Speed up your Success this summer!

CYstarters is an 11-week summer accelerator for Iowa State students or recent graduates to focus on their startup or business idea. Students will receive $6,500 for individual or up to $13,000 per student team for the opportunity to spend their summer dedicated to achieving their startup goals and pursuing entrepreneurial aspirations. The selection process is competitive, with only a limited number of spots for the summer accelerator. 

Applications for the summer 2022 cohort have closed. Cohort 8 applications will open early 2023. 

Who is CYstarters for?

  • Currently enrolled Iowa State University undergraduate and graduate students OR recent Iowa State graduates, graduating no less than 6 months prior to start of the summer accelerator.
  • The program is open to individuals or student teams applying for their startup or business idea.
  • Open to all majors, classifications, and part-time or full-time enrollment at Iowa State University (do not need to be enrolled during summer session).

What can you expect?

  • Learn & Grow from educational sessions and panel sessions on topics ranging from Customer Discovery, Building Your Revenue Model, Storyselling & Marketing, Entrepreneurial Finance, Building Power Teams, and more!
  • Pitch opportunities to practice and refine your pitch while in front of the right audience to further your startup’s momentum.
  • It’s all about who you know – engage and meet the Startup Ames community through specially hosted networking events.
  • Experience the new ISU Economic Development Core Facility (at ISU Research Park). Talk about a beautiful workspace!
  • Join in weekly accountability meetings with Pappajohn Center staff, advisers, and mentors.
  • And don’t forget, you can get paid during your summer to work on your startup! $6,500 for individuals or $13,000 per student team.

When does it start/end?

CYstarters is an 11-week program that runs from mid-May to the end of July.

Applications for the summer 2022 cohort have closed. Cohort 8 applications will open early 2023. 

Who’s talking about it…


To date, CYstarters has been the most pivitol move I’ve made in my professional life. My greatest passions, the majority of skillset, and even my current employment are ALL thanks to the people at the Pappajohn Center. If you or somone you know is or will be attending ISU, CYstarters is a can’t miss.

-Jake Oswald, Marketing Director + Intrapreneurship

CYstarters helped me gain confidence about pursuing my entrepreneurial venture. The entire program taught me that I am capable of building a successful business, and I am no longer afraid to ask for help when I need it. The resources, financial support, student cohort, and educational workshops were excellent. I am so excited to join the CYstarters alumni network, and I plan to continue networking with other entrepreneurs as my career unfolds. To put it simply, CYstarters changed my life for the better. -Stephanie Bias, co-founder of Camp Aramoni


Applications for the summer 2022 cohort have closed. Cohort 8 applications will open early 2023. 


Applications for the summer 2022 cohort have closed. Cohort 8 applications will open early 2023. 

CYstarters Alumni Network

The CYstarters Alumni Network starts right when the summer cohort experience ends for CYstarters entrepreneurs. Once a CYstarter, always a CYstarter.

What does that mean? There is a rich community that has been built for CYstarters over the last six years. The CYstarters experience has helped over 80 ISU students and graduates start 64 businesses since the program began. Over half of the CYstarters are actively working on their business today or have started a different business.

What can you expect? Following the formal summer program, tap the circle of support and continue to access mentors, training, funding, and networking.

  • CYstarters Breakfast Club is an informal gathering every two weeks for CYstarter alumni to stay accountable, engaged, and to continue to offer founder insights to peers
  • 1:1 business assistance from CYstarters staff and partners
  • Opportunities for funding, including the CYstarters Alumni Awards
  • Access to CYstarters past educators and mentors, including teaching materials
  • Networking opportunities with ISU donors, successful alumni, leaders in innovation, and local community builders
  • Affiliate network of professional services including legal, insurance, intellectual property, and accounting
  • Support to enter national competitions or to apply for state funding

When does it end? Here’s the best part – it doesn’t! Whether you are two years down the road or ten, the Pappajohn Center team is always available as a resource as you grow personally and professionally.

Looking to contribute? CYstarters are encouraged to give back by being a mentor to future CYstarter cohorts. The best learning comes from people who have been in similar shoes. We rely on CYstarters to share advice with each other as well as newcomers.

CYstarters Mentor Network

At the heart of the CYstarters program is connection. The program helps to connect people bottom-up, top-down, outside in. We help to bridge connections to where people will find value and can make meaningful contributions. The mentorship program is team-based. Mentor matching is based on rapport, background, and mentor preferences.

To learn more about the program, join the CYstarters Mentor Network below.

Join the CYstarters Mentor Network!


For questions about the program or how you can get involved, reach out to Megan Graettinger at