Startup Weekend coming to Bluffs later this month

<<Article by the Daily Nonpareil>>

Acceleration is the name of the game for the upcoming Startup Weekend, an event at Iowa Western Community College inviting entrepreneurs to launch a startup in 54 hours.

Scheduled for July 31 through Aug. 2, the weekend event is modeled off a series that has been hosted worldwide tailored to assisting entrepreneurs with vetting ideas and creating new businesses.

The event is sponsored by the Iowa Western Small Business Development Center and The Port, the college’s entrepreneurial center in Ashley Hall. Both organizations assist businesses and offer programming to foster economic development.

Jennifer Kalstrup, the assistant director of the Iowa Western SBDC, said individuals and teams are welcome to sign up for the event. Each person will give a 60-second pitch of an idea, and the best will be selected for teams to be built around as part of the weekend’s activities.

Participants will be organized around their strengths, Kalstrup said, and they will work together to build businesses from scratch, looking at all the aspects of a startup “just super accelerated into 54 hours,” she said.

Startup Weekend’s organizing group, UP Global, was recently acquired by Techstars. The events have been held across the world, including elsewhere in Iowa and in Omaha. Kalstrup said this was the first time for Council Bluffs, though.

The plan is to offer Startup Weekend on an occasional basis, just like the Venture School program through the University of Iowa. She said the hope is to bring back the Venture School sometime this winter, although no date has been set.

People should sign up for Startup Weekend for the experience of vetting ideas quickly, Kalstrup said. Sometimes the best ideas can come from being under pressure, and entrepreneurs can piggyback off each other’s brainstorming.

“It will be a hotbed for all different sorts of entrepreneurs and want-to-be entrepreneurs,” she said, adding that networking is another important consideration for those attending along with the possibility of prizes.

Judges – including founders of startups and current CEOs of area businesses – will evaluate presentations, and awards will be presented at the end of the weekend. Coaches will include similar business professionals, educators as well as representatives of Iowa Western’s The Port entrepreneurial center and the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

Tickets to the event are $50. Sessions on July 31 and Aug. 1 meet at Looft Hall, while Aug. 2 sessions are held at the Arts Center. All sessions are located in Iowa Western’s Council Bluffs campus.

For more information, including a schedule and registration details, visit More on Startup Weekend in general can be found at