NewBoCo Launch Day celebrates startups and 2018 accomplishments

Eric Engelmann speaks at the 5th annual NewBoCo Launch Day on December 11, 2018.

The fifth NewBoCo Launch Day event on Tuesday night showcased many of the startups that have gone through the organization’s Iowa Startup Accelerator and Social Good Accelerator in the hopes of turning their innovative ideas into a reality.

“Over the years, 39 teams have presented and the companies have raised over $9.5 million,” said Eric Hanson, Host of Z102.9’s “The Morning Scramble” and emcee of the event.

This year, the seven startups that presented on stage included:

  • Rantizo, an agtech company using drone technology to spray crops, allowing farmers to more precisely deliver chemicals to their fields;
  • Class Composer, an edtech startup that has created a platform that allows teachers to track and account for their own unique identifiers when creating classes;
  • Member Marketplace, a company that creates e-commerce marketplace websites for member-based business organizations;
  • Cargofy, a company that has created an artificial intelligence virtual assistant the company describes as a “Siri for truck drivers.”;
  • GSI Works, a nonprofit organization looking to give home and business owners simple steps to protect themselves and their neighbors from sudden flooding and drainage problems;
  • Youth Peace Project, a nonprofit organization that uses restorative practices to resolve conflicts that arise between students;
  • Center for Active Seniors (Abbe Health),  a nonprofit organization that provides services and resources to help older adults remain independent;

Center for Active Seniors was one of the nonprofits to take part in the inaugural cohort of NewBoCo’s new Social Good Accelerator, an accelerator specifically designed for nonprofits.

“There are 8,000 people age 80 and up in Linn County. But there are also 38,000 baby boomers nearing or in the beginning stages of retirement,” said Lindsay Glynn, Executive Director of Abbe Health. “Many of them fear getting older and losing their sense of purpose.”

Glynn announced during the event that they are creating a new & innovate space for retirees called Ovation. 

The accelerators are only part of the programming that NewBoCo. The organization also provides training and support for existing businesses, trains teachers and provides camps and learning events to promote coding skills among Iowa students, has created Iowa’s only adult coding school, DeltaV, and organizes events such as EntreFEST, which celebrates entrepreneurial and innovative efforts in the Midwest.

NewBoCo’s K-12 Education Coordinator, Samantha Dahlby spoke during the event about NewBoCo’s efforts to bring coding education to K-12 students across the state.

So far, NewBoCo has provided help to 230 teachers, resulting in coding education for 6,200 students in the state.

“Every school in every school district has their own barriers and one of the things I take passion to is making sure we break down those barriers for them,” Dahlby said. “Maybe they need to hire the appropriate staff. Maybe they need more time in the schedule. Maybe it’s a funding issue. whatever those barriers are we want to help them so they can ultimately provide computer science to their students.”

Two participants of the Intrapreneur Academy—Leslie Wright from United Way and Adam Kaas from Collins Aerospace—took the stage to talk about what they took from their time in the program.

“For me, it was about working for a very large company like Collines Aerospace that values innovation and figuring out how I could best use my skills to help inspire that change on a daily basis,” Kaas said.

To end the event, NewBoCo founder and Executive Director Eric Engelmann took the stage to talk about NewBoCo’s larger purpose in a  constantly changing world.

“As we designed this plan, at first we thought ‘let’s do things that help Eastern Iowa withstand these changes.'” Engelmann said. “As we’ve talked about designing NewBoCo, it’s changed to not so much withstanding changes, but making it so this community thrives because of that disruption.”