Iowa Startup Games

The Home of UI Student Businesses

Supporting every student with an idea

Our student venture programs are available to all students at UI, regardless of major or area of study. Whether students join the Founders Club, or our summer Student Accelerator training program, we provide them with the support and resources they need to launch their startup.

View Full 2018 Annual Report

Competitions and funding

Each semester, Iowa JPEC hosts competitions to help UI students advance their business and communication skills, provide them with feedback from real entrepreneurial leaders, and award them with seed funding to help them grow their businesses. Students representing every college on UI’s campus participate in these competitions.

Iowa JPEC also provides support to student businesses to travel to compete both nationally and internationally. This past year, UI student businesses were awarded first place at two notable national competitions.

FY 2018 Impact


Students Pitched

UI Students participated in Iowa JPEC competitions

in Seed Funding

Student businesses received over $132,00 in seed funding support from Iowa JPEC


Supported and guided Iowa Students and their businesses

Did you know?

Every UI student is eligible to receive support on starting a business through the founders club. Resources available to students in the program include:

  • Access to collaborative work space and office space at the Bedell Entrepreneurial Learning Laboratory (BELL)
  • One-on-one mentoring and coaching
  • Funding resources
  • Workshops and training
  • Networking and community exposure
  • Marketing and technical support

To date, the Founders Club program has supported 575+ student businesses!

Find out more about the Founders Club

Notable student business updates

FC_Premiere_Dance _Project

Co-Founders | Amanda Gustafson ('18), Aunica Harvey ('18)

Gustafson (Dance and Business Management) and Harvey (Dance) joined the Founders Club in 2017 in an effort to turn their passion of dance into a business. After creating a business plan for Premiere Dance Project, they continued to use the resources made available to them through the University to launch their company. In June 2018, they opened their first studio in Waukee, Iowa where they offer classes for students 18 months and up in ballet, tap, jazz, acro, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, pointe and modern. The studio also offers yoga and dance personal training classes. The student company was also named one of UI’s 2018 Student Startups of the year, recognized by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research.



Co-Founders | Nico Aguilar (‘19), Anthony Pham (‘14)

Speeko is on a mission to improve how the world communicates by enhancing users speaking skills through supportive feedback and deliberate practice - all through their mobile app. The business was accepted into the prestigious TeachStars Chicago 12-week Accelerator, which will culminate in an investor demo day in October. Speeko has recently added four additional full time employees, including Nicole Cook, Iowa JPEC alum, as their COO. Speeko has a beta version of their app available for free to all University of Iowa students. The business was also awarded $5,000 at the 2018 Pappajohn Student Venture Competition, and took first place and $11,000 at the Iowa JPEC spring 2018 Business Model Competition.


Founder | Amanda Burrell ('18)

Burrell always knew a corporate 9-5 position wasn’t for her. "The support from Iowa JPEC staff gave me confidence, excitement, and the push I needed to take the leap of being a business owner at the age of 20. I may not have started my business without the first $1,000 in seed funding I won at a pitch competition," she recalled. Burrell’s business, White Ivy Events, provides artful wedding event design, coordination, and execution. Recently, Burrell has opened an office in Iowa City, and is currently working with clients from across the state as well as in Minneapolis.

Read more


Student Spotlight

Mahdi Eghbali

VerdiLife | National Award Winning Student Business
1st place, $50,000, MegaWatt Ventures Competition
$5,000, Pappajohn Student Venture Competition

VerdiLife founder Mahdi Eghbali (Ph.D. '21) uses a proprietary process to transform wood waste and other biomasses into wood vinegar, an all-natural pesticide and fertilizer with no emissions or pollution. With an untapped wood vinegar market in the U.S., all Eghbali needed was a little support, mentorship, and funding to get his company started - all of which Iowa JPEC was able to provide. This past year, Eghbali snagged his biggest award yet, first place and $50,000 at the MegaWatt Ventures Competition. VerdiLife was awarded this prestigious title over the other nine collegiate startup finalist teams from around the country.

Read Story

ABAL Therapeutics | National Award Winning Student Business
Co-founders, Shamus Roeder (‘19) | Logan Grote (‘18) | Max Salinger(‘20)

For the second year in a row, a UI student business was awarded first place at the Texas Christian University’s Values and Ventures Competition. ABAL Therapeutics, who provides therapy software for children with autism, took first place over businesses representing 55 different universities.

ABAL has also been recognized by placing at the Pappajohn Student Venture Competition in 2017, and was named one of the UI’s 2018 Student Startups of the year, recognized by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research.