Startup Weekend coming to Sioux City on Sept. 5

Startup Weekend Sioux City Sean Richardson of RXA Technology announced that Startup Weekend is coming to Sioux City on Sept. 5.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour challenge to create a startup. It 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 more than 1,800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, 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 weekend culminates 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 gig, 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, if only for a weekend, register now. Hurry! Early bird ticket prices end soon!

Or if you have a question for the organizer, e-mail Sean Richardson.

Base 3 features 3 national speakers on July 17

Base 3 entrepreneurship event. Rick Knudtson of Flywheel, an Omaha hosting company for WordPress websites, talks at Base 3 in January 2014. Photo by Thomas Ritchie

RXA Technology is hosting a night of entrepreneurship on July 17, welcoming three national speakers to Base 3. The night will begin with a Biz Brew networking mixer sponsored by Startup Sioux City.

The event will feature speakers Alex Altomare, Co Founder of BetaBlox, Founder of The Lean Lab, and Techstars Mentor; Scott Conley, Managing Partner of Flipstone Technology Partners; and Tina Beal, Owner, Creative Director & Client Relations at Social Bug. Their talks will focus on entrepreneurship, branding, creating a makerspace, female entrepreneurship, accelerators, and the benefits of being a mentor.

The night begins at 5 p.m. on the 8th floor of the Ho Chunk Centre, 600 4th St., and will kick off with the Biz Brew, an informal gathering aimed at promoting new and emerging businesses in Sioux City.

Tickets are free and available at

Base 3 is sponsored by the Security National Bank, SEDC,, AdvanceIowa, Siouxland Chamber of Commerce/The Siouxland Initiative, Silicon Prairie News, U.S. Bank, Sioux City Ford Lincoln, Iowa Small Business Development Center, Western Iowa Tech Community College,, Sunnybrook Flowershop and Greenhouse,, Springboard Coworking, Startup Weekend Sioux City, Team Creative Fire and Startup Sioux City.


Alex Altomare

Alex loves solving big problems and has launched several companies to address challenges in education, private equity, policy, healthcare, and tech. Most recently, he co-founded BetaBlox, a business accelerator which has invested in over 70 high growth startups. Today, Alex is an investor, Techstars mentor, and board member for several nonprofits including the Lean Lab – an education incubator dedicated to pioneering radical solutions to challenges urban core education.

Scott Conely

Scott Conley is a seasoned technology executive and strategist, contributing vision, leadership and drive to enterprises large and small worldwide. Scott’s mix
of technological and business talent has delivered higher performing teams, stronger delivery mechanics and millions in product yields. While Chief Strategy Officer for ThoughtWorks, Inc., his expertise was for nearly a decade injected into many of the Fortune 500′s primary lines of business, across an array of industries: financial services, high technology, telecommunications, software engineering and utilities.

Scott’s current work is focused on startup projects at Flipstone Technology and his not-for-profit hackerspace in Boynton Beach, Florida. Scott earned a BSBA
(CompSci) from the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business and is a lifelong Florida Gator.

Tina Beal

Known for her enthusiasm and never-give-up attitude, Tina has passionately worked through the up’s and down’s of “finding the exciting career ” as well as functioning as an “open book” of entrepreneurship honesty.

Tina holds back no secrets on what has worked well and what has miserably failed. Tina shared, “If I am not honest about my flaws and mistakes, how could I share the lessons learned out of those trails? All I have done (good and bad) make me better, smarter and more efficient business owner (and service provider).”

Tina’s level of knowledge and inquisitive marketing nature has been years in the making. Marketing (all platforms) require a plethora of skills and experience (andsometimes a really big gut feeling); it also requires the desire to never stoplearning. Fortunately, skills and experience have been accumulating through previous places of employment, volunteer projects, and an overall healthy addiction to marketing.

Biz Brew sponsored by Jolly Rogers


Join us for a hot summer night of networking, entrepreneurship and drinks on the river.

Biz Brew is about meeting new faces, talking innovation and making connections with local small businesses, startups and the community that supports them. The best part – we’re gathering on the river at Jolly Rogers. The awesome folks there have agreed to host and sponsor our event. Appetizers will be provided and there will be a cash bar.

Whether you’re into technology or agriculture, creating widgets or software, we don’t care. It’s all about connecting with like-minded people interested in helping small companies succeed.

So come join dozens of local entrepreneurs, small business owners, community builders, and other professionals from the Sioux City area on Wednesday, June 18, at 5 p.m. at Jolly Rogers, 1110 Larsen Park Road.

The event is free and open to the public, so stop by after work and enjoy some beverages, food, and networking.

Getting Angel Investors to Call You Back

ben hanten


Are you looking for funding for your idea or business? Do you have a great idea, start-up, or even a company looking to grow?

You may have found yourself wondering where you should go or how will you get money for your endeavor?

One way to raise funds is through an angel investor or angel investing group.

Angel funding is usually the second step of funding after your seed fund (money from close family and friends) and venture capital. Angel investors are an important step for many small to medium size businesses because of the value they provide to your company. They are hands-on investors that are there to contribute their skills, expertise, knowledge, and contacts in the businesses they invest in.

Many angel investors have, in fact, run their own successful businesses and have a great understanding of how to help. They are willing to offer their advice to entrepreneurs to start or develop their businesses as well.

There are two problems that entrepreneurs find themselves in though: Finding the investor who can help them and getting past the the initial pitch.

On April 30th, SCORE, Iowa Small Business Development Centers, Springboard Coworking, WITCC and Startup Sioux City have partnered to bring you a workshop, powered by Ben Hanten, to educate you on “How to get an Angel Investor to Call You Back.”

Ben Hanten is an angel investor and the due-diligence chair of Two Bridges Capital. He co-founded Wire Me Awake, an entrepreneurial conference held at the University of South Dakota. Ben is a lifelong entrepreneur and is the owner of two bars – Ben’s and the Copper Room. He spends his extra time building the entrepreneurial ecosystem and mentoring startup founders as well as running the entrepreneurial site Think 29.

Ben lives in Yankton, S.D., with his wife and two dogs. The insights he’s gained through his interactions with entrepreneurs looking for funding inspired him to develop “How to Get Angel Investors to Call You Back” as a way to help people understand how to prepare for making a successful pitch to an investor or investment group.

For additional information and to register for this workshop, please contact Tom Eakin (SCORE)- Phone: 605-670-0192, or Todd Rausch (SBDC)- Phone: 712-274-6454, or visit the following websites:; or our events page.





Biz Brew sponsored by 4th Street Sports Bar


Are you an entrepreneur, small business owner, student, or creative spirit who is looking to collaborate with other innovative thinkers? Or, have you been looking for fun ways to meet new people and get involved in the community? Great, we thought so!

Join us for Biz Brew on Wednesday, April 16th at 5:00 p.m. at 4th Street Sports Bar. This informal gathering aims to bring people together who are interested in fostering a startup community and creating a positive environment for businesses to grow.

We’re not a formal organization, but rather a random group of locals from varying backgrounds interested in promoting the startup community and helping foster creativity right here in Siouxland.

There’s no pressure to share, present, or bring anything – just show up.

The event is free and open to the public, so stop by after work and enjoy some beverages, food, and networking.


Sharks entrepreneurial event sees incredible night of pitches

IMG_5170Vanessa Wodtke pitches her company Bloom Wild at the Swimming with the Sharks competition.

Did you miss Swimming with the Sharks? That’s ok, here’s a recap.

This year was the best yet with 8 great ideas for innovative and cultural experiences in Sioux City. In fact, the ideas were so great that the money got split between all of the finalists. Here is a list of how the award money was split.

Michael Billings – Pure Retirement – A retirement company that utilizes Dwolla for retirement fund withdraws. Michael was awarded $200 to cover costs to Des Moines and set up meetings with Dwolla.

Jill Guericke – Skillander – A specialized skillet/colander mix that browns your meet at the same time it strains the grease. Jill was awarded $200 to continue with pro type development.

Ryan Martinez – An app for city government/citizen communication – This idea utilizes smart phone technology to bring citizens closer to the city and make them aware of needs, such as potholes, the need to be done. Ryan was awarded $200 to continue research and development of the app.

Anthony Rossi – Double D’s Driving Service – A “Nightlife Transpertainment” company that utilizes folding mopeds to get you and your car home safely from a night out on the town. Also, Double D’s will be using pedicabs to connect the different corridors of downtown Sioux City. Anthony was awarded $500 to help with insurance costs.

Blake Anderson – Pushlee – Pushlee is an app used to help drive business back into the gas stations. While filling up with gas, Pushlee will send retail specials via push notifications to increase the foot traffic inside the store. Blake was awarded $800 for travel costs to promote the app.

Mark Samuelson and Donna Samuelson – Perry Hills Aronia berries – Perry Hills grows aronia berries to sell to a distributor for production of products such as jams and wines. Mar and Donna were awarded $1,000 to help with an irrigation system.

Jean Gill – Four Paws Fitness and Rehab – Four Paws Fitness and Rehab is an animal physical therapy and weight loss center. Her mission is to help the pets in the area get back to health after surgery and help the overweight ones get back to their healthy weight range. Jean was awarded $1,500 to help buy new equipment and expand.

Vanessa Wodtke – Bloom Wild – Bloom Wild is a natural beauty/skincare product company. They make great soaps, as well as other products, from goat’s milk. Vanessa was awarded $2,000 to help her expand into her own space to produce more soap and free up her personal kitchen.

Startup Sioux City wants to give a big congratulation to all the entrepreneurs and small businesses that presented. The ideas and people behind them are what will drive Sioux City and it’s future.

Also, a special thanks to our judges:

Dustin Pratt – Avalon Capital
David Bernstein – State Steel and Saturday in the Park
David Gleiser – Woodbury County Economic Development Director
Rhonda Capron – Member of the City Council
Sam Wagner – Siouxland Chamber of Commerce
Aaron Langworthy – Sam’s Club

Ken Beekley – Siouxland Economic Development Corporation was the preliminary judge.


Innovation Market winners announced


Every year, Entrepalozza ends with the big bang of Innovation Market. 2014 was no exception to that.

A night of great food, networking, speakers, and ideas was bigger and better then ever before.

Cheri Cosgrove, President and CEO of Belle Touchè, took the stage as the first speaker. Once her speech was done, she made an incredible announcement…She is donating an additional $5,000 in an individual pitch to her.

Andy Stoll of Seed Here in Cedar Rapids then took the stage as the keynote speaker. Andy shared many success stories of companies in Iowa including Sioux City’s very own RXA Technology.

Then came the announcement. The top 5 finalists are as follows:

Sioux City Suds – A hometown brewery with out of town reach, and delicious food to wash it all down.
Pushlee – An app that will help increase retail traffic into gas stations
Bloom Wild – A natural skincare company that utilizes goat milk
Nest for Kitchen’s – A intelligent device for kitchens and grills which employs wireless temperature probes to ensure your meat is cooked to the perfect internal temperature
Double D’s Driving Services – A nightlife “transpertainment” company that utilizes pedicabs and folding mopeds.

In the March pitch event before the Sioux City Growth Organization, the top winners were Pushlee, who won $5,000, and Sioux City Suds, who won $2,500.

Andy Stoll of Seed Here Studios in Cedar Rapids.


Spotlight on Entrepreneurship: Sara Gotch and LOVOTO


MAIN PRODUCTS/SERVICES: Transitional Videos / Scanning developed photos / Creating digital scrapbooks
ADDRESS: 520 Nebraska Street STE 404 • Sioux City, IA • 51101

Q: What makes you an entrepreneur?

A: What makes me an entrepreneur is that I have taken the time to see my passion and drive through. The process is still early in my career of being an entrepreneur meaning, there are many things I have learned, and much much more I have yet to learn. It’s more or less a process, not a being. I don’t feel people are born an entrepreneur, their life path leads them there. My main basis for following this through is because of time. Time is very valuable and I want more of it. I figured if I became an entrepreneur and get things off the ground and feel set – I am given the gift of time.

Q: What was the driving force behind you starting a business? What drives you each day?

A: The driving force behind me starting a business is that I was already doing it for family and friends— I felt with my skills and passion that I should allow the public to use my services as well. The thing that drives me each day is that I deeply care for the memories throughout ones life along with the emotion a transition video sets at an event. I create the videos / digital scrapbooks for people just as I’d hope someone would do for me. I use my creative skills and hear what the client needs to make the perfect final piece.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as you’ve grown your business? What has been your greatest reward?

A: The biggest challenge I’ve had to over come is the initial startup of the business – getting all the legal set up. I took my time during the start up process in fear I’d miss a step that would be costly, but it all worked out, and my doors are open for business! The greatest reward thus far has been all of the support from my peers, family and friends. I never put it past them that they wouldn’t have my back, but with advice, help and meaningful gifts along the way really made me see the whole picture of what incredible people I have in my life. It in return makes me want to succeed that much more.

Q: Why are startups and small companies important to a local economy?

A: I believe small companies are important to the local economy for their potential growth. All businesses start somewhere. If they fail- more then likely they’ve learned, and will start again. If they succeed and grow – it builds a founding respect for entrepreneurs and creates goals and dreams for others, inconsideration that they can do it too! It’s an empowering feeling to be surrounded by those who have made something of themselves.

Q: What more can be done to help create, grow and promote small businesses and startups in Sioux City and the region?

A: I feel that the Sioux City region is moving forward in the regards to a small business attitude. I feel a connection with the colleges in our area will help promote a young driven atmosphere. Also, affordable living downtown, in my opinion would start to create this urban feel that most large cities are known for. There is something romantic about walking from point A to B hitting up your favorite place to shop, eat, and grab coffee. The city has done a great job promoting small businesses though – they are active in helping through the process and seeing the steps through in making a dream a reality.

Entrepalooza Kicks Off Monday

entrepalooza 2014

Entrepalooza 2014 is finally here. The week long celebration of the Siouxland entrepreneurial spirit kicks off Monday, February 24, at Briar Cliff University. This year is set to be the best yet with more money available in competitions, more awareness, great speakers, and of course networking over free food and cash bar.  Here’s a list of all the events going on next week.

Screenshot 2014-02-21 13.39.43

Keynote Speaker Tal Dehtiar, founder of Olibetrè Footwear, kicks the week off Monday, February 24 at 7 p.m. Olibetrè is more than just a shoe or lifestyle brand. He believes that taking the trade model is the way to go for growth in our world. He projects to create 1 million jobs in Africa by 2025 in order to build a thriving economy there. Dehtiar was named one of the International Youth Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business. The presentation will be held in the Saint Francis Center (Student Stark Center) at Briar Cliff University, is open to the public, and is a free event to attend. This event was made possible and hosted by Eldon and Regina Roth Center for Entrepreneurship and Enactus at BCU and Siouxland Economic Development Corporation  (SEDC).



Tuesday, February 25, Briar Cliff’s Roth Center for Entrepreneurship and Enactus team will host the annual Swimming with the Sharks competition on the BCU campus. 8 entrepreneurs will present to a panel of 8 judges for a chance to win up to $5,400. There is also an addition $1,000 for women’s businesses.  The event starts at 7 p.m. and takes place in the St. Francis Center as well. The public is strongly encouraged to attend and cheer on your favorite entrepreneur and startup. Winners will be announced at the end of the competition.



After a few days of speakers and competition, we sit back and socialize. Startup Sioux City’s Biz Brew is back on Wednesday, February 26, from 5-7 p.m. Come on down to Vanguarde Art, in downtown Sioux City, for a night of networking, food, and drinks.  Also, Morningside College is hosting Hang with Treps’ in conduction with the Biz Brew. Meet some of the entrepreneurs in town and learn all about their great local startups. Vanguarde Arts is located under the parking ramp across from Mercy.




The grand finale… Innovation Market. Innovation Market takes place Thursday, February 27, at 5 p.m. The even returns to the Commerce Building downtown Sioux City for a second year in a row. Entrepreneurs and business leaders are invited to attend to vote for their favorite business ideas and offer their help. Also, listen to great entrepreneurial stories from Cheri Cosgrove and Andy Stoll. Innovation Market is a venue for entrepreneurs to showcase their idea for businesses, events, and non-profits, for a chance at cash prizes and other great benefits.  Innovation Market is brought to you by the Sioux City Growth Organization.


Young Determination Turns to Dream Come True

kayla rhythm avenue dance


BUSINESS NAME: Rhythm Avenue Dance Academy
ADDRESS: 910 Morningside Ave (Sioux City) & 132 Gaul Drive (Sergeant Bluff)
SOCIAL: Facebook

Q: What makes you an entrepreneur?

A:  I have owned and operated Rhythm Avenue Dance Academy for the past four years. I have taught the majority of classes offered as well as running the business aspects of day to day operations. I have always been a very determined and goal driven person, which I think has really helped me start and grow my business. I was only 19 years old when I decided owning a business would be my goal and at age 20, I was able to make it happen. It has not always been easy and I have learned so many tough lessons along the way, but over all, it has been a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!

Q: What was the driving force behind you starting a business? What drives you each day?

A:  When I was a senior in high school, I was told “To truly be happy in what you do, figure out what you are most passionate in and then find a way to make money doing it. Do that and you will never work a day in your life.” This thought was constantly in the back of my mind when deciding what I would do with my future. I have always had a strong passion for dance and I really enjoyed my job teaching at a dance studio, so the decision to start a business doing exactly what I loved was pretty simple for me.My first year, I had 18 students and offered 9 classes. Our recital lasted 30 minutes, which included an intermission. Today, I own and operate two locations with over 100 students, and offer close to 40 classes.I often have students tell me that when they grow up, they want to be a dance teacher and that is what keeps me going every day. My dance teacher was one of my biggest role models, so I love having the opportunity to be a role model for someone else.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as you’ve grown your business? What has been your greatest reward?

A:  The biggest challenge I have had to overcome is learning that I cannot trust everyone, which is a life lesson I think everyone learns eventually. However, when it involves your business and your livelihood, it is especially tough.  My greatest reward is getting to watch my students succeed. When a student finally perfects a skill they have been working on for weeks, or when one of the teams places first at a competition, it is just as exciting for me as it is for them. Seeing the smiles on their faces makes all the stress worth it for me.

Q: Why are startups and small companies important to a local economy?

A: Startups and small businesses employ over half of the country’s workforce. They are what stimulate economic growth and are a strong indicator of the strength of the local economy.  Entrepreneurs are the backbone of creativity and production. Without startups, small businesses and driven entrepreneurs, our local economy would not prosper.

Q: What more can be done to help create, grow and promote small businesses and startups in Sioux City and the region?

A:  I think programs like Startup Sioux City are a great stride in the right direction. For me, a business is something that is really never finished. There is always something new to learn, and something that you can improve. It is nice to know there is a resource that business owners can utilize to keep their companies growing and thriving within the community. It would be great to see small business owners in the area utilizing networking resources to support each other and help each other grow.