Where big ideas meet opportunity
EntreFEST is a two-day conference, celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation where professionals at every level can come together, share ideas, and own their success.
The History of EntreFEST
For more than a decade, EntreFEST has brought together entrepreneurs and industry leaders from across the state and the Midwest to learn from each other and celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2008, the first ever EntreFEST was held in Cedar Falls thanks to a collaborative group of Iowa service providers led by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation (CBGI) that had worked on the concept since 2007. Since that first EntreFEST, the annual conference has been held in cities across the state, including Coralville, West Des Moines, Ames, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City.
In 2013, UNI CBGI joined forces with Seed Here Studio’s Andy Stoll and Amanda West to help grow EntreFEST (then known as EntreFest!) as well as the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. Over the next three years, EntreFEST attendance grew rapidly. The conference took a hiatus in 2016 when it found a new home with NewBoCo. In 2017, NewBoCo co-produced EntreFEST with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance in Iowa City, led by Events Director Jill Wilkins and Events Specialist Laura Kaiden. In 2018, EntreFEST returned to Cedar Rapids for the first time since 2013. EntreFEST 2019, led by Wilkins, was the 11th time the conference has been held.
The common thread of the EntreFEST story is that the entrepreneurial and innovation community in Iowa and the Midwest comes together to make this ecosystem stronger.
EntreFEST 2019 Recap
The 2019 conference featured Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founder Jerry Greenfield, author of “Escaping the Build Trap” & Produx Labs Founder Melissa Perri, and author of “Obviously Awesome” & Ambient Strategy CEO April Dunford, along with 50+ speakers across 50+ sessions.
EntreFEST 2018 Recap
The 2018 event featured Adobe’s Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky, Chief Innovation Officer and Associate Dean at Columbia Business School & Founder of 37 Angels Angela Lee, Vice President of Entrepreneurship at Kauffman Foundation Victor Hwang, and Iowa Economic Development Authority Debi Durham, along with 50+ speakers across 50+ educational sessions.
EntreFEST 2017 Recap
The 2017 event featured Warby Parker co-CEO Neil Blumenthal, Founder and CEO of Pantegrion Capital Alicia Syrett, entrepreneur & investor Paul Singh (and Jack the dog), UpCraft Club Founder Elizabeth Caven, and Google’s Nick Saddock, along with 40+ speakers across 40+ sessions.