Diverse group of startups close out the 2017 CYstarters program

CYstarters Iowa State University Jake Oswald, founder of Our Anthology, speaks during the 2017 CYstarters Demo Day Friday. Photo courtesy of Diana Wright

As the CYstarters program came to an end Friday the twelve student-led startups graduating hoped their companies will do anything but come to an end.

The 2017 cohort finished the ten-week CYstarters program with a demo day on Friday with presentations to an audience of nearly 50 people. The CYstarters program provides students opportunities to start a company and spend a summer acting essentially as an intern for that company.

It is competitive to get into the ten week program. For the 2017 cohort, 40 applications were submitted and 12 companies were selected.

Inside the Iowa State University Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, each company presented about a problem they identified, their business idea, product, financial projections, marketing strategy and ability to scale. Each presentation lasted between three to seven minutes.

Companies were led by a variety of students at all grade levels from sophomores at Iowa State to, Ph.D students and recent graduates.

The companies in the 2017 CYstarters cohort were:

  • Bulletmatcher – Software that matches bullets
  • Duracinct – Software company
  • Fast Farm – An app that provides farmers a source to find new farm equipment in a hurry
  • Hurd Health Group – A medical technology company developing a product to reduce heart failure
  • Ivory Lane Events – Event planning made easier
  • Lamb Tactical – Custom, safer holsters for weapons
  • Our Anthology – Publishing/production company
  • Propelled Solutions – Drone technology helping first responders
  • QC Pool Cleaners – A chemical engineer who keeps pools clean
  • RenterGate – Software for property management
  • True 360 – Combining aquariums and the zoo with virtual reality to enhance visitors experiences
  • U-Conceal-It – A gun storage product

    CYstarters Iowa State University
    Nearly 50 people attended the 2017 CYstarters Demo Day at Iowa State University on Friday. Photo courtesy of Diana Wright.

Crowd pleasers

Megan Brandt, program manager for the Global Insurance Accelerator, works with companies on presentations exactly like what the CYstarters companies did Friday.

She said she was impressed after the two-hour event.

“You could tell they were trained pretty well,” Brandt says. “I was impressed with their level of maturity and ability to tell a story clearly.”

Devin Sloan graduated from Iowa State University in 2012 and went on to start his own business—Convergence Media Lab— and thought the variety of products on display was great.

“They are businesses that aren’t necessarily trying to do something completely brand new but trying to make their way into a market,” Sloan explained. “And then there were some really cool products.”

But being a designer, he would have liked to see the companies put more thought into the design of their presentations.

“The graphics for some of the presentations and some companies could use some help on their logos but that’s such minor stuff,” Sloan said. “We all got a good sense of what each company was about.”

Julie Wright is a graduate of Iowa State and traveled from Clear Lake, Iowa to the demo day.

“There was nothing like this when I was in school,” Wright said. “It’s fascinating to hear all the different problems they are solving. And this place (ISU Pappajohn Center) is a safety net, so why not start a business where you could come out potentially debt free.

“There is no failure in entrepreneurship, you just keep tweaking it. Well, what better place to tweak an idea then here with all these supports.”

The safety net Wright is talking about is the new economic development facility for Iowa State University. It houses the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, Student Consulting Firm, Small Business Development Center and Office of Intellectual Property and Tech Transfer, amongst other things.

“This is where entrepreneurship happens,” Judi Eyles, Assistant Director of the Pappajohn Center, said.