“All of us are part of a larger start-up, it is called the State of Iowa,” remarked James Eliason, CEO of Goodsmiths and 2nd generation serial entrepreneur, during his remarks before the September Business Innovation Zone Luncheon and Networking Session. “In general the State of Iowa is learning alongside the local start-up community and I believe you will continue to see more and more good things.” Speculating that the next five to ten years will see strong growth in the Central Iowa tech start-up community emanating from downtown Des Moines 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,” said Mike Colwell, Executive Director of the BIZ when introducing Eliason with the moniker of Giant-Slayer for his tendency to take on large companies the likes of Twitter and Etsy.
Eliason’s presentation before the monthly event, 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 fifteen 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 recalls. 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 start-ups, some successful, some not, and eventually lead to the formation of Goodsmiths, a niche E-bay like company facilitating transactions between hand-made and vintage product stores and their clients.
Download a summary of the conversation (pdf file)
Download James’ presentation (pdf file)