Zach Kowalik wins Pitch Competition at YEC19

Artwork by Nathan T. Wright. Wright created the graphic recording live, capturing key themes from the convention.

30 startups pitched during the Young Entrepreneur Convention 2019 (YEC19) last Thursday in hopes of taking home the top prize.

Here were the six finalists that made it to the final of the pitch competition:

  • Cherie Edilson pitched an online marketplace that specifically targets small businesses in local communities and makes them more competitive.
  • Dillon Hurd pitched Freedom Invest, a scalable investment company that is more accessible to the millennial generation.
  • Shelby Smith pitched a model that allows people to raise crickets and become educated on how to enter the growing market.
  • Zach Kowalik pitched Quick Covers, a business that treats car rust by using plastic covers at a fraction of the cost of traditional rust repair methods.
  • Isabel Reed pitched Comigo, a platform to connect students with each other for their projects.
  • Zachary Ware-Joncas pitched Leah Labs, a startup focused on cancer treatment methods for dogs rather than traditional chemotherapy regimens.

For the final portion of the pitch competition, each of the six finalists took the main stage and had 90 seconds to pitch their businesses, followed by a 2 minute Q&A.

Following the pitches, the three judges decided on the top three teams. First place was given to Zach Kowalik. Second Place was given to Shelby Smith. And third place was given to Zachary Ware-Joncas.


Other highlights from YEC19

Micheael Lawrence, BluJaket

Michael Lawrence was this year’s Alumni Keynote. Lawrence was a Pitch Competition Finalist at last year’s YEC. His company, BluJaket, is a mobile app that offers geo-targeted coupons.

Ryan Gerhardy, Pitchly

Ryan Gerhardy talked about his journey building Pitchly and shared his thoughts on what to do and what not to do when building a startup.

“Startups don’t fail, founders quit hustling. If you stop caring, then your business will die,” Gerhardy told the crowd.

Entrepreneurial Resources in Ames Panel

To kickoff, the afternoon was a panel discussing the entrepreneurial resources that exist in Ames and at Iowa State University for young entrepreneurs.

The four panelists — Kevin Kimle, Judi Eyles, Bill Adamowski and Diana Wright — shared information about several local resources within the Ames community including Iowa State Research Park, ISU Startup Factory, CYstarters and 1MC Ames.

Fireside Chat with Monika Black and Tomer Yogev

The final event of the night was a fireside with Monika Black and Tomer Togev, cofounders of TandemSpring. The two addressed the subject of mental health within the startup community.

“Knowing your failures, speaking your failures and speaking about your failures to your employees so they can see themselves in those failures, is hugely important,” said Yogev.