This spring and summer, dozens of new Startup businesses in Iowa will compete for a chance to participate in the 11th annual Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition. The competition is designed to stimulate business development and provide support for entrepreneurial ventures. Applications from young Iowa businesses (a venture in business for less than four years or not yet in positive cash flow) are due May 17, 2016. This year, a total of $50,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to three businesses: $25,000 for first prize, $15,000 for second, and $10,000 for third.
The competition has awarded over $500,000 to a wide variety of Iowa startups since its inception in 2006. The 2015 grand prize winner, Innovas Technologies, designs, manufactures, and distributes industry-leading shell and tube cleaning technology in order to combat one of the largest sources of energy waste in the country. In 2014, PearDeck received first place. PearDeck powers active classrooms by blending personalized and collaborative learning in an app. R-pipe, a civil engineering company that makes pipe from waste material, took home $25,000 in 2013.
John Pappajohn, the longtime entrepreneur behind this and several other Iowa entrepreneurial competitions, explain his philanthropic efforts as a way to help foster a new generation of young entrepreneurs who can keep Iowa’s economy humming into the future. Even as he travels the world of high finance, Pappajohn’s passion lies in the small businesses dotting Iowa’s landscape. "Everybody talks about these million dollar companies and they're going to start with 20,000 jobs," Pappajohn said. "But we have these little businesses, and that's where it all starts."