Panel: Iowa entrepreneurs find supportive business climate

The following is excerpted from an article originally posted on December 11, 2017 via Iowa Farm Bureau.

A trio of Iowa entrepreneurs said the climate for business startups in Iowa is as good as anywhere in the country due to a number of programs that contribute to an ecosystem of support for fledgling businesses. The entrepreneurs, SwineTech co-founder Matt Rooda, Smart Ag founder Colin Hurd, and SaleRing co-founder Lilia Roepke presented their views on a panel to discuss “Iowa’s Rural Challenge: Creating Opportunities,” during the Iowa Farm Bureau’s 99th annual meeting in Des Moines this month.

The entrepreneurs cited programs such as Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa, Iowa State University’s classes on entrepreneurship and the Ag Startup Engine, and a strong network of investors who are willing to invest seed money in ag business start-ups, as being important in helping turn their ideas into reality.

“There’s an ecosystem of supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in Iowa,” said Hurd. “One of the great things about Iowa is it’s a tight-knit community. It’s hard to meet someone that doesn’t know someone you know. To us, that’s been a great benefit, especially in agriculture.”

Rooda said SwineTech has received financial support from next-door neighbors, college professors and “angel” investors and credits mentors for helping him write a business plan and overcome the hurdles in starting a successful company.

“Money alone isn’t what gets you going,” he said. “In Iowa, there are a lot of people who will help you get going. We’ve had a lot of mentors.”

Roepke of SaleRing agreed. After living all over the world, she and her husband found Iowa as the perfect place to launch their app that connects livestock buyers and sellers by combining the features of social media and internet commerce websites.

“For us, Iowa is home,” she said. “The community has welcomed me. People want to help.”

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