Six locations in Iowa will host local competitions for the Small Business Administration InnovateHER Challenge.
“We’re excited to bring InnovateHER back to Cedar Rapids and around the state of Iowa,” NewBoCo Director of Marketing Jessalyn Holdcraft said. “As an organization we’ve worked on creating an ecosystem where female founders can thrive, and InnovateHER is a great platform for these entrepreneurs to show the community what they’re working on.”
The SBA InnovateHER Challenge is for female- and family-focused companies. Last year, The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo) helped coordinate four competitions in Iowa. This year, NewBoCo along with five other organizations are hosting pitch competitions from Des Moines to the Quad Cities.
The locations include:
NewBoCo (Cedar Rapids)
Gravitate (Des Moines)
MERGE (Iowa City)
Quad Cities Chamber (Quad Cities/Davenport)
Mill Race/Eagle View Partners/UNI (Cedar Valley/Cedar Falls)
Giving Tree Theatre (Marion)
Last year, the big winner was UpCraft Club’s CEO Elizabeth Caven, an Iowa-based startup. She won InnovateHER Des Moines at Gravitate and went on to win first place from the SBA and $40,000.
“Participating in the InnovateHER competition was extremely impactful to UpCraft Club. The $40,000 prize we won (thank you Microsoft!) has been instrumental in helping move the company forward as we continue to develop new technologies for the sewing industry,” Caven said. “InnovateHER is unique in that the competition focuses on businesses making a difference in the lives of women and families and it was a privilege to meet the 9 other finalists in Washington, D.C., as well as those involved in the local competitions in Iowa. Many of us have kept in touch and sought ways to work together. I hope that we’ll see lots of Iowa-based companies participating in this fantastic initiative of the Small Business Administration in 2017.”
The first InnovateHER Iowa competition was held in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, March 23. Girls With Ideas won.
“It felt very encouraging to win InnovateHER,” Girls With Ideas CEO Allison Poss said. “I have found that it is difficult for some people to see that a for-profit business can make money and help people. InnovateHER is focused on supporting businesses that do just that, businesses that impact the lives of women and their families.”
Guaranty Bank is sponsoring locations throughout the Corridor.
The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo) is a nonprofit with the mission to accelerate world-changing ideas, from Iowa. The organization aims to create impactful startup businesses that grow here through its Iowa Startup Accelerator program and more; to foster world-class technical and creative talent via innovative educational programs for kids and adults; to assist thriving, innovative companies in developing new products and attracting the best talent through corporate innovation programs; and to make an outstanding social impact and make the world a better place. Since 2014, the program has grown dramatically, helping hundreds of startups get off the ground and grow and thousands of children learn to code.