I love Des Moines, Iowa.  Every little bit of this community energizes me, inspires me, and feels like home.  I have found that this city is full of endless possibilities and readily available resources that make it one of the most perfect places to start up.  It is with this attitude that I immediately said “yes” to my friend Zach, from Tech Cocktail, when he asked if I would write a guest post titled “X Reasons to Startup in Des Moines.”  My first list was exhaustive, that “X” could have easily read “1,000,000.”  But in an effort not to lose your attention and encourage you to stop by next time you’re looking to fly over, I whittled my list down to five. This is that list:

1.  Community – There is so much inspiration and support in the air. When I first thought about how badly the ticketing industry needed a serious change, I went to my friend, Ben Milne (Dwolla, CEO) for his thoughts.  At the time, I thought the answer was to introduce Dwolla to artists, venues, and event organizers and call it “good.”  I thought if we fixed the fee issue, we’d be taking one big step in the right direction.  Just a few weeks of brainstorming and contacting Ben with my other ideas for the ticketing industry resulted in Ben encouraging me to start a ticketing company. My response? Ben, starting companies is what you do, that’s your thing. I don’t start companies. I don’t know where to start!

Ben’s response?

Just do it.

(Okay, maybe he said a few more words than that; gave an inspirational speech on the need for change and the opportunity at hand. But basically, that’s what he and Nike said.)

The next step toward starting up was rapidly accelerated by Ben’s willingness to introduce me to the various key community members who would later become my most valued mentors and friends. Christian Renaud, Tej Dhawan, Mike Colwell, Charise Flynn – the list goes on and on, and the sense of community is in no short order.

2.  Economic Development Organizations that just don’t quit – The Greater Des Moines Partnership (GDMP), Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), StartupCity Des Moines – I owe so much to each of these entities.

As I have grown Tikly in Des Moines, IA, there has been a constant support from both the government and non-government authorities within the state.  Whether we are in our own neck of the woods or at SXSW in Austin, Texas– Iowa is ever present.  I got my crash course in business basics from Mike Colwell of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.  I found an innovative, inspiring home for Tikly within the walls of StartupCity Des Moines.  The Iowa Economic Development Authority has championed Tikly throughout the state and even implemented our technology within their event management tasks.

I’m tellin’ ya, these folks just don’t quit.

3.  Forbes thinks we’re onto something – In 2012, Forbes ranked my beloved Des Moines, IA #4 in a list of 100 top US cities for “Best Place for Business and Careers.”

The factors considered for ranking were: Cost of Business, Job Growth, Education, and Population. You will also find Des Moines on many other Forbes lists as well as various other publications, receiving top merits.  I could quote them all here for you, or I could go ahead and share this witty, and very true, t-shirt design with you:



4.  That Midwestern Work Ethic – There are a lot of really good people that call Des Moines, IA their home.  As I mentioned in point number one, there is a beautiful sense of community, a feeling that we’re all in this together around here.  That being said, Des Moines is so much more than just a cool sense of community.  These are real people who are willing to give of their real time to make sure your startup is successful.

With three state schools and a smattering of private schools, there is no shortage in talented workers who want to be a part of the world of startup.  I have been incredibly fortunate to have had multiple brilliant interns who not only worked every weekday of their internship but also dedicated multiple weekends to help move Tikly forward.

Whether I need someone to dial for dollars, dream up new marketing ideas, help me carry something heavy, or answer the phone when a client has a question at 3am—my team never fails to rock. So far, they’re all Iowa born and raised.

5.  It’s a whole lot of fun – Whether your style is more Court Avenue, East Village, Sherman Hill, Beaverdale or West Glen, there’s a little something for everyone in Des Moines, IA. (I’m hoping you’ll visit to learn about these neighborhoods) Every night there’s a lot going on in our lovely city, and all of it happens within a 5-15 minute car ride.

To give you an idea, tallboys are usually $3 or less and pitchers of craft beer, usually $12 or less.  Ticket prices to see your favorite band is usually $20 or less, and the venues we have in town provide multiple listening experiences to choose from.  Plus, Des Moines is home to the world’s largest bacon festival, the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival.  And you haven’t attended a real state fair until you’ve attended the Iowa State Fair.

So there you have it, five reasons to startup in Des Moines, IA.  I give a lot of credit to this city for making me the person I am and allowing Tikly to live, breathe & grow in an incredible way.  That being said, I hope you don’t just take me at my word and so look forward to the day you decide to check out life in the DSM, IA.

Guest author Emma Peterson is the founder and CEO of Tikly, a ticketing platform that offers lower service fees, opens revenue streams for bands/venues/organizations and places tickets back in the hands of the talent & event organizer. Prior to launching Tikly, Emma worked in marketing for a video game company while touring extensively with the nationally successful band, The Nadas. 

Did you find this article helpful? Click on one of the following buttons
We're so happy you liked! Get more delivered to your inbox just like it.

We're sorry this article didn't help you today – we welcome feedback, so if there's any way you feel we could improve our content, please email us at

Written by:
Tech Cocktail is a literal "cocktail" of tech, startup, gadget, product and people news. If you are interested in writing for Tech Cocktail please apply here.
Back to top