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University of Iowa News Release

April 12, 2006

JPEC Hosts High School Entrepreneurship Day April 18

On April 18, approximately 80 Iowa high school students will learn what it is like to be their own boss at the second annual Entrepreneurship Day at the University of Iowa.

The "Be Your Own Boss -- Entrepreneurship Day" event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union. It is co-sponsored by the UI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC), the UI Office of Corporate Partnerships, UI I-Envision Student Organization, Community Vitality Center and the Iowa Workplace Learning Connection.

"This conference is about inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit in young people. It's a great networking opportunity for high school students where they can hear from people close to their own age who have started businesses," said Dawn Bowlus, JPEC student activities and outreach coordinator.

During morning breakout sessions, the students from high schools across Iowa will hear presentations from young entrepreneurs who have started a business while at the UI or in high school, showing how they turned a personal interest into a successful business.

Breakout session speakers include:

  • Megan Wettach, a junior at the UI, who started Premier Prom and Bridal Boutique when she was a senior at Mount Pleasant High School and developed the Megan Amanda Collection, a line of interview suits for pageant participants.
  • UI alumni Ben Anderson and Carl Hirschman who started X-Wires Communications, a wireless Internet business in Iowa City, while they were full-time students.
  • Chris Gensicke started his graphic design company Pixel Productions while in high school. He attended JPEC's BizCamp in 2003. Currently a student at UI, Chris continues to operate his business.
  • Jason Trout, who started, a free, Web-based e-mail service that donates money for saving rainforests with every e-mail sent and received.  Jason currently runs
  • UI alumni Michael Erps and Mathias Gran, who run a residential computer repair company, Solid Systems, Inc.
  • Brad Phillips, a graduate of the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL), produces videos highlighting motocross competitions and lifestyle.

At 12:30 p.m., Mark Ginsberg of M.C. Ginsberg Jewelers will deliver the keynote presentation in the IMU's Richey Ballroom. In addition, participants will learn about entrepreneurship studies at the UI and tour the BELL, a former fraternity house where UI students can have free office space to launch business ventures while studying entrepreneurship.

Several students are attending Entrepreneurship Day as a reward for participating in business plan competitions at their high schools. The competitions were held after teachers used a JPEC curriculum package to teach students about entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. The curriculum license fees and one-day conference for 20 schools was funded through a grant from the Community Vitality Center in Ames.

High schools represented in the business plan program include: Webster City, Creston, Essex, Van Buren in Keosauqua, Sheldon, Elk Horn-Kimballton, Ottumwa, Eagle Grove, North Butler in Greene, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Forest City, Montezuma, Williamsburg, Ogden, North Scott in Eldridge, Eagle Grove, Kuemper Catholic in Carroll, Central Clinton in DeWitt and Harris-Lake Park.

High school students from Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and the surrounding areas are attending the conference and participating in a one-day job shadow experience coordinated by the Workplace Learning Connection and sponsored by the UI Office of Corporate Partnerships. Participating schools include: Jefferson, Washington, Metro, Prairie and North Linn in the Cedar Rapids area; West and Regina high schools in Iowa City; Alburnett; Clear Creek Amana; and the Jobs for America's Graduates school-to-career program.

For more information on Entrepreneur Day, contact Dawn Bowlus at 319-335-0985.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,

OTHER INFORMATION: JPEC, Community Vitality Center