UI Foundation's new fundraising campaign supports student entrepreneurs

BY MICHELLE KIM | MAY 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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In recent years, entrepreneurship centers and programs at the University of Iowa have obtained funding to keep services alive. And the UI Foundation's new fundraising campaign aims to continue contributing to those resources serving student entrepreneurs.

The UI Foundation unveiled its new $1.7 billion fundraising campaign, For Iowa Forever More, on May 2. The campaign has raised slightly over $1 billion and has endowed the funds to support 317 new student scholarships and programs, 118 new research projects, and 88 faculty positions.

One of the main goals of the campaign is to enrich commerce, culture, and communities, which is being done by supporting student entrepreneurs to bring their business into the global market.

“One of the examples we included … was how the campaign would support additional programs and other initiatives in the [Tippie] College of Business, specifically the Bedell Entrepreneurial Learning Lab,” said Dan Sandersfeld, the director of creative services at the UI Foundation. “[Bedell] allows students working on starting companies with resources and space to achieve that.”

Bedell is a business incubator for entrepreneurial students in the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center; it was launched in 2004 along with the support of the UI Foundation.

The program provides an opportunity for students who are pursuing their own businesses to gain mentoring and support while being a student at the University of Iowa.

There are currently 23 student businesses, represented by 41 students who are either working individually or with teams.

“Tom Bedell gave us endowment to support the physical space that pays the utilities, maintains the building, and we use other private funding to run programs, such as business competitions,” said Bedell director Lynn Allendorf.

In addition, students are able to meet and build relationships with local entrepreneurs and successful business leaders every week.

“[On Tuesday], we brought in an entrepreneur from Chicago who had a public company and told his stories about his careers since he [attended] the University of Iowa,” Allendorf said. “He spent some time with a handful of students and gave them feedback with business [information].”

Various funding opportunities are held in Bedell, such as UI competitions, state grants, and Area Angel Investors, which help students use the funding provided by donors and the university in building their own business in the future.

Thomas Hornbeck, a UI postdoctorate student and founder of Tutor Universe, said he started his business ideas in 2011, moved into the Bedell building six months later, and now has the company’s own location.

“Our first year in the program, we won about $23,000 from the competition,” he said. “During the first year, we were still building a lot of software, so a lot of money went toward hiring software developers. We also spent a lot of money on various things like incorporating business and getting legal counsel. The money was mainly used for legal and research developers.”

The UI Foundation is also highlighting an online course Entrepreneurship and Global Trade in its fundraising campaign.

Associate Professor Terry Boles, the coordinator of the course, said it received a grant of approximagtely $10,000 three years ago and is currently taught by two adjunct professors.

“Students take the course because they are interested in global trade,” Boles said. “The course teaches students right from the beginning to start on how you decide whether or not you can go global with the company and choosing partners. We teach specifics about the laws and codes, paperwork to engage in foreign trade, information on the international marketing data, and talk about financing such as how you engage in money internationally.”

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