JPEC Incubator opens new doors
Educate. Incubate. Graduate. That is the motto of NIACC JPEC Student Incubator, which offers a new opportunity for student growth and development.
Ambitious individuals who once seeded the roots of their businesses in garages, basements and even the cramped quarters of dorm rooms, now have a place specifically designed to help them create a realistic path to achieve their goals.
Surrounded with business expertise, students can harness their passion, utilize their skills and take advantage of this low cost option with minimal risk when embarking on the entrepreneurial endeavors.
For the past three years, NIACC has supported community involvement and interest in the North Iowa Business Accelerator/Incubator program. Local businesses which range in function from specialized apparel, to printing and imaging, to property attorneys, occupy spaces offered by the college.
“It’s never been a secret that we’d like to see students incubate, but now we have committed spaces,” Mark Olchefske, director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) and the North Iowa Business Accelerator/Incubator, said.
The student sector of the program has grown to existence, housed in the JPEC building on northwest corner of NIACC’s campus.
Currently, JPEC can easily accommodate up to four fledgling businesses for qualifying applicants.
NIACC JPEC Student Incubator is not intended solely for students involved in business or entrepreneurial studies. Any student willing to communicate a well thought out idea, devise a legitimate business plan and take it to the next level from concept to fruition, may apply.
An art student may wish to market his or her jewelry designs, or an automotive major may dream of expanding his or her detail service. An athlete may have goals of presenting his or her fitness plan to the public while a communications student may be developing a Web based business.
The possibilities are only as limited as the imagination, determination and dedication of interested students.
The application process begins by contacting JPEC Administrative Assistant Elizabeth Barker.
Students with qualifying plans may initially take advantage of a rent-free cubicle in the JPEC building for their venture, as well as general use of office equipment and supplies.
Perhaps most invaluable is the unmitigated access to counseling in relation to building a business.
“Our goal is to graduate (the student participants) into their own business and self-employment,” Tim Putnam, associate director of NIACC JPEC, said.
In order to obtain that goal, NIACC staff will help to guide students through the process of business formation, legalities and marketing.
The student, of course, will carry the weight of the responsibility of the venture.
Though there is no specific time requirement, a seriously committed student can plan to spend at least 15-20 hours a week, the equivalent of a part-time job, at the outset to get the business up and running.
Once the business becomes more established, the hours will grow as well, comparable to full-time employment.
The student and staff share the common goal of achieving growth that is sustainable beyond the incubator.
Students uninterested, unwilling or unable to fit themselves into the subordinant side of the employee/employer relationship may benefit most from the lessons learned in the incubator program.
“Not everyone is cut out to be a good employee,” Putnam said.
He said he sees self-employment as a viable alternative for those people that do not necessarily fall into the nine to five career category.
Joe Keeley, who delivered a speech during NIACC Staff Development week, was one of those individuals. He broke away from being an employee and entered the world of entrepreneurship. As President and CEO of College Nannies & Tutors, Keeley has found his niche in the business world.
Although the NIACC JPEC Student Incubator is a fresh idea to NIACC students, Barker reports that at least one student has already expressed her interest.
If she chooses to embark on her entrepreneurial journey, the student will reap the benefits of all that the program has to offer.
Students from all walks of life are encouraged to stop by JPEC and share their ideas and dreams with the facilitators of the program according to Putnam.
He said that face-to-face visits help students better convey their ideas to the faculty who can then assist in assessing individual readiness.
“This may be the hardest but most fulfilling experience a student can have,” Putnam said.
Students interested in becoming a part of NIACC JPEC Student Incubator should visit the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center offices or contact Elizabeth Barker at 641-422-4384 or email@example.com for further instruction.