Launching startups

If you need entrepreneurial training in the state of Iowa - you've come to the right place. Master the startup process with our premier statewide Venture School, an innovative training program focused on real-world experimentation, customer discovery, and Lean LaunchPad methodologies. This program uses the official National Science Foundation I-Corps curriculum to help high-potential startups turn their ideas into reality.

With hub locations across the state, the program allows Iowa entrepreneurs to reap its benefits. This program works for startups, small businesses, non-profits, and corporate innovation teams. Our application process is ongoing. Apply today for a location near you - we will reach out to you the next time a cohort location is hosted in your region.

Test your business hypothesis immediately by getting out into the community to talk to customers, partners, and competitors, rather than relying on static case studies and secondhand market research. You will encounter the chaos and uncertainty of commercializing innovations and creating new ventures, while also being challenged to create your own business model as you make pivots or preserve your original plans based on your findings.

FALL 2018 PROGRAM LOCATIONS:
Des Moines and Waterloo/Cedar Falls - find out more below!

Apply today

Program Impact

240+

Teams Completed Training

580+

Entrepreneurs Trained

150+

Mentors

 

Just listen to what our successful alumni have to say

Elizabeth Caven

Founder, UpCraft Club

"In Venture School, I learned principles that would define my market position and value proposition. This helped us have over 2,000 users registered on our site within our first month!"

Bill Brown, TreePans

Founder, Tree Pans and Insulights

"At the end of the day, choosing to participate in Venture School is one of the best decisions we have made. I really think that we have saved so much time and money through the customer discovery process. We changed our total direction that our expensive consultant was taking us. I believe in Venture school so much that I drove eight hours every week so I could go through the program again for a second business."

Gnarly Pepper

Founder, Gnarly Pepper, Inc.

"Venture School was a great program for me to fully understand my entire brand, not just my product itself. Venture School gave me the confidence to speak efficiently about my company."

 

FAQ

Get the answers you need

Get the answers to frequently asked questions about the Venture School program.

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Fall 2018 cohort location

The fall Venture School program will be hosted in both Des Moines and Waterloo/Cedar Falls.
 

Timeline for Cohorts:

  • September 21 | Deadline to apply
  • September 25 | Teams will be notified of acceptance and will homework for first class
  • Classes begin in early October and end mid/late November
  • Final pitch contest - competing for seed funding, will take place on the last day of classes
    (11/15 in Waterloo/Cedar Falls, 11/28 in Des Moines)
  • Surge Summit in Spring  | More details coming soon!
    A final celebration will be held in Spring 2019 that will welcome both our Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 cohorts to come together to compete for seed funding.

If you are interested in participating on one of these cohorts, please review the information below before applying. If you are looking to attend the program in a different location than Des Moines or Waterloo/Cedar Falls, you are welcome to submit an application being sure to note your location preference. Our application process is ongoing and we will keep your application on file for the next time a cohort location is hosted near you!

DES MOINES

The Des Moines cohort will meet weekly on:

  • Wednesday evenings on the following dates:
    October 10, 17, 24, 31
    November 7, 14, 28
  • Classes will be held from 5:30pm-9:00pm
  • John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center
    1200 Grand Avenue
  • Instructors: Kurt Heiar and Gregg Barcus
WATERLOO/CEDAR FALLS

The Waterloo/Cedar Falls cohort will meet weekly on:

  • Thursday evenings on the following dates:
    October 4, 11, 18, 25
    November 1, 8, 15
  • Classes will be held from 5:30pm-9:00pm
  • 215 E 4th Street, Cedar Falls, Iowa
  • Instructors: Kurt Heiar and Paul Kinghorn
     

 

More about the program

Benefits

      1.  
  • Bring focus and agility to your business idea.
  • Test and prove your business hypothesis through guided customer discovery for product-market fit.
  • Learn from top entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and instructors.
  • Gain valuable connections with local communities and external groups that will help you get the resources you need to grow.
  • Create a business model that is both strategic and tactical through an evidence-based approach, whether you are a profit or non-profit entity.
  • All teachings are applicable to virtually all industries and company levels, whether you are a true startup or an early stage existing business.

Requirements

  • Your team must be ready to work hard! Venture School mimics the pace of a real startup
  • Teams must be fully committed to being open-minded and following the Venture School process
  • All members of the team should be willing to work together and to contact 100 potential customers during the customer discovery portion of the course
  • Must be an active participant in all Venture School classes and presentations
  • NO TEAM? No problem. A team is not required to complete this program if you are working on your business independently.

Connecting Iowa Communities

The Venture School program Iowa connects communities by inviting local stakeholders to partner under a common program. These partners include but are not limited to; Small Business Development Centers, Chambers of Commerce, University of Iowa resources, workforce development officials, marketers, attorneys, investors, local community executives, and state government resources. In turn, startups and early stage companies elevate their communities with their successes, including creating jobs for others. Venture School is comprehensive, and our alumni have done some amazing things across the state already which is the ultimate goal for supporting Iowa's entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Cost

The first team member will cost $299. Every additional team member that joins the cohort will be an additional $99. However, many monetary awards can be won at the end of the program!

Next Steps

Do you have what it takes? Apply for one of our upcoming cohorts.

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