Spencer ready for region's first Pitch & Grow

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Spencer will become a haven for entrepreneurs Monday when Gary's on the River hosts the Technology Association of Iowa's first "Pitch & Grow" venture into northwest Iowa. Pitch & Grow IX - Iowa Great Lakes will offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business concept to a "think tank" of expert panelists including seasoned CEOs, technologists, business development experts and business-savvy people - and perhaps, investors.

"I'm super excited with the community response we've received from this first-time event in the area," Leann Jacobsen, president of Technology Association of Iowa, said.

We've had 16 companies submit applications and 12 have been selected to present. To get so many companies for a first time is excellent."

Jacobsen said, traditionally, it takes time to get a community behind a Pitch & Grow event.

"I think there's a number of exciting things happening in the community. We're building on a lot of momentum. Looking back at the history of Pitch & Grow, it usually takes a while to get a lot of interest going and for the community to understand."

She credited the work of the Iowa Lakes Corridor and other supporting business people regionally with pioneering the entrepreneur spirit in the local economy.

"I think we're a lot further along than we've been in some of the other first-time communities we've been in," Jacobsen commented.

Christian Renaud and Tej Dhawan, principals with StartupCity Des Moines, will serve as luncheon speakers. Their topic will be "Jump-starting a Young Entrepreneurial Ecosystem."

Following registration, networking, and lunch, the business representatives will participate in pitch sessions beginning at 12:10 p.m. and concluding at 2:40 p.m.

The "pitch-off" will begin at 3 p.m. followed by a networking reception.

All Star Pro Golf, Central Plains E-waste, Emploi.us, fixmypcstores.com, GForge Group, Inc., GrapeTree Medical Staffing, Hawley Arts, Midwest Information Development, Okobojiworks, and Wind and Solar Specialists have all announced intentions to "pitch."

"We've got some people coming from out of the area which is typical," Jacobsen said. "This time is really exciting because we have a lot of people traveling, probably about 25 percent, who are coming to northwest Iowa for the opportunity to pitch."

She continued, "There are companies at various stages in the business cycle. We have some in the early stages and some established companies from various industries."

Panelists who will be sharing their expertise include: Wade Arnold, Banna; Sean Barry, Montgomery, Barry, Bovee & Barry; Mike Colwell, Business Innovation Zone; Brian Dalziel, Iowa Great Lakes Corridor; Wayne Hansen, CI3; Larry Harden, Williams & Company, P.C.; Jenica Johnson, VentureNet Iowa; John LaMarche, VentureNet Iowa; Drew Larson, BrownWinick; Kelly McCarty, Iowa Small Business Development Centers; Josh Nelson, Great Lakes Communication Corporation; Brad Rasmussen, Wellmark; Bruce Tamisiea, Tecton Industries; Greg Williams, Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman P.L.C.; along with Dhawan and Renaud with StartupCity Des Moines.

"We have a lot of people who are attending who will pitch down the road when they see how it really works. We will really be building off the experience we present this year," Jacobsen said, acknowledging she wants the experience to be fun and engaging.

"One of the really exciting things we talk about as we're laying the foundation for Startupcity Spencer, we're building on the support for entrepreneur opportunity in the area. The Pitch & Grow is just one opportunity to bring those people together. It's strengthening the overall entrepreneurial climate as we do more and more of these."

She added, "We plan to make this an annual event and are excited to see where we are next year when we have StartupCity Spencer for a year and we continue to work with other groups to build the entrepreneur ecosystem here."

Jacobsen noted there is still room for spectators to join the event as crowds will be coming and going throughout the day Monday.

The entire program will take place at the Gary's on the River business center.

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