Sigma Nu Tau Chicago Trek March 2017
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

As part of a recent trek to Chicago, eighteen Sigma Nu Tau members traveled to the city to shadow entrepreneurs at companies and learned about opportunities in the entrepreneurial community. Their two-day exploration brought them to Google, 1871, TechNexus, L Street Collaborative, mHUB, Entrenuity, and VividSeats. While these companies are distinct from one another, students heard a similar message from the entrepreneurs they met with – pursue something that you are passionate about and take risks in order to achieve your goals!

Sigma Nu Tau is an entrepreneurial honor society for students who value entrepreneurship, leadership, and academics. Student members are selected from a variety of majors. On March 2-3, 2017, eighteen students traveled to Chicago to meet with companies occupying various niches within the tech world. At every company along the trek, students were greeted by seasoned entrepreneurs and University of Iowa alumni.

At Google, students discovered a company culture where employees thrive on flexibility and independence while still using a team approach to problem solving. Sigma Nu Tau President Sydney Kurtz noted that Google’s flexible work scheduling is a huge draw for college entrepreneurs looking for a job.

1871, named for the entrepreneurial uprising after the 1871 Chicago fire, was created to support Chicago’s digital startup community. Entrepreneurs from Sorc’d, ConceptDrop and TechBridge talked with students about how they transitioned past failures into learning lessons that fueled later entrepreneurial efforts.

Kurtz points to L Street Collaborative as a business where students were excited to learn more about the company’s innovative methods of pursuing entrepreneurship. Here students learned about an alternative approach to assessing risk and making investment decisions. The founder of L Street Collaborative understands the value of investing in non-glamorous businesses and shared their unique vetting principles with Sigma Nu Tau students.

Deemed a “maker space,” mHUB was created to ensure that Chicago’s manufacturing industry continues to accelerate, grow, and thrive. mHUB offers entrepreneurs access to an amazing sense of community and invaluable lab space and equipment to help them along the innovative path. Patricia Miller, Iowa JPEC advisory council member and mHUB board member, met the students to give them a tour of the facility.

Entrenuity’s strong service message proved that the most successful businesses are the ones that give back. The company prepares entrepreneurs for true success through experiential entrepreneurship and spiritual development training. Students heard from the founders of Spirit of Philanthropy and Kaizen Health as well, who both are dedicated to giving back – reminding students of the lasting message of the value of service minded entrepreneurship.

Kurtz says students’ perceptions of the ticketing industry were flipped upside down after visiting VividSeats, which is a thriving company that reinvented the ticket purchasing experience. The company has beat out well-known competitors to carve out a place in the entertainment industry. Students were most surprised to learn about their tech design sprints, in which teams keep in close contact with clients to create the best tech product possible.

Over the course of the trip, students spoke with employees, founders, and upper management of each company, receiving a comprehensive understanding of the entrepreneurial forces at work in each company. These various meetings revealed two key takeaways for Kurtz: pursue something that you are passionate about and understand that the path of success is laden with failures. Kurtz says that the unified message of the trip was inspiring not only for herself, but for other members of Sigma Nu Tau at different stages in their education. With the entrepreneurs’ advice in mind, the students are excited to try new entrepreneurial experiences, even if they are not immediately successful. As a senior, Kurtz was reinvigorated by the trek and looks forward to bringing her innovative perspective to the workforce after graduation.