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UEDA Summit 2013 - Awards of Excellence - Innovation & Entrepreneurship - Dream Big Grow Here


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The University of Northern Iowa’s Dream Big Grow Here contest attracts and networks Iowa entrepreneurs with resource and service providers through an innovative statewide contest that rewards a good pitch and a sound business approach with cash.
Dream Big Grow Here utilizes a custom contest technology to attract entrepreneurs to upload their ‘dream’s to start or expand a business, then encourage friends, family, customers to vote for them. Top vote getters compete in a regional Pitch Off event for a $5,000 cash award. Regional winners then compete for another $10,000 grand prize during a statewide Pitch Off at the end of the year. UNI recruited six regional economic development organizations to collaborate in the launch of the first DreamBigGrowHere contest in 2011. Wildly popular, 142 companies competed in an online contest, attracting more than 100,000 votes and half a million online views. Pitch Off events among winners connected entrepreneurs with regional and statewide resources/service providers. In 2012, two hundred twenty five contestants took part in one of ten regional contests and a waiting list was established for EDO’s wishing to host.
Dream Big Grow Here has proven to be a cost effective tool to engage and reward large numbers of entrepreneurs and small business owners, while improving the networks linking small business owners to resources and their peers.
With SBA support, UNI scaled DreamBigGrowHere in 2012 and recently partnered with Rogers State University to beta test Dream Big Oklahoma! in the fall of 2013. A national rollout of Dream Big! is planned for 2014.

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UEDA Summit 2013 - Awards of Excellence - Innovation & Entrepreneurship - Dream Big Grow Here

  1. 1. Dream Big Grow Here UEDA Awards of Excellence October 2013 Rob Williams, Program Manager UNI MyEntre.Net
  2. 2. Our Common Challenge  Who are the entrepreneurs in our region?  Where are they?  What do they need?  How can we connect with them? Ready to Go in America Iowa City, Iowa
  3. 3. We know Entrepreneurs Are Always looking for money... -What if we gave it to them? The Depot Family Restaurant New Virginia, Iowa
  4. 4. The Basics o An Online Contest (SaaS) o Managed by EDO Partners o Community Pitch-off ($5K) o Statewide Grand Prize ($10K) {made}, LLC Burlington, Iowa
  5. 5. Multiple Success Measures o Connections (EDO’s & Businesses) o Boost Technology Use o Positive Statewide Publicity o Culture Change RealEstateFanPages Des Moines Iowa
  6. 6. 2011 Contests o Six Contests o 142 Contestants o 102,000 Supporters o 500,000+ Pageviews The Chicken Sisters Lamoni, Iowa
  7. 7. Statewide Pitch Off Attracts 350 to Watch & Support “I just can’t believe this opportunityit’s too good to be true” -Christine Stahly , Milford Iowa 2011
  8. 8. An Innovative Approach Attracts 100’s of entrepreneurs Different Stages of Business Growth Helps EDO’s Indentify and Network An Unexpected Benefit! Builds Collaboration Between EDO’s Edu-Instruments Terril, Iowa
  9. 9. 2012 Contests  Ten Contests  225 Entrants from 66 Counties  >100,000 Supporters  Waiting List of Regional Hosts Mulholland Grocery Malvern, Iowa
  10. 10. Opportunities Abound...  For Economic Development Organizations  For Entrepreneurs  For Higher Education Involvement in Economic Development