rose francis winner day 1 and 2
Friday, November 3, 2017

On Nov. 1-2 the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) had the pleasure of hosting the annual Rose Francis Elevator Pitch Competition.

Nearly 71 student teams competed over two days and $45,000 was awarded in cash prizes. The first day of the competition was for early stage companies that had not achieved revenue or won more than $1,000 in business competitions. The second was for companies with revenue or that had previously won $1,000 or more in business competitions.

Students who participated represented the following colleges: Tippie College of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Law, Carver College of Medicine, and multiple graduate colleges. This competition is a great example of multidisciplinary innovation across UI’s campus.

Congratulations to the following winners (see *note below) from the 2017 Rose Francis Pitch Competition:

Day 1 Winners:

$2,500: Gheko Technologies, LLC (Kasra Zarei, Engineering) 

$1,500: Premiere Dance Project (Amanda Gustafson, Dance)

$1,500: Innovative IV's (Katelyn Anderson, Interdepartmental Studies)

$1,000: Bunk Stepper (Connor Hounsell, Business)

$1,000: Highlight Deals Entertainment (Nicholas Cerutti, Finance)

$1,000: UTours (Mika Karlenzig, Interdepartmental Studies)

$500: Coalescence Entertainment LLC (Tanner Gordon, Enterprise Leadership)

$500: RC Beaver (Michael Simon, Geoscience)

$500: Red Sky Mining (Samuel Bries, Pre-Business)

$500: Check Me Out (Lauren Lardner, Journalism and Mass Communications)

$500: VRTX MGMT (Austin Weaver, Law)

$500: Somatrack (Hailey McHugh, Finance)

$500: Guardian Emergency Services (Trevor Chuipek, Communications)

Day 2 Winners:

$11,000: Speeko (Anthony Pham, Public Health)

$5,000: VerdiLife LLC (Mahdi Eghbali, Economics)

$5,000: ABAL Therapeutics (Logan Grote, Computer Science)

$3,000: White Ivy Events (Amanda Burrell, Entrepreneurial Management and Finance)

$3,000: Kid Vicious (Caroline Edmunds-Diez, Enterprise Leadership)

$3,000: Gheko Technologies, LLC (Betsy Starman Award) (Kasra Zarei, Engineering)

$3,000: Vako Design (Vako Darjania, Art)

Iowa JPEC is committed to helping students, faculty, staff, and community members launch and grow businesses. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you think we can be of any assistance. To find out additional information about other opportunities available to students of all areas of study, please visit

Congratulations once again to everyone who competed in this competition!

*Names and majors listed are of individuals who registered the team