The 18th annual John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition awarded $100,000 in cash prizes to nine Iowa ventures Friday, August 25, 2023. The $100,000 in seed funding consists of a $50,000 contribution from John Pappajohn and a $50,000 match from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). The goal of this competition is to support Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Thirteen teams advanced to the final presentation round. Four North Iowa entrepreneurs were among them: Billie Kay Asmus of Repaint Studios (Hampton, IA), Jill Ihrke of Easy2Show (Sheffield, IA), Jayson Ryner of ReEnvision Ag (Nora Springs, IA), and Zack Smith of Stock Cropper, Inc. (Lake Mills, IA).
Participants were judged in two preliminary rounds and those who advanced to the final round of the competition presented to a panel of judges. $40,000 was awarded to first-place winner Russel Karim of Chakai; $25,000 to second-place winner Sue Gehling and Allen Bierbaum of Classroom Clinic; and $15,000 to third-place winner, Andrew Guillemette of Enceinte Health.
This year, an additional $4,000 was awarded to five companies that received honorable mentions. Three North Iowa entrepreneurs won honorable mention awards: Billie Kay Asmus of Repaint Studios (Hampton, IA), Jill Ihrke of Easy2Show (Sheffield, IA), and Zack Smith of Stock Cropper, Inc. (Lake Mills, IA).
Candi Karsjens, Director of the NIACC Pappajohn Center, said, “I am very proud of the North Iowa companies that competed this year and continue to be impressed by their persistence and passion as they continue moving forward in their entrepreneurial journey.”
Iowa businesses that have been in operation for four years or less or are not yet cash flow positive were eligible to apply. The competition is open to all scalable business ventures including, but not limited to, technology, biotechnology, green technologies, medical, advanced manufacturing, agriculture, engineering, and education industries.
The John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition, along with support from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, has invested $1.2 million into participating businesses since 2006 and is a true celebration of entrepreneurship across Iowa. The event is a collaborative effort executed by the Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers located at Iowa State University, Drake University, North Iowa Area Community College, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa.
The next John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition will be announced in February 2024. For additional information about the competition, visit www.pappajohncompetition.com.