Spring is just around the corner, and it’s the season when an entrepreneur’s thoughts turn to competition. One of the really fun things we get to do here at the Pappajohn Center is help entrepreneurs and students compete for recognition, funding, and awards. Entrepreneurial competitions don’t just award glory (though that’s nice too), they also award seed money, access to investors, and professional services – they’re also a stepping stone into the wider entrepreneurial world. Competitions are an opportunity for startups to develop, strengthen, and test their ideas against their peers while receiving valuable feedback from experienced serial entrepreneurs.
What are some of the upcoming local competitions and awards to keep an eye out for?
Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition – This competition is open to any Iowa student enrolled in at least one credit course at a post-secondary educational institution. Winners on the regional level can win $500, with the chance to move on to the state level. Winners on the state level can win up to $5000 for their business idea. In 2017, one of the North Iowa regional winners went on to compete at the Young Entrepreneurs Conference. TJ Hauser finished 3rd out of 60 students, and was awarded $1000 cash and an in-kind agreement from the Zarley Law Firm of Des Moines for Intellectual Property services valued at $20,000. The Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition will begin with Regional (Round I) judging on March 30, 2018.
Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Venture Competition – This competition is open to Iowa entrepreneurs with businesses that have been in operation for 4 years or less, or for businesses that are not yet cash flow positive. In 2016, Pappajohn Center client Performance Livestock Analytics won first place with a cash prize of $25,000. They combine cloud-based technology with on-farm information to bring big-data solutions to cattle producers. Since then, Performance Livestock Analytics generated buzz in the ag tech world, making the top of the list of “7 Ag Tech Start-Ups to Watch in 2018”. Pappajohn Center client Cabin Coffee has also competed well in the Entrepreneurial Venture Competition; they used the competition to develop their franchising idea and finished as a finalist. Cabin Coffee has since won the America’s SBDC Iowa 2018 Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Venture Competition
The NIACC Pappajohn Center Entrepreneur of the Month Award – This recognition is open to North Iowa entrepreneurs who display the entrepreneurial spirit that positively affects our regional economy and local communities. We encourage businesses to self-nominate for this award. There are many small businesses in North Iowa deserving of recognition, from established companies to daring startups, and it’s our goal to highlight and encourage their endeavors.
This is just a sample of the upcoming awards and competitions for 2018. If any of these catch your eye or you want to explore some of the other entrepreneurial events, feel free to contact us for more information and assistance.
We encourage you to take advantage of the resources at the Pappajohn Center and the North Iowa Area SBDC. We provide free business counseling, free bi-monthly Start Smart classes, and Launch & Grow (a 10 week in-depth course that guides you through the actual process of starting your business or expanding your current business).