Iowa Great Lakes Association Board member Tom Koehn talks with one of the students in Okoboji’s Entrepreneurial Institute. Koehn hosted an event at his lake home Monday.

Iowa Great Lakes Association board member Tom Koehn hosted an event for this year’s Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute students Monday, Aug. 6 at his West Okoboji lake home. Area business leaders and members of the Iowa Great Lakes Corridor’s Club E (E for Entrepreneurs) were also invited to attend.

The evening kicked off with an informal social and Okoboji-style dinner catered by the Taco House. After the meal, students heard business strategy and advice from Koehn as well as area entrepreneurs Bruce Nystrom, Bruce Tamisiea, and Toby Shine.

The entrepreneurs shared their success stories and urged the students to focus on lifelong learning. Koehn enlightened the students that opportunity rarely comes in nice gift-wrapped packages, it often comes in a smoldering unattractive pile. He also pointed out that there is always time for one more important thing. Shine urged the students to practice ethics and not to let someone take advantage of them twice. Shine also urged them to do the job no one else wants and to perform better than anybody else doing it. Tamisiea said one of his best strategies has been putting the decision making as close as possible to the level that the decisions affect.

Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute students asked questions to a panel of area entrepreneurs: Toby Shine, Bruce Tamisiea and Bruce Nystrom.

The Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute is a component of an overall entrepreneurship initiative in the Lakes Corridor region (Clay, Dickinson, Emmet and Buena Vista counties). Each year, 32 students from Iowa Regents Institutions (University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, and Iowa State University), Buena Vista University and Iowa Lakes Community College are selected to attend. Students participate in an advanced study of entrepreneurship that includes a simulation, seminars with successful entrepreneurs, business and community leaders, and networking and mentoring to enhance their understanding of entrepreneurship opportunities in Iowa.

The seventh annual institute continues through August 10. For more information, visit