Pictured are winners of the 2018 John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition (l to r): Chris Krone (PowerPollen), Bill Brown (Insulights), Kyle McMahon (TractorZoom), John Pappajohn, Jason Cope (PowerPollen), Chris Krone (PowerPollen), and Mark Westgate (PowerPollen)

The following press release was originally posted on September 18, 2018, via The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers.

The 2018 John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition came to a close on September 13th with the announcement of the winners at a special recognition luncheon at Drake University in Des Moines.  Twelve teams advanced to the final presentation round, and the winners were announced at the luncheon.

Unique to this year’s awards program was a generous funding match made by possible by Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, bringing the total awards for 2018 to $100,000.

PowerPollen received first place and was awarded $40,000.  Power Pollen℠ is an advanced crop yield enhancement technology that enables higher productivity in seed and grain production.  Preserved pollen is used in combination with advanced pollen handling automation.  The preserved pollen is applied directly to the silks, on demand, to increase the yield and purity of hybrid seed and grain production.  PowerPollen is headquartered in Ankeny, Iowa.

Todd Krone, CEO

Insulights came in second place and was awarded $25,000Know exactly when and where your electric fence goes down. With Insulight’s bright LED light signaling a hot fence, you can quickly pinpoint where there is a break in your line.  Insulights is located in Akron, Iowa.

Bill Brown, founder and CEO

TractorZoom received third place and was awarded $15,000.  TractorZoom is an online farm auction tool that connects farm equipment auctioneers and buyers quickly and in real time.  Users can search for farm equipment anywhere in the country by make, model, and function.  TractorZoom is located in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Kyle McMahon, founder and CEO

Two honorable mentions were awarded prizes this year of $8,000 and $5,000, respectively.  Companies receiving these awards included Colin Hurd, CEO of Smart Ag, located in Ames and Mahdi Eghbali, CEO of Verdi Life in Iowa City.  Seven other entrepreneurs each received $1,000 finalist awards.

“Special thanks to John Pappajohn, who through his unwavering commitment to foster entrepreneurship in Iowa, has again sponsored this entrepreneurial venture competition and has provided extensive support for entrepreneurship in Iowa,” said Randy Pilkington, director of the University of Northern Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

The competition is a collaborative project of the Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers located at Drake University, Iowa State University, North Iowa Area Community College, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Details about next year’s John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition will be announced in February of 2019. For additional information about the competition, visit https://pappajohnentrepreneurialventurecompetition.com/.


Randy Pilkington, Director, UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, (319) 273-5732
Judi Eyles, Director, Iowa State Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, (515) 296-6754