(Quad Cities) – Entrepreneurs pitched for cash prizes and awards during the University of Iowa’s Venture School—Quad Cities graduation day on April 17, 2015. Venture School is a six-week program to help entrepreneurs launch their business. Teams of entrepreneurs took part in the program to help determine whether or not to launch their start-up, find the right customers, and determine market potential.

"Venture School trains entrepreneurs to connect with real customers to validate their business model, increasing the likelihood of success,” says David Hensley, the University of Iowa’s Associate Vice President for Economic Development and Executive Director of the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. "When a team comes into the program, we help guide them through early stage market research, provide mentors with real world experience, and then connect them with other resources, enabling them to more confidently launch their business.”

"There are a great number of entrepreneurs in our community, and programs like Venture School provide them with the resources they need to spur new businesses,” says Tara Barney, President & CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber. "Through Ignite Quad Cities, a program of the Chamber, we’re working with regional partners to build up the entrepreneurial culture in the Quad Cities and provide a network of support to help business start-ups succeed.”

"Venture School has provided the opportunity to showcase the great ideas and innovations that we all know exist in the Quad Cities,” said Eastern Iowa Community Colleges Chancellor Don Doucette. "We have been very pleased with this partnership between our college, the Chamber, and Pappajohn Center, and hope that it continues for many years to come.”

Venture School Teams include:

Technology Companies:

·CITISPOON: Mobile app that helps restaurants provide real-time table availabilityand wait times for diners.

·Midwest Health Exchange: Online platform that improves the healthcare outcomes and experience for healthcare providers, payers, and consumers by improving access to health information.

·Universal Labeling System: A comprehensive data management system, with integrated labeling, barcoding, and tracking software, that saves time and reduces errors in medical clinics and laboratories.

·Video Armor: A suite of security aids including a mobile app that turns a smart phone into a body camera,a solution that allows for easy file sorting and storage, and training tools.

Professional Services:

·Livwell Seniors: Connects families to senior solutions when they need them most.

·Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub: A program of the Quad Cities Chamber that helps regional manufacturers identify how to grow, diversify, and stay competitive. The Hub works with regional manufacturers to assess current operations, create a plan to improve, and connect them to the right partners and technologies.

Consumer Products

·Safety Stop: Modification to existing bench press equipment that increases safety for users.

·Wink KidsProject: Creates unique, high quality gifts for kids that encourages learning and literacy.

"Venture School has been a tremendous experience on so many levels,” says Monte Schwartz of Livwell Seniors. "I am so impressed by the experience of the mentors and instructors in terms of the level of expertise and feedback that they bring to the students, as well as their availability. Networking with students and instructors has been a great way to jump start our business.”

"I am honored to be part of such an amazing experience,” says Josh Stutting of CITISPOON. "It has been eye opening to say the least. It is incredible to be in a room with such driven people. All of the groups have a similar mindset, yet we have such diverse products. I am astounded at the progress we have made and the people we have connected with.”

The University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) is committed to being a national leader in teaching and supporting innovation and entrepreneurial development. JPEC is proud to play an important role in the development of Iowa-based technology and high-growth start-up companies. JPEC and its University of Iowa Venture School program helps entrepreneurs by accelerating the startup process and increasing their odds of success. The University of Iowa’s Venture School is the state of Iowa’s only National Science Foundation I-Corps Site.

The University of Iowa’s Venture School was brought to the Quad Cities through a partnership with Eastern Iowa Community College, the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Quad Cities Chamber/Ignite Quad Cities and The University of Iowa. If you have questions about this program please contact JPEC Training and Engagement Liaison, Jennifer Ott.

Venture School Video

Venture School Website

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