Monday, October 9, 2023

When Steve Davis was an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa, his focus was on computers, not business. The self-proclaimed software geek from Milwaukee remained that way late into his years as a graduate student.

That’s when the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) came into play.

Davis had already earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science (’01) and was nearing a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering (’03) when he thought of an idea for a business.

“I marched into (Iowa JPEC executive director) Dave Hensley’s office and said, ‘I want to start a business, what do I do?’” Davis said.

Davis is president and co-founder of Bio::Neos, Inc., a company that creates custom innovative software tools in healthcare, education, and the life science fields. He has been named the first recipient of the Iowa JPEC Mentor of the Year Award, and will be recognized Oct. 20 at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Honors event.

When Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) was brought to the University of Iowa in 2021, Davis was in the first group of volunteer mentors to complete the MIT VMS training.  

Whenever I get a chance, I will always try to pitch in and help as much as possible,” Davis said.

He has never forgotten the support he received from Iowa JPEC and that feeling of gratitude fuels his desire to volunteer. The goal? To build a community where the state of Iowa is seen as a technology hub.

“We should lead for no reason other than, ‘Why not us?’” Davis said. “There is a lot of cool stuff going on in the state.”

While things are going well for Davis, he said he doesn’t feel “successful enough” to give back to Iowa JPEC as much financially as he would like. That motivates him to invest as much time as he can as a mentor, to assist and give back to others.

I wasn’t an enrolled student (in the Tippie College of Business), but I got so much support and help,” Davis said. “Quite frankly, our business probably wouldn’t exist today without some of that early help we received from JPEC. It makes me a big supporter of the JPEC organization and the College of Business as a whole.”

Davis is particularly fond of building computer science education within Iowa at the K-12 level and helping other entrepreneurs, especially those invested in some level of advanced technology.

Even though Davis downplays the amount of time he invests as a mentor for Iowa VMS (he humbly calls it the bare minimum), it serves as an example of how influential alumni can be to current entrepreneurial students. 

“I wish everyone would do it,” he said.

2023 Steve Davis Bio::Neos, Inc.