January 30, 2019 –A team of two Iowa State University students traveled to London, Ontario, Canada to compete in the Western University Ivey Business Plan Competition held January 25-26. Eighteen teams of undergraduate and graduate level university students from the United States, Mexico, and Canada competed in multiple rounds of presentations in front of panels of experienced investors and entrepreneurs from Canada, Germany, and Asia.
Jacob McClarnon (’19 entrepreneurship) and Anthony House (’19 software engineering) co-founded their business, HomePainter, during last summer’s Pappajohn Center CYstarters summer accelerator program. The duo was recently accepted into the Iowa State Startup Factory program’s newly-announced cohort and is formally launching their business this spring in Des Moines. HomePainter’s platform provides free, online painting estimates to consumers that results in lower costs, faster and more reliable estimates compared to traditional servicing. For local painters, HomePainter serves as a referral site but also provides real jobs, support services and reduced liability. With higher quality paint jobs and better customer service, HomePainter is revolutionizing the way homeowners book residential painting projects.
When the HomePainter co-founders arrived in Canada, they found themselves accidentally competing against MBA students rather than the undergraduate bracket. As undergraduates, their win was even more impressive and rewarding than anticipated. After three rounds of pitches and a lot of tough questions, HomePainter made it to the finals and walked away with $15,000 and the top prize.
“I think we gained the winning upper hand for a few reasons,” shared House. “We adapted our final presentation in the final two hours with what the judges told us in the prior round. The judges also commented that they liked our answers to the questions they asked, and they said they had confidence that we could pull off this business.” McClarnon has spent the better part of the past year working on the business model, practicing the pitch, and digesting all the advice received. “Our success in this and other competitions is a result of knowing our business inside and out. These judges are professionals at tearing your concept apart, and you have to be able to answer their questions and concerns with confidence through a deep understanding of your market.”
House credits Iowa State’s support for young entrepreneurs. “The coolest part was that we were able to represent Iowa State at this competition. We were able to demonstrate the power of the entrepreneurship program right here in the Midwest. All of the hard work and training we have received here is really what set us apart and brought us above and beyond. It was truly a fantastic and profitable experience.”
Student entrepreneurs seeking support for their business can contact the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship at www.isupjcenter.org.