About the Competition

The Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition contest is intended to encourage and promote entrepreneurial activity and create greater awareness of the resources available to entrepreneurs in Iowa. We encourage innovative, new ventures to participate. Judges selected by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers will review all submissions. Participants will be judged on the basis of their written submissions and, for participants who advance to later rounds, presentations to the judges. Judges will rank participants and, subject to certain limitations, the top three will be awarded. Prospective participants must read and comply with the rules of the competition set forth below to enter and participate in the Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition. The Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition is void where prohibited by law.


The Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition is open to participants who meet the following criteria:

  • The plan must relate to an original idea for a business in operation for four years or less or a business that is not yet cash flow positive.
  • The principal business operations of the business must be located in Iowa.
  • Company officers/members are 18 years or older at the time of entry and are legal residents of the United States.
  • Businesses can include, but are not limited to: technology, bio-technology, green technologies, medical, advanced manufacturing, agriculture and agri-products, engineering, and education.
  • The business is not engaged primarily in retail sales, real estate, or the provision of health care or other professional services. "Professional services" include, but are not limited to, services provided by professions listed in Iowa Code Section 496C.2(4).
  • Participants that previously have won a first, second or third place are not eligible.
  • Company officer/members cannot be directors, officers, or employees of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers, the Small Business Development Centers or Equity Dynamics. The following are not eligible to participate in this Competition: 
    • consultants or freelancers who do business with any of the above
    • immediate family members of any of the above


  • Monday, May 29 at 11:59pm: Applications Due
  • Friday, June 16: Semi-finalists Notified
  • Monday, August 7: Semi-final Round
  • Friday, August 25: Finalists Notified
  • Friday, September 8: Presentations and Interviews and Final Three Notified
  • Thursday, September 21: Awards Luncheon


  • ONE (1) $25,000 First Place Prize
  • ONE (1) $15,000 Second Prize
  • ONE (1) $10,000 Third Prize

All winners will be recognized on the website for the Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition. Awards will be presented at a luncheon to be held September 21, 2017. Winners must be present to accept awards. The maximum total award distribution for the First, Second, and Third prizes shall not exceed $50,000. All contestants are encouraged to attend the luncheon to gain further knowledge and advice to further their businesses.

NOTE: There is no guarantee, expressed or implied, that any business will receive an award. If no entries into the competition meet the entry criteria, if the judges, in their sole discretion, determine that no entry has a reasonable chance for success, or if the judges determine no winner exists for that year of the competition, no award will be made for that year and the award money will be used for the following year's competition. The odds of winning a prize depend on the skill of the entrants and the number of entries received. All taxes associated with the prize are the sole responsibility of the prize winner. Prizes are not transferable.

Judging Criteria

Decisions will be made by a panel of judges consisting of representatives from the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers, the Small Business Development Centers, the Iowa Accelerators/Incubators, Iowa Business Council, and private equity firms (the “Judges”).

  • Judges will review all information submitted in connection with each application to the Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition. Judges will consider the following factors in judging the competition: The best business “plan” is one that contains the needed components to represent and execute on a viable end business model.
  • A clear understanding of their fit in the market:
    • A valid need – a problem that someone truly wants solved
    • A valid market – identifiable market that has the need
    • A clear understanding of the competition and why the target market might select their offering over that of the competition
    • A valid product – a product that actually delivers the value needed to satisfy the need identified
    • A valid pricing model – one that will allow customer purchasing to occur, satisfy any needed third-party distribution expense, and also allow the business to make money
  • A clear understanding of how they will execute on the fit they have identified:
    • Marketing / sales plan
    • Operations plan
    • Financial plan
  • A balanced team of individuals that collectively provide skills in the needed business acumens, as needed:
    • Development
    • Marketing
    • Sales
    • Finance
    • IT
    • Operations
  • Judges may disqualify any application they believe violates the letter or spirit of the competition guidelines.
  • Judges will not sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in connection with serving as judges or performing any other services for the competition. Participants are responsible for protecting their intellectual property.
  • For the duration of the competition, Judges agree not to initiate a professional relationship with individuals or businesses participating in the competition. If a judge has an existing personal or business relationship with a participant, that judge will excuse him or herself from discussing, reviewing or voting on that participant and any submissions from that participant. Individuals and businesses are deemed to be participating until they have been eliminated or have withdrawn from the competition, or until the final prizes have been awarded.
  • All decisions of the judges are final, including any interpretations of the rules or guidelines of the competition.

Past Winners

2016 -

Perfromance Livestock Analysis 
Performance Livestock Analysis received first place and was awarded $25,000. Performance Livestock Analytics has created data-driven, real-time analytics system for precision livestock operations management. 


2015 - Inno

vas Technologies
Innovas Technologies received first place and was awarded $25,000. Combating one of the largest sources of energy waste in the country, Innovas Technologies designs, manufactures and distributes industry leading shell and tube cleaning technology.


PearDeck with John Pappajohn

2014 - PearDeck
​PearDeck received first place and was awarded $25,000.  Pear Deck is an EdTech startup powering active classrooms in Google Apps for Education schools by blending personalized and collaborative learning in one simple app. Pear Deck was started in 2014 and is located in Iowa City, IA.


Image of R-pipe creators

2013 — R-pipe 
R-pipe , received first place and $25,000. R-pipe is a civil engineering company that makes pipe from waste material that is lighter, more durable, as strong, and is slightly less expensive than concrete pipe. The company was founded in 2013 and is located in Ames.  


Image of Dr. Andrew Heidloff, Doug Moore, and Dr. Joel Rieken,of Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies (IPAT).
 2012 — Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies (IPAT)
IPAT, received first place in 2012 and $25,000.  IPAT is a development-stage company with an atomization process for manufacturing fine titanium and other metal powders, leading to better part quality due to the material's ability to act much like a fluid. The company was founded in 2012 and is located in Nevada. Pictured: Accepting the award from Mr. John Pappajohn are Dr. Andrew Heidloff, Co-founder, Doug Moore, COO, and Dr. Joel Rieken, Co-founder.\


Image of Dr. Jerald Vogel and Dr. Atul Kelkar
 2011 — VSI Aerospace
VSI Aerospace, received first place and $25,000. The company combines software and air pressure sensors to alert pilots of trajectory changes, enhancing safety and fuel savings. It was founded in 2008 and is based in Ames. Pictured: Accepting the award from Mr. John Pappajohn are Dr. Jerald Vogel, Co-founder and CTO and Dr. Atul Kelkar, Founder and CEO.


Image of Danny Cantrell, co-founder of ECT
 2010 — Energy Control Technologies
Danny Cantrell, co-founder of ECT 
Winning the grand prize was West Des Moines-based Energy Control Technologies. Founded in 2008, the company designs, manufactures and implements automation systems for the oil and gas, biofuels, and industrial and manufacturing markets. ECT's systems improve operation safety and minimize the amount of energy consumed. ECT received $25,000 for its winning business plan. Pictured: Accepting the award, Danny Cantrell, a co-founder of ECT.

Image of Dr. James Oliver, Founder and Curt Carlson, President & CEO of BodyViz
 2009 — BodyViz
Dr. James Oliver, Founder and Curt Carlson, President & CEO of BodyViz
BodyViz, based in Ames, Iowa, creates software that provides vivid 3D visualizations of medical scans on the PC for physician education and surgical planning.


Image of Mark Ostanik, President of Submittal Exchange
 2008 — Submittal Exchange
Mark Ostanik, President
Submittal Exchange, of Adel, has a comprehensive, secure online system for reviewing construction submittals electronically. The system reduces paperwork, saves resources, and improves collaboration of architects, engineers and contractors on construction projects.


Suresh Kothari, President, receives award
 2007 — Ensoft Enabling Software
Suresh Kothari, President, receives award. John Pappajohn at far right. 
Ensoft Enabling Software, spawned by research at Iowa State University's Knowledge-Centric Software Lab, develops customized tools, provides consulting services and sells software products. Clientele includes major aerospace and avionics companies.


Dr. Don Flugrad and Dr. Abir Qamhiyah of iSEEK Corporation
2006 — iSEEK Company
Co-Founder, Senior Vice President & COO Dr. Don Flugrad and Dr. Abir Qamhiyah, founder and president of iSEEK Corporation
iSEEK company, led by Iowa State University professors Abir Qamhiyah and Don Flugrad, develops search engines for manufacturing and design companies that sort geometric shapes the way Google searches text. 



Winner Announced in 2016 Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition
Friday, August 26, 2016
The 2016 John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition came to a close on August 26 with the announcement of the winners at a special recognition luncheon at Drake University in Des Moines.

Innovas Technologies takes the Win at the 2015 Pappajohn Iowa Entrpreneurial Venture Competition
Friday, September 25, 2015
The 2015 John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition came to a close on September 25 with the announcement of the winners at a special recognition luncheon at Drake University in Des Moines. 

Winner Announced in 2014 Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition
Friday, September 26, 2014

The 2014 John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition came to a close on September 18 with the announcement of the winners at a special recognition luncheon at Drake University in Des Moines.

Iowa City area startups compete for $25,000
Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Originally published in the Iowa City Press Citizen by Aly Brown.

Ames-based r-pipe wins John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition
Monday, September 30, 2013

The 2013 John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition came to a close on Sept. 26 with the announcement of the winners at a special recognition luncheon at Drake University in Des Moines.

Seven finalists selected for 2013 John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seven businesses have been selected as finalists in the 2013 John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition.  In the first round, businesses submitted brief information about their business plans.

Competitors selected in John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition
Thursday, May 23, 2013

The first round of the John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition is complete. Of the 34 executive summaries submitted, 16 have been selected to submit full business plans to be reviewed by judges. 

Iowa Business Plan Competition Open for Submissions
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New and start-up businesses can enter to win up to $25,000

Pappajohn launches annual Iowa Business Plan Competition
Friday, February 1, 2013

New and start-up businesses can enter to win up to $25,000

Winners of Business Plan Competition, Lifetime Achievement Award Announced at Entrepreneurs Conference
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October 6, 2010 (DES MOINES) A number of Iowa start-up companies shared the spotlight Wednesday, winning awards at the Iowa Entrepreneurs Conference that will help them develop their businesses.  

Three Finalists Seleted in the John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition
Monday, September 8, 2008

The John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition is in its final stage. Three finalists have been chosen.

Northern Iowa Area Community College Logo
Iowa State University JPEC
University of Northern Iowa JPEC