CYstarters Spotlight: Kaden Bowie

By Lindsey Murray | ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

CYstarters Spotlight: A 14-part series highlighting student entrepreneurs pursuing their business ventures as part of the CYstarters 2024 summer cohort. Through this program, students have the unique opportunity to prioritize the development of their own startup or business idea. Each individual receives $6,500 and access to resources such as mentorship, networking opportunities, and educational sessions on entrepreneurship and business startup. 

Kaden Bowie: In the Business of Efficiency and Cost Savings for Local Businesses

In the bustling entrepreneurial ecosystem of Iowa State University, Kaden Bowie is carving out his own path. A recent graduate of the Iowa State University Ivy College of Business, Kaden holds the position of Chief Operating Officer of VickSum Pay, where he sells credit card processing systems to local businesses to help them work more efficiently and save money along the way.

Growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Kaden didn’t always envision himself as an entrepreneur. He initially came to ISU on a food science and animal science scholarship, dreaming of becoming a veterinarian and creating his own brand of dog food. He quickly realized that he wasn’t interested in pursuing those areas of study. While working as an assistant manager at Wingstop, climbing the management ladder, Kaden realized he had a knack for leadership and a desire to be his own boss. This led him to pivot to a degree in Management.

While pursuing his degree, Kaden watched his father pursue entrepreneurship by launching VickSum Pay in October 2021. The company, which sells credit card processing systems to local businesses, promised efficiency and cost savings, solving two of the problems that most small business owners face. Watching his father secure clients and transform his lifestyle, Kaden knew he wanted in. By the Fall of 2022, Kaden had joined the business, bringing his management insight to the table.

Personalized Payment Processing

VickSum Pay knows its customers. Kaden and his father have carved out territories—his dad in Des Moines, and Kaden in Ames—where they personally connect with local business owners. “I’m not in the convincing business; I’m in the helping business,” Kaden shared. His approach is simple yet effective: understand the client’s needs, offer a tailored point-of-sale (POS) system, and provide local, personalized support.

Navigating the world of sales has been a learning experience for Kaden. He admits, “You get told ‘no’ a lot in this business. So, I had to learn to be comfortable with being told no and to be persistent without being annoying.” Despite the rejections, he currently has a success rate of 10-20% and has already secured 4 clients this summer. Kaden is extremely driven and has set the bar high. By the end of the summer spent in CYstarters, he aims to close deals with ten businesses, hire an additional sales agent, and launch the VickSum Pay website.

The CYstarters Influence

Kaden’s participation in CYstarters, an 11-week entrepreneurship accelerator program at ISU, has been extremely beneficial. “CYstarters has given me more insight into how I can operate my business at a higher level,” he says. Being surrounded by like-minded and driven peers with big ideas has motivated him to push harder and aim higher. The program has also provided him with practical tools and a supportive network to help him achieve his goals.

Kaden has participated in other programs with the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship including the College-by-College Pitch Off. He first pitched VickSum Pay during the pitch competition this past spring where he was awarded second place in the preliminary rounds and participated in the competition finale. His success in the pitch competition pushed him to apply for CYstarters.


Looking Ahead

Kaden’s current projects include developing a commercial for marketing purposes, setting up a calendar for booking appointments and demos and creating a questionnaire to help potential clients identify the best POS system for their needs.

Join the Ames community in supporting Kaden and his fellow CYstarters at Demo Day, where they will showcase their ventures and share their progress. Register at and be part of this celebration of student entrepreneurs at Iowa State University.