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Tag Archives: entrepreneur

UNI, UI announce first Venture School Entrepreneurial Training Program in Cedar Falls

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Venture School, originally started in the state by the University of Iowa, is designed to help entrepreneurs increase their odds of success. Venture School is a new approach to entrepreneurial training, based on a leading-edge curriculum that emphasizes the Lean Startup methodology. Venture School has completed three cohorts in Iowa City and will be offering the program in Cedar Falls this fall through a partnership with the University of Northern Iowa. Instruction will come from UI lecturer and serial entrepreneur Kurt Heiar, Dan Winegarden from UI, as well as Paul Kinghorn and Laurie Watje from UNI.
“I was thoroughly impressed by the simple, common sense approach of Venture School,” said Nate Kaeding, founding partner of Short’s Burger & Shine and Tailgate Iowa. “My eyes were opened to the importance of real, substantive market research and customer discovery; both are invaluable exercises for any startup venture. ¬I’ll never again look at my startup projects, or anyone else’s, the same.”
After completing Venture School, startups will continue to have access to numerous university resources, including strategic business assistance, technology consulting services, prototyping assistance and internship programs. “Venture School trains entrepreneurs to connect with real customers to validate their business model, increasing the likelihood of success,” said David Hensley, associate vice president for economic development and executive director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa. “When a team comes into the program, we help guide them through early stage market research, provide mentors with real-world experience, and then connect them with other resources, both inside and outside of the university, enabling them to more confidently launch their businesses.”
There will be an informational session held from noon to 1 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19, at the
Business and Community Services building (BCS), 8120 Jennings Dr. Cedar Falls. The event is open to the public; entrepreneurs and those engaged in the startup community are encouraged to attend. Several entrepreneurs who have been through Venture School will also be in attendance, along with University of Northern Iowa and University of Iowa staff. For more details, visit www.bcs.uni.edu/venture-school.
Venture School curriculum was developed by the National Science Foundation at Stanford University and the University of California – Berkeley.

Creating The Place to Start A Business.

By: Steve Dust 

The Cedar Valley economic area thrives on successful businesses that began one day when its owner said, “I can do that – better.” Some of these former startups are still identified with the owner – while others have grown into international business powers.

All over the Cedar Valley there are examples of people who are passionate about something, determined that no one can do it any better than they, and opened a business to prove it – people like the Bertch family, the Far Reach Technologies partners, or Van Miller’s growing-every-day-into-something-different VGM, or the CBE Group, or Mudd Advertising, or….

As their business grew, each of them discovered the value of our government relations, information, education, and networking resources, the market growth spurred by ongoing promotion,  and all the other things your professional team does to make the Cedar Valley a vibrant place for business startup and growth.

An observer of business startup and growth trends in the US, Brad Feld, recently wrote, Startup Communities – Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City. Based on his decades of starting businesses, becoming an early stage venture capitalist, and now known for his highly (some would say outrageously) successful Foundry Group in Boulder, CO, Brad eloquently writes about the role of organizations like the Alliance & Chamber in creating and sustaining that Entrepreneurial Ecosystem mentioned in the title.

The very best role the Alliance & Chamber can play to foster a robust Startup Community – that encourages a faster rate of business startups and attracts more people with the desire to take the entrepreneurial plunge is: Cheerleader and Feeder. In other words, Support.

  • Work on economic vitality – grow the market! Create a place where startups have the best chance of success: work on infrastructure like broadband, and amenities to create a vibrant,  economic base
  • Make connections – directly, to new sales or service opportunities, or indirectly with exposure to customers and vendors and service providers through networking events, and to other feeder organizations – like UNI’s Center for Business Services and SCORE.
  • Inform them – with inexpensive access to high quality service providers in educational sessions on topics of interest to new businesses – like healthcare reform, social media tools, or the like – delivering info those new business owners will use to increase business results and avoid pitfalls.
  • Work with local and state government to keep them out of the way of business startup and success. Though almost always well intentioned, government gets in the way of startups and growing business with the increased cost of complying with or being constrained by this rule or that

policy/ordinance/statute.

  • Be the gathering place for startup community leaders. The leaders of our start up community must be people who have recently started their own businesses. As busy as they are, other owners of startup businesses are the best to relate to and offer actionable advice on the startup experience. The Alliance & Chamber is the platform – the roost – for emerging entrepreneurs to gather, and share their own experiences. It’s also great feedback for the Alliance & Chamber to build its Cedar Valley Start Up action agenda.

Believe me: there’s a lot of competition among places for business startup activity.  We, and they, understand the economic power of startups, and the culture it engenders for addressing social as well as economic issues. Your Alliance & Chamber is motivated and equipped and working to ensure that the Cedar Valley economic area is an attractive place to take that giant step – the one taken by every person when they’ve uttered the words, “I’m starting a business.”

 

 

 

 

 

GREATER CEDAR VALLEY ALLIANCE & CHAMBER and the CEDAR VALLEY REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCE DREAM BIG GROW HERE CEDAR VALLEY $5,000 WINNER

Cedar Valley of Iowa -The 2nd Annual Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley contest concluded on the evening of October 18th, 2012 with a “pitch-off” by five finalist of the online popular vote portion of the $5,000 grant contest.

The winner of the pitch-off, Lizzy Mae’s Cupcakes & Sweets – pitched by Dawn Pursell of Waverly, was chosen by a panel of business entrepreneurs and experts from the fields of law, technology, finance and entertainment. Twenty-one start-ups and small businesses participated in the popular online voting generating over 9,300 votes, from 44 states and 16 countries.

The Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley competition provides early stage and emerging small business an additional financial boost to accelerate the growth of their business.  The contest was open to start-up and small businesses in the Cedar Valley Economic Area comprised of Butler, Bremer, Buchanan, Black Hawk, Chickasaw, Grundy, and Tama counties.

“This year we saw more businesses competing in the contest take advantage of the free business services available through the University of Northern Iowa, MyEntrenet and the Small Business Development Center” commented Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber.

“This is the whole point of the contest…helping these individuals take their business idea to the next level.” added Nate Clayberg, Chair, Cedar Valley Marketing Partnership.

Both the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber and the Cedar Valley Regional Partnership were regional sponsors of the statewide contest.  Lizzy Mae’s Cupcakes & Sweets will compete March 7, 2013 for a chance to win $10,000 at the statewide pitch off sponsored by MyEntre.net during their annual conference. Pursell plans to use the prize money to expand her baking operation and open a store front in Waverly.

Other event sponsors for the Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley Pitch-Off event included, MyEntre.net, UNI’s Business Incubator, Point Builders and PDCM Insurance.

Other finalist included:

Computer Troubleshooters Computer Service and Sales(Cory Vieth) – Waterloo, Eat Cakes Cakery (Elizabeth Wilson)– Hudson , Watapri (Jane Zehr)– Waverly, and Recycle Rite Inc. (Brian Hoyer)- Cedar Falls.

Kate Washut of Far Reach Technologies moderated the Pitch-off. The judges panel included; Wade Arnold CEO of Banno; Darin Beck CEO of Barmuda MMC; Eric Johnson of Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman & Johnson, P.C.; Mark Stewart of Prime Logic Partners and Nick Evens of  The Veridian Group.

 

Returning to the Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley Pitch-Off event and delivering the keynote was author Sarah Miller Caldicott, great grand niece of Thomas Edison. Caldicott’s presentation How Collaboration Drives Innovation: A Midnight Lunch with Thomas Edison, was based on a soon to be released book. Co – author of the book Innovate Like Edison, Caldicott has recently released an e-book titled Inventing the Future: What Would Thomas Edison be Doing Today.

 

Dust added, “Cedar Valley Innovation Day is one way to celebrate the strength and vitality of the individual entrepreneurial drive in the Cedar Valley economic area, and the improvements it brings our businesses and lives.

 

The contestants of Dream Big Grow Here-Cedar Valley have taken the first steps to growing the next dominant business with whatever product or service improvement they have put into the marketplace. These aren’t hobbies, or businesses that plan to remain garage-based operations. DBGH-Cedar Valley contestants are in the mold of many, many other Cedar Valley dreamers who started with a vision to help businesses and consumers to do something better – innovating. Their success at innovation has earned them a place among the best in the nation in their industries. Remember, the innovation of John Froelich and his partners in the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Co. – introducing gasoline powered traction – changed agriculture around the globe. It’s that commitment to find new, better ways to produce and provide in America’s Free Enterprise system – innovation – from the Cedar Valley – that is celebrated in this event.

 

Cedar Valley Innovation Day is a way to inform and demonstrate why it’s critical to create a welcoming place for people to innovate. We need that brainpower – continually striving to find the next better way to do something – create – make – or deliver something – to expand our economy. Encouraging, welcoming and celebrating innovation is still another way to Be Part of Something Greater – the Cedar Valley of Iowa.”

 

More information about Lizzy Mae’s Cupcakes & Sweets can be found at www.facebook.com/LizzyMaes Cupcakes Sweets.

 

Plans are already underway for the 2013 Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley & Cedar Valley Innovation Day.  Businesses and individuals interested in participating or sponsorships should contact the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber at 319-232-1156.

 

Be part of something greater - The Cedar Valley of Iowa

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees