Launch your business through innovative entrepreneurial training

Venture School

Bring your idea to life with Venture School

The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center has partnered with the University of Iowa to bring Venture School to Mason City, Iowa. Venture School is the state of Iowa’s premiere entrepreneurial training program. Established in 2013, the eight-week Venture School program is built from a streamlined curriculum developed by the National Science Foundation I-Corps at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Since its inception, Venture School has helped guide over 250 teams across the state of Iowa, and is designed to benefit Iowa startups, small businesses, non-profits, and corporate innovation teams. While Venture School is designed primarily for start-ups, it also has value for non-profits and businesses looking to introduce a new product or to expand into new territories.

Participants will gain marketing and make valuable connections to help them take their innovative idea to the next level. Venture School is currently looking for hardworking teams and individuals throughout the North Iowa and Southern Minnesota regions to join the upcoming spring program.

Participating teams will also be eligible to compete for cash awards both locally and at the state level during the Venture School launch day at EntreFEST 2021. Last year’s Mason City graduates were awarded $13,000 in prize money during the 2020 EntreFEST pitch competition.


Venture School is an opportunity for North Iowa’s business leaders and experts in the field to connect with new entrepreneurs. Coaching is a valuable experience for both the business coaches and program participants.

Each Venture School team will be assigned a local entrepreneur as their coach.


  • Gain focus and clarity for your business idea and build your foundational business model
  • Test and prove your business idea through guided customer discovery interviews to find product-market fit
  • Learn from experienced entrepreneurs, coaches, and instructions
  • Make valuable connections with local communities and other external groups that can help you define your key activities and get the resources you need to start and grow your business
  • Create a business model that becomes the core foundation of how you provide and deliver value to your customers and clients
  • Avoid wasting the time, energy, and money and create a sustainable business model that will deliver your customers what they need, want and are willing to pay for

Would you like more information about joining the next Venture School class?

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Cost: A team of up to two members will cost $299.

When: Spring 2022

Applications due January 14

Orientation: Thursday, January 27, 2022 @ NIACC, Activity Center #101

Classes: Every Thursday, February 3 - March 10, 2022 via ZOOM - no class March 17th due to Spring Break

Venture School Launch Day Competition: March 24, 2022 @ NIACC Campus, Activity Center #101

Time: 5:30 - 9:00pm

Application Deadline: Venture School is now accepting applications to participate in the Spring 2022 cohort.

Contact Candi Karsjens at with questions, or if you are a local entrepreneur interested in becoming a Venture School coach.

Apply at