CONTACT: GEORGE MCCRORY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: June 9, 1999
UI entrepreneurial program offers mentors to small
IOWA CITY, Iowa Small business owners who need
help solving specialized business problems but who can't afford high-cost
consultants have a source for quality advice: a team of mentors available
through the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa
Henry B. Tippie College of Business.
The Mentor Program is designed to match small business
owners with experienced business people who can provide personalized, one-on-one
consulting services. Mentors include small business owners, entrepreneurs,
executives, lawyers, accountants and faculty who, through their years of experience,
have faced nearly every situation practicing small business owners are dealing
with, says Robin Simeonsson of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.
"Small business owners often don't have the training
or the staff to deal most effectively with some of the situations that come
up in the course of running their businesses," said Simeonsson. "Sometimes
business people need help with a very specific, targeted problem and would
like to talk to a seasoned professional who has dealt with a similar problem.
Sometimes they need a sounding board for ideas and concerns.
"Whatever the situation, the Mentor Program can give
them high quality advice on a range of issues."
Based on a program at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
at the University of Maryland, the Mentor Program currently has 40 people
available to serve as consultants to businesses. The program is one of several
programs for small business owners and entrepreneurs operated by the John
Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.
Before matches are made, the Center's staff pre-screen
mentors and business owners to help ensure a good fit between the mentor and
the company. Mentors and business people make their own arrangements for meeting
times, schedules, etc. There is no required length of participation in the
program, which is offered free of charge.
One example of how the program helped a local business
and the community is Ibrahim Al-Khattat's experience with Jim Larew of Larew
Law Offices in setting up a non-profit organization to support an environmental
education project with three local schools. Al-Khattats Sustainable
Science International, a engineering firm based in the UI's Technology Innovation
Center, is working
with students to construct a 60-foot pedestrian bridge, using normally wasted
local timber resources.
Louise Rauh, a partner at Studiolo art gallery in
Iowa City, partnered with Dean Price of McGladrey and Pullen to fine-tune
the gallery's accounting practices. Price also offered practical advice on
marketing and targeting customers.
"Participating in the Mentor Program has been an extremely
positive and informative experience for Studiolo, and we would not hesitate
to recommend it to other entrepreneurial ventures," Rauh said.
For more information, contact the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial
Center, 108 Pappajohn Business Building (PBB), Suite S160, the University
of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1000 or call (319) 335-1022.