Christopher Molander
NIACC Stories

Molander Buzzing with Excitement at Youth Entrepreneurial Academy

Being an entrepreneur is more than simply owning your own business.  You are building something tangible out of an idea.  It takes extreme dedication and relentless hard work to become a sustainable business, especially without the support of a parent company or big industry to back your concepts.

Thinking outside of the box is an attribute not everyone possesses.  The ability to take a notion and morph it into a successful business venture is rare.  It’s also risky.  Failure lingers at every turn, threatening to put an end to lifelong dreams.  But if you can handle the risk, the reward is beyond worth it.

Younger people today are more apt to challenge older ideas.  They bring a creative, open-minded perspective to many aspects within the business world.

It’s only fitting, then, to provide them with the tools to reach those dreams and give them a chance at success.

NIACC, along with the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, conducts the Youth Entrepreneurial Academy each year which encourages high school students to launch their own business ideas and offers an opportunity to earn the seed money to do so.  The Academy exposes students to entrepreneurship, gives them the chance to apply their skills and creativity, helps them understand critical thinking, and gives them the power to become a “job creator” instead of a “job taker.”

The 5-day Academy concludes with a Pitch Competition, where students compete for cash prizes.  Every participant will receive a $500 NIACC scholarship.  They also receive gas cards to pay for the week’s travel from their homes or are welcome to stay at NIACC Campus View Student Housing for the week.

The program is free for all in attendance thanks to the generous support from the John K. and Luise V. Hanson Foundation.

An opportunity he’ll never forget.

Christopher Molander

The Youth Entrepreneurial Academy was nothing new for Christopher Molander, as he had participated in it for previous business ventures.  It was at a friend’s house, however, where he discovered his intrigue of beekeeping.  After countless hours of research, he crossed paths with another local beekeeper, Richard Vonderhoe, who also happened to be the President of the North Iowa Beekeepers Club.  This was a great first step as it opened doors to meeting new people and receiving additional insight to begin his business.

He continued his research, soaking up as much knowledge from colleagues and contacts as possible.  It was when he got the bees, however, when he realized there was still a lot to learn.

“There is something new to learn every day,” he stated. “I love the challenge and excitement of it, but I knew I still needed more guidance.”

He then enrolled in NIACC Continuing Education’s Basics and Business Beekeeping certificate class, which provided additional insight from teachers and other bee enthusiasts.  In the summer of 2022, he also participated in the YEA program through NIACC and the Pappajohn Center, where he was awarded seed money for his beekeeping business, Liquid Gold.

In a few weeks, he will be extracting honey from his three hives, something he is very excited about.

“It’s been a successful first season,” Molander said.  “And I’m excited to continue.”

Christopher’s path led him from idea to reality.  Like any entrepreneurial trail to success, it wasn’t quick or easy.  It took dedication and hard work.  Thankfully, he found the right tools to help him along the way – NIACC and the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

To learn more about this incredible opportunity for young entrepreneurs, visit  It might be just what you need to jumpstart your dream to success.

Also, watch for opportunities to expand your horizons through NIACC Continuing Education’s Business & Workforce Solutions and DiscoverU classes.

Molander Buzzing with Excitement at Youth Entrepreneurial Academy
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