Big Idea Competition launches this weekend

ABERDEEN, S.D. (Press Release) – Youth! Entrepreneurship! Cash! Scholarships!

These are the key ingredients in the BIG Idea Competition which is launching its 2019 competition this fall. High school students across South Dakota are invited to compete in this business idea competition where over $25,000 in cash and scholarships are awarded.

Students will be able to submit their business idea applications online from September 1 until October 31, 2019. The online application as well as various resources and examples can be accessed at the BIG Idea website:  For the optional marketing design competition, students will create an ad to support their business idea. This year there will be three special category awards that will each offer an additional $500 cash prize and a $500 scholarship to Northern State University for the best idea in their categories. These categories include: Wellness, Food Animal Agriculture and new this year, Agriculture Innovation.

Coordinator Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center said, “Understanding the basics of business is important to students, regardless of their career path. The BIG Idea Competition is a great way for students to in learn about those business basics.  For those students interested in pursuing a business, we can connect them with resources and mentors to help further their entrepreneurial growth and business success.  We are also excited to be offering even more prizes this year.”

Applications submitted by the October 31, 2019 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. Remaining finalists will receive $100 each. College scholarships to Northern State University, Presentation College and SD School of Mines & Technology will be awarded as well.  One winner will be chosen from among all the marketing design entries and be awarded $500 cash plus a $500 scholarship to Northern State University. One winner will be chosen for each of the special categories and recognized at the final competition.

The final competition and awards event will be held on Wednesday, December 11 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 over 2,300 entries involving over 3,300 students from 94 schools. The competition is open to any high school student in the state. The winning entry in 2018 was Helping Hearts Delivery Service, by Kendra Kleven and Avery Weinheimer of Sully Buttes High School. A complete listing of the 2018 finalists can be found on the BIG Idea website along with a video of their elevator pitches.

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, Midwest Ag Supply, Northwestern Energy, Northern State University, Presentation College, SD School of Mines and Technology, McQuillen Creative Group, South Dakota Agriculture Foundation, Aberdeen Development Corporation, the Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation, GROW SD, Angelhaus, CREATE, and 3M. Questions regarding the competition can be directed to Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center at (605) 626-2565 or