Jay Cooper: Freelance Media Producer
About me.

A good entrepreneurial journey always has a few unexpected twists and turns, doesn’t it?

I’ve had a lifelong interest in computers and media. My first creations on the computer were made in the classic Print Shop suite on my family’s Apple IIC+, which look incredibly crude by today’s standards. Fast-forward a few years to the mid-1990s, and I was teaching myself rudimentary HTML and building Web pages for myself and my classmates in junior high and high school. Armed with a dial-up modem and a PowerPC Macintosh at this point, I taught myself everything from the basics of Photoshop, to animations and interactivity in Flash. I didn’t know that these skills would eventually form the basis for my current line of work.

On the audio and video side, I gained experience in high school hosting the Pregame Pandemonium on KWDM West Des Moines and working as a production assistant for several evening newscasts each week at WOI Des Moines. While the audio production was digital, newsroom production at the turn of the century was still mostly analog, which required moving video clips back and forth, from one tape to another. In the following years, I learned digital video production while at The University of Iowa, majoring in Communication Studies. My undergraduate honor’s thesis in 2005 was a short documentary on another interest of mine, collecting license plates.

While at The University of Iowa, I also found out that I had an interest in health communication, and went on to receive a Master of Public Health degree in 2007. Shortly after graduation, I began working at the Institute for Public Health Practice, first doing some writing, but quickly moving into instructional development, being put in charge of development in Flash and some video and audio production for courses. During my time at the Institute for Public Health Practice, I learned to program in PHP and how to use MySQL to talk to databases.

In 2010, I left the Institute for Public Health Practice to try my hand at medical school. Why medical school? During my time in graduate school, I was a Certified Nursing Assistant at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. I loved the interactions I had with the patients, and I thought that would continue through medical education and becoming a physician. Between the bureaucracy of American health care and the brokenness of medical education, I decided that I’d had enough just memorizing semi-useless factoids and interacting with zero patients, and left in 2012 when my first daughter was born. I’d been building Web sites and creating videos for people as a reprieve from medical education, and took this as a sign that my future was better served in this space. I continued working here and there while taking care of my first daughter and my ailing grandmother, who passed away in 2014.

After my grandmother passed away, I began to learn more about the burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem in eastern Iowa. I read about lean startups, and wanted to learn more about taking my hobby of media production and turning it into an actual business. I founded Jay Cooper: Freelance Media Producer in late 2014, and began taking on new clients and attending local entrepreneurial meetups in early 2015.

Since then, I have attended six Startup Weekends in Iowa and Illinois; attended or presented at 1 Million Cups in Iowa, Illinois, and Colorado; attended entrepreneurial events across the Midwest; have run Iowa City Open Coffee since mid-2017; am leading the organizational committee for Startup Weekend Iowa City; and am the co-founder of two other companies, BondingBox and Cider Finder. I also have two wonderful daughters, a very understanding wife, and a house in the country lovingly described by family and friends as the "eastern Iowa cat farm."

Do you have a project in mind? I would love to talk with you. Contact me to get started.