After a year break due to Covid-19, the Obokoji Entrepreneurial Institute (OEI) was back for the week-long event. Bringing together over 30 students from five institutes - University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Iowa Lakes Community College, and Buena Vista University, participants were immersed into an intense entrepreneurship program that is unmatched by any other in the state.
Upon arrival, students are split up into teams for a startup simulator that mimics realistic challenges in beginning a new business. Despite the fictitious nature of the simulation, the intensity of competition among students in their drive to succeed is high. In addition to the business simulator, students are granted the opportunity to network with a variety of successful business owners and entrepreneurs who reside in the area.
While at OEI, student schedules allow them to get a taste of "lake life." Activities include boating, tubing, swimming, riding jet skis, and attending nightly events at the lakeside homes of local entrepreneurs.
Among UNI attendees was Emma Slagle (junior) who reflected on the opportunity,
"At first I was nervous about attending OEI as I was not sure what to expect. Between the simulator, networking, and attending events, the entire week at OEI was so much fun and positively contributed to my college experience and my entrepreneurial mindset. The relationships and connections I made were incredibly valuable and will continue to serve me as I navigate through my senior year and post-college life. I also had the opportunity to pitch my business, Honor and Respect, at the event which allowed me to get great feedback and advice from judges and mentors."
Other UNI attendees included Isaac Hackman (senior), Carter Nordman (senior), Katie Jepsen (senior), Jeffrey Reicks (junior), Kade Bussye (junior), Skyler Ramsey (junior), Savannah Waren (sophomore). Students who completed the event received college credit.