Linda Tong participates in CYstarters, grows Linda Tong Planners

Linda Tong, senior in event management, created her own planner design business, Linda Tong Planners, with the help of the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship CYstarters program.

Jill Even

Linda Tong, senior in event management, started her business Linda Tong Planners the summer before her sophomore year at Iowa State. Over the course of a couple years, her business has grown in ways she couldn’t imagine.

“Bullet journaling is what really inspired me to start [Linda Tong Planners]. I’ve always been creative, artistic and organized, so I knew it was something I wanted to do for myself,” Tong said.

After seeing her first planner, Tong said her friends and coworkers started requesting their own designs. Tong slowly started developing her business, but when her planner video on TikTok went viral, she said she didn’t know how to keep up with the demand.

Tong then decided to participate in the CYstarters program hosted by the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship. The 11-week program was all online with workshops for students to meet business professionals and mentors as well as pitch their business ideas. The CYstarters program was created and led by Diana Wright, an Iowa State alumna.

“[Tong] really made a lot of progress over the course of the 11-weeks,” Wright said. “She already had the creative component of her planner, so she really grew by being able to scale what she does. I know she’s been working on it over the last year or two.

“Through the program she sold over 600 planners. So this way, she was able to find a way to actually scale that growth, to actually be able to fulfill 600 orders. She tremendously grew looking at her sales in general but also the confidence too that comes with participating in a program like CYstarters.”

Tong made a similar remark, noting that she had to grow her confidence to really make sure she and her business can succeed.

“You really have to put your confidence in yourself,” Tong said. “Make sure that you know, ‘I really got into the program for a reason; people want to hear about what my business has done over the summer.’ You just have to believe that you are there for a reason; don’t undermine your success or accomplishments.”

This fall, she was able to secure a spot in the Student Innovation Center student retail store for her planners.

“I’m close with the College of Human Sciences staff that’s running [the Student Innovation Center], and I asked around and wanted to know how I could get my planners in the student retail store, and then I had somebody connect me to the person that runs it, and it took off from there,” she said.

Tong is starting by selling 25 planners and intends to see how sales go from there. Planners are available for online purchase at