Launch It College Games helps student entrepreneurs develop their ideas

Students gather at Makerspace Sioux City for Launch It College Games. (Photo courtesy of Launch it College Games).

Launch It College Games, a weekend-long event which brings college students, from all areas of study, together to experience the entrepreneurial culture, took place this weekend at Makerspace in Sioux City

“It started because we had done startup weekend and startup games and wanted to continue to offer that to the students in our community, but neither of those were available to us this year and so we still wanted to fulfill that experience so we started Launch it College Games to fill that gap,” said John Engel, organizer of the event and Lecturer for John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa.

Friday night instructors worked with students to identify business needs that will have an impact. Students then pitched those ideas to their classmates and formed teams around the top four ideas.

The final four business ideas were:

  • a platform that allows workers to trained for safety in their native language by a native speaker
  • a smart garment that uses technology to address healthcare problems
  • an online platform for foreign exchange students to learn about U.S. culture
  • a youth program that uses auto mechanics and gaming to teach youth life skills

On Saturday, each team spent the bulk of the day researching and discovering information that pertained to their business idea, conducting customer discovery, refining their idea to create a minimal viable product and beginning to prepare for final pitches on Sunday evening.

“I had to kick everyone out of the building at 12:30 at night,” Engel said. “They wanted to continue to work all night long. They were driven through the whole weekend and really cool to see.”

On Sunday, each team tailored its final pitch before presenting to a panel of judges in the afternoon.

Local business owners and community members acted as mentors and coaches for the teams throughout the weekend.

Launch It College Games was a part of Sioux City Launch Week, a week-long initiative with a wide range of events aimed toward engaging northwest Iowa’s entrepreneurial community and building a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“There’s a lot of really cool things happening in Sioux City around entrepreneurship,” Engel said. “A lot that has to do with the support of Iowa’s West Coast Initiative and the Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce in Sioux City.”