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Understanding that small business owners benefit and learn best from interacting with their like-minded peers; a collaborative group of Iowa service providers joined forces in 2007 to plan what would become EntreFest – a venue for Iowa small businesses to come together to learn, share, and celebrate being an entrepreneur in America’s heartland.
EntreFest has been held annually since February 2008, and moves to different locations throughout the state, so that all small businesses will have the opportunity to attend a conference close to ‘their back yard”. What began as a small gathering of main street business owners has expanded to become something so much more.
In 2013 UNI entered into a public-private partnership with a small socially minded startup called Seed Here Studio to help our team re-envision what EntreFest could be. The goal from the start was exceedingly lofty; to attract entrepreneurs from every segment of the entrepreneurial stack- from micro-enterprises, small business owners, innovators, and even a venture company wanna-be (or two) and to maintain our pull with our public sector partners that we had attracted to the event in previous years.
Billed as Iowa’s most comprehensive entrepreneur event, EntreFEST would redefine the way that conferences for entrepreneurs could be held. This reimagined model can be implemented in other communities, regardless of size, entrepreneur composition, or willingness of public sector partners to participate, primarily because when an event is entrepreneurially driven, business owners and the public sector will respond.
View the full case study at: http://universityeda.org/value-to-members/best-practice-sharing/awards-of-excellence/2014-awards-of-excellence/awards-of-excellence-2014-finalists/entrefest/