Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Ryan Warren solves problems through questioning convention

Ryan Warren likes solving problems.

Born and raised in Altoona, Iowa, Warren attended Iowa State University where he received a BS, MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering. During his time at ISU, Warren developed a strong interest in energy-related issues. He began working at the Iowa Energy Center, helped develop two solar energy systems, and conducted research in building energy, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

After leaving ISU, Warren moved to Chicago, where he began working at Nexant, planning, designing and implementing energy efficiency programs.

After nine years at Nexant, Warren decided that he wanted to pursue his own venture and started QstN, LLC with the goal of helping organizations and people think differently.

Started in May, QstN is a company that seeks to create positive impacts through questioning.

One thing Warren plans to do through QstN is help other organizations develop a culture that accurately reflects the ‘why’ of their business.

“There are a lot of organizations that are really good at what they’re doing, but not always so clear on why they’re doing what they’re doing,” said Warren.  “I want to help them see those things differently.”

Warren says there are several different ways in which he hopes to help companies with their culture. Some of the ways he mentioned are helping companies innovate their hiring process, assisting companies in articulating their purpose and helping organizations develop their core values.

“All companies are made up of people. People are where all the tangible things happen. I think that often times that can be missed,” Warren said. “I think there’s a lot of value in placing focus on ensuring you’re hiring the right people and that your people are happy, inspired to your cause, and have a clear direction in how the organization works from a core values perspective.”

Warren also plans to continue a lot of work similar to what he was doing at Nexant.

“I’m hoping to continue to do a lot of what I’ve been doing over the past nine years at Nexant,” said Warren, “Designing, implementing and supporting energy efficiency programs around the country.”

In addition to helping organizations, Warren also has a strong interest in teaching through QstN. Warren taught a thermodynamics class while at ISU and would like to teach classes again, sharing some of what he’s learned at Nexant over the last nine years.

“I’ve had a handful of discussions with Iowa State about opportunities to teach classes there,” said Warren. “I’d be interested in teaching in some capacity whether it’s with an academic institution like ISU or some evening classes I’d offer on my own.”

If there is one linking factor between all of the positive impacts Warren hopes to make through QstN, it is that of challenging traditional ideas in a constantly changing world.

“With everything I plan on doing through QstN, there is always going to be an element of questioning,” said Warren. “Trying to find a new and better way in a changing environment.”

Ryan Warren solves problems through questioning convention | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now