As a member of Founders Club, you’ll learn how to create a business model using Lean Startup methodology, a best in class curriculum offered in incubators worldwide. Housed in the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL), Founders Club is your entree to an exciting network of student innovators and alumni entrepreneurs eager to share real world start-up experience. You’ll gain access to the tools for success, including workspace, coaching, mentoring, skill training and the opportunity to compete for seed funding throughout the year.  Founders Club welcomes students at all stages in their entrepreneurial journey, from early concept to established ventures looking to scale. Students from all majors are encouraged to apply. Build your big idea at Founders Club.

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Program Impact


Student businesses supported through Founders Club


at multiple national student business competitions


awarded to student businesses

Benefits of Membership

  • Access to collaborative work space
  • Targeted mentoring and coaching
  • Funding opportunities
  • Workshops to build your entre skills
  • Marketing support
  • Prototyping and software support
  • Legal consulting
  • Networking with alumni and entrepreneurs

Who Can Apply?

If you’re a registered student at the University of Iowa, you’re eligible to apply for acceptance to Founders Club. Here’s what you need to know:

  • All majors are welcome to apply (undergraduate, graduate and PhD).
  • Teams are welcome if at least one founder is a current student.
  • You need to demonstrate serious intent to build your business.
  • After submitting your application, you'll be invited to interview with the Program Director who will determine at what stage you'll enter Founders Club.

Member Expectations

Entrepreneurship requires passion, persistence and a “no obstacles” frame of mind. All members of Founders Club need to demonstrate that grit each semester to remain in the program. You’ll be accountable for:

  • Weekly Friday Meeting participation (11:30am-12:20pm), part of 1 Credit Hour required per semester in ENTRE 4300 or ENTRE 9800
  • Completion of a working business model
  • Regular interaction with Coaches and Mentors
  • Developing a competition pitch deck
  • Formulation of short and long-term goals
  • Meeting with Iowa JPEC Specialists in Marketing, Accounting, Law and Prototyping
  • Continued adherence to the expectations of the Founders Club Charter

Three Stages, Three Learning Tracks

Diversified programming supports teams as they progress. Important milestones earn your business entry to the next stage. 

  • Committed to launching a business
  • Actively exploring ideas or looking for teams
  • Strongly interested in working in the startup environment after graduation
  • Participate in all Friday meetings and complete all assigned homework
  • Register for 1 academic credit hour per semester (exceptions made only upon request)
  • Participate in the Iowa Innovation Challenge and Founders Club Fair

  • Engage weekly with coach and complete assignments
  • Create prototype or MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
  • Filed business at state and federal level, established EIN
  • Secure 30-minute meetings with each Founders Club Specialists per semester
  • Register for 1 academic credit hour per semester (exceptions made only upon request)
  • Participate in the Iowa Innovation Challenge and Founders Club Fair

Additional Benefits

  • Access to Marketing, Legal, Prototyping and Accounting Specialists
  • Eligible for office space at the BELL

  • Engage weekly with Coach and complete assignments
  • Has generated significant revenue or seed funding
  • Have an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
  • Secure meetings with each Founders Club Specialists per semester
  • Register for 1 academic credit hour per semester (exceptions made only upon request)
  • Participate in the Iowa Innovation Challenge and Founders Club Fair

Additional Benefits

  • Priority access to Marketing, Legal, Prototyping and Accounting Specialists including consulting and project support
  • Priority access to office space at the BELL

Resources and Required Documents

Founders Club Charter- Required

All students must complete and sign a copy of the Founders Club Charter after submitting their application to participate in Founders Club programming and to have access to facilities at the BELL. Please review and sign this form only AFTER you have completed your application for the program.

Founders Club Charter

Travel Requests - Optional

Iowa JPEC provides support to Founders Club students traveling to compete in competitions or attend innovative events and conferences. To request travel support, complete and submit the following form well in advance of your event date.

Travel Request Form

SBDC Counseling - Required

All applicants must register for consultation with our local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) by signing up on the website link below. This step should be completed after submitting an application to Founders Club

Register for SBDC counseling


Since its establishment in 2004, the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory has supported hundreds of student startups. Get to know some of the businesses that got their start by joining Founders Club.

Alumni Businesses - Founders Club

Founders Club is proud to have played an early role in the launch of successful startups in a broad range of industries. Check out the alumni ventures that began at Founders Club.


Are you ready to build your big idea?  Apply to Founders Club today.

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