Start here to bring your ideas to life.

Have a business you want to start? A product you want to market? Leadership skills you want to build upon? With Start Something, you’ll find support and resources designed to help you nurture your ideas and bring out your inner innovator and entrepreneur.

Here’s where you’ll get academic opportunities including project-oriented courses, hands-on experiences, product development assistance, internships with startups, and more. All designed so you can, well, start anything you want.

Immersive innovation

What happens when you surround yourself with innovation? You’ll be even more innovative. That’s why Start Something is dedicated to providing you experiences and opportunities centered on creative thinking—and doing. Here are just a few of the ways you can immerse yourself in innovation:

  • The Fashion Show: As one of the largest student-run fashion shows in the nation, our Fashion Show features innovative design, draws in thousands of attendees, and offers hundreds of ways for you to get involved.
  • Culinary Creation Lab: Located in our state-of-the-art Student Innovation Center, this test kitchen features the latest food science technology so you can put your culinary creations to work.
  • Product development opportunities: Students in our college have a wide variety of interests. That’s why we have a wide variety of opportunities that can help you develop any product you want, in categories like:
    • textiles and apparel
    • food
    • educational technology and gaming
    • health
    • FHSN VR.

Hands-On Experience

What better way to learn about entrepreneurship than by experiencing what it’s like to run a business? In the College of Human Sciences, you’ll learn entrepreneurship first-hand by getting involved.

  • Sparks Café: Want hands-on experience running a restaurant? Students are fully responsible for managing Sparks Café in the Student Innovation Center, including all business decisions about factors such as inventory, food safety, hiring and salaries, product pricing, marketing, and more.
  • Innovate 1858: Also located in the Student Innovation Center, Innovate 1858 is a student-run retail store that’s all about supporting student makers and their products.
  • The Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom: Learn the ins and outs of service with this restaurant/classroom teaching operation that’s run by students in the Food Production and Service Management Experience class.
  • The Creamery: I scream, you scream, we all scream for entrepreneurship opportunities! And with hands-on training, that’s just what you’ll get at The Creamery ice cream shop. Along with delicious ice cream and cheese, of course.

Start Something’s core offerings

With programming like lectures, challenges including pitch sessions, and hands-on experiences such as internships, Start Something is dedicated to helping you succeed in entrepreneurship.

Academic offerings


  • Entrepreneurship Showcase: As part of the annual Ignite Innovation Showcase, our Entrepreneurship Showcase is where you can pitch your business proposals and consulting projects to external judges for feedback and the chance to win awards and recognition.
  • Product Pitch Sessions for Innovate 1858: This is your chance to pitch your product and – if you win – have it sold in the student-run retail shop in the Student Innovation Center.
  • Iowa Retail Initiative/Main Street Iowa – Here’s how you can learn to develop business strategies for a real retail enterprise: Retail Ready Summit, Retail Reinvention Challenge

Start Something Network

Our recently introduced Start Something Network [RBL[A6] spans six Iowa State colleges so students can tailor their education experience to meet their unique needs and interests. It’s how we’re connecting the innovation and entrepreneurship efforts happening across campus, and at our ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, under one name.

Part of something bigger.

Start Something is just one of the many ways you can be part of Iowa State’s inclusive culture focused on interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We call it Innovate at Iowa State.

Included in this culture are two centers where you can collaborate with students across disciplines and find opportunity after opportunity to hone your innovative side.