Area Businesses Win Competition Awards

The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center hosted the Venture School Launch Day Competition on Thursday, November 19, 2020. The Fall 2020 cohort of 11 teams competed virtually after 8 weeks of training, developing their plans, and working with mentors. A panel of judges (Robin Anderson, Mason City Chamber; Kyle Bermel, Metalcraft; Matt Curtis, Wayne’s Ski and Cycle; Stacy Doughan, Clear Lake Chamber) selected First and Second Place winners, two Honorable Mention awards, and a Pivot award.

First Place – Zack Smith and Sheldon Stevermer, The Stock Cropper, Lake Mills. Awarded $2500 prize.

Second Place – Elisha Marin and Susanne Crane, 2 Artists Loft, Mason City. Awarded $1500 prize.

Honorable Mention – Joseph Jamtgaard and Jackie Villela, Dave’s Auto Service, Lake Mills. Awarded $500 prize.

Honorable Mention – Ashley Stokke, The Laketown Market, Clear Lake. Awarded $500 prize.

Best Name Pivot Award – Georgina Rodriguez and Arian Ortiz, Sweet Pastry of Mine, Mason City. Awarded $250 prize.

Applications are now being accepted for the North Iowa Spring 2021 cohort of the University of Iowa’s Venture School program. Classes will be held Thursday evenings, February 4th – April 1st (no class March 18th). This is a hybrid class with the first and final classes in person at the NIACC Pappajohn Center, with the rest of the sessions via Zoom. U of I Venture School is a premier statewide program for entrepreneurs and is built from a streamlined curriculum developed by the National Science Foundation I-Corps at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. Venture School emphasizes real-world entrepreneurship and innovation based on leading edge curriculum. Your team will accelerate the startup process by testing your business model hypotheses immediately. You will get out of the building to talk to customers, partners, and competitors, rather than relying on statistics and secondhand market research.

Each team is assigned a local entrepreneur as their mentor. On the final day, participants will compete for seed money with the top team winning $2500. In addition, eligible teams may compete for cash awards at the state level during the Venture School Launch Day at EntreFEST 2021. The cost for the course is $299 (for 2 team members). Contact Mary Spitz at mary.spitz@niacc.edu with questions. If you are a local entrepreneur interested in becoming a Venture School mentor, please contact Candi Karsjens at candi.karsjens@niacc.edu. To apply for the spring 2021 cohort, visit www.venture-school.com and select the Mason City cohort in the drop down menu.

The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center is the expert in rural business innovation and success. In partnership with North Iowa’s Small Business Development Center, together we provide tools, support, and resources to Iowa’s entrepreneurs. We counsel both new and existing local businesses, from Main Street to industry leaders. We’re growing Iowa’s entrepreneurial culture through grade school initiatives, college and community programs, and business training and development. Contact the NIACC Pappajohn Center at 641-422-4111 or pappajohn@niacc.edu.

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