Gregg Barcus teaches a new generation of entrepreneurs at Venture School

For University of Iowa professor Gregg Barcus, entrepreneurship is an adventure.

Barcus became an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa in 2016 and now teaches statewide for several UI JPEC entrepreneurial programs including Venture School, UI Innovators Workshop and the Washington Mandela Fellowship.

Venture School, an innovative training program focused on real-world experimentation, customer discovery, and Lean LaunchPad methodologies. This program uses the official National Science Foundation I-Corps curriculum to help high-potential startups turn their ideas into reality.

“The primary concept of Venture School is that unless you have a product that serves the direct needs of the customer, you’re probably going to fail,” said Barcus. “The number one reason startups fail, and a lot of them do, is they build a product or a solution that nobody wants to buy. It’s that simple.”

The curriculum of the program merges two methodologies, Lean Startup and Business Model Canvas. The core idea is that by investing time into customer discover and product-market fit, startups can reduce the market risks and sidestep the need for large amounts of initial project funding and expensive product launches and failures.

“We really beat them up,” said Barcus. We give very honest feedback. We’re not there to there to make them feel good and tell them how great everything is. We’re there to help them get better.”

Barcus says that the program makes small tweaks to the curriculum every year in order to incorporate everyone involved.

“I’ve been in this business for 25 years and this is the best method to start a company I’ve ever seen.”

The “Good Enough” Pitch

As part of an Expert Advice series hosted by the West Des Moines Business Incubator, Barcus will be sharing the basic principles of what goes into making a pitch.

The presentation will take place at the Gravitate in Valley Junction on August 14.