Schmidt starts his own non-profit company as a sophomore

by Steffi Lee

Sophomore Stephen Schmidt spends his days like any other Simpson College student, but with one exception.

The 20 year old has an extra activity on his plate-starting his own non-profit company.

Schmidt, a business management major, recently started Iowa Trail Bombers, his own non-profit company based on mountain biking.

“It’s a non-profit for the advocacy of mountain biking, as well as to help start youth programs to introduce the youth to the outdoors,” Schmidt said. “So what we do is we raise money to build trails, and then we try to partner with different organizations so we can have places to build those trails, whether they’re public or private. Then we try and start programs, whether it’s getting bikes donated by some bigger bike manufacturers and then teaching the kids how to ride, or we have an idea of eventually having a bike shop where we can then teach kids how to work on bikes and stuff like that.”

Schmidt’s inspiration came from a long-term passion for mountain biking.

“I have always been into mountain biking,” Schmidt said. “It’s something I really enjoyed and I know there’s always been a lot for bigger and better trails in Central Iowa. I also grew up in Boy Scouts and the Boy Scout camp up north, and that was the first place we were able to partner with.”

The easiest way to achieve this task was to become a non-profit, Schmidt said, which led to his realization of starting his own company.

Schmidt is branching out with his aspirations and setting multiple goals to reach with Iowa Trail Bombers.

“We’ve spitballed the idea with some of the biking community in Des Moines and it’s extremely receptive to it,” Schmidt said. “And a lot of people have already said that they’ve pledged to give a certain amount of money, so we’re trying to raise somewhere between $200,000 to $300,000 by the end of the year to get the trail together and stuff like that.”

The Boy Scout camp working closely with Schmidt is located in Madrid, Iowa and many local businesses nearby may also sponsor his company.

“What we want to be able to do is build this trail to a national level that’s going to be able to draw in bikers almost to a Ragbrai style of standards, so [bikers] from all over the nation and professional level riders,” said Schmidt.

The joys of starting an own non-profit exist, but not without any struggle. Schmidt said his age has been a barrier in some instances.

With that being said, proving them wrong is what motivates Schmidt. To succeed, small steps need to be taken, which starts with advertising and marketing.

“Right now we just have a Facebook page,” Schmidt said. “You can search ‘Iowa Trail Bombers’ and it should be the first one that pops up. We’re looking for help that anyone’s willing to give. We’re really receptive to anything. Hopefully I’ll be incorporated as an actual business at the end of this month, and then we’ll be able to get our actual donation page up and running.”