By Cally Reed, Program Associate, University of Northern Iowa's Center for Business Growth and Innovation
When it comes to educating young people about entrepreneurship and launching new student-led companies in Iowa, the John Papajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) is the name to know. This month the entrepreneur spotlight shines on the University of Northern Iowa’s own JPEC scholar in residence who is the founder and CEO of the company CreoJob, Kyle Coogler. Stick around to hear about how he realized entrepreneurship is for him and how the JPEC team at the University of Northern Iowa helped him realize his goals in founding a growing company, and what he working on these days.
How did you first learn about entrepreneurship?
I have always been entrepreneurial to be completely honest. It may not have always looked like the things I do now, but just being extremely creative as a kid was probably the sign that I would fall in love with the lifestyle some day. I will always remember going to Iowa State tailgates with my family as a kid. One thing I would do, was go to the porta-potties and wait until I got to the front of the line and turn around and sell my spot for $5 to drunk college kids at the back of the line. It worked every time!
What made you decide you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
I had a really bad experience with an employer when I worked as an auto detailer back home. I took his negativity and turned it into a full-time summer gig that many of my peers only dreamed of having. After I saw the amount of freedom I had compared to others, I knew I was on to something.
When did you start working with the JPEC program?
I was first introduced to the JPEC when I started school at UNI in 2014. I became a part of the Entrepreneurs Club on campus and slowly became more involved with events related to the JPEC. After working for a few startup companies out of the center, I discovered a problem I wanted to solve and pitch the staff. It's been an amazing ride ever since!
What are the top 3 JPEC resources you used as a student entrepreneur?
The first resource I used as a student was the actual office space where I could focus and meet with other students/customers. Another resource was the networking opportunities the center identified and suggested I use. They opened up a lot of doors for me and I will forever be grateful for that! Lastly, the experience the staff at the JPEC has is absolutely phenomenal. Their mentorship has been an incredible resource for me and I continue to seek out their guidance any chance I get!
What are you up to these days?
Currently I am the Scholar in Residence at the JPEC and will be throughout the summer! I graduated in May, and am working full-time on my business CreoJob! CreoJob is a web app that helps vet job applicants for employers who experience high turnover. We are currently running a pilot program with a few area businesses and are always looking for new employers to join! In the past few months, we attended a variety of pitch competitions, including e-Fest in Minneapolis. We were selected as a top 25 finalist from across the U.S. and the only one selected from Iowa!
To connect with Kyle and learn more about the work he’s doing at CreoJob, visit the CreoJob website.
If you or a student you know would like to learn more about how to get involved the University of Northern Iowa’s JPEC program, visit their website here.