Video Dispatch from Cedar Rapids

Victor and Phil Learn about the Fertile Entrepreneurial Soil of Cedar Rapids | 5:46

City Snapshot


Downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa

A four-hour drive into Iowa from Omaha, Cedar Rapids is named for the surging rapids in the Cedar River. The second largest city in Iowa, with about 130,000 residents, it is a commercial and industrial city as well as a distribution and rail center for an extensive agricultural area.

The largest corn-processing city in the world, Cedar Rapids hosts manufacturing plants for many familiar names, including General Mills, Quaker Oats, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland.

In 2008 Cedar Rapids suffered the worst flooding in its history when roughly one seventh of the city was inundated, displacing more than 10,000 residents. An estimated 1,300 flood-damaged properties will ultimately be torn down because of the flood.

We started the day at the Brewhemia cafe in the New Bohemia district of Cedar Rapids.

Our Cedar Rapids Hosts


Steve Shriver is the owner of Brewhemia and CEO/Founder of Ecolips, is the nation's only company focused exclusively on organic lip balm. Started on a stove top with $5000 in savings, Ecolips is Iowa's first certified B Corp and its products are available in numerous national retailers including Target, Whole Foods and Ulta Beauty. Steve is also the "street mayor" of the New Bohemia District, a fast growing neighborhood driven by entrepreneurs and creatives, a neighborhood that has had more than $50M invested post the 2008 Flood in Cedar Rapids.

Andy StollAndy Stoll is a serial social entrepreneur and co-founded and co-lead a targeted innovation ecosystem building movement in the Creative Corridor (Iowa City/Cedar Rapids region) between 2010-2016, with his company Seed Here Studio. Seed Here launched 1 Million Cups Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Startup Weekend, Vault Coworking & Collaboration Space, The Iowa Startup Accelerator, NewBoCo, and EntreFEST (the largest ecosystem gathering in the state of Iowa), among other things.

Who We Talked With


Sarah BinderSarah Binder is the lead organizer for 1 Million Cups and has been a key organizer for the startup community over the last 4 years including lead organizer for Startup Weekend. While she is not an entrepreneur herself, she covered the community as a journalist for her employer The Gazette Companies (the local newspaper) and does intrapreneuership work now for the company trying to develop new models for 21st century digital journalism, as print ads revenues disappear.

Eric EngelmannEric Engelmann is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Geonetric, a health tech company he founded 17 years ago. The company's primary product is patient portals for hospitals (serving nearly one-quarter of US hospitals). Eric is also the CEO/Co-Founder  behind the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo), a local ecosystem building nonprofit.

Riley Lynch Riley Eynon-Lynch is the co-founder with wife Michal Eynon-Lynch of Pear Deck, a education startup that developed an interactive tool to help teachers teach better. Pear Deck has raised capital and won the 2015 Rise of the Rest with Steve Case pitch competition at SXSW. Michal and Riley are both teachers turned entrepreneurs, previously founding Active Grade, an online standards based grade book startup, that they sold to Hauku Learning in 2014.

Ravi PatelRavi Patel founded Built By Iowa, the area's only early stage seed fund, which has invested in about 20 local tech startups. Ravi is President of Hawkeye Hotels, a family owned hotel company, and is involved in advising numerous local startups.

Fun Facts About Cedar Rapids


  • The National Slovak & Czech Museum and Library was founded in 1974 in Cedar Rapids.
  • Mays Island is a small island in the Cedar River. Cedar Rapids is one of just a handful of cities in the world with government offices located on a municipal island.
  • Actors Elijah Wood, Ashton Kutcher are from Cedar Rapids.
  • Cedar Rapids is home to a longstanding Muslim community. The first Muslims arrived in the area in 1895, from the Bekaa Valley in what is today Lebanon and Syria. The Mother Mosque of America, dedicated in 1934 and located just west of the Cedar River, is the longest standing mosque in North America.
  • American Gothic, one of the most iconic painting in the United State, was painted by Grant Wood in his home and studio in Cedar Rapids in 1930. The studio is now owned by the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.
  • Archer Daniels Midland produces 420 million gallons of ethanol a year in Cedar Rapids, more than any other plant in the country.
  • The city has suffered a series of floods, the worst crested at 32 feet, a full 15 feet over flood level to devastate the city.
  • City markets has been a part of Cedar Rapids in one form or another since 1902. Today the NewBoCity Market goes on all year round in the city’s New Bohemia neighborhood.