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University of Iowa News Release

May 12, 2006

Student Entrepreneurs Awarded Seed Money In Business Plan Competition

Four student teams were recently awarded seed capital funding in the Merle Volding Business Plan Competition sponsored by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa.

The awards were presented May 5 to UI students who have created business plans for proposed or new businesses. The awards are funded by Merle Volding, founder of BancTec, a worldwide provider of payment processing solutions located in Irving, Texas.  Volding created an endowment for aspiring student entrepreneurs to compete for seed money to assist them in starting their new companies.

To enter the competition, each team submitted an application detailing their business plan to JPEC. After reviewing the plans, a panel of judges heard oral presentations from finalists. The criteria included quality of the written plan and oral presentation, the potential of opportunity, and the commitment the team had to actually starting the business.

The judges included JPEC Director David Hensley, JPEC Assistant Director Lynn Jahn, UI Entrepreneurship Lecturer Dan Cohen, and entrepreneurial mentor John Buchanan, founder of RBP (a Marsh & Mclennan Company).

"The quality of the applications this year was outstanding.  No doubt several businesses will be launched from these plans," Hensley said.

Three teams won $3,000 in seed capital funding. They included:

--Michael Hubbard, David Oliver and Brian Clark for, a new online service that matches tenants with landlords. It gives those seeking rentals access to detailed information on thousands of available local units.

--Michael Link, Jason Foulk and Rhiannon Fyock for their business plan to market a height adjustable wheelchair that would make it easier for caregivers to move patients.

--Patrick Donaghue for, a company that provides a service, namely a social network for young people who have traveled to Europe or plan to travel in the future.

A $1,000 seed capital award went to Amos Peterson, Erin Weitzell & Michael LaVallee, who started LaVallee's, a specialty mobile food service company offering gourmet food such as handmade crepes, hot soups, all-fruit smoothies and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, providing an alternative to other food vendors in the downtown Iowa City area.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; Program: Lynn Jahn, assistant director, JPEC, 319-335-3741.