Innovators Academy, Ankeny

After fourteen years of teaching in top-tier schools around the world, including New York City and Dubai, Annie Barrows combined her love of teaching with the future of technology to create a business that gives back to the youth in its community. Barrows started Innovators Academy to provide children with a “makerspace” where they can learn to innovate through hands-on, technology-based learning. Innovators Academy provides this by offering classes in robotics, coding, and engineering where children utilize different tools and technologies to learn to problem solve. Barrows describes this in her own words as, “I experienced the evolution of educational technology, and know where it’s going. With the help of technology, I believe we can help kids become innovators. I do that by helping them find their passion and see the purpose in their learning. I also help kids become creative problem solvers through making, creating, building, and designing.”

In February of 2018, Barrows reached out to America’s SBDC to help make her dream a reality. With the assistance of Regional Director, Brian Tapp, Barrows created a detailed business plan and received advice in obtaining a loan, the initial marketing, as well as the setup of the business. Barrows states, “Brian Tapp was amazing. He was accommodating of my schedule and talking with me even though I was living overseas. He took the time to get to know me and really listen to my vision and what I wanted to do. Brian was the best at offering advice in a positive way. Even though I knew nothing about starting a business, Brian never made me feel that way.”

Innovators Academy’s grand opening is set for October 2018 and Barrows is eager to see the impact it will have on her Ankeny community. When asked what sets her business apart she states, “Innovators Academy is locally owned and operated by an experienced teacher. I grew up in Iowa and I want to bring what I’ve learned teaching computer science in top schools around the world back to the kids of Iowa.”

“[the] SBDC has been instrumental in helping me start my business. Brian gave me the guidance and advice I needed to write a business plan and secure financing. He’s always there to answer any questions and help any way he can.”

For more information on Innovators Academy and enrolling, please visit their website at

Written by: Jolene Schaefer

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