anytime without having to go to a pre-appointed event?’” Murphy said.
“And podcasts have been gaining a lot of traction in recent years, so it seemed like a perfect fit to go that route.”
It helped that another Iowa organization, LAS Media Group, also was seeking to grow at the same time. The Cedar Rapids-based podcast producer already had launched its own roster of local podcasts in 2021, and was now expanding its scope.
LAS struck up a partnership with NewBoCo, handling recording and editing duties for each episode.
“It seemed like a perfect fit because NewBoCo believes in small, up-and-coming local businesses, and that’s what we are,” said Alex Schulte, LAS creative director.
“Being able to have our baby of a company being able to work with NewBoCo has been a privilege. I feel lucky to meet all of these local innovators and creators through this show.”
After finding a local sponsor through the Nyemaster Goode law firm, Iowa Innovation launched its first episode on April 13. With new episodes every week, the podcast has featured a wide-ranging roster of guests, from Brucemore CEO David Janssen to Alissa Gardner, the founder and owner of Farm to Health Organics.
“What I really wanted was to be able to gather these stories of innovation and entrepreneurship, so that people who work in those areas could find some inspiration toward what they are doing,” Murphy said.
“As an example, our first guest, Keith Dahlby, is really an ally toward diversity in tech. Or when we talked with Kyle Kuhlers (of the Waterloo Career Center), the work that they’re doing in Waterloo could absolutely be replicated in other areas.
“So it was really to help inspire people out there working today, to broaden their perspective on the work they’re doing.”
The first seven episodes of Iowa Innovation can be found on NewBoCo’s website, with links to listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. The show will wrap up its first season by recording on-site at EntreFest in Iowa City June 9 and 10.
Already, NewBoCo staff have seen response to the show from both listeners and potential business partners for speakers.
“Mo Collins, after she was a guest, had someone reach out to her directly,” Murphy said. “We’ve also had people reaching out asking to be guests.
“So I think that people are hearing it, and they’re responding to it, and our listenership is increasing episode to episode.”
NewBoCo aims to use more members of its staff as co-hosts in season two, as well as fielding suggestions for guests.
“There are so many cool people doing awesome things in our state that the guest list for future episodes is seemingly endless,” NewBoCo Executive Director Aaron Horn said.
Mike Heaton, NewBoCo’s director of development, said he'd like the podcasts to serve as a motivational tool for future business owners.
“I hope that listeners are inspired to finally take action on an idea, and join Iowa’s growing entrepreneurial community,” Heaton said.
April 13 — Diversity and Inclusion in Technology (featuring Keith Dahlby)
April 20 — Ecosystems and Rural Entrepreneurship (featuring Mo Collins)
April 27 — Roots and Recovery (featuring David Janssen)
May 6 — Innovation in Education (featuring Kyle Kuhlers)
May 11 — Women in Leadership (featuring Rina Jensen)
May 18 — Rest Over Run (featuring Alissa Gardner)
May 25 — Following Your Heart (featuring Lovar Davis Kidd)
All episodes can be found at newbo.co/iowa-innovation-podcast