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Looking for a Great State to Launch a Startup?

Here are three entrepreneurs who have found success in Iowa (and you can, too)

By Lindsey Hyde on January 13, 2022

Seven Oaks Recreation
Seven Oaks Recreation

Entrepreneurs, take note – if you are looking for the perfect location to launch your startup, we have more than enough ideas for you: Des Moines, Iowa City, Ames, Boone (and these are just a few).

Entrepreneurs who move to Iowa will find a state full of communities where one can not only start a business, but find the support and resources needed to grow it exponentially. But don’t just take our word for it: Let’s take a look at three thriving entrepreneurs in Iowa.

Building a Ski Area in Boone

In 1997, a 21-year-old Joel Bryan received a phone call that changed his life. His aunts and uncles, who already owned a ski area in his hometown, had recently purchased another ski resort in Boone, which was later named Seven Oaks Recreation, and they wanted Joel to run the facility, and Joel agreed.

It took a lot of hard work to clear the area and make repairs. “It was a little bit of determination and a little bit of stupidity,” he says. “I knew growing up that I just loved to work, and I knew I could make this happen.”

Though Joel faced setbacks, including low attendance and a lack of funds, he turned things around. Today, the ski area has doubled its lifts and tow ropes, and people come from all over to join in on the fun – 50,000 to 60,000 visitors make their way here each year.

Perfecting Produce and Pie

Three miles outside of Mondamin, Jim Small, along with his wife, Renee, and son, operates a 33-acre orchard, Small’s Fruit Farm, that has been in his family for five generations.

From strawberries and raspberries to cherries and apples, as well as a number of other types of produce, the family grows and sells quality food.

In addition to produce production, the family runs a pie parlor, and they host an annual festival each fall that includes pie eating contests, pony and hay rides and much more. Thousands of visitors attend. “We really love what we do and couldn’t do it without our customers,” Renee says.

Roasting Beans Leads to Coffee Bar

Coffee became a favorite of Nick Yost’s when he was 15, and eventually, that love brought him to buy a small commercial coffee roaster, and he began roasting beans in his garage.

He later started selling his roasted beans at local farmers markets and stores. Consumers loved his product, and after many requests, he moved his operation into a small commercial space. Early on, he and his wife decided to open a coffee bar just off Main Street in West Union called Euphoria Coffee, and the public couldn’t get enough.

One of the first mornings after they opened, the shop sold over 240 cups of coffee. Since then, they have moved to the Main Street district in West Union in a 1,600-square-foot facility and added more employees.

“We’ve built our business on providing the communities somewhere to go, somewhere to meet and somewhere to be,” Nick says.

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