Student Ventures

STUDENT VENTURES

Our student ventures programs continue to bring students together from across campus to launch businesses and provide needed resources including mentorship, technical assistance, funding, office and co-working space in the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory, and much more. Our Founders Club program has become the Startup Incubator. With the change in name comes customized assistance and programming for students based on the stage of their business. The program continues to help students build in-demand skills and strong networks necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs.

View FY 21 Annual Report Online

2021 Impact

11

UI COLLEGES REPRESENTED BY STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN IDEATION EVENTS AND ENTREPRENEURIAL TRAINING PROGRAMS

$319K

IN SEED FUNDING AWARDED TO STUDENT BUSINESSES

Student Business Path

​​​​​​Any student, regardless of major or level of experience, can receive support to help start a business.

  • Talk to an expert - Members of our entrepreneurial staff/faculty provide feedback on students' ideas and how to move them forward
  • IdeaStorm - Entry level pitch competitions encourage students to share their innovative ideas with others, all while familiarizing themselves with the pitching process
  • Startup Games - Students, from all areas of study, pitch their idea, form teams and build a business over a weekend

Startup Programs

 

Featured Student Businesses

Thuy Nguyen

FOUNDER, THUY NGUYEN (22BS)

Optic Origin, founded by University of Iowa student Thuy Nguyen, was one of the three $5,000 winners at the 2021 Virtual John Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition on April 28.

Optic Origin’s 3D-printed technology and prescription-matching platform intelligently match patients to prescription glasses. The company’s mission is to expand vision care opportunities to everyone and everywhere.

“Vision is involved in every aspect of life, enabling us to help patients with their mobility, independence, and educational achievements,” Nguyen said. “It is rewarding to see the life-changing effects when patients regain their sight."

Nguyen, while working at an eye clinic, witnessed many underserved families who couldn’t afford prescription glasses. These experiences inspired her to create a sustainable system to close that vision care gap. Optic Origin has partnered with the UI College of Engineering, eye clinics, and optical laboratories to make that vision come to life. After joining the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, Nguyen implemented the Business Model Canvas foundation to launch the platform.

Holly Bennett

CO-FOUNDER, CEO | HOLLY BENNETT (21BS)

Holly Bennett is reducing herbicide costs for farmers up to 90% using the same type of technology that allows self-driving cars to detect stop signs.

Sprayer Mods’ weed-detecting technology sets it apart from other pieces of agricultural equipment. Cameras mounted on a sprayer take pictures of the ground before feeding images to a computer. Then, a valve opens to apply herbicide only if the computer detects a weed. Because of the high costs of herbicides for wheat, Bennett said Sprayers Mods would be most beneficial for that market.

Bennett, who is from Ankeny, Iowa, earned a BS with a double major in computer science and mathematics from the University of Iowa in May 2021. She refined her idea through the Startup Incubator and the Hawkeye Summer Accelerator and was selected to represent Iowa against 12 other schools in the University Pitch Madness Competition.

Kelsey Dawes

FOUNDER | KELSEY DAWES (22PHD)

Seeing a need for preventive medicine for diabetes, Kelsey Dawes and Diabetes Diagnostics used existing data sets to predict future onset of diabetes using saliva rather than blood tests.

“Once complex diseases set in, people will develop complications and the disease will not go away,” said Dawes, a native of Van Horne, Iowa, who is pursuing a PhD molecular medicine.

Dawes says using epigenetics, if powered correctly, can make a difference and improve medicine. 

“It was a breath of fresh air to talk to business-oriented people,” Dawes said. “Working that angle has given me a different perspective on the business of science. Medicine will not improve, nor will research be implemented into the clinic, if scientists cannot learn how to think like an entrepreneur.”