Good Showing For Iowa State-Based Entrepreneurs in Statewide Pitch Events

Hurd Health Group, Swoon Event Studio, Woof Rider and Nebullam earn prizes

Thu, Apr 26, 2018 The 2018 Young Entrepreneur Convention Elevator Pitch Competition winners, L-R: Nebullam's Danen Pool (3rd), Hurd Health Group's Dillon Hurd (2nd), Speeko's Nico Aguilar (1st).

Thu, Apr 26, 2018
The 2018 Young Entrepreneur Convention Elevator Pitch Competition winners, L-R: Nebullam’s Danen Pool (3rd), Hurd Health Group’s Dillon Hurd (2nd), Speeko’s Nico Aguilar (1st).

AMES/DES MOINES, Iowa — A number of Iowa State University student entrepreneurs from Iowa State University Startup Factory (SUF) and Iowa State Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship’s CYstarters programs took advantage of opportunities to pitch their startup businesses at events held in Ames and Des Moines last week. Four Iowa State student teams took away six awards totaling $28,700. One of the student teams, Hurd Health Group (SUF cohort 3/CYstarters 2017 cohort), had a three-day winning streak, placing in all three pitch competitions in which they presented.

Hurd Health Group co-founders Dillon Hurd and Ethan Marti began their pitch successes with an April 19 Pitch Competition that was part of the Ames Seed Capital Fund Annual Meeting & Luncheon held at the Scheman Building, Iowa State Center, Ames. Of the 13 teams competing, the team earned second place and a $750 prize. Other competing SUF cohort members included N-Sense (cohort 3); Tractor Zoom (cohort 3); Waves 21st Century Boomboxes (cohort 3/CYstarters 2018 cohort); and Woof Rider (cohort 4/CYstarters 2018 cohort).

The Ames Seed meeting also featured an Entrepreneur Showcase for business entrepreneurs to present their investment-ready ideas. SUF’s Smart Ag (cohort 1), Tractor Zoom and The Oh Ball (cohort 2) were selected among seven other startups to present their business solutions and meet with investors.

At the April 20 Pappajohn Student Entrepreneurial Venture Competition finals, Hurd and Marti received one of the top three $5,000 seed grants awarded. The Pappajohn competition is intended for Iowa college students interested in starting their own venture, and judges student business plans based on content, concept, and business viability.

Thirteen student teams representing Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Drake University, and North Iowa Area Community College competed in the finals round. Iowa State teams, Swoon Event Studio (CYstarters 2018 cohort) and Woof Rider were recognized with $500 regional (round 1) finalist prizes.

Hurd Health Group’s streak of competing and placing was rounded out with a second place win and the $13,600 in cash and services prize in April 21’s Elevator Pitch Competition during the third annual Young Entrepreneur Convention (YEC) held at the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines.

Joining Hurd in the YEC winners’ circle was Nebullam Co-founder and CTO Danen Pool (SUF cohort 3) with third place and the $8,350 in cash and services prize. Woof Rider‘s Mikayla Stanley also made the finals with her pitch. All finalists received the opportunity for a private dinner with serial entrepreneur, angel investor, podcaster and writer Jason Calacanis, following his fireside chat that evening. Other teams from SUF’s cohort four to compete were True 360 (CYstarters 2017 cohort); Optical Operations; Waves 21st Century Boomboxes; and Column Dryers.

The ISU Startup Factory and ISU Research Park were YEC event co-sponsors.


About Hurd Health Group

Founded by Dillon Hurd, Hurd Health Group is a biomedical engineering research company that is developing a cardio assist device with a solid state electromagnetic drive system.

About Swoon Event Studio
Swoon Event Studio, LLC is an online event studio where brides or event planners can custom design tablescapes and rent the items all from one location. The virtual studio allows users to drag and drop design elements on to a table, arrange as they like, and add the items to a shopping cart.

About Woof Rider
Founded by Mikayla Stanley, Woof Rider creates a safe and comfortable environment for both dogs and their owners while traveling in personal vehicles. With its easy-to-use design, the Woof Rider transportation restraint system addresses previous issues from current products on the market.

About Nebullam
Founded by Danen Pool, Mahmoud Parto and Clayton Mooney, Nebullam is creating the art of future food, now, via aeroponics and artificial intelligence.

About ISU Startup Factory

The Iowa State University (ISU) Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park (ISURP). Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs. For more information on the ISU Startup Factory program, call 515-294-7444 or visit

About CYstarters
CYstarters is a 10-week summer accelerator for Iowa State students or recent graduates to focus on their startup or business idea. Students receive $6,500 for individual or up to $13,000 per student team for the opportunity to spend their summer dedicated to achieving their startup goals and pursuing entrepreneurial aspirations. For more information on the CYstarters program, visit

Read the post on ISU Research Park’s website, here.