Since launching an annual venture capital contest in 2006, Des Moines entrepreneur and venture capitalist John Pappajohn has been “happy to be the giver of money” to support entrepreneurs in the state, Pappajohn told the small crowd on Drake University’s campus over lunch on Thursday.

All 12 of the small businesses represented – finalists in the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Venture Awards contest – were eager to have the enthusiastic and financial support of the Iowa icon.

Pappajohn gave $100,000 away to Iowa startup founders during the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Venture Awards Luncheon, the finale of the annual venture competition the five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in the state. 

Rantizo, an Iowa City-based precision drone application startup, received first place and accepted a $40,000 check from Pappajohn. In second place ($25,000) was CartilaGen of Iowa City, and third place ($15,000) was VetMeasure of Ames. 

More than $24 million has been invested by Pappajohn in the entrepreneurial centers located on college campuses at Drake University, Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa and North Iowa Area Community College. Additionally, he has awarded more than $1 million in business plan awards, Pappajohn said. 

About 7,000 new businesses have sought assistance through the entrepreneurial centers, and the initiative has trained 327,000 college students. 

“I think we have changed the ecosystem in the state,” Pappajohn said. “Each one of the centers has been terrific, and I’m very pleased and very proud.” 

Additional awards: 

$7,500 – Emory Dry Ice

$2,500 – Nebullam, No Limbits, Firefly Photonics

$1,000 – True360, Kimle Aquaculture, Stratafolio, HomePainter, Continuum Ag