Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute

OEI group shotWhat is the purpose of the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute?

The Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute creates significant momentum for the Iowa Lakes Corridor region to pursue becoming the most attractive region for entrepreneurs and new ventures in Iowa. OEI is one of the key components of our objective to develop the next generation of successful entrepreneurs and leaders by encouraging youth to pursue the creation of new ventures and apply entrepreneurship concepts in their career endeavors.

The University of Iowa featured the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute in its 2010 Big Ten Network footage. Watch the video here.

The University of Iowa also made a video from the first OEI in 2007. Class videos 2010 to the present can be see here.

Who will participate in the Institute and what will they study?

Thirty-two students from Iowa Regents Institutions (University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, and Iowa State University), Buena Vista University and Iowa Lakes Community College will be selected to attend. Students will participate in an advanced study of entrepreneurship that will include an entrepreneurial simulation, seminars with successful entrepreneurs, business and community leaders, and networking and mentoring to enhance their understanding of entrepreneurship opportunities in Iowa. They will work in teams on a OEI meetingcomputer-based simulation in the morning that incorporates the creation and operation of a new business and a fundraising round where the teams have to present their plans to community volunteer venture capitalists to acquire capital to fuel growth for their simulated companies. Upon completion, students will receive three credit hours from their respective University. To date, over 400 young Iowa college students have graduated from the program, many of whom do or are planning to own their own business. Each year, two students from the previous year receive the OEI Pappajohn Award for their continued efforts in entrepreneurship.

When and where will the Institute be held?

The fifteenth annual institute was held August 8-12, 2021. The classroom setting for the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute is the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory on West Lake Okoboji. The Lakeside Lab is owned by the Iowa Board of Regents and provides a unique classroom setting unlike any other location in Iowa. Activities are planned for other venues in the Lakes area to showcase this attractive area to students from all across Iowa. All students will be housed with host families in the Iowa Lakes region.

Why is this important to our region?

The Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute is a component of an overall entrepreneurship initiative under development for the Lakes Corridor region (Clay, Dickinson, Emmet and Buena Vista counties). It’s possible that one or more of the students would choose the Iowa Lakes region to locate and start a business upon their graduation. They will have several chances to learn about many opportunities that are available in the “Corridor of Opportunity.”

Entrepreneurship is an important component of the overall economic development of the area. Plans to provide more hands-on assistance, market research information, seed and venture capital and mentors for the students and other entrepreneurs in the area, or that might locate in our area, are well under way. Growing our own companies locally is a good, long-term economic development strategy for the Iowa Lakes Corridor.

OEI get together Who is sponsoring the Institute and how is it funded?

The Institute is funded by local, regional and statewide organizations, individuals and companies. The funds raised cover the student’s tuition and other out-of-pocket expenses. Individuals and companies interested in helping support the Institute should contact the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation at 712-264-3474.