Jake Hanson of Northwest Iowa Quality Meats

CYstarters Spotlight Story: Northwest Iowa Quality Meats

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  


Get to know:  Jake Hanson

Age: 21 

Education: Senior majoring in agricultural studies 

Hometown: Linn Grove, IA 


Currently working on: Northwest Iowa Quality Meats, which aims to bring meat from local producers to the plates of consumers.


Have you always seen yourself starting something?  

Yes, I think so. From a pretty young age, I’ve always wanted to do something entrepreneurial. We grew up farming as a family, which taught me about hard work and everything like that; I’ve always wanted to go off on my own and do something.  


When did you start working on Northwest Iowa Quality Meats, and who or what inspired you?  

My family inspired me. We were always coming up with ideas, and I thought it sounded like something that I could really work hard at and hopefully be successful in someday. I started working on it this past year.   


What excites you about being an entrepreneur?  

Just figuring stuff out on your own, and you’re really just doing what you want to do at the end of the day. No one’s telling you what to do. You just gotta figure it out and learn things the hard way. That’s kind of exciting. You’re just living on the edge.   


What is your biggest goal for your business?   

Just to be seen as a successful, sustainable business within my community. I’d love to be a staple in my community that people can count on for quality products.   


What has been your biggest challenge thus far, and how have you overcome it?  

Just learning everything. The guys at the meat lab are really helpful, and Teifenthalers, where I worked over the summer, was also really helpful. You just have to have a lot of experience in the industry if you’re going to be really successful. Those have really been my mentors so far.   


How has entrepreneurship at Iowa State impacted you?  

I started in Kevin Kimle’s ECON 334 class, Entrepreneurship in Agriculture, not really expecting to get any more out of it than any other class, but that’s how I learned about CYstarters and got involved in this program. I’ve gained so many resources and networked with so many people I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s really been great becoming part of the Rural Entrepreneurship Academy. It’s been a crazy ride so far. I never thought I’d be here.   


What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student?  

It’s kind of crazy I’m giving advice. Find something you’re good at, and work hard at it. Chase a dream. Do what you want to do. Go out and get it.  


How can we support Northwest Iowa Quality Meats?  

It’s not really about supporting me; it’s about supporting every local farmer out there. Go out and make a connection. Learn something new. You see a lot of news about agriculture and the industry as a whole, and a lot of it is negative. But a lot of farmers really respect their animals, I mean, that’s how we make money! Somehow sometimes, we get a bad rap for that. But at the end of the day, farmers really care about what they do and the animals they work with. So that’s my advice, just go out and support a farmer.