Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship offers opportunities to all students


Photo: Emily Harmon/Iowa State D

Judi Eyles, associate director of the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, hosts one of the weekly meetings for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Learning Community at the Delta Upsilon fraternity on Thursday, Nov. 17. The students, Ashley Hunter, second year in Master’s public administration; Alex Andrade, senoir in management and international business; Ryan Betters, sophomore in civil engineering, and Naipong Vang, junior in management information systems, are part of the peer-mentoring program. “We bring a positive environment to both the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Learning Community,” Vang said.

Mackenzie Nading

Between an entrepreneurial legacy, numerous centers and major philanthropic donations, Pappajohn is a well-known name in central Iowa. However, students of all majors may not know that Iowa State’s Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship offers many interactive, hands-on services, whether they call Gerdin their on-campus home or not. 

“At the core, the Pappajohn Center provides business assistance to students, faculty and members of the community who want to launch, grow, acquire or sell a business,” said Judi Eyles, assistant director of the Pappajohn Center. “Iowa State students from any major on campus have the opportunity to learn skills through experiences, by taking courses in entrepreneurship, interning with a firm or launching a business concept of their own.”

Since it was established 15 years ago through a $1 million gift from John Pappajohn, the Pappajohn Center has provided students with interactive and hands-on opportunities to succeed and grow in their career path. Eyles expanded on some of the highlighted student programs offered.

Entrepreneurship & Innovation Learning Community

This provides students from a variety of majors the opportunity to “live and learn” entrepreneurship in an interdisciplinary setting. The community gives students the chance to meet entrepreneurs face-to-face, go on field trips, brainstorm new ideas and innovations, hear speakers and run a student-owned business.

Entrepreneur Club

The club brings speakers to campus to tell their stories and engage with students about their business experiences and offer advice and facts from a firsthand perspective. The club also organizes an annual fall trip to the National Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization Conference, where members meet nationally recognized entrepreneurs and participate in workshops and attend many learning sessions.

Pappajohn Business Plan Competition

The competition allows for students to test their skills and ideas in a real-world business setting. Groups compete to launch a business using real-life ideas, resources and problems. Students are judged based on the content and visibility of their plan. Three seed grants of $5,000 are awarded to the top three business plans.


The center offers numerous different scholarships to all students. Different skill sets, interests and research opportunities accompany each one allowing students of all different backgrounds to apply.

“Our goal is to help provide resources and connections that make entrepreneurs more likely to be successful — and encourage people to create jobs here in Iowa and in our community,” Eyles said.

With the help of the Pappajohn Center, Iowa State is allowing one more way for students to achieve hands on experience before being thrown into the “real world” after graduation. With programs like these, ISU graduates have the ability to acquire the best set of job skills possible to be successful in their future.

“The Center brings speakers to campus so students can learn from others how successes and failures have been handled by many different entrepreneurs,” Eyles said, “In my opinion, hands-on learning is the best way to learn entrepreneurial skills and the best way to experience the risks and rewards involved in pursuing a venture or idea.”