Winners announced in 2024 John Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition

The 2024 John Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition, the 24th annual, was held on April 22 in Des Moines. The competition, a collaborative effort of the five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers, was the first one since John Pappajohn’s death last year.

“It was a bittersweet experience to host this year’s competition just one year after John Pappajohn’s passing. However, it is special to be able to carry on the tradition that John started 24 years ago. The competition brings student entrepreneurs together from across the state,” Judi Eyles, director of the Iowa State University John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, said in a prepared statement.

Student entrepreneurs entering the competition came from Drake University, Iowa State University, North Iowa Area Community College, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. The final presentation round consisted of 17 students presenting 15 business ideas to a panel of judges.

The following three businesses were named the winners of this year’s competition, with each receiving $5,000.

  • Catherine Dow, founder of Instatat, Northern Iowa Area Community College. Instatat revolutionizes the tattoo industry with a user-friendly platform for semi-permanent tattoos. Using advanced AI technology and premium materials like GPE, it creates vibrant, long-lasting designs without the lifelong commitment of traditional tattoos. 
  • Davan Crooker, founder of DC Outdoor Sports, University of Northern Iowa. DC Outdoor Services is a landscaping construction company whose mission is to provide high-quality landscaping services with the utmost integrity. They offer patio installations, retaining wall installations, as well as general landscaping.
  • Joy Clark, founder of Regain Orthotics, Drake University. Regain Orthotics offers low-cost functional prosthetics for above-elbow limb loss. The ARM device is sold as a kit, enabling on-site fabrication without a skilled prosthetist.

Other finalists, who each received $500, included Lauren Rana and Alex Sperry from Drake University; Hala Deng, Collin Gauck, Jacob Kautman and Henry Shires from Iowa State University; Michael Brzus, Josh Cohen, Jordan Walters and Ashwin Dervish from the University of Iowa; Caleb Renner and Elic Fjetland from NIACC; and Bronson Buitenwerf and Nathan Crooker from the University of Northern Iowa.