Michael Iseman felt almost lied to after graduating college and joining a big technology company in his native Kansas City, Mo. Iseman was told it was the place to go to make it, but after a year working there, he found it wasn’t a good fit for him.
In 2015, Iseman left for Startup Junkie after receiving a phone call from mentor Jeff Amerine, founding principal for the nonprofit. In 2012, Iseman was a junior at the University of Arkansas when he met Amerine and had applied for an internship working for Startup Junkie.
Amerine hired him for a three-month internship to help on the business accelerator The ARK Challenge. He worked with startups in focus groups and on financial projections.
Afterward, Amerine encouraged him to take a course he taught on new venture development, and Iseman took his advice. In the class, Iseman and a group of students developed a business plan to create a device to automate and improve efficiencies in pathology labs and founded BioBotic Systems Inc. The company partnered with the robotics division of Springdale-based Multi-Craft Contractors and raised $500,000 to develop prototypes. Iseman remains on the board, and the company hopes to start selling the robotic devices by the end of 2019.
At Startup Junkie, he’s worked one-on-one with more than 500 startups, led events for entrepreneurs like the NWA Venture Mashup, co-hosted more than 100 weekly podcasts with Amerine and teaches an eighth-grade entrepreneur class at The New School in Fayetteville.
Iseman attributed his success to how he treats people. “If you can be someone that people want to work with, it’s a lot easier to find success, because no one gets there alone,” he said.
Though working for the Kansas City technology company wasn’t a good fit, Iseman and a co-worker there established a business that took a board game from concept to completion, and offered him the experience of a real-world MBA. They broke even on the venture after selling 300 board games.
Iseman has served on the executive planning committee for NWA Young Professionals Summit and was a summer camp volunteer for Boy Scouts of America. In his free time, he enjoys starting businesses, chopping wood and running marathons.