John Pappajohn

NIACC Entrepreneurial Center

"The more I give, the more I make."

NIACC Foundation Annual Report

Pappajohn made the following comments during his 1996 induction into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame "I have a dream and dreams come true. I know I am one of those lucky people who loves his work. I would not trade my job for any other in the whole world. I look forward to each day with great enthusiasm. "

"Why am I here tonight? Because of my fabulous caring networks. I would not be here without the support, cooperation, and sacrifice of my family. My second network is my staff—I have a wonderful dedicated staff of associates and special friends who are talented and make my work look easy. I also have a third network—my company presidents. I have 42 companies in my venture-capital portfolio—these dedicated CEOs and their employees make me look smart. Because of them, I have averaged an annual rate of return of 69 percent for 25 years in my investment portfolio. That's why my family and I can be philanthropic."

"What am I going to do to help others to succeed? That’s how the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers came about. Mary (wife), Ann (daughter), and I talked about how best to help the state and create economic value. Our conclusion was to help educate and train students and other business people who are interested in becoming successful to train and show them how to do it. Life has been generous to me and my family and we plan to continue to give back much of what we have received. Each person in this room can make a difference, and everyone should try."

"My dream is to make Iowa the most entrepreneurial state in America."

$550,000 Gift to NIACC

Des Moines venture capitalist, John Pappajohn, and his wife, Mary, donated $500,000 to NIACC to establish the John Pappajohn Business and Entrepreneurial Center on the NIACC campus. NIACC plans to consolidate small business development and economic development programs into the Center. The Pappajohn Center will be housed in existing facilities. Pappajohn also pledged to give an extra $50,000 (allocated as five $10,000 grants to Iowa-based entrepreneurs). These funds will be used for seed capital to launch new ventures. NIACC will develop the criteria and the process for distribution of these grants.

Pappajohn Profile

John Pappajohn, a Mason City native, graduated from NIACC in 1948 when it was Mason City Junior College. He often acknowledges his humble beginnings in Mason City. As a boy, he worked in the grocery store opened by his Greek immigrant father. John and his brother, Tel ( also a NIACC graduate), started a small insurance agency in Mason City after graduation from the University of Iowa in 1952. John later founded Guardsman Life Insurance Co. in Des Moines and in 1969 sold his stock to launch his career as a venture capitalist. Now, as head of Equity Dynamics and Pappajohn Capital, he is on his way to becoming the state's biggest philanthropist. He has been a director in more than 25 public companies, a member of numerous professional groups, and received the Horatio Alger Award in 1996. John was the speaker at the NIACC Alumni Association's first annual student leadership recognition in 1992.

© 2019 John Pappajohn. All rights reserved.