High School Big Idea competition launches statewide

Youth! Cash! Scholarships! Entrepreneurship!

These are the key ingredients in the BIG Idea Competition which is launching its 10th Anniversary competition this fall. High school students across South Dakota are invited to compete in this business idea competition where winners will receive nearly $5,000 in cash awards and scholarships.

Students may work individually or as a team and will be able to submit their business idea applications online from September 1 until October 31, 2017. The online application as well as various resources and examples can be accessed at the BIG Idea website: www.BIGIdeaSD.com. For the optional marketing design competition, students will create an ad to support their business idea. Again this year is an optional Wellness Category sponsored by Sanford Health. This category offers an additional cash prize to the best business idea addressing Wellness.

Coordinator Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center said, “The BIG Idea Competition is a great experience for students interested in learning about business. For students already seriously pursuing a business, we can connect them with resources and mentors to help further their entrepreneurial growth and business success. We are excited to be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of BIG Idea!”

All applications submitted by the October 31, 2017 deadline will be reviewed and ranked by judges across the state. The eight (8) top scoring entries will be invited to the final competition and will make a presentation for the final judging component. The top three applications will receive cash awards of $1,000, $500 and $250, respectively. College scholarships to both Northern State University and Presentation College will be awarded as well. One winner will be chosen from among all the marketing design entries and be awarded $500. One winner will be chosen for the Wellness Category and will be awarded $500.

The final competition and awards event will be held on Thursday, December 7th at Northern State University in Aberdeen. Students will participate in various activities surrounding entrepreneurship. Prior to the awards presentation, all finalists will give an elevator pitch of their business idea.

Since inception in 2007, the BIG Idea Competition has received 1,881 entries involving nearly 2,654 students representing 83 schools. The competition is open to any high school student in the state. The winning entry in 2016 was MCH Design, by Mercedes Peterson, Hunter Matthaei, and Christian Westhoff of McCook Central High School. A complete listing of the 2016 finalists can be found on the BIG Idea website along with a video of their elevator pitches.

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In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, we are also conducting a survey of the state of entrepreneurship in South Dakota. Please visit the BIG Idea website to find the survey link on the home page. Results will be shared at the conclusion of the competition!

Homegrown businesses are essential to the success of our rural communities. The primary goal of BIG Idea is to promote entrepreneurship, spur creative thinking, and encourage students to start a business.

The competition is organized by a broad based committee of economic development organizations, educational institutions, and private businesses and coordinated by the Small Business Development Center. Sponsors include Sanford Health, East River Electric, REED Fund, Dacotah Bank, First Premier Bank, Student Loan Finance Corporation, Northwestern Energy, Northern State University, Presentation College, McQuillen Creative Group, Aberdeen Development Corporation, Midcontinent Communications, and the Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation. Questions regarding the competition can be directed to Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center at (605) 626-2565 or info@bigideasd.com.

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