Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

Startups, Starting Up: the I/OWA Conference

Just hours after Silicon Prairie News had announced the cancellation of their flagship conference for entrepreneurs in Iowa (formerly called Thinc Iowa, more recently known as Big Des Moines), seven area innovators sat huddled over a bowl of guacamole and a notebook, already planning a conference to take it’s place.

I/owa ConferenceAmidst many moving pieces and one long email chain, the I/OWA Conference was born. I/O, meaning “inputs and outputs” in the language of developers, decided the tagline: engaging inputs, inspiring outputs. Scheduled to take place October 10th-11th (the same two days as the late Big Des Moines), the event will feature a fresh line up of regional speakers alongside pitches from local startup companies. Add to that an inventive co-working session, plenty of networking, coffee and cocktails – and the I/OWA Conference is starting to pique the attention of big backers across the state. Although an official schedule is still underway, this grassroots endeavor has produced impressive results: a website, a major splash on social media, a rapidly growing list of sponsors and ticket sales through (you guessed it) local startup ticketing platform, Tikly.

“It’s been a tremendous group effort and a real example of what the startup community can accomplish together in such a short time,” says Aaron Hoffman, one of ten coordinators for the conference. “We were disappointed that Silicon Prairie News has canceled Big Des Moines, but excited for what this opportunity means for us as a community.”

Stay tuned on updates to the schedule or buy your tickets online at A two-day pass costs $50.

The current list of speakers include Mike Knoop (Co-Founder of Zapier), Karin Brandt (CEO & Co-Founder of coUrbanize), Greg Isenberg (CEO of 5by), and Erin Rollenhagen (CEO of Entrepreneurial Technologies).

Written by Aaron Hoffman.