Saturday, April 21, 2018

Thirteen student teams representing Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Drake University, and North Iowa Area Community College got the chance to pitch to John Pappajohn and his team at Equity Dynamics for the chance to win $5,000 for their business idea. The statewide finals were held at the University of Iowa Pappajohn Higher Education Center in downtown Des Moines on Friday, April 20th. The top three teams were each awarded a prize of $5,000. Two of these three teams represented University of Iowa.

The origin of the competition started 18 years ago. John Pappajohn wanted a way to help student entrepreneurs in pursuing their business ideas while at college in Iowa. The result was the Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition, where over $300,000 has been awarded to student entrepreneurs over the years. 


SPEEKO | $5,000 Winner
Anthony Pham - MPH (2019), MD (2016), BS Physiology (2011)
Nico Aguilar - MHA, MPH (2014), BS Physiology (2011)

Speeko is a mobile app that helps you measure and improve your verbal communication. Speeko leverages automated voice analytics and artificial intelligence to provide data-driven feedback and identify areas for improvement. Speeko has recently made a beta version of their app available for free to all University of Iowa students. Find out more at

VERDILIFE | $5,000 Winner
Mahdi Eghbali - Ph.D. Economics (2021)

VerdiLife strives to make the Earth a healthier planet by replacing harmful agro-chemicals with all-natural solutions.  The startup produces “wood vinegar”, a 100% organic fertilizer and pesticide, from wood-waste via a unique environmentally-friendly technology with no emissions and zero pollution. Their business model includes both social and environmental impacts by improving the wood-waste management industry and reducing the chemical fertilizers and pesticides usage. VerdiLife has placed and at several Iowa JPEC competitions as well as competed nationally. Find out more at

Amanda Gustafson - Dance and Business Management (2018)
Aunica Harvey - Dance (2018)

Gustafson and Harvey joined the Founders Club in 2017 in an effort to turn their passion of dance into a business. In June 2018, they will be opening their first studio in Waukee, Iowa and will offer classes for students 18 months and up in ballet, tap, jazz, acro, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, pointe and modern. The studio also will offer yoga and dance personal training classes. The company has also placed in many other Iowa JPEC competitions and recently was one of two startups to be awarded University of Iowa's 2018 Student Startup of the year. Find out more at

Congratulations to all three teams for being invited to pitch at the prestigious student competition!