Venture School offers help to people with business dreams

Interested in starting your own business or creating a business plan?

An entrepreneurial training program kicks off soon in Davenport with the University of Iowa’s Spring 2022 Venture School program.

The program, presented by SCORE Quad Cities and the Eastern Iowa Small Business Development Center, is tailored for startups, small businesses, non-profits and corporate innovation teams. Its goal is to help people get started in the business world, according to Venture School’s website.

“Test your business hypothesis immediately by getting out into the community to talk to customers, partners and competitors, rather than relying on static case studies and secondhand market research,” the site said. “You will encounter the chaos and uncertainty of commercializing innovations and creating new ventures, while also being challenged to create your own business model as you make pivots or preserve your original plans based on your findings.” 

The program consists of a series of in-person classes from 5:30-9 p.m. on Wednesdays, beginning Feb. 2, at the Eastern Iowa Community College’s Urban Campus at 101 W. Third St., Davenport. The last class is the Venture School Launch Day Competition, which will be held at 6 p.m. March 23 on the EICC campus.

Venture School is vital because many people think all it takes to start a successful business is a good idea, said Thomas Trone, SCORE Iowa district director and certified SCORE mentor. 

Mr. Trone told the QCBJ that the school can be a “reality check” for students who have business plans and hopes. There are times when students take the class and discover “sometimes they have to go back and rethink their business plans,” he said, adding that’s not a failure – that’s “good learning.” 

Mr. Trone hopes the spring session will attract between 12 to 15 students, who can be individual entrepreneurs and/or work groups and teams.

To date statewide, Venture School has trained more than 404 individuals, 404 teams and has 250-plus mentors, according to its website.

Each school team is assigned a local entrepreneur or mentor as a coach. Participating teams will be eligible to compete for cash awards during the school’s Launch Day.

The website also outlines some of its success stories including an entrepreneur who launched her own digital sewing patterns service called Upcraft Club.

“In Venture School, I learned principles that would define my market position and value proposition. This helped us have over 2,000 users registered on our site within our first month,” said Elizabeth Caven, Upcraft Club’s founder.

Venture School begins Feb. 2. There will be no classes the week of March 7-12, and Zoom will be used for out-of-class interactions between faculty, coaches and students.The deadline to apply is Saturday, Jan. 22. The cost is $299.

To apply, visit and select Quad Cities cohort in the drop-down menu. Anyone interested in becoming a Venture School coach should contact Mr. Trone at [email protected] or Joel Youngs at [email protected].

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