University of Northern Iowa

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Early Founders Program

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We are so excited to continue our Early Founder's Program this summer! JPEC is teaming up with Fluent to provide students with an intensive and informative program. The Fluent team are experts on effective program teaching with an emphasis on teaching effect entrepreneurial techniques. This program will kick off on Monday, June 8th and will wrap up on Friday, July 31st. We are looking for students who will be developing and growing their business plans throughout the summer. Your business can be at any level of growth. We are excited to be working with students for a second summer in a row through the Early Founders Program. This spring we will be holding two workshops prior to the Early Founders Program. These will be held March 27th from 3-6 pm and April 3rd from 3-6 pm in the BCS Building Room 33. Upon the completion of the workshops on March 27th and April 3rd, students will be qualified to apply to the Early Founders Program 2020. Click the button below to register for the Early Founders Program Workshops.  


The 2019 Early Founders Program students and their businesses:

Jessica Wise – White & Yellow T-Shirt Co.

Jessica Wise, a junior, Marketing Major, is the owner and founder of White & Yellow T-shirt Co. (W&Y). W&Y is a small online brand that simply wants to make people happy and encourage people to live life to the fullest. W&Y currently has four lines of tees, all named after the people who have inspired Jessica. Each line gives 10% of its profits to a different non-profit.

Jessica is excited to learn and then fully apply what she’s learned to both White & Yellow and any future businesses that she may have one day. The Early Founders Program will be her opportunity to be coachable and absorb as much knowledge as she can. With many goals on her mind, Jessica picked out a few that she would like to achieve in the next few months:

1. Establish a clear brand image

2. Introduce at least 10 new products or tee designs throughout the summer

3. Build brand awareness

4. Host or participate in three pop-up locations

Jessica shared, “Giving my business the time it deserves is something that I’ve wanted for a very long time, and I can’t wait to work towards my goals without distraction or worry!”


Akanksha Sahni – FlourishPack

Akanksha Sahni is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Biology. She also plans on working towards getting a certificate in Global Health and Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

This summer, Akanksha will further develop FlourishPack through the Early Founder's Program, which is her business project that targets the menstrual health of women. She has done extensive market research with the exploration of this idea and found that most women do not have a good experience with menstruation. Akanksha hopes to help many with her new project.

The FlourishPack is a subscription box that helps improve the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental, and intellectual health of women during menstruation. The goal of FlourishPack is to accelerate the overall wellness of women’s health and help them flourish through their creative subscription box.


Ross Vande Voort – Voortechs

Throughout the Early Founders Program, Ross Vande Voort, a junior, Mathematics Major and founder of Voortechs, will develop an app for tracking golf statistics while maintaining a simple design for ease of use. Being a math and computer science student and an avid golfer, Ross will blend his greatest passions by pursuing this venture.

Ross is excited to unleash his full creativity while working on his business. He’s also looking forward to meeting new people and seeing how they tackle the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur. While coding his app, Ross is determined to learn new skills in the computer programming field that’ll assist him in building a community of unique and creative entrepreneurs.

With graduation around the corner in December, Ross is confident this program will help him figure out what his future holds.


Denzel and Bethany Washington – DLW Muse

Composer Denzel Washington received his BA Degree in Music from Mercer University, and he recently graduated with his Masters in Music Composition at the University of Northern Iowa. His musical inspiration stems from composers such as Charles Ives, Johannes Brahms, and Igor Stravinsky. He was the winner of the 2019 UNI Composition contest, and he will have his piece, American Pastorale, premiered by the Northern Iowa Youth Orchestra in May of 2019.

The Washington’s business, DLWMuse, is the result of years of work and study. The business idea was manifested in 2016 when Denzel realized his passion for music composition ran deeper than a hobby. Recently, Denzel was joined by his talented wife, Bethany Washington, in performing and writing music for clients. He’s extremely excited to work with her and do what they both love most: make music. Their compositions include music for saxophone, piano, clarinet, trombone, and various stringed instruments.


Spencer Walthall – Wallside Tea

Spencer Walthall, a junior, Global Marketing Major, is pursuing Wallside Tea this summer through the Early Founders Program. Wallside Tea stemmed from Spencer’s passion for loose leaf tea. His mission is to bring tea to the forefront for those who want a good cup. Through his online business, Spencer will have the opportunity to reach a vast amount of individuals who also share his love of loose leaf tea.

Letting his goals drive him, Spencer is determined to officially launch his business and have sales by the end of the summer. Fine tuning his business marketing strategy is also a task he’s looking to accomplish. He’s especially excited to get personalized help from the JPEC staff and hands-on experience to propel his business forward. In addition to achieving his goals, Spencer is also excited to be his own boss.