ISU Startup Factory Program

The ISU Startup Factory is a true startup incubator  where business ideas are developed, examined, and validated; and where entrepreneurs learn, pivot if necessary, and grow.   

Entrepreneurs receive training, resources, guidance, and access to our network of mentors, alumni, and advisors. During the 16-week program, innovators will develop their business acumen, enhance their communication skills, and learn deeply about their customers. This curriculum will prepare them to pursue non-dilutive funding as they continue developing their technology and commercialization plans. Options to graduate to one of Iowa’s accelerators or other startup programs are available, along with programming to sustain regular mentorship, supported through the ISU Startup Factory.  


The curriculum includes workshops and group discussions on:  

  • The importance of self-awareness and strong communication skills as an innovator in team member selection and interaction 
  • How to protect intellectual property
  • Talking to, and learning from, potential customers
  • Appropriate business models for commercializing the technology 
  • The importance of a clear  vision, mission, and values
  • How to create credible financial reports
  • How to present your business for maximum impact 
  • How to identify critical elements of your business and create a commercialization plan 

Founders commit to attending:  

  • Two formal sessions each week (3.5 hours total) for 16 weeks  
  • 2-hour session on Tuesdays  
  • 1-hour workshop session on Thursdays  
  • A weekly 1:1 meeting with an assigned Teaching Team member  
  • Plus additional ad-hoc mentoring with external mentors  


Founders are expected to complete the program by pitching on Demo Day and developing a commercialization plan that includes:  

  • Executive summary  
  • Competitive matrix  
  • Market summary  
  • Plans for addressing barriers to entry  
  • Simplified pro forma financials 
  • and an 18-month roadmap plan


Not sure if your innovative idea can be a business? Contact Peter Hong, ISU Startup Factory Director, at to brainstorm the possibilities!