We love Des Moines, Iowa (we’re from here).
We love entrepreneurs (we are).
And we love parties (who doesn’t?).
Luckily for us, all 3 of those things came together in a wonderful mash-up last Thursday night: the 2013 Silicon Prairie Awards were hosted at Hoyt Sherman Place, right here in Des Moines. The Silicon Prairie Awards is put on by Silicon Prairie News (SPN), a dedicated team that covers all of the entrepreneurial activities on the “Silicon Prairie”, a region of the Midwest including Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota. The team here at Freaky Fresh Marketing follows SPN closely, so when we heard the 2013 Awards were going to be right here in our backyard, we couldn’t resist a night out with some fellow ‘treps!
We showed up to Hoyt Sherman Place at 6:00 for the opening reception. We were greeted with friendly Midwestern faces and proceeded to the bar to grab some drinks, snacks, and good conversation with these entrepreneurial geniuses.
After a few cold Stella Artois’, we ran into some fellow Iowa State alumni at the reception! We were happy to see Diana Wright from Dwolla and Alex Andrade of BodyViz. It’s wise advice to surround yourself with people smarter than you, and these two certainly fit that bill. These guys were involved in the ISU Entrepreneur Club with us back when we were all on campus in Ames. And speaking of that Entrepreneur Club, our former advisor (Judi Eyles) was one of the judges for the Awards! Go Cyclones, right?
As we milled around talking (and drinking), we ran into another old friend: Aaron Meyer of Sculpt, the fantastic social media agency out of Iowa City. Aaron and our co-founder, Austin Jensen, graduated from Johnston High School in the same class. We’re always happy to see the social marketing industry growing in Iowa, and Sculpt is one of the best young companies out there.
Shortly after 7:00pm, we all filed into the theater at Hoyt Sherman Place and got ready to watch the Awards action unfold! Those 12 golden Analogs were all shined up and looking pretty, but who would win?
The keynote speaker for the night was Dave Knox of The Brandery, a group that works to build the startup ecosystem in Cincinnati, OH. The Brandery works with startups and pairs them up with investors, marketing experts, and strategic partners to ensure their success. Dave gave a fantastic speech that focused on “choosing to be in the Midwest”. Dave talked about not taking the “easy way out” by moving to San Francisco or New York, but choosing to stay put in Iowa/Kansas/Nebraska/etc. and build something meaningful right here. The Midwest is gaining momentum with entrepreneurs, and that was evident throughout Dave’s speech and throughout the night.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Stephanie Lashley and Ben Milne came up to present the final award: Startup of the Year. Ben brought Analog up with him to oversee the night’s biggest award. After a few moments of suspense…
…EyeVerify took home the Analog! EyeVerify was a deserving winner: they’ve built technology around eye-vein biometrics. They call them “eye prints” and they allow you to secure your mobile device without the need for a password, just your eyes! Pretty cool, huh?
The night was a big success and we were happy to be involved, even if we were just impressed spectators! If you live in Iowa or in other parts of the Silicon Prairie, you should be proud of the entrepreneurial community that is growing here. The Prairie is the place to be.