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University of Iowa News Release


April 30, 2007

Four UI Students Receive Volding Business Plan Seed Grants

Four students won top awards in the Merle Volding Business Plan Competition sponsored by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) last week and will receive seed grants for their businesses.

The awards were presented April 26 to UI students who have created business plans for proposed or new businesses. The winners were chosen from 13 finalists and include:

--John Mickelson of Iowa City, who received a $3,500 grant for his business, Alrac, a reverse mortgage loan company.

--Jodi Blok of Marion, who received a $3,500 grant for Shirt and Simple, a Web site designed to eliminate the money collection process of custom apparel group orders.

--Diana Reed of Norwalk, who received a $1,000 grant for Diana's Divas, a dance, tumbling and baton instruction school in Iowa City.

--Katherine Hurst of Torrance, Calif., who received a $1,000 grant for Innovations by Iowa, a company that manufactures The Awaken Mask, a silent alarm clock that uses light to wake sleepers more naturally than would a traditional alarm clock.

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 the quality of the written plan and oral presentation, the potential of opportunity, and the commitment the team had to actually starting the business.

Volding served as one of the judges and also attended the April 26 awards luncheon at the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory to congratulate the winners. Other judges included David Hensley, clinical professor and JPEC executive director, and Lynn Jahn, assistant JPEC director.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,