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Small Business and Startup Stories DSM - 2021 in Review

Startup Stories DSM 2021

January 3, 2022


During the last Small Business & Startup Stories DSM podcast of 2021, Partnership’s Christina Moffatt, director of small business development, and Diana Wright, startup community builder, shared their thoughts on 2021 and what’s to come in 2022.

Remote Work, Online Selling, Funding + Customer Loyalty

Moffatt said over the past 12 months she has seen entrepreneurs branch out with their revenue streams and be more creative. Many excelled online, while others embraced change finding efficiency within shorter hours. Moffatt said that shorter hours might be here to stay if entrepreneurs can balance profit, efficiency and family. Wright agreed, saying remote work can be more efficient for many, with home-based offices and businesses becoming a norm.

Nationwide, 2020 was a record year for venture capital, with many of pitches happening over Zoom; however, there are entrepreneurs and businesses that may not be at pre-COVID numbers for revenue and profit. Moffatt said that the construction industry and those who have moved into consulting are doing well, while many businesses with front doors, such as retail and restaurant locations still struggle. Businesses with a loyal following are doing better. Moffatt said honesty and authenticity go a long way. When a business owner puts their face out there, it’s vulnerable and honest, and people want to support that.

Current + Future Projects

Supplier Diversity

The Partnership’s corporate classes showcased how big companies can buy local to support minority small businesses and how small businesses can learn to sell to larger companies. Moffatt said that it was cool to see businesses intentionally making those connections to help both big and small businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM) grow in 2021 and something Moffatt hopes will continue in 2022.

Iowa Innovation Dashboard

Wright said that in early 2022 the Iowa Innovation Dashboard will launch in collaboration with Clay and Milk to create a place where the entire Iowa startup community can go to see startup activity in the state. A founder's survey is now live until Friday, Feb. 18 to collect data around the fundraising climate, work environment and the challenges of operating a startup.

Startups in 2022

In Iowa and the region, there were several acquisitions and exits which is something you see with a more mature startup community. Many companies have raised more than $10 million and $20 million in their rounds. Wright hopes to see more women in the startup technology space, as well as more female mentors. Moffatt said on average 72% of small business clients she saw in 2021 were women. It’s a prime time for women to look at starting a business, with remote and hybrid work available for many. Right now, women are gravitating towards their passion, and Wright said she wonders how many will begin side hustles and how many will jump into full-time self-employment.

Listen to the entire podcast above.

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Startup Stories DSM

Startup Stories DSM is a podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs who share both their victories and failures on their paths to success. It is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.