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.
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.