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Unleashing Potential: The Rise of Startups in Iowa

Startup Success

June 20, 2023

Since the late aughts, Iowa has emerged as a vibrant hub for entrepreneurial activity and a breeding ground for startup success. This Midwest gem has garnered attention for its supportive ecosystem, talented workforce, low cost of living, and strong community spirit. In this blog post, we will showcase some of the most successful startups in Iowa, highlighting their innovative ideas, strategic execution and the key factors that contributed to their growth.


Dwolla, founded in 2008 by Ben Milne, is a fintech startup that has revolutionized online payment systems. The company offers a secure platform that allows businesses and individuals to send, receive, and request money electronically, bypassing traditional payment methods. Dwolla's innovative approach to payments attracted substantial attention and funding, with partnerships forged with major players like Fidelity National Information Services. The company's success can be attributed to its focus on simplifying the payment process and providing a cost-effective alternative to traditional banking systems.

Learn more at dwolla.com.


Workiva, established in 2008, has emerged as a leader in cloud-based enterprise software solutions. Their flagship product, the Wdesk platform, revolutionizes how businesses handle complex financial reporting, compliance and risk management processes. Workiva's innovative approach and commitment to data accuracy and transparency have gained them recognition and clients across various industries. The company went public in 2014 and continues to experience significant growth, driven by its ability to streamline critical business operations.

Learn more at workiva.com.


Dwellynn is a startup that disrupted the real estate investment industry. Founded by Ola Dantis in 2017, Dwellynn provides an online platform that allows investors to access high-quality turnkey rental properties in desirable locations across the United States. The company offers a streamlined process for finding, acquiring, and managing investment properties, making real estate investing more accessible and efficient. Dwellynn's success lies in its ability to leverage technology to simplify and democratize real estate investment.

Learn more at dwellynn.com.

Higher Learning Technologies (HLT)

Higher Learning Technologies, founded in 2012, has revolutionized the field of mobile education through its innovative approach to exam preparation. HLT develops mobile apps that provide interactive and personalized learning experiences for students preparing for medical and dental board exams. Their apps offer a comprehensive range of study materials, practice questions, and analytics to help students maximize their exam performance. The company's dedication to user-centric design and continuous improvement has propelled them to become a leading player in the mobile education industry.

Learn more at builtbyhlt.com.

Pear Deck

Pear Deck, founded in 2014 by educators Riley Eynon-Lynch, Michal Eynon-Lynch and Anthony Showalter, is transforming classroom engagement through its interactive presentation platform. The startup's software enables teachers to create interactive lessons that foster student participation and real-time feedback. Pear Deck's user-friendly interface, robust analytics and integration, along with popular learning management systems have gained widespread adoption among educators. This combination is leading to the company’s rapid growth and success.

Learn more at peardeck.com.

Dwolla, Workiva, Dwellynn, Higher Learning Technologies (HLT) and Pear Deck are just a few examples of the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state. These startups have demonstrated the potential for innovation and growth in Iowa, attracting attention, investment and talent to the region. As the startup scene continues to grow, Iowa will undoubtedly remain a hotspot for innovation, attracting ambitious entrepreneurs from across the country and fueling the state's economic development.

This blog was provided by a DSM Fellow. Looking for opportunities as a young professional in Greater Des Moines (DSM)? The DSM Fellowship Program is the preeminent professional development initiative attracting, developing and retaining a diverse community of top-tier graduates to the region. You can also connect with other young professionals and emerging leaders through Young Professionals Connection (YPC) events and committees.

Seerat Kaur Marwaha

Seerat Kaur Marwaha is a Software Engineer with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.