Published in


NewBoCo in Review: The First Three Years

Part 1 in a series: A huge leap forward for entrepreneurship in Eastern Iowa

We built the region’s first formal angel network

One of the largest issues startups face in the Midwest is access to capital. At the same time, angel investors in the Midwest lack access to strong opportunities for investment. So, in 2017, we created the Corridor Angel Investor network. In the past year alone, we’ve signed up 40 angel investors, raised $1.3 million, had 38 startup applicants, and currently have four deals in due diligence for investment.

We expanded Cedar Rapids’ largest coworking space

We dramatically expanded Vault Coworking & Collaboration space — an office space specifically for entrepreneurs and creatives in the Corridor — adding a recording studio, offices, open work space and conference rooms. We also hired a team to run the space and its educational programs for the entrepreneurial community.

Vault is Cedar Rapids’ largest coworking space.

We opened the region’s first public prototyping and virtual reality labs

When the Science Center closed, our community lost a valuable resource — they had a wonderful maker space available there. Through grants from the Hall-Perrine Foundation, Rockwell Collins, and Linn County, we opened up a rapid prototyping lab, a code school classroom, and a virtual reality lab. Startups need to prototype new products and have access to emerging technologies like VR. These labs give them the resources they need to turn their ideas into reality.

Vault Prototyping Labs are ideal for producing early versions of engineered products using 3D printers, laser cutters and other equipment.

We launched Iowa’s first adult code school

Rapidly growing companies need access to technical talent in order to continue their growth. We don’t currently have the talent pipeline necessary to support this in Eastern Iowa. Through a collaboration with Seattle-based Code Fellows, we launched Iowa’s first adult code school, DeltaV, to help career switchers learn how to be a full-stack JavaScript developers in 20 weeks.

DeltaV Code School trains adults on ultra-modern software development skills.

We created 15 tech, code, leadership, and entrepreneurship programs for kids

Building an innovative community starts long before a person is ready to start a company. In order for Iowa to lead the way in tech — or at least not fall behind — we need to have world-class education, starting as young as possible. Through Imagination Iowa, our K-12 education program, we’ve introduced more than 1,500 kids to code, technology, and entrepreneurship. And through our partnership with for professional development for teachers, we’ve trained 32 teachers on how to teach computer science just in the past few months.

Girls Code Camp, one of many kids’ coding programs we run that introduce them to technology, creativity, or entrepreneurship.

We launched innovation training programs

A startup ecosystem relies on the community it lives in. In 2017, we launched a series of innovation programs to help established companies to explore new technologies and become more resilient. By fostering strong organizational cultures and leadership, an agile mindset, and the right strategies, we hope to help more of our local companies to become places that attract talent nationwide. 48 companies have participated in our innovation and agile training programs so far. Two of those are Cedar Rapids-based 2017 Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies.

We work with companies big and small to help them learn innovation practices.

We’ve made amazing progress…

In three years, this community has made tremendous progress in developing a vibrant, world-class startup community. And we’re really proud of the bold work we’ve done to help make that possible. In some cases, our programs have already begun to bear fruit that makes a meaningful and measurable difference. Others will take another year or two to really show results.

… but it’s not enough.

Not nearly enough.

Looking back now, even with all of the growth we’ve experienced so far in just three years, we know that it won’t be enough to strengthen this region against what’s coming.



NewBoCo accelerates world-changing ideas, from Iowa.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Eric Engelmann

I build technology companies, invest in and mentor startups, and grow teams that can solve important problems in the world.