Waterloo Native, Andre' Wright, will be the lead in connecting Entrepreneurs and small business owners with mentors.

In an effort to support the area's entrepreneurial ecosystem, the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) and the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) have partnered to create a new mentor program. This coordinated effort will work to ensure that every startup team working with JPEC and ICAD will have one dedicated community leader paired with them as a mentor. “Student and community participation in UI and regional entrepreneurship programs continues to grow. We believe it is critical to better engage community members and alumni to help mentor aspiring entrepreneurs as they face the many challenges of building new ventures. Partnering with ICAD will insure an efficient, coordinated system and should result in an increase in the number of successful startups in Iowa's Creative Corridor," stated David Hensley, Executive Director, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and Clinical Professor, Management & Organizations, Tippie College of Business. ICAD and JPEC are jointly funding this new program which will be led by Andre’ Wright. Mr. Wright previously served as ICAD’s communications director and runs his own fashion label: Born Leaders United. “As an entrepreneur, I know how vital it is to have someone who has been there before to provide you with guidance and can ask the right questions to help you grow.”

In 2015, the Iowa Legislature approved legislation to create the Entrepreneurial Investment Awards program (EIA). The program stipulates the provision of financial assistance to service providers that offer technical and financial assistance to entrepreneurs and start-up companies seeking to create, locate or expand a business in Iowa. The Technology Commercialization Committee (TCC) last week recommend to the IEDA board for approval an award of $25,000 to support the creation of this new mentorship program.
“We are honored to be partnering with JPEC and supported by the state to create this new program.” Mark Nolte, President ICAD Group. “We believe that by connecting each startup with someone from the community who cares about their success we will keep more of these innovators growing businesses in Iowa.”

Individuals interested in volunteering as a community mentor are encouraged to contact Mr. Wright at awright@icadgroup.com