Vivid Seats

John Pappajohn Alumni Entrepreneurs of the Year

Jerry Bednyak (BS '01) and Eric Vassilatos (BBA '01)
Managing Partners, Skybox-Capital

A combination of Bednyak’s engineering and Vassilatos’ accounting pursuits, along with a desire to earn spending cash as college students, led to the creation of Vivid Seats, a ticket marketplace connecting fans to live events. They sold Vivid Seats and started Skybox-Capital, a hands-on, value-added investor in e-commerce and digital media.

Josh Krakauer

Young Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year

Josh Krakauer (BBA '12)
CEO, Sculpt

As a 22-year-old, Krakauer founded Sculpt, a business-to-business social media marketing agency. Krakauer and Sculpt are still thriving, even though the industry has seen many twists and turns in the last 11 years. He is also a member of the Iowa JPEC alumni advisory board.

John Mickelson

Alumni Entrepreneurial Leadership Award

John Mickelson (BBA '03, MBA '07, JD '07)
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Midwest Growth Partners

Mickelson said he was born with an entrepreneurial gene, and Iowa JPEC fine-tuned his gift. It was in college where he witnessed challenges and successes of fellow students who were building businesses, and he found comfort in bouncing ideas off them. Mickelson also learned the importance of scaling a business and founding something with growth potential.

Erica Cole

Young Alumni Entrepreneurial Leadership Award

Erica Cole (BA '19)
Founder and CEO, No Limbits

In 2018, Cole experienced a life-altering car accident that required the amputation of her left leg below her knee. This tragic event abruptly ended her career as a chemist due to safety concerns in the lab. it was from this adversity that would evolve into No Limbits, an adaptive clothing line.

Howard Urnovitz

Iowa Innovator of the Year Award

Howard Urnovitz, PhD
CEO, FBB Biomed

In 1981, Urnovitz followed Dr. Richard Lynch to the University of Iowa as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Pathology. His company, FBB Biomed, provides a blood test to replace the painful spinal tap procedure. The test is able to diagnose multiple diseases with 100% accuracy in early trials.

Russel Karim

Venture School Business of the Year

Russel Karim
Founder, Dhakai, Inc.

Growing up in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Karim’s childhood was centered around clothing production. His parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, and mentors were all involved in the clothing supply chain. The formative experiences in Bangladesh led Karim to form Dhakai, an online marketplace that helps brands connect with sustainable and ethical manufacturers.

Martell Bell

Student Startup of the Year Award

Martell Bell (BS '19, MS '22)
Founder and CEO, Ignite Consulting

Bell’s company delivers STEM education to middle school and high school students in interactive ways. A first-generation college student, Bell is pursuing a PhD in mechanical engineering. Ignite Consulting recently partnered with Transitions Lab University Preparatory School, where Bell will work with children from India and Dubai.

Jaecee Hall

Student Startup of the Year Award

Jaecee Hall (BA '23)
Founder, Unbreakable Female Athlete

Hall’s business idea came to life in Iowa City, Iowa, and has led to apparel being worn worldwide. She is a member of the women’s rowing team and her search for clothing that recognized her as a female athlete inspired the creation of Unbreakable Female Athlete.

Robbie Weiland

Entrepreneurial Leadership Student of the Year

Robbie Weiland (BA '23)

Weiland served as treasurer and president of the entrepreneurial honor society Sigma Nu Tau. During his time in college, he was put in positions to lead, and thanks to Iowa JPEC, learned how to lead teams to success. Currently, Weiland is part of the management training program for Enterprise Holdings.

Corey Brinkmeyer

Jacobson Institute K-12 Innovator Award

Corey Brinkmeyer
Linn-Mar (Iowa) High School

At Linn-Mar High School, Brinkmeyer contributes the most in the areas of marketing, entrepreneurship, and The Roar Store, a school-themed apparel and merchandise store. His entrepreneurship class uses the BizInnovator Startup curriculum and a handful of his students have participating in DesignDash — a one day entrepreneurial startup simulation.

Steve Davis

Iowa JPEC Mentor of the Year

Steve Davis (BS '01, MS '03)
President and Co-Founbder, Bio::Neos, Inc.

Davis was among the pioneering volunteers who completed training through MIT VMS in 2021. He has never forgotten the support he received from Iowa JPEC when he was a student and that feeling of gratitude fuels his desire to volunteer.

Dave Okech

International Entrepreneurship Impact Award

Dave Okech
Founder and CEO, AquaRech LTD

A member of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship cohort, Okech followed that with a
designation as an Acumen Fellow in 2019 and appointments as a Global Farmer Network Fellow in 2020, and an Africa Food Systems Fellow in 2022. He was also selected into the Obama Foundation Leaders Africa program.