DES MOINES — Some businesses in Des Moines claim this is the perfect city for start up companies. They say money goes a long way here and the old “Iowa nice” mentality can mean people are more willing to listen to ideas.
The Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives for the Greater Des Moines Partnership Mike Colwell said, “The startup ecosystem here is very much a give first ecosystem, people tend to say 'how can I help you?' and that makes Des Moines such a good place to do startups and why we're actually having people moving here.”
Colwell said a lot of people think startups are only for tech companies, but he said that is not the case. He said a start up company simply when one or more people go out and try to start a business. "And whether that business ends up being a phenomenally successful convenience store and gas station, one of them, or turns into Kum & Go, they’re both start ups,” Colwell said.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership hosts “Startup Stories” every month, an event for networking and learning from others in the community who are successful in their own startup companies.
The event begins with an interview with the founder or cofounders about their business, then questions are opened up to the attendees to ask about best practices and lessons learned.
Wednesday’s event features Liz Lidgett and Kate Wagner of Adore Your Walls, a five-year-old, family-owned company that helps people find artwork for their style, space and budget.
CEO of Adore Your Walls Liz Lidgett said events like will help people network, which really helped her business in the beginning, “I highly recommend talking to as many people as possible, I would talk to anybody that would stop long enough to listen. And from that I got so many great ideas, people would say well have you talked to this person or have you reached out to that company or have you thought about this.”
By speaking with people in the community Lidgett created a market for her company. “Nobody was really doing what we do specifically here in Des Moines or throughout the state of Iowa. We were able to create the business, create the market and now people understand why it’s so important to have art in their homes and their businesses,” Lidgett said.
Colwell said this is why Lidgett's start up company is successful, she found a problem to solve. He said sometimes start up companies aren’t always about finding the newest or freshest ideas. “You need to solve a problem, there are very very successful companies here that are just solving a problem. People will say well it was the idea, yeah, but the idea comes from finding a problem to solve, so the root isn’t the idea, it’s the problem,” Colwell said.
Whether you have an idea or a problem to solve, “Startup Stories” is a free event held every third Wednesday of the month from 11:30 A.M. to 1 P.M. at the Greater Des Moines Partnership and features a different start up company from around the community every event.