The Des Moines Business Record innovationIOWA featured an early EMERGE@Simpson program venture in this week's online issue. Their pivot to help match food donors and recipients shows how our approach helps students and others in the program become change agents, not just businesses.
EMERGE@Simpson is working with an independent adjunct professor (Tom Meyers) to offer a "Business of Blockchain" class through Simpson's C&G program. Tom is becoming known in the metro for his work on Blockchain and has been provided background materials being used at MIT on similar classes.
Initial plans call for a 6-week, 1 credit-optional, class that combines learning the "Emerge and Pivot" approach to value creation using the "business case for blockchain" as the lead example in the class. The goal is to separate the value from the hype.
By combining the two topics, we can approach a wider set of corporate stakeholders, both companies and their employees, as Carver Connections, mentors, and investors. Plans call for classes to be offered in conjunction with the West Des Moines Incubator and at Simpson's West Des Moines campus.
Having this type of flexible class available will also benefit on-campus students seeking blockchain information and position Simpson well in the metro for this emerging technology. One investment team has inquired about combining this with an actual digital currency mining platform as an EMERGE@Simpson venture.
ExpresSeed would be a potential customer for that venture, as the future of food supply export appears to be using blockchain recordkeeping of DNA information alongside transactional information, according to former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at a recent speech.
Next steps are for the team to finish developing the curriculum, test marketing the class to potential customers, and making plans for a summer class.
The Social Entrepreneurship class at Simpson College has formed a consultancy partnership for this semester with a social entrepreneurship program at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Professor Walker's class at Simpson will work in teams to help launch specific initiatives being worked on at Georgetown.
Simpson students will learn the McKinsey firm's approach to defining and solving a client's problem. They will then apply their previous business modeling learned through the EMERGE@Simpson program on how their implementation approach adds value.
While this is a pilot semester, it can be continued in future classes to bring a distinct opportunity for students and recruiting advantage to Simpson College's program.
A Management Capstone team in the EMERGE@Simpson program is proceeding to "soft launch" the Maple Tree Marketplace. The online portal can be seen at www.mapletreemarketplace.org.
The Marketplace will be an online store to help student ventures more easily reach customers. A second service providing on-campus video monitor/playlist sponsorships will launch later in March. EMERGE@Simpson venture teams, student spotlights, and other on-campus activities will be sponsored by area businesses on the platform.
Valeria Gonzales is serving as the fledging student-led organization's startup leader as her Simpson internship at LaunchPad65.
The platform is designed to increase participation in the EMERGE@Simpson program by providing active opportunities to engage the entire campus and Indianola business community. Once fully operational, advertising revenue should provide paid internships for student leadership positions such as a CEO, CFO, CTO, and CMO.
The Marketplace also provides a strategic opportunity for the Foundation's Carver Connections to engage the DSM corporate market as a sponsorship option to recruit students.
IdRamp is an Indianola-based startup providing a decentralized, business to business, login identification platform. It is an advanced startup in that they have a growing customer install base. Their primary goal in working with the Emerge Foundation is to have Series A capital options and access to Simpson College talent as they move forward in 2018. More information about the company is available at:
A 2018 Foundation strategic goal is to widen its scope to include off-campus and non-Simpson ventures seeking entry-level incubation and pathways to seed capital. To accomplish this, the Emerge Foundation is now piloting Carver Connections.
Carver Connection extends the EMERGE@Simpson program through The Emerge Foundation to create a larger startup ecosystem. By working with partners at the West Des Moines Incubator, Gravitate, area business accelerators, and independent consultants, ventures will receive a wider support network in exchange for modest service fees.
South-Central Iowa will also soon have the option to join LaunchPad65. LP65 is a fledging Indianola-based startup gateway to metro-area resources including a local co-working space, and The Emerge Foundation is a founding member to expand its scope even further. Carver Connections can dual-enroll at LaunchPad65 under the same fee, if it is advantageous to their business launch.
Access Sentry has enlisted the Emerge Foundations as a Carver Connections to incubate its product launch. Access Sentry is a product and software spinout of an established Des Moines business with an extensive existing customer base. Their innovation is a front desk security kiosk connected to a cloud-based security software platform.
Advantages to Access Sentry joining the Emerge network include entry-level business incubation and being included on the Foundation's marketing for venture capital in 2018. More information about the company is available at:
A CEO Computer Science student has written an Android Phone app that mines Bitcoins. The EMERGE@Simpson program has helped the founder form a team, create an LLC to reduce liability, write a user agreement, and other launch services. He then demo'd the product and released it in the Google Play store.
The student's novel approach drastically improves processor performance during the mining process compared to the 2-3 other competitors in the mobile mining device marketplace. The team is now learning hands on how to improve the app, pivot into a sustainable business model, interact with customers, and manage finances.
The app has approximately 5,000 downloads in about a month of its existence and is producing net positive revenue, as NanoBytes collects a commission on the Bitcoins mined daily by users of the app. A link to the app is below:
A 2018 Foundation strategic goal is to leverage the public launch of ExpresSeed to find genetic detection technology spinout partners. Many of these will be in the Ag industry, be it horizontally within the seed industry beyond crop seeds or vertically in areas such as forestry, aquiculture, and cattle.
Another Foundation goal is to create strategic alliances with regional partners to enhance the intake of non-Simpson ventures being incubated, seed capital fund partners, and other private/community college academic programs seeking to collaborate on the Foundation's seed capital fund.
Leadership at the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator in Des Moines and The Emerge Foundation are actively exploring how to compliment programming. Strengths of the EMERGE@Simpson program are the DNP123 core and genetic detection technologies, proof of concept development, and team formation. The Accelerator takes ventures to the next level by being in a 3-month cohort. The Foundation will be able to provide its affiliated ventures co-leadership for seed capital funding (the Accelerator also has a fund) and supporting ventures' second-stage growth after their exit from the cohort.
ExpresSeed is not yet a cohort candidate due to an Accelerator requirement to have a full-time founder. However, the Accelerator is now seeking to extend their services beyond cohorts-only and are hosting a trial March 23 event to introduce their staff, mentor teams, and investors to outside ventures. ExpresSeed and Visium will be attending with Foundation leadership.
EMERGE@Simpson venture ExpresSeed presented at 1 Million Cups DSM on February 21, 2018 to launch their public customer discovery process. The attached Facebook Live video has been viewed approximately 800 times, providing both the venture and the program valuable exposure.
A management capstone team is compiling potential industries and companies to send materials and the video link to. The video also is providing this team valuable experience analyzing marketing statistics from who viewed it.
From the Director
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