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Empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

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...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Our final two students participating in the first-ever UNI Early Founders Program are Denzel Washington and Spencer Walthall. These entrepreneurs were hand-picked because the JPEC staff saw potential in their preexisting business ventures and were confident that this opportunity would provide valuable experiences for these students.

Denzel 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 20...

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

We are so excited to launch our Early Founder's Program this summer! This program will kick off on Monday, June 3rd and will wrap up on Friday, August 2nd. We have six driven students who will be developing and growing their business plans throughout the summer. Each business is at a different level of growth, which leaves plenty of room for improvement for each student. We are excited to be working with such a motivated group of young entrepreneurs and sharing their progress with you. Leading up to the kickoff date, we will be revealing more about each of our students and the businesses they plan on working on this summer.


Jessica Wise – White & Yellow T-Shirt...
Thursday, May 02, 2019

On Friday, April 26th, three tenants whose businesses are located in the R. J. McElroy Student Business Incubator program competed in the Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition. The competition was hosted in Des Moines with John Pappajohn and Dan Storck with Equity Dynamics along with Dan Cosgrove, Chief Strategy Officer at Growers Edge Financial in Johnston, IA and Tom O’Reilly, President of Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA judging the competition to determine the three state finalists.

Gabe Groothuis, a Senior, Marketing and Organizational Leadership double major from Marion, Iowa, pitched his company, Groothuis Solutions.  Groothuis Solutions, whi...

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Corey Behrens, a junior, of Mason City, Iowa, studying digital media production and the owner and operator of Simplistic Views, a photography and videography startup has been selected to receive the 2019 R.J. McElroy Student Business Incubator Student Business of the Year award. Corey said regarding receiving this award, “I am very gracious and honored to receive this award and the mentoring that the staff at the UNI JPEC has provided me.” Corey and his business, Simplistic Views, have resided in UNI JPEC’s Student Business Incubator since the winter of 2017. Corey also recently found out that he advanced to the state level in the Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition and...

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Gabe Groothuis, a Sales Management and Organizational Leadership double major, from Marion, Iowa, was recognized at the UNIBusiness Leadership Celebration on April 11, 2019 as the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center Student Entrepreneur of the Year.  Gabe was UNI’s 2018 Elevator Pitch Competition winner and represented UNI at the National CEO conference in Kansas City this November advancing through to the second round before being eliminated.  Gabe also runs his business, Groothuis Solutions, out of the RJ McElroy Student Business Incubator program which is housed in the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. 

Groothuis Solutions provides Mock Trial Training Solutions...