What is OEI?

Each year, eight students from UNI join 24 other students from The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Buena Vista University, Iowa Lakes Community College, and Dordt University for the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute (OEI) held at Lake Okoboji.  Students participate in a rigorous week of programming focused on the growth and acceleration of their startup; seminars with successful entrepreneurs, business leaders and community leaders; and networking. Students find OEI to be one of the most rewarding experiences of their college careers.

What will I study at OEI?

Students will participate in the Teams Business Challenge to develop a creative solution for a local business in the Iowa Lakes region. Teams will then competitively pitch their plans to judges. Beginning Wednesday, all focus will be turned to individually strengthening their own business, through workshops, mentoring and personalized coaching, presentations from successful entrepreneurs, and much more. 

Not only will OEI provide a well-rounded educational experience, but additionally, students will get a taste of the lake life, from boating, tubing, riding jetskis, and swimming, to company tours, lakeside lunches, and waterfront networking! 

When and where will the Institute be held?

OEI 2024 will be held August 11th-16th in Okoboji, Iowa. The classroom setting for the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute is the Okoboji Bible Conference Campus, providing a unique classroom setting unlike any other location in Iowa. Activities are planned for other venues in the Lakes area to showcase this attractive area to students from all across Iowa. All students are housed with host families in the Iowa Lakes region. 

Who is sponsoring the Institute and how is it funded?

OEI is supported by Okoboji area businesses; OEI alum; the State Board of Regents; the Iowa Economic Development Authority; the Pappajohn Centers at UIowa, UNI, ISU; Buena Vista University; Iowa Lakes Community College; and the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation. For student participants, all expenses are paid, (minus the cost of travel to Okoboji).

What have students said about their OEI experience?

“I loved the opportunities OEI presented to me and I cannot wait to tell others about it! Dive in 100% and challenge yourself. You will also meet some of the most well-connected people in the country.”  --Kyle Coogler, senior communications/public relations major and owner of CREO 

"OEI was a remarkable experience. The program exposed me to prosperous entrepreneurs, who are eager to 'stretch' and challenge young entrepreneurs. My favorite part about OEI was meeting like-minded students who will forever be great connections, and of course exploring Okoboji!" --Reyna Jorgenson, a junior business major and owner of Recreated by Rey

“Being able to meet and talk with people who have started their own businesses and hearing their advice was important to me because I can use their insights when I start my own business.” --Nicole Graen, a junior finance major

How do I apply for OEI? Applications due July 1st

Each year in the spring semester, junior and senior UNI students can submit an application and essay to apply for one of the eight spots. A committee will review the applications and essays and will conduct in-person interviews with the applicants. Eight students who have the necessary skills, personality characteristics, and entrepreneurial drive are selected. Graduate students, freshmen undergrads, and sophomore undergrads are not eligible. Juniors or seniors must be returning to UNI for fall classes. UNI graduates will not be accepted. To apply, follow the link below. Please call 319-273-5732 or e-mail jpec@uni.edu with any questions.