Building a World Class Innovation Machine

One Startup at a Time


Apply for Cohort VI

ISU Startup Factory

Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory will receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks. The first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs.

About the Factory

The Iowa State University Startup Factory is a unique, 52 week program located at Iowa State University Research Park that takes a startup from the lab to investor ready. Our program was designed to provide an avenue for faculty, students and staff to create businesses, but it has become so much more. In the short two years we’ve been operating, ISU Startup Factory has launched more than 90 companies, 77 oh which are still operating. Collectively, our graduate companies have raised an upwards of $20 million.

Entrepreneurs are selected to participate in the Startup Factory via a competitive process twice annually, and will receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors and investors into specific blocks centered on business validation and product market fit, specific skills and resources required to start a business and finally, resources to attract or fund a successful company.

Each company meeting benchmarks receives space in the Startup Factory offices and the ability to take advantage of the full suite of resources and community available at Iowa State University Research Park. In addition, mentors and advisors are paired with each company to help guide them towards their goals.

“The ISU Startup Factory is a pioneering year long program based on best practices from innovative thought leaders, institutions and programs, like Steve Blank, the National Science Foundation I-Corps program, Stanford, MIT, and others. In contrast to a typical 100 day or three month-long program, this 52-week immersion in entrepreneurship provides cohort members with more than just desk space; instead, ISU Startup Factory companies are provided with world-class facilities and access to all the benefits of being located in one of the fastest growing Research Parks in the country while benefiting from a teaching team whose members are steeped in developing startup companies, raising capital, international business development, technology transfer, and who have created lasting impact.”

– Bill Adamowski, Kris Johansen

Top 5 of all Universities Nationally for Startups

Top University in the Midwest for Startups

Top Entrepreneurial Center in the Midwest

National Recognition as HotBed for Startup Creation

ISU Startup Factory

The Iowa State University Startup Factory is a movement focused on building successful companies. The Startup Factory is the physical manifestation where we create these companies; more than 90 companies in the past two years…and counting.

Business Model Academy

We run two cohorts per year, and each cohort commits to a 52 week program. The first 26 weeks are a formal education in launching a business and one of the modules in that 26 weeks is the Business Model Academy, where we teach entrepreneurs customer discovery, business model canvas, base financial projections, pitching and more. We’ve customized our program based off of best practices from the likes of Harvard, MIT, Yale, and our own experience in launching successful companies.

CEO Academy

The Iowa State network is powerful and far reaching. Our CEO Academy taps into both our robust alumni network as well as our local business community to bring in experts in their field to engage our startups. Whether we are talking human resource best practices, term sheets, marketing or forecasting, our expert partners allow our startups access to a rolodex that reaches far beyond a LinkedIn profile and creates synergies and relationships that extend beyond the classroom.  

Funding Academy

The Iowa State Startup Factory Funding Academy provides our startups access to individuals with expertise and training in successful SBIR/STTR applications, state, angel and partner investment funding. Our Funding Academy arms our startups with tools so they can feel comfortable discussing terms with an investor and allows our supporters first access to our startups.  

Teaching Team

Our teaching team is comprised of experts in a broad swath of vertical markets and professional tracks. We realize our startups are most likely to thrive when our teaching team is diverse; and we can provide our entrepreneurs with solid business planning, financial and honest advice. We also recognize (and hope) that sometimes our teaching team will fall in love with our startups, spin off, choose to create with that company and then rotate back through our program in search of another idea. We are always looking for more help. Think you’re a fit? Drop us a line! 

Get Involved

Interested in helping as a mentor, advisor, investor, sponsor, teacher? Have a great idea but don’t know where to start? Drop us a line.

Our Partners

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