Students, alumni share business concepts at state fair pitch-off

Group photo of pitchoff winners with president and provost

President Wendy Wintersteen, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert and 10 of the 13 pitch-off award winners profess "Iowa State Innovates!" on the final day of the Iowa State Fair. Submitted image.

Thirteen individuals or entrepreneurial teams received awards during an Aug. 18 awards ceremony that concluded "The Great Iowa State Pitch Off: STANDING InnOVATION," the centerpiece of the university's Iowa State Fair exhibit.

Continuum Ag was named "best of show" following a two-round competition that launched with 112 pitches -- involving more than 150 participants -- presented during the first eight days of the fair. The pitchers represented all colleges, ISU Extension and Outreach and the university's alumni community. On Aug. 16-17, the 56 winners of those head-to-head contests pitched again to a panel of judges, who selected the winners. President Wendy Wintersteen and senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert presented the awards Sunday afternoon at the university's exhibit.

The Washington, Iowa-based Continuum Ag, a consulting company that uses data to provide farmers with real-time soil health recommendations, received a $5,000 top prize. It was founded by Mitch Hora, a 2017 alumnus (agronomy and agricultural systems technology). His brother, David Hora, a freshman studying agronomy at Iowa State, works for Continuum Ag.

In addition to the Horas' honor, seven individuals or teams received $2,500 awards and four more received $1,000 honorable mention awards. Additionally, one winner was selected from the "Pitch Me ISU" 60-second video-based contest -- an opportunity for undergraduates to share their world-changing idea if time and money were no issue.

Award winners

  • $5,000 Best of Show: Continuum Ag, alumnus Mitch Hora and freshman David Hora, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • $2,500 Youth Entrepreneur Award: Civil Discourse for Teens training, Owynn McNutt, Charlize DeArmond and Nicholas Stocks, Iowa 4-H members
  • $2,500 Community Entrepreneur Award: New Day Dairy bed and breakfast, Clarksville, alumna Lynn Bolin, Ivy College of Business
  • $2,500 Applied Technology and Innovation Award: Haber Technologies, alumnus Eric Harweger and graduate student Dillon Hurd, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • $2,500 Applied Technology and Innovation Award: CattleTEC, graduate student Alex Irlbeck, College of Engineering, and 2019 CyStarter
  • $2,500 Civic/Social Entrepreneurship Award: Belange Handmade LLC, senior Belange Mutunda, College of Human Sciences
  • $2,500 Cutting Edge Innovation: NXGenCare, Andrew Guillamette, ISU Startup Factory
  • $2,500 Iowa Entrepreneur Award: Deadeye BBQ sauce, alumnus Michael Hanstad, Ivy College of Business and 2018 CyStarter (awards funded by the Ivy College of Business)
  • $1,000 Pitch Me ISU Award (video pitch): Comic Sandwiches (shield and prop replicas), senior Grayson Burgess, College of Engineering, and 2019 CyStarter (award funded by President Wendy Wintersteen)
  • $1,000 Honorable mention: Jensen Applied Sciences, junior Dillon Jensen, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and 2019 CyStarter
  • $1,000 Honorable mention: Lunchsox, graduate student Rebecca Lyons, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and 2018 CyStarter
  • $1,000 Honorable mention: The Modern Milkman, junior Lauren Jones, Ivy College of Business, and 2019 CyStarter
  • $1,000 Honorable mention: Process Partners, graduate student Courtney Middelkoop, College of Engineering (awards funded by the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship)