University of Northern Iowa

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Robert Sales is no stranger to the limelight at the University of Northern Iowa. The Communication major was a fixture at UNI Panther football and basketball games selling doughnuts from his year-round concession stand, Rob’s Mini Donuts and in the halls mentoring other entrepreneurial students in the UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (UNI JPEC). 

As a student entrepreneur, Sales has been recognized with several awards including the MAC Impact Student Business of the Year for 2020. But his greatest recognition to date occurred this fall. On Oct. 9, Sales won the regional Entrepreneurs’ Organization Global Student Entrepreneur Award (GSEA), which includes competitors from a...

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Robert Sales arrived at UNI knowing he wanted to be an entrepreneur.

The Pella native’s business instincts had been apparent since he was a first-grader who won a contract mowing vacant lots in his neighborhood. At UNI, Sales focused on the food industry, launching a food truck business and then, with help from professors and mentors, narrowed his focus to selling mini doughnuts. 

Sales was a fixture this year at the UNI-DOME and McLeod Center, selling his trademark cinnamon-and-sugar doughnuts before social-distancing restrictions in the wake of a COVID-19 pandemic brought food sales to a halt. His Rob’s Mini Donuts operation has been named the MAC Impact Student...

Monday, March 30, 2020

Jacob Smith (Marketing Dec 2019 graduate) and Cole Wetzel (Quantitative Economics) of the University of Northern Iowa have been selected as one of the Top 25 Finalist teams for the Schultz Entrepreneurship Challenge as part of e-Fest 2020 which is a three-day celebration of undergraduate entrepreneurs which features workshops, networking and four separate competitions awarding a total of $250K in prize money.  Over 120 student submissions were submitted from over 65 colleges and universities across North America.  

Smith and Wetzel pitched their venture, PastimeU, which is a comprehensive mobile platform for students to view non-academic information and events happening on campus....

Monday, March 16, 2020

The University of Northern Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (UNI JPEC) has received a $100,000 gift from Eric and Kelli Schaefer. The donation will be used to support services offered to UNI student entrepreneurs to assist them in launching their new ventures.  

Eric Schaefer, a 1991 UNI graduate in Finance and International Business, co-founded RedCard in 2006 along with fellow UNI alums Joe DiMartini and Dru Schmitt. .  RedCard is a healthcare technology firm that provides communication management and electronic payment services in the healthcare sector. Prior to RedCard, Eric helped build Advanced Business Fulfillment, which was later acquired by WebMD.  Schaefer, a...

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

 Winner of the 2019 UNI Entrepreneurs Elevator Pitch Competition, Maddie Palmersheim, had the opportunity to attend the 2019 CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization) Global Conference and Pitch Competition. This conference was held in Tampa, Florida from October 31st to November 2nd.

Maddie and around 1,000 other collegiate entrepreneurs attended the three-day conference. The main event of the conference is a pitch competition with a grand prize of $2,000., 

Maddie perfected her pitch and headed to Tampa joined by fellow UNI student entrepreneur, Matt Zilley. When they first arrived, they connected with the Iowa State entrepreneurs chapter who had around 15 people with...

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

​On October 29th, North Iowa Area Community College’s Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center held the 2019 NIACC Pappajohn Center Entrepreneur Gala which recognized outstanding entrepreneurs in the area. One of the entrepreneurs recognized was UNI student, Samantha Schupanitz. She received special recognition of Student Entrepreneur of the Year for her business, Sami’s Sock Monkeys.

Schupanitz started her company, Sami’s Sock Monkeys, during her senior year while attending Mason City High School. She has been making sock monkeys for most of her life and decided that she could turn her love for crafting sock monkeys into a business. She then continued with her company through her two yea...

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Maddie Palmersheim and Robert Sales, both UNI student entrepreneurs, attended this year’s Techstars Startup Weekend in Kansas City from September 20-22. The Techstars Startup Weekend is an immersive startup experience focused on hardware and product design that challenges teams to get feedback, make changes, and stay open to the idea of pivoting if a plan fails.

The two paired up with Kansas University Student, Bailey Batcheller, and worked as a team to create a brand new business idea. The idea that the team settled on was to create eye contact containers that were healthier for the environment.

The team worked hard for two days and then had the opportunity to pitch their...

Friday, October 18, 2019

Ten UNI students competed in the 2019 UNI Entrepreneurs Elevator Pitch Competition. The competition was held in the Business & Community Services Building on Tuesday, October 15th. The students were split into two different categories, founders or idea generators, for competition depending on what stage their business was in. Founders already have an existing start up business and currently have revenue from either selling a product or providing a service. Idea Generators are in the very early stages of their business and have yet to earn revenue.

Maddie Palmersheim, owner of Karmic Co., took home first place in the founders category. She was rewarded $250, and she will also h...

Friday, August 09, 2019

Students from UNI, Iowa State, University of Iowa, Buena Vista, and Iowa Lakes Community College got together for the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute which was held August 4-8th. At OEI, the students participate in entrepreneurial simulations and have the chance to network with fellow students and community members. The eight students who attended this year were Reagan Brown, Corey Behrens, Robert Sales, Samantha Schpanitz, Matt Zilley, Ryan Falk, Jessica Wise, and Jacob Smith. At this year's OEI, Robert Sales of Rob's Mini Donuts placed second in the elevator pitch completion and received $400. Regan Brown and her team took first place in the Red Universe while Ryan Falk and his team g...

Friday, August 09, 2019

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 d...