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UI Student, Alumni To Speak At Statewide Entrepreneurship Conference

A University of Iowa student and three UI alumni will speak at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Iowa Conference held at Iowa State University on Friday, March 3, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The annual student entrepreneurship conference at the Scheman Building, Iowa State Center is free to all Iowa college and university students, although registration is required. The conference is sponsored by the five entrepreneur centers in Iowa, including the UI's John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and CEO, a Chicago-based entrepreneurship network serving more than 500 colleges and universities.

Several breakout sessions will feature student entrepreneurs and alumni talking about their successes and challenges in launching a business. The UI speakers include senior Brad Phillips and UI alumni Michael Erps, Mathias Gran, and Zac Voss.

Phillips launched Premis Industries, from the UI's Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL) during his junior year. He travels the country filming motocross races and behind-the-scenes footage of the racers' lives. His first film, "Carpe Diem," earned two national awards shortly after its release. Two films have been released since, selling a total of 12,482 copies to date.

Based at the BELL, Erps and Gran run Solid Systems, Inc., which specializes in residential computer repair. Erps, the company's CEO and founder, graduated in December with a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering with an emphasis in business management. Gran, the company's president, also graduated in December with a bachelor of liberal studies degree and a certificate in entrepreneurship.

Zac Voss, an alumnus from the UI class of 2000, started a distributing company that won the Iowa distribution contract for Red Bull energy drink. Started in his senior year at Iowa, the company has been quite successful and distributes Red Bull in numerous locations around the state.

Judi Eyles, assistant director of the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, said the conference allows student entrepreneurs (or students with an interest in starting their own firms or launching a commercial product) to network with like-minded students, college and university faculty members, professional business owners and investors. About 300 students attend each year.

The opening speaker for the conference is Des Moines-based John Pappajohn, founder and president of Equity Dynamics, Inc., and Pappajohn Capital Resources, a venture capital firm. He also founded the five Pappajohn Entrepreneurship Centers in Iowa.

Featured professional entrepreneurs will be Roy Reiman, founder of Reiman Publications, a specialty printing company now owned by Madison Dearborn Publishing; Betty Baudler Horras, Ames, the first woman in Iowa to own a radio station and later a radio syndicate purchased by Clear Channel Communications; and T.J. Paskach and Will Schroeder, two former Iowa State chemical engineering students who turned an innovative ice cream freezing technology into a national franchising business called Blue Sky Creamery.

Other sessions at the conference include how to write a business plan, how to finance a start-up and a special session for faculty and staff about teaching entrepreneurship.

Also at this year's conference, the three winners of the 2006 Pappajohn New Venture Business Plan Competition will be announced. The competition is open to any Iowa university or college student/team with an interest in starting a business. Three winners will receive $5,000 cash awards to be used as seed capital.

For more information on the conference and to register, contact Amber Nienow at the UI JPEC, 319-335-1022.


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