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James Eliason Speaks of Teams, Innovation, Des Moines and Iowa

September 23, 2013

"All of us are part of a larger startup, it is called the state of Iowa," James Eliason remarked before the September Business Innovation Zone luncheon and networking session. Eliason is the CEO of Goodsmiths and a 2nd generation serial entrepreneur. "In general, the state of Iowa is learning alongside the local startup community and I believe you will continue to see more and more good things."

Speculating that the next five to 10 years will see strong growth in the Greater Des Moines (DSM) tech startup community emanating from Downtown Des Moines (DSM) and spreading to West Des Moines and Ames, Eliason cited the "realist Midwest mentality" as fundamental to that continued success and projected growth.

"He's a young man, but I call him one of the old guys because he has been around so long," Mike Colwell, Executive Director of the BIZ, said when introducing Eliason with the moniker of Giant-Slayer for his tendency to take on large companies the likes of Twitter and Etsy.

Innovation, Success and Failure

Eliason's presentation billed as "Innovation, Success and Failure on the Road to Goodsmiths" shared many of the lessons learned in not only his own path to success, but his collaboration and association with many entrepreneurial adventures, including the 15 originated by his father.

Enrolled at the University of Iowa in Economics and Business Administration, Eliason became disenchanted early. "I became frustrated like a lot of entrepreneurs who decide college is not the right fit for them, and then I discovered the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center," he recalled. This started him on the path that would, after graduation, bring him home to join his father's endeavors before breaking off on a series of startups; some successful, some not. This eventually led to the formation of Goodsmiths, a niche eBay-like company facilitating transactions between hand-made and vintage product stores and their clients.