University of Iowa student runs his own business while taking full class load

Published: Mar. 15, 2017 at 7:25 PM CDT
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CEO by day, student by night. A local college student is running his own business and winning national competitions along the way.

Matthew Rooda is a senior at the University of Iowa and his business already has offices in three eastern Iowa locations. So how does this guy make time for everything? Very carefully. From eight to five, Rooda's busy being CEO of his business, Swine Tech. Then he heads off to night classes to get his college degree. Rooda said the hardest part is coordinating last minute business trips with his professors.

"So they're like what are you talking about, you have to go to New York? Didn't you know this ahead of time? No I did not" said Rooda.

It's an occupational hazard when you're running your own business while attending college but Rooda is all in. Swine Tech uses 3D printers to make devices that help hog farmers prevent sows from crushing their babies.

"When we look at the squeals of little piglets we can identify when the mom is crushing it based on the wavelengths and frequencies" said Rooda.

It's a combination of a baby monitor and a dog's shock collar.

"It helps the farmer make more bacon as I like to put it" said John Rourke, chief technology officer of Swine Tech.

Rooda says his dad inspired him to start his business.

"He said have you thought about pursuing your idea? I said hmm, maybe a little bit. Then Iowa sent out an email asking about entrepreneurship so I'm like yes I'll do it" said Rooda.

He's done pretty well so far, winning a national competition for students who own and operate their own for-profit business while attending college.

"I never expected that. It feels great to know that I can help someone else too," said Rooda, "It feels good. There's more pressure, definitely. You got more people that are expecting you to do well and you just gotta keep pushing."

Rooda's chief technology officer is also a student. The two met at a business convention and joined forces.

"I've dialed back on the classes. Instead of going full time I've been doing half time classes," said Rourke, "Then he found out that my best friend growing up in school was one of his first customers."

Rooda says it's a hard road but it's possible and he hopes to inspire other students.

"It's so much fun to help others find their passion, find how they want to build their business and then help them do it" said Rooda.