This story is part of a series featuring each of the fourteen startups in the CYstarters 2022 summer cohort. Each student has the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,500 or up to $13,000 (per team), along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business.
By Samantha Dilocker, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship
Education: Sophomore majoring in finance & business economics
Hometown: Ames, IA
Education: Sophomore majoring in education & history with a minor in entrepreneurship
Hometown: Ames, IA
Currently working on: Campus Town Trading, a service that offers financial education and assistance to anyone looking to begin investing/trading in the financial markets.
Have you always seen yourself starting something?
Collin: Definitely, yes, 100%. I started my own online business in the summer of eighth grade going into freshman year, so I’ve always been big into doing my own thing and not working for others, although I did that on the side as well. But yes, I’ve always imagined myself being a business owner. The degree is almost a plan b.
Jacob: Similar to me, I did some online business stuff in high school. I also am interested in the same thing, being your own boss, not working for someone else. It’s kind of what you make of it.
When did you start working on Campus Town Trading, and who or what inspired you?
Collin: We first thought of the idea in January of 2021 and made a business plan, then didn’t do anything with it until January 2022. We launched on January 7th, 2022.
Jacob: That’s when we started marketing for it and getting people on the server. But even this idea came up in sophomore year of high school. We had this financial education idea but never really put it into action.
Collin: I think seeing the success that others had with this model was inspiring. Putting together our skills, his education major, and our experience with business and the stock market, it’s just the perfect fit, so we decided to give it a go.
What excites you about being an entrepreneur?
Collin: Definitely the freedom for sure. Not having set hours, although that comes with odd hours too. But definitely for me, the freedom of choosing when and how to work. The “how” is big, not having people tell you how to work. I think I’ll have financial freedom with this as well.
Jacob: The ability to dictate your own schedule. You’re going to be successful based on the time you put into it.
What is your biggest goal for your business?
Collin: I’d say making an impact on people our age. Helping to get their foot in the door in the financial world because not too many people are into the financial markets. We’d also like to automate the business so we can go into other ventures in the future.
Jacob: Just getting people up and going with investing and trading, helping people achieve their financial goals. It’s really cool to see the progress within our server. Seeing our current members’ progress from where they started to where they are now, not just financially, but watching their financial literacy grow.
Collin: Saving people time, mostly, is huge. I can’t tell you how much I spent Googling, reading, and watching YouTube videos. Hundreds if not thousands of hours just learning. Our biggest goal is to just save people time doing that kind of thing.
What has been your biggest challenge thus far, and how have you overcome it?
Jacob: Marketing has been the biggest challenge. All of our one-time stuff is done, but marketing and getting people on the server and stuff have been pretty challenging. We got Tik Tok going, we have a couple little Discord marketing things going, social media is big, and we’d like to go into Twitter, StockTwits, and places like that.
Collin: Just battling for the internets’ eyes. That’s about it. The starting phase wasn’t too bad, but now we’re just battling for attention. Especially in an affordable way now. We don’t have that big of a budget compared to others.
How has entrepreneurship at Iowa State impacted you?
Collin: I knew as a freshman I wanted to be a finance major at Iowa State, and I knew the Ivy College of Business was strong, but I had no idea about the Pappajohn Center and the events and opportunities they provided. I had no idea until Jean presented in my management class. I was just kind of working on other homework, but when she started talking about what the Pappajohn Center offers, I perked up and heard that. The opportunity to use the resources that Iowa State provides is huge.
Jacob: The connections are amazing. Being a freshman as well, I didn’t know they had all this entrepreneurship stuff available. You start learning about it, and the connections just start happening.
Collin: You don’t even have to major in it. In pitch competitions, we’re competing against engineers and veterinary students. I mean, entrepreneurship is for everyone.
Jacob: It’s cool that all majors can kind of fit in the entrepreneurship space. Everybody can be an entrepreneur; I think that’s pretty unique.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student?
Jacob: Lay out what you want in the future, think about your goals, and start working to achieve those.
Collin: Whatever you want to do, at least try at it. But remember to have fun in the process. I mean, you are still a college student. Definitely don’t let other people’s mindsets or what they’re doing deter you from what you want to do.
How can we support Campus Town Trading?
Jacob: Joining the server and getting involved in the community. We have a pretty active community. We are still relatively small compared to the bigger ones, but still just getting involved and talking to people, learning and educating yourself.
Collin: Connecting with us personally and helping us to make business connections. We’re both from Ames, so we know a lot of people, but we’re always looking to expand.