Friday, June 14, 2024

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Act Write Here, a virtual playhouse for actors and writers founded by Laney Kraus-Taddeo, won first place and $15,000 at the University of Iowa’s Venture School Launch Day on June 13 at The Olympic Southside Theater.

A total of $37,000 in prize money was awarded to 10 teams.

Second place ($9,000) went to Tumbleweed, a company founded by Paul Richardson that provides a comprehensive platform for legacy planning. AgriNet, a company founded by Caleb Renner that provides a safe alternative to grain bin sweeps that saves farmers their lives, earned third place ($6,000).

Two finalists: EHS Support Source (Linden Terpstra) and Site Sidekick (Tom Altman), and five semifinalists, received $1,000 each. The semifinalists are Invasive Removal (Mark Vande Haar), Ossarocco, LLC (Osarodion Aigbogun), Roster (Steve Wittmer), Steer Clear Mirrors (Courtney McClellan), and The LEGG Buddy, LLC (Gary Goodlett). 

Act Write Here participated in Des Moines Venture School, Tumbleweed is from the Des Moines cohort, and AgriNet Bin Bladder is from Mason City Venture School.

Venture School is affiliated with the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC). The statewide training program focuses on real-world experimentation, customer discovery, and Lean LaunchPad methodologies. Partnering with Iowa JPEC for Venture School are the University of Iowa Small Business Development Center, Eastern Iowa Community College, North Iowa Area Community College, Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa’s West Coast Initiative, and The Innovation Lab Dubuque.

To learn more about Venture School, click HERE.


First PlaceAct Write HereLaney Kraus-TaddeoDes Moines
Second PlaceTumbleweedPaul RichardsonDes Moines
Third PlaceAgriNetCaleb RennerMason City
FinalistEHS Support SourceLinden TerpstraIowa City
FinalistSite SidekickTom AltmanIowa City
SemifinalistInvasive RemovalMark Vande HaarDes Moines
SemifinalistOssarocco, LLCOsarodion AigbogunQuad-Cities
SemifinalistRosterSteve WittmerIowa City
SemifinalistSteer Clear MirrorsCourtney McClellanIowa City
SemifinalistThe LEGG Buddy, LLCGary GoodlettDes Moines