Business

NewBoCo celebrates its fourth batch of start-ups in Cedar Rapids Thursday

Scott Dix, emcee, gets the crowd pumped up during NewBoCo’s Iowa Startup Accelerator Launch Day at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Scott Dix, emcee, gets the crowd pumped up during NewBoCo’s Iowa Startup Accelerator Launch Day at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — If the past four years were the first chapter for the city’s local startup development program, the next five will be the second.

The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative celebrated its fourth Launch Day Thursday night, an annual event the organization has used to showcase the companies it has fostered each year.

This time around, NewBoCo’s leaders also used it to review their progress since 2014 and highlight what they called their “Chapter 2.”

The first chapter saw NewBoCo grow from just the Iowa Startup Accelerator and two employees to a sprawling, 18-person not-for-profit that does entrepreneur development, runs code schools and works on corporate innovation, among other activities.

The next five years, NewBoCo leaders said, will focus on how Iowa can take advantage of opportunities presented by new technologies, such as autonomous trucks and automated warehouses.

“There’s a lot of change coming and this is the nerdy stuff we talk about all the time — can we create opportunities for this region to thrive using these ideas?” NewBoCo Executive Director Eric Engelmann told the audience.

“It’s more than just weathering the storm, though. It’s about can we intentionally and strategically create new ways to leverage this change.”

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Engelmann and Accelerator Managing Director David Tominsky said NewBoCo wants 100 start-ups to go through its programming by 2022, which is about 10 times more than how many participate annually now.

To get there, Tominsky said the organization will have to work with local colleges and companies to boost entrepreneurship within those entities.

For example, Tominsky said NewBoCo will work with the MedQuarter to develop a group of mentors among hospital executives who can help attract health care start-ups to the area.

“If we can actually showcase the people you would have access to — the network, the resources — it’s going to make that easier,” Tominsky told The Gazette.

NewBoCo also plans to work with Coe College, expand its adult coding school to Iowa City and Des Moines, and boost corporate innovation.

The startup accelerator took on eight companies this year, four of which presented Thursday. Those four included:

l Noviqu, which has built software to help manufacturing companies manage floor operations and scheduling

l Govred, which has developed a virtual reality training platform for police officers

l Funeral Direct, which want to simplify and improve funeral planning

l Urbie, an online marketplace for local food vendors and producers.

Four other start-ups did not present, including one that had to close down its initial idea after running into what it said were “insurmountable” issues with its intellectual property.

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Thirty-three companies have gone through the accelerator since it began in 2014. Nineteen of those are still in operation, collectively raised more than $9.25 million in investment and employ 60 people, Tominsky said.

Thursday night’s event also served as a send off for Engelmann, who left Friday for an eight-month trip around the world. The trip, he said, will let him spend time with his family and also visit startup communities around the globe.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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