Ready to Go In America came away with the $5,000 prize in the contest last Thursday after pitching to a panel of judges. This moved the startup into the next round where they will be competing against other Iowa startups for $10,000 this time around.
The startup was founded by Jeff Owens, Mekinda Mekinda and Bobby Schlichting. Mekinda is an international student currently enrolled in a program at Kirkwood Community College. Owens is a senior informatics and art major at the University of Iowa and Schlicting is a farmer and entrepreneur from Vinton Iowa.
“It’s unreal,” Owens said to Iowa City Area Development. “There was so much competition. I was surprised to win, and having so many people supporting our idea makes me even more excited about it.”
“This is a dream coming true,” said Mekinda, who is orignially from Cameroon. “I’ve always heard the USA is a country of dreams. Now I know it is truly a reality.“
Ready To Go In America beat out 32 other entrepreneurs who competed in the contest that garnered over 10,000 votes. The top five startups in the voting competition squared off in front of the judges and an audience of nearly 100.
While Ready To Go In America was the official winner the judges also liked the pitch and presentation from high school student Eli Shepherd. Shepherd has found an environmentally friendly way to produce skateboards and apparel. He told the judges during his pitch that he needed $300 to fund the buying of equipment to produce his skateboard decks. The judges put the $300 together on their own to help Shepherd get his startup off the ground.
“Seeing so many people and organizations come together to support our region’s entrepreneurs has made the Creative Corridor Dream Big contest an inspiring project to be part of,” said Amanda Styron of Seed Here Studio, the group coordinating the contest and event. “We had a great night at the Live Pitch + Tech Brew! It was the perfect way to wrap-up the contest. I’m totally inspired by our growing community. It was a great night to get inspired, connect with the community and celebrate going big.”
The lead sponsor for the statewide contest is the Iowa Banker’s Association. Iowa is a hub of startup excitement. There are a lot of great startups including Ashton Kutcher backed Dwolla, in the state of Iowa.
Source: Iowa City Area Development