Students invest money in their own businesses

start-up semester

Budding entrepreneurs at Central are enrolling in the Start-Up Semester course this spring, taught by Wade Steenhoek, director of the Martin Heerema Entrepreneurship Program. It’s an innovative course with few lectures and no tests. There is no textbook, either. Instead, students invest $100 of their own money in a start-up.

The students actually create start-ups, thereby testing their ideas before they spend a lot of money on implementation. “Their start-up costs less than a textbook,” says Steenhoek, “but they will get more from the experience than a textbook could ever provide.”

By the end of the semester, the students must actually create their product, sell it to customers, develop a website and make a final presentation and video on what they’ve learned. Students are paired with mentors from the central Iowa business community, including Tej Dhawan ’91, co-founder of Startup City Des Moines, and Rick Ryan ’70, CEO of Apertus Pharmaceuticals in Ballwin, Mo.

“All the answers are outside of the building,” Steenhoek tells students. “It’s up to you to go find them.”

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