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Early Founders Program 2019 Recap

Posted on Friday, August 9th, 2019

Early Founders Program 2019 Recap

From the application process all the way to the final pitches, our founders have worked hard to make progress on their businesses. After battling through failures, successes and the overall stress that comes with starting a business, the founders were more than excited to share where their business is now and the journey of how they got there. They had that opportunity to share their story at Demo Day on August 2nd.  Demo Day was a pitch completion and celebration of all that the founders had accomplished over the last nine weeks.


Throughout the past 9 weeks, the founders have completed the Early Founders Program which focused on learning and developing as an entrepreneur. Throughout that time, the founders participated in numerous workshops taught by the JPEC team, the Fluent team, and local business mentors. The workshops covered topics such as digital marketing, raising capital, public speaking, mental health, business culture, and many more.


One of the biggest things our founders learned was to learn quickly. They did this by running small weekly tests in order to validate or invalidate their assumptions about their business models. These tests, or flexes, helped the founder decide whether or not to pivot their business because the previous idea was no longer viable. Another tool they used to learn quickly was scrum. Each business built a scrum board that planned out what they did each week and daily standup meeting were conducted to keep everyone accountable and promote forward growth.


Each founder met a large number of contacts throughout the program. They attended numerous networking events such as One Million Cups and Tech Brew. Every Friday, our founders would eat lunch with an entrepreneur from the Cedar Valley. At the lunches the founders asked questions, pitched, and got some great advice. The founders also made a trip to Des Moines to meet up with Iowa State University and Drake’s entrepreneurial programs. While in Des Moines the founders pitched their businesses, visited start-ups in the area, and toured 2 accelerator programs.


Demo Day was the final event of the Early Founders Program. The Founders pitched their businesses and their stories to a panel of judges and to the audience. The founders also took time to thank the financial sponsors of the program and all those that helped along the way.


Two $500 awards were given out on Demo Day. The first award was the Flex Champion Award. This was given to the team that made the most progress using weekly flexes. They made the flexes fast and efficient and continually gained knowledge throughout the process. The 2019 Flex Champions are Denzel and Bethany Washington of DLWMuse.


The next award was based on how well the founder pitched at Demo Day. This Founder had the most impactful story and also clearly discussed their business idea. The 2019 Pitch Award winner is Akanksha Sahni of FlourishPack


All five of the business plan to keep working on their business. Four will stay at the JPEC and retain their office spaces and one will continue to work on the business from Ohio State University as a graduate student.