One Entrepreneur’s Mission to See Other Entrepreneurs Succeed
An entrepreneurial spirit led Kerty Levy to her position at Techstars Iowa. She has typically held ‘builder’ roles throughout her career. Before moving to Iowa, she was a business development director and a director of product management at two tech startups in San Francisco. At Kemin Industries, she launched an entrepreneurial venture within the company. After leaving Kemin, Levy became an advisor and mentor to startups in Iowa. She was an Entrepreneur in Residence and then became the Managing Director of the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator prior to becoming involved with Techstars in 2019.
Techstars, being a venture capital firm with its own set of investors, utilizes accelerators worldwide to invest in technology companies building marketplaces, B2B SaaS solutions, apps and much more. Grinnell College partnered with Techstars to launch the Techstars Iowa Accelerator and invited the University of Iowa and Iowa State University to become affiliate partners.
Levy, in her current role as Managing Director at Techstars Iowa, supports founders by investing in their startups, helping their businesses get off the ground through introductions to potential partners and customers, teaching new skills and helping them hone their strategies. When they’re ready to take on additional investment, she helps them learn how to engage with venture funds and secure investment. The companies she works with are all on different journeys. Some are ready to raise the moment she meets them, and others have work to do before raising. Some are suited to raising funds other than venture capital.
Every day, Levy speaks with founders, investors, mentors and potential partners of Techstars Iowa companies, but her favorite interactions are when she hears good news from one of the company’s founders. She also loves finding great entrepreneurs who want to build something meaningful. Her process of finding these entrepreneurs includes asking her network for referrals, engaging with others in the Midwest startup ecosystem (incubators, accelerators, etc.), scouring the Techstars database, utilizing PitchBook and attending conferences and events. When she’s not working directly with founders, Levy finds creativity and inspiration in changing up her environment. Ideas come to her while she’s got AirPods in her ears out on a trail in the woods, listening to music or a relevant podcast.
When it comes to the future of Techstars Iowa, Levy considers the themes of what works in Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa and the Midwest. Last year’s Techstars class included many deep tech entrepreneurs, which are startups based around tech solutions to solve big problems using engineering and advanced science. Local investors were excited about these potential startups with software solutions focused on machine learning in industries like real estate, health care and manufacturing. The Techstars Iowa founders are making a difference and doing good things in the world, and Levy sees the DSM entrepreneurship community as a dynamic group that loves seeing new business models and helping founders problem solve. Collaboration throughout DSM and across the state has been generous, providing an environment that allows more founders to succeed long-term.
Techstars is a program that helps teams scale through access to capital, mentorship, talent and infrastructure.
Founder: Kerty Levy
Industry: Tech | DSM County Location: Polk County
firstname.lastname@example.org | techstars.com/accelerators/iowa
One Piece of Advice from Another Local Entrepreneur
“Building a business is all about relationships. It’s not transactional.”
Entrepreneur Book Recommendations
“Measure What Matters” by John Doerr
“The Mom Test” by Rob Fitzpatrick
The Greater Des Moines Partnership celebrates the Greater Des Moines (DSM) entrepreneur community and helps small businesses succeed with one-of-a-kind resources and opportunities for networking. Find out how other entrepreneurs have found success by reading their stories and attending local small business events in the region.