Engineering Students Featured in JPEC's eVenturing Newsletter

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The August 2014 issue of "eVenturing," the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center's newsletter, features business founded by students from the College of Engineering.

ClusterFlunk creators, A.J. Nelson and former College of Engineering student Joe Dallago, were students at the BELL when their online study forum took off. In June, the young entrepreneurs were granted $1 million from Lightbank, a startup-focused investment firm founded by Eric Lefkofsky, one of the co-founders of Groupon. Lightbank’s General Partner, Paul Lee, said in The Des Moines Register that "ClusterFlunk is changing the way students study, interact, and plan on campus."

ClusterFlunk will use the grant to hire new employees, and to open up a new office space in Chicago. According to Nelson, ClusterFlunk is focusing on building the team and providing students the same service they promised from the beginning.

Nelson also said that the time developing ClusterFlunk in the BELL was invaluable. “There were nights that we would bring sleeping bags and work through the night to get things finished. JPEC and the BELL gave us so much, and we have been trying to give something back,” said Nelson. Both Nelson and Dallago have returned to the BELL frequently to mentor student startups, most recently with some students from the Venture School Student Accelerator this summer. “I just want people to know that kids from Iowa City can do this,” he said.

The Venture School Student Accelerator came to a close in early August, but not without a few major standouts. One team, led by John Nicholson (PhD, Simulation Based Engineering, '15), was Real Property Intelligence, LLC. With the help of his brother and co-founder, Lee Nicholson, Real Property Intelligence, LLC is changing the way real estate appraisals take place by using Real Property Probability Prediction (Real P3).

“The most rewarding part of the Venture School Student Accelerator was building relationships with entrepreneurial students and mentors who genuinely believe in you, and challenge your assumptions about how your business is going to work. I believe the most innovative ideas come out of the biggest challenges we are forced to overcome. Coming from an engineering background, I feel like I got a MBA in entrepreneurship in a matter of weeks,” said John Nicholson.

Real Property Intelligence received the 2013-2014 Hubert E. Storer Engineering Student Entrepreneurial Start-up Award.