Ten Iowa City entrepreneurs have been selected into a national idea accelerator program aimed at taking their ideas from concept to action.
The selected ideas include a personalized music teacher app, an effort to tackle the shortage of childcare, a social sports app to help like-minded people find each other, an effort to introduce more kids to STEM opportunities, and a program to encourage more Hispanic students from rural communities to go to college.
The three-month-long program will start with a 45-day Builder Bootcamp to teach participants how to put ideas into action, followed by 45 days of actively executing their ideas through a single experiment. All ten of the entrepreneurs accepted into the program will receive a $5,000 Pebble Grant to test their ideas.
“We are thrilled with our community’s response to bringing this first-of-its kind accelerator program to the Iowa City area,” said Liz Hubing, director of marketing, community development, and entrepreneurship for the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD). “Just as we had hoped, we had an abundance of innovative thinkers who decided they were ready to take the first step in making their ideas a reality. Our 10-person cohort is full of diverse ideas and people who hope to make an impact in our community and beyond. We’re looking forward to seeing their ideas come to life over the next three months.”
The program is a partnership between Heartland Forward, Builders + Backers, and ICAD. The cohort of 10 builders in Iowa City is part of Heartland Forward’s commitment to funding and supporting 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023.
The ten entrepreneurs selected for the program are:
- Nicole Williams
- Jelena Beideman
- Pablo Salazar
- Thom Johnson
- Monique Washington
- Lara Marsh
- Jasper Washington
- Chuy Renteria
- Dady Mansaray
- Michael Quinn
“Every community has potential game-changing ideas that are lying dormant,” said Donna Harris, CEO of Builders + Backers. “We received some exciting submissions in Iowa City, and we can’t wait to get to work helping these new builders put their ideas into action. This is where the premise behind our Idea Accelerator program gets so interesting. For less than a single venture investment, we’re going to unleash and fuel thousands of ideas across the country and see new ventures, initiatives and companies emerge. And it all starts here in Iowa City!”
The participants from Iowa City will join builders from Oklahoma in the cities of Tulsa and Oklahoma City as well as Oxford, Mississippi. The three-month program kicks off on January 20.