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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.
Read the Case Study: http://universityeda.org/value-to-members/best-practice-sharing/awards-of-excellence/awards-of-excellence-2013-finalists/dream-big-grow-here/