ISU student team, Hurd Health Group wins $5,000 at Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition

Thirteen student teams representing Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Drake University, and North Iowa Area Community College got the chance to pitch to John Pappajohn and his team at Equity Dynamics for the chance to win $5,000 for their business idea. The statewide finals were held at the University of Iowa Pappajohn Higher Education Center in downtown Des Moines on Friday, April 20th.

Pictured from L to R: Diana Wright (ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship), John Pappajohn (Equity Dynamics), Ashley Jones (Swoon Event Studio), Dillon Hurd (Hurd Health Group), Dan Stork (Equity Dynamics), Mikaela Stanley (Woof Rider), Ethan Marti (Hurd Health Group), Judi Eyles (ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship).

Winners of one of the three $5,000 checks was awarded to Iowa State University team, Dillon Hurd (graduate student studying biological & chemical engineering) and Ethan Marti (senior studying entrepreneurship) representing their startup, Hurd Health Group.

Two teams from University of Iowa received two of the three $5,000 awards:  Dr. Anthony Pharm and Nico Aguilar representing their startup, Speeko; Mahdi Eghbali and Vahid Khalajzadeh representing their startup, VerdiLife.  The remaining 10 teams competing in the finals all received $500 awards.  Also receiving $500 were Iowa State students:  Mikaela Stanley, founder of Woof Rider (senior studying industrial design and marketing); Ashley Jones, founder of Swoon Event Studio (senior studying event management and marketing).

The origin of the competition started 18 years ago.  John Pappajohn wanted a way to help student entrepreneurs in pursuing their business ideas while at college in Iowa.  The result was the Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition, where over $300,000 has been awarded to student entrepreneurs over the years.

For complete descriptions on the winners and ISU teams, please read below:

HURD HEALTH GROUP (Iowa State University) $5,000 Winner

Hurd Health Group plans to disrupt the current ventricular assist devices (VAD) market with the Medulla Controller and SymVitea VAD. First, the Medulla Controller which actively calculate the amount of assistance the heart needs in real time, will make current and future VADs safer and more efficiently. The SymVitea VAD which uses solid-state electromagnetic drive components to assist the heart in contracting to result in natural blood movement. SymVitea VAD paired with the Medulla Controller will result in a minimally invasive, wireless charging, VAD that is placed on the outside of the heart and adapts to and treats the heart in real time. The Medulla Controller will make current devices safer with the SymVitea VAD can replace them. This SymVitea-Medulla VAD system has the potential to change the way the medical world thinks about circulatory support and save countless lives by providing a safer option for heart failure patients.

SWOON EVENT STUDIO (Iowa State University) $500 Regional Winner

Swoon Event Studio, LLC is an online event studio where brides or event planners can custom design tablescapes and rent the items all from one location. In the virtual studio you can drag and drop design elements on to a table, arrange how you like, and then add the items to your shopping cart.  With Swoon, turn your event vision into reality in a fun, innovative way.

WOOF RIDER (Iowa State University) $500 Regional Winner

Woof Rider’s mission is to be the go-to brand for dog owners that builds and strengthens the relationship between themselves and their dogs. Essentially, Woof Rider wants to ensure that both sides of the relationship are equally happy and healthy. Currently, Woof Rider is breaking into this market with a single product, a transportation restraint system that reduces distracted driving accidents in a comfortable and easy way.

Speeko (University of Iowa) $5,000 Winner

Speeko is a mobile-first artificial intelligence solution to measure and improve verbal communication. Speeko leverages automated voice analytics to reimagine traditional speech coaching and provide data-driven, scalable, just-in-time communication training for individuals and organizations. With Speeko’s platform, users can practice scenarios such as interviews, presentations, and off-the-cuff remarks. The app analyzes the speakers voice in six key metrics and identifies areas for improvement. Over time, the app benchmarks performance and recommends lessons and exercises from the interactive digital coaching curriculum. Our curriculum is developed in partnership with professional speech coaches, leading academics, and other industry gurus.

VerdiLife (University of Iowa) $5,000 Winner

We strive to make the Earth a healthier planet by replacing harmful agro-chemicals with all-natural solutions.  We produce “wood vinegar”, a 100% organic fertilizer and pesticide, from wood-waste via a unique environmentally-friendly technology with no emissions and zero pollution.  The business model includes both social and environmental impacts by improving the wood-waste management industry and reducing the chemical fertilizers and pesticides usage.