Our Story

Our Vision

To make Iowa known, around the world, for making big things happen

NewBoCo employees paste Post-It notes to a whiteboard with grid lines during an Agile exercise

  • Impactful startup businesses that grow here
  • World-class technical and creative talent sought out by everyone
  • Thriving, innovative companies developing new products and attracting the best talent
  • Outstanding social impact, making the world a better place

Our Values

  • Yes, you’re invited! NewBoCo fosters a diverse and inclusive community, supporting, and encouraging people with big ideas of any kind.
  • Ready when you are. From idea to validation to bootstrapping to scale, NewBoCo creates and runs programs to support you.
  • Unicorns are imaginary. We’re practical; we build strong, reliable businesses where ownership remains primarily with the entrepreneur. Raise capital, where possible, by actually selling your product.
  • Be agile. As an organization, NewBoCo adapts to change, iterates quickly, delivers value rapidly and prioritizes critical learning first to make better decisions in the future. We teach these same techniques to our community.
  • Led by entrepreneurs that give before they get. Our program is led by people who’ve been there before, who live the give before you get ethos, and authentically believe in making the world a better place.
  • A distributed network of amazing people. Mentors. Speakers. Colleagues. Friends. NewBoCo constructs and provides access to a world-class network of talented people to help bring ideas to life.

Our Position on Diversity

NewBoCo values diversity in entrepreneurship, innovation, and tech education within and connected to our ecosystem. We are committed to promoting and enhancing equity and inclusion in all of our programs and events. We believe the shared commitment to building a resilient ecosystem within a diverse environment fosters creativity and advances our community as a whole. Our ultimate goal is that diversity and inclusion, like innovation, is an unwavering, uncontestable part of the DNA of our organization.

Our Geography

NewBoCo is built to help grow ideas, from Iowa. You may or may not be from Iowa, but you can get your start here and impact the entire world.

Within Iowa, NewBoCo will strengthen the state’s entrepreneurs, creatives, and technologists that are making big ideas happen. While headquartered in Cedar Rapids, our impact will be felt statewide. A win for Iowa City or Des Moines or Sioux City is a win for us too.

Our Origin

Chief Relationship Officer David Tominsky high-fives a child on stage before other gathered children

Several years ago, we decided it was time to help build Eastern Iowa’s startup community. When we looked at our region’s resilience after the 2008 flood and our density of successful tech companies, we knew it was possible to build a vibrant startup ecosystem here. We began by traveling around the country to see what made other successful startup communities work. We visited Silicon Valley, Denver, Boulder, Kansas City, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Nashville, New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. We looked at accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, consultants, economic development agencies, and more to understand how they all fit into the mix. We joined a network of accelerator programs from around the world, to learn from the best in the industry.

From these travels, we discovered that, while we had some important resources and strengths, Eastern Iowa was far behind other communities in developing aggressive entrepreneurial programming and support structures. We simply weren’t changing and adapting quickly enough. We weren’t taking risks. We weren’t being bold.

So, in the Fall of 2014, we started the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA) to give funding and mentorship to new startups to turn them into high-growth companies in Eastern Iowa. ISA was the first accelerator program in the state, and we hoped that it would be a catalyst to energize our startup community. We brought together investors, mentors, and seed capital to support the new companies we accepted into the program.

As these companies finished our program, however, it became blatantly apparent that they needed far more than an accelerator program alone could offer.

Building a high-growth company takes time and a lot of support, and an accelerator couldn’t provide enough to keep these startups growing in Eastern Iowa. After finishing the program, our startups needed investment, technical talent to help build their products, and corporate partners to sell to. They struggled to find what they needed here, and that meant many either left or failed.

This why the Iowa Startup Accelerator grew into NewBoCo. Over the past years, we’ve expanded from a staff of two working with startups to a 22-person nonprofit whose programming covers everything from adult technical education to Agile and leadership coaching. And we’re continuing to grow. We’ve learned that only supporting one factor of a successful startup community, i.e. an accelerator, was never going to make enough of a dent to matter in our community. We need to solve more problems, strengthen this region’s ecosystem weaknesses, and eliminate the constraints entrepreneurs face, systematically and repeatedly over time.

Our Community

The New Bohemia District ("NewBo" to the locals)

When floodwaters ravaged ten square miles of Cedar Rapids in 2008, we came back stronger than before. We took our tragedy and used it as a springboard for our transformation into a vibrant community where innovation and collaboration thrive. This resilient spirit and deep love for our community was what formed our nonprofit, the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative.

 

NewBo is Cedar Rapids’ creative and entertainment district, featuring:

  • NewBo City Market – a year-round indoor market featuring dozens of local food and craft vendors.
  • Brewhemia – a family-owned café and bar located in the historic The National Building.
  • Parlor City Pub – featuring great food and 56 beers on tap.
  • Next Page Books – an adorable locally owned bookstore.
  • Legion Arts, a theater, and enclave presenting cutting edge art, music theater, film and other events at a variety of venues,  supporting young artists, experimental art forms, and new ideas.
  • The Cherry Building, which houses dozens of loft-style businesses including ceramics workshops, artists, creative agencies, and more.
  • Within walking distance of the bike path and trail system.
  • Residential housing, including newly renovated lofts and brownstones, within walking distance.
  • Local shopping including RAYGUN and more.

In 2016, almost $20 million was invested in the area, adding new retail, commercial and residential options.

More of Us

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Get Involved

NewBoCo is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Opportunities to get involved include volunteering with one of our many youth education programs or mentoring with the Iowa Startup Accelerator, becoming a corporate sponsor, or donating to our general fund or any one of our individual programs that appeals to you.

See how you can help

NewBoCo staff poses on the steps leading to Vault Coworking in the Geonetric building

Our People

Our team is dedicated to providing you the best products, services, and experiences.

Meet us

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Our Blog

Read thought pieces, reflections, and analyses concerning education, entrepreneurship, and innovation globally with the objective of positively inpacting our local communities.

Read on

Director of K-12 Education, Samatha Dahlby, and a volunteer work a student through a task on the student's laptop at a Code.org-supported event

Our Press Releases

Keep up-to-date on local happenings in the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as our efforts to improve STEM education in Iowa's public school systems and support innovation and leadership in established businesses.

Stay in the know