North Iowa Businesses Compete in Spring 2022 Venture School Launch Day

The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center hosted Venture School Launch Day on Thursday, March 24, 2022. The Spring 2022 Venture School cohort competed in person after attending classes virtually for 7 weeks of training, customer discovery, and developing their business model alongside local entrepreneur coaches. A panel of judges (Matt Curtis, Wayne’s Ski & Cycle; Megan Peterson, MP Home Design; Jeff Potts, 2020 Creative LLC; and Katie Wold, Three on the Tree) selected First, Second, and Third Place winners, and one Honorable Mention award.

First Place – Dr. Tara Nichols DNP, Maters of Comfort Private Practice, Mason City, IA. Awarded $1,500 prize.

Second Place – Josh Jeske, Terraform Tillage, Eldora, IA. Awarded $1000 prize.

Third Place – Sadie Yunek, The Ruff Life of Pets, Mason City, IA. Awarded $500 prize.

Honorable Mention – Grant Maulsby, Boxx Scaffolding, Clear Lake, IA. Awarded $250 prize.

The University of Iowa 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. Teams will accelerate the startup process by testing their business model hypotheses immediately. They 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 coach. On Launch Day, participants compete for seed money with the top team winning $1,500. In addition, eligible teams may compete for cash awards at the state level during the Venture School Launch Day at EntreFEST in Iowa City on June 9-10, 2022. The cost for the course is $299. Contact Mary Spitz at with questions. If you are a local entrepreneur interested in becoming a Venture School coach, please contact Candi Karsjens at To apply for the Fall 2022 cohort, visit and select the Mason City cohort in the dropdown menu.

Dr. Tara Nichols with Pappajohn Center Director Candi Karsjens and Venture School judge Matt Curtis
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