Friday, September 29, 2023

It’s a football Friday at Linn-Mar (Iowa) High School and it’s about to get hectic at the crown jewel of Corey Brinkmeyer’s time as a business instructor.

The Roar Store is ready to serve hundreds of customers looking for Lions T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, or a variety of other school-spirit items at its Stadium Store. On days when they aren’t operating this satellite location, they are working out of a 500 square-foot brick-and-mortar location inside the high school.

“We do pretty good for ourselves, financially-speaking,” Brinkmeyer said. “We re-invest the profits and put the money into purchasing new items and updating equipment.”

There are 35 high school students helping during first semester this year, and 20 more will be starting in the second semester. Several of these students have gotten first-hand entrepreneurial training via Brinkmeyer’s entrepreneurship class that uses the BizInnovator Startup curriculum. A handful have gone a step further, participating in DesignDash — a one day entrepreneurial startup simulation. Both BizInnovator Startup and DesignDash are programs designed by the Jacobson Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship to help develop the next generation of innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

“You can see that those students just get it,” Brinkmeyer said. “There is an automatic connection between what they’ve learned and how to apply it, and that’s really the point of The Roar Store.”

Originally from Charleston, Illinois, Brinkmeyer attended Mount Mercy University on a soccer scholarship, graduating in 1998. He taught at South Tama High School for one year and has been at Linn-Mar since the Fall of 1999, where Brinkmeyer teaches “a little bit of everything” in its business program. The areas he contributes to the most are marketing, entrepreneurship, and The Roar Store.

Brinkmeyer will receive the Jacobson Institute K-12 Innovator award on Oct. 20 at the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) Innovation and Entrepreneurship Honors event.

“This kind of validates what I have been doing, so that makes me proud,” Brinkmeyer said. “I love working with (Jacobson Institute Director) Dawn (Bowlus) and the BizInnovator Startup team, and that has given me an opportunity to change the way I teach, meet new people, and network outside our local community.”

Brinkmeyer stays on the cutting edge of trends in the marketplace, something that has been reinforced by working as part of the curriculum development and design team with Bowlus and BizInnovator Startup during the re-development of its curriculum.

“I pride myself on trying to utilize technology as much as possible,” Brinkmeyer said. “Technology is the big piece with BizInnovator and some of the videos we have published I have done in-house.”

Linn-Mar began using the BizInnovator Startup program when it offered entrepreneurship in the mid-2000s. In 2017, when BizInnovator pivoted on its core concepts, Bowlus offered a professional development class for teachers. Brinkmeyer jumped in. 

“I liked entrepreneurship to begin with, but I fell in love with it all over again,” he said. “I really like the simplicity of the Business Model Canvas and felt students could adapt to it better than a traditional business plan. And the whole concept of Design Thinking and Lean Startup energized me. I love the creativity aspect of it and that coincided with some of the technology tools I was using.”

After attending a Startup Weekend at MERGE Iowa City, Brinkmeyer wondered if a similar model would benefit a high school audience. He was part of a core team that helped launch DesignDash, which has grown from one event in Spring 2022 to three events during the 2022-23 school year.

“My kids came away with a greater appreciation of what entrepreneurship looks like in a real setting,” Brinkmeyer said. “I have always liked the idea of getting kids together and letting them collaborate, so pairing them with students from different schools is a great reward. So often students decide to stick with groups of friends and don’t work with anyone else; DesignDash opens that opportunity to meet new people.”

Jacobson Institute K-12 Innovator RECIPIENTS    
2023 Corey Brinkmeyer Linn-Mar
2022 Barb Miltner Cedar Rapids Xavier
2021 Diane Fickel Iowa City West