News & Views‌

Building Iowa, one entrepreneur at a time

July 13, 2016 - 12:00am
UNIBusiness Editor
Business and Community building

When the American Dream is referenced, homeownership is often the first thing that comes to mind. However, the American Dream is more than a white picket fence. It is the right of access to opportunities for prosperity and success and an upward social mobility for families and children, achieved through dedication and hard work. This hard work can take a variety of forms, but one that our country particularly thrives on is the opportunities created by and for entrepreneurs.

Approximately eight years ago, a group of Iowa entrepreneurs made it their dream to help, encourage and support present and future entrepreneurs.. In collaboration with UNI’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation (CBGI), this entrepreneurial roundtable evolved into an annual event called EntreFEST.

The idea for EntreFEST originally came to be when the founders of were exploring  entrepreneurial conferences in the area. When none came to mind, the group decided to take matters into their own hands, and thus EntreFEST was born.  Throughout the course of time, events came to be where an abrupt change in planning leadership took place. As a result, the CBGI decided to contract a company called Seed Here Studios, self proclaimed “community builders” who centered their vision around entrepreneurship.  

Under Seed Here, the conference was able to introduce a variety of presentations about various topics such as female entrepreneurship, agricultural innovation, and community support for entrepreneurs and small business owners. What so many people love about EntreFEST is the ability to tailor their experience to their own interests, which heavily contributed to its exponential growth over the past few years. In 2013, Seed Here’s first contracted year, EntreFEST was held in Cedar Rapids, where 250 people were in attendance. The next year, they relocated to the Iowa City ped mall where attendance increased two-fold. In preparing for the 2015 festival, CBGI and Seed Here extended an invitation to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. The efforts proved fruitful as attendance was doubled once again, reaching nearly 1,000 people.

Last week it was announced that the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, Inc. (NewBoCo) has been contracted to continue the growth of EntreFEST. While the passing of the baton to NewBoCo may come as a surprise to some, this was always the vision of Seed Here and the CBGI. In its purest form, entrepreneurship is spurred on by those within the community. Director of CBGI Paul Kinghorn says he and those at CBGI are excited for the transition, explaining, “In the states and communities that are thriving in economic development, it is the entrepreneurs that are stepping up and taking the lead. There’s lots of reason to be optimistic of what’s going on here in Iowa. This represents movement in that direction and the community as a whole is vibrant enough and our organization’s goal of getting it started is accomplished. CBGI is looking forward to working with NewBoCo and bringing this event back to Iowa.”

For more information on EntreFEST 2017 visit


UNI Business

UNIBusiness Editor

UNIBusiness uses a team of writers to conceptualize, develop and share stories and updates with the public. If you have a story idea, an update on an alum or just want to say 'Hi', please email