Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship Comprehensive Competition Results: 2022 – 2023

The enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and innovation at Iowa State University has grown rapidly in recent years, and that’s been confirmed by the overwhelming participation in our competitions! 

Food Insecurity Challenge

The Pappajohn Center, in collaboration with the Ivy College of Business and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, hosted the Food Insecurity Challenge

The Food Insecurity Challenge, hosted by the Pappajohn Center, the Ivy College of Business, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, brought together over 100 students in cross-disciplinary teams to address global and local hunger issues. The challenge kicked off on November 6 with a “Hunger Banquet,” where Walter Suza, George Washington Carver Endowed Chair and professor of genetics, agriculture, and biotechnology, spoke to the issues of food poverty, and students participated in a simulation to represent the imbalance of global food access. Participants then formed teams to develop solutions. 

On November 28, the 20 student teams reconvened to present their innovative solutions. A total of $10,500 was split among three runner-up teams and the three finale winners.  

The winning teams included:

  • First place ($5,000)– Daniella Thuerauf (Global Resource Systems), Molly Simmons (Environmental Science), and Morgan Lang (Global Resource Systems) with “Student-Run Grocery Stores”; bringing fresh food to rural communities by establishing grocery stores within high schools and employing high school students.
  • Second place ($2,500) – Guinevere Austin, Hala Deng (Biology), Taylor Moore (Food Science), Anvay Sane (Food Science), and Drew Sohl (Culinary Food Science) with “The Hunger Hub”; an extension of the Iowa State MyState app that makes information on food programs, pantries, and recipes more accessible for students.
  • Third place ($1,500) – Brenna Hartse (Industrial Technology), Alyssa Rodriguez (HDFS), and Travis Schake (Dietetics) with “The Food Network Collective”; a database that provides college students with student-eligible resources, live updates from pantries, and volunteer/donation opportunities.

College-by-College Pitch Off

In February 2023, the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its sixth annual College-by-College Pitch Off, where 134 students from all the colleges across campus came together to pitch their innovative business ideas. The competition began with seven days of preliminary rounds and concluded with a finale where four winners from each college competed for a $5,000 grand prize. The competition is judged by university professionals and local entrepreneurs.

The winners (by college) included: Dakota Belling & Eugene Meyer (Engineering) – 1st Place New Idea ($5,000); Tiare Takaesu (Vet Med) – 2nd Place New Idea ($2,500); Aidan Bostwick (Business) – 3rd Place New Idea ($1,500); Cameryn Schafer (Agriculture) – 1st Place Existing Business ($5,000); Jack Evans (Business)- 2nd Place Existing Business ($2,500); Pradyumna Dahal (Liberal Arts) & Henry Shires (Engineering)- 3rd Place Existing Business ($1,500); Sidney Messerly (Liberal Arts) – Honorable Mention ($1,000); Lydia Dayton (Design) – Honorable Mention ($1,000); Gavin Harms (Design) – Honorable Mention ($1,000); Zackry Brannen (Business) – Honorable Mention ($1,000); Tyler Heintz (Engineering) – Honorable Mention ($1,000).

From L to R: Gavin Harms, Pradyumna Dahal, Henry Shires, Tiare Takaesu, Eugene Meyer, Cameryn Reiman, Dakota Belling, Zackry Brannen, Lydia Dayton, Tyler Heintz, Sidney Messerly, Jack Evans. Not pictured: Aidan Bostwick.

Innovation Prize

The Pappajohn Center, partnered with the Start Something College of Agriculture and Life Sciences program, hosted the seventh annual Innovation Prize competition in September 2023. Students, faculty, staff, and the local entrepreneurial community were invited to participate in the 24-hour incentive competition that challenged participants to develop innovative solutions to problems in agriculture technology, education technology, or global impact. The team with the most innovative solution within each of the three categories received a $2,500 cash prize.

This year’s winners included: In Global Impact, AlgaeSOLE: Gouse KhanIsaac BuettnerMicah W.Collin Gauck, and Hisham Hasan Mohiuddin. In AgTech, Fyre Stoppers: Taylor MayhuePhillip GorniCarrie Mulford and Asray Gopa. In EdTech, Finance Pal: Eli Ripperda, Raphael Campello, Richard Adonu, Lucas Tavares Vasconcellos, and Vasudha Arora.

Fall Startup Pitch Competition

This year marked the 11th annual Fall Startup Pitch Competition, which consisted of three days of pitches plus a finale. This competition has grown substantially since its debut in 2013, with 105 students registering to pitch their new or existing business ideas.

The business ideas ranged from a variety of industries and topics, from financial literacy to exotic pet food. After each day of preliminary pitches, six finalists were selected to participate in the finale. Over the course of the competition, the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship awarded $16,400 in cash prizes to 32 students, $7,400 more than the 2022 competition.

The winners included: In first place (existing business) – Dakota Belling of Bovi-Jet: Bovi-Jet manufactures automated medicinal spraying systems for cattle producers to make their farming practices more efficient. In second place (existing business) – Henry Shires of Casmium: Casmium provides convenient, affordable, and accessible tools to collect, store, and analyze baseball and softball stats for individuals and teams. Receiving an honorable mention (existing business) – Cam Reiman of NutriCubes: a line of pet food formulated for exotic pets. In first place (new business) – Andrew Jesus of Zeus Labs: A series of STEM programs highlighting the basics of robotics. Students learn to build, program, and drive robots. In second place (new business) – Vaidehee Bahirat, Benedict Neo, Andy Foo, and Jashwanth Kumar of EdAI: a private, secure, and controlled AI platform that will help professors generate customized assignments, in-class activities, or exams based on their course contents.

From L to R: Dakota Belling, Cam Reiman, Henry Shires, Vaidehee Bahirat, and Benedit Neo. Not pictured: Andrew Jesus, Andy Foo, and Jashwanth Kumar.