University of Iowa students to showcase startups at business fair

Startups to compete for cash prizes; event open to public

University of Iowa students who are running businesses will have the opportunity to highlight their startups at a business fair on Friday.

The university's third annual business fair at the student business incubator will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory, 322 N. Clinton St.

Students will have the opportunity to share what they have been working on, said Ashley Zierath of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurship Center.

Nineteen startups are participating, Zierath said.

The fair also has a fun twist. Attendees will be given $10,000 in fake Monopoly money to invest into the business of their choice, Zierath said. They can invest it all in one company or divide it among several.

The event is open to students, faculty, staff and members of the community. Attendees choose who receives the "investment" based off each company's pitches and information they gather while roaming the fair.

The startup that receives the highest amount in investments will receive the People's Choice award, which comes with a prize - $1,000 in real money.

During the fair, designated judges will select a first place winner who will receive $3,500; three runner up companies will receive $1,500.

One of the young people who will be competing on Friday is Nate Richards. Richards, 23, of Iowa City, operates Life Designs Graphics.

The company provides services including logos, business designs and fliers.

"For the event on Friday, what I'm most looking forward to is getting my ideas out there," the soon to graduate senior said. "There is a new concept that I'm trying to push that hasn't been 100 percent developed yet."

That new concept is called Life Designs Cares, which will "provide communities and charities with sufficient design elements and helping these companies cut costs and provide design work for them."

Richards participated in the fair last year. He said he received positive feedback about ways he could develop his business.

"What Iím looking forward to getting out of this is the opportunity to share a new idea I have and band some people together to hopefully try and make a change," he said.

Richards will earn his bachelor of fine arts in graphic design this May and an entrepreneurial certificate.

If you go:

What: Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory business fair.

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.Where: The Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory, 322 N. Clinton St. Iowa City.

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