Competition Overview

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 Samuel Freeman 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 may award. 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, June 8th: Applications Due
  • Monday, June 22nd: Semi-finalists Notified
  • Monday, August 3rd: Semi-final Round
  • Friday, August 21st: Finalists Notified
  • Thursday, September 11th: Final Presentations
  • Thursday, September 24th: Awards Lunch


  • 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 24th, 2015. 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 Samuel Freeman 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 such
    • 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.