University of Northern Iowa

JPEC logo


Empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, April 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A group of aspiring entrepreneurs from University of Northern Iowa will be among 25 teams vying for $215,000 this week at a national competition looking for the next big idea.


Virgo is competing this week at e-Fest, a virtual event being hosted by the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. 

Sponsored by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas, and, a non-profit online platform for entrepreneurship education, e-Fest celebrates student teams who submitted the top business pitches in a preliminary online competition. At e-Fest, student teams c...

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 By Andrew Creasey

A new start-up by a University of Northern Iowa senior is rethinking the gig economy, a fast-growing sector that now involves about one-third of U.S. workers.

Digital marketing major Maddie Palmersheim’s company Virgo wants to flip the script for freelance workers in this new sector, which offers workers a new kind of freedom but also raises serious concerns about labor exploitation and underwhelming wages. [UNI student Maddie Palmersheim]

Her efforts are already attracting attention. Virgo was named one of 25 finalists of the Schultz Entrepreneurship Challenge at e-fest 2021, a student entrepreneur contest that included s...

Friday, February 26, 2021

A.J. Reding, Nathan Anderson, Xavier Washington, and Imani Reed met when participating in the SHIPHT Entrepreneurial Discovery Series at the University of Northern Iowa. Now known as the executive team for YOU & I Care, their mission was to create a project that would help the community. Wanting to make mental health help more accessible and cheaper, they came up with a unique idea that asks people to simply listen.

"We're allowing a space for people to be heard, to be expressed, and a positive environment for people to walk through challenges," said Reding. He serves as the co-operating officer for YOU & I Care.

The group decided to pitch their idea to counseling...

Thursday, January 21, 2021

On January 8, The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) announced the 2021 winners of the Entrepreneurship Experiential Exercises (3E) Competition during the organization’s USASBE 2021: Be Boldly Unscripted annual conference.


The top three place finishers in this year’s 3E Competition are as follows:


First Place: “Two Pros and a Con” by Briana Stenard (Mercer University)

Second Place: “Connect the Dots: A Card Game for Teaching Cognitive Frameworks and Uncertainty and Opportunity Recognition” by Craig Armstrong (University of Alabama)

Third Place: “Improvisational Entrepreneurship and the Modern Libra...

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

UNI students competed for $2000 in awards at the Annual UNI Entrepreneurs Elevator Pitch Competition. The 2020 competition took place on Tuesday, November 3rd at the Business & Community Services Building. There were two different competitions that the entrepreneurs could compete in: Ideation and Revenue. Ideation are students with business ideas that are in the early stages of development and have yet to earn revenue. Students in the Revenue competition have existing businesses and are making money. Each student had just 90 seconds to explain their business ideas to a panel of judges.

Five students competed in the Ideation competition with Maddie Palmersheim taking home first...

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...