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Lessons from EntreFEST

Iowa City played host to nearly 1000 members of the statewide Iowa startup community, and it was impressive. In fact, Seth Godin was the keynote speaker. Godin is the author of several books about marketing and leadership and spreading ideas. His blog is like the most popular blog on the internet or something like that.

EntreFEST is a conference about entrepreneurship…in Iowa…and there were a thousand people there. It was amazing. People were working together. They were on the same page. They shared a vision. Their goals were aligned. And it showed.

Anyway, here are the lessons I brought home from EntreFEST:

  1. We are doing it right – Startup Peoria uses the same playbook as communities all over the country. Getting together and having conversations with other community leaders on a regular basis is a tremendous value for us. I received validation and reinforcement when I shared about our successes here in Peoria. I received advice and encouragement when I shared our struggles. Community is a powerful thing.
  2. We need to interact more – entrepreneurs are hard to nail down, and I was advised to listen more about what sort of interactions they want and need, and to help enable those however I can. I’ll be doing some things different as they relate to meetups and office hours in the near future.
  3. We want to team up with communities in Illinois – the Iowa startup community spans 150 miles. We’ve said before that density is hugely important in startup communities, for reasons of accessibility and increased interaction among entrepreneurs and startup people. In Iowa we saw how they overcome the distance factor by engaging in unique events and avoiding unnecessary redundancies. But the community leaders have shaped a culture of working together as a region.
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