Launching startups

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.

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.

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Program Impact


Teams Completed Training


Entrepreneurs Trained



The Details

The 2018 spring Venture School program is being held in Des Moines, Sioux City, Quad Cities, and Iowa City.

Key dates

Teams must apply by Monday, February 19. accepted into the program will be required to attend the closing Surge Summit (Friday, April 27 at the Hawkeye Innovation Expo at the University of Iowa's Iowa Memorial Union). In addition to this date, individual cohorts will meet on the dates listed below.

Des Moines

  • Meets weekly on Wednesdays from 5:30-9:00 pm
  • February 28 | March 7, 21, 28 | April 4, 11, 18

Quad Cities

  • Meets weekly on Mondays from 5:30-9:00pm
  • February 26 | March 5, 19, 26 | April 2, 9, 16

Sioux City

  • Meets weekly on Mondays from 5:30-9:00pm
  • February 26 | March 5, 19, 26 | April 2, 9, 16

Iowa City

  • Meets weekly on Tuesdays from 5:30-9:00pm
  • February 27 | March 6, 20, 27 | April 3, 10, 17


  • Discover a great market for your technology or idea
  • Learn from people who have real world knowledge
  • Appreciate what it takes to commercialize technology and the barriers to adoption
  • Develop your business model and strengthen your knowledge of business concepts and procedures
  • Expand your network by connecting with teachers, investors, customers, and mentors
  • Meet the players that can help you move your idea forward


  • 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


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! Scholarship opportunities are also available. Please contact for additional information.

Next Steps

Do you have what it takes? Apply for one of our upcoming cohorts in Iowa City, Des Moines, Quad Cities, Dubuque, or Sioux City by February 19.

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