“Entrepreneurs recognize the importance of strong mentors. When I invested in the Fellowship in Entrepreneurship, I trusted the University would obtain an outstanding educator, researcher, and mentor. My expectations have been exceeded with the appointment of Michele.” – John L. Miclot


Dr. Michele Williams considers it an honor to be the first John L. Miclot Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship. To her, the name says it all. “John Miclot is an incredible accomplished executive with a perspective on entrepreneurs in the programs at Iowa that helps to create lifelong leaders,” she stated. “I feel eager to have this unique opportunity to connect research and practice – all while helping students develop the skills they need to be successful well beyond their days in college.”

After becoming interested in team relationships while she was a student herself, William’s quickly sprouted a fascination in research dealing with team dynamics. The deeper she looked into the field of entrepreneurship, the more she discovered several reoccurring patterns which ultimately inspired her to embark down a path of research. Iowa JPEC is happy to have her on board and expanding the organization’s focus on research.

Today, Williams’ research focuses on key concepts in the areas of entrepreneurship. First, Williams is looking at gender biases in the world of entrepreneurship and trying to understand what changes an individual’s perception of a female. This includes looking at female performance and the idea that different elements, such as location or race, can affect the perceptions that others have on the ability of a female to lead. This also includes looking at new ventures and seeing what products are considered to be masculine or feminine and if that affects the products performance.

In addition to gender biases, Williams is also investigating accelerator teams and how they can strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This means looking at the impact of providing advice to entrepreneurs, and the value of long-term relationships between founding partners or their mentors. “On a startup team, everyone has the same goal, but it can be hard for everyone to agree on what process would be the most beneficial for the success of the team,” she stated. “Trust and collaboration are key for startups and team dynamics. The strongest teams have people with different skill sets. However, sometimes this can create a barrier between team members.”

Since Williams joined as faculty in early 2017, she has already gotten connected with several of Iowa JPEC’s key programs, including Iowa Startup Games. Not only did she serve as a coach and mentor to the student teams, but also used this competition to collect data for her above mentioned accelerator research. To her, the program helps UI students create a business in only a weekend, teaches resilience, critical thinking, and team building skills.

From her research and personal experience with accelerators she has gained some significant insights to share with entrepreneurs. “Leave your team members stronger than when you met them. It is important to remember that developing your team is better than developing your product,” stated Williams. “You need to plan for change. A pivot isn’t a road block, but rather puts you on a path of exploration.”