Turning great ideas into great businesses
Northwest Minnesota is a place where ingenuity thrives. The region, which has come to be known as the “Ingenuity Frontier” is an area like no other in the Midwest, dotted with manufacturers and technology companies thriving within a local culture of engineering knowledge and creativity.
The IDEA Competition was designed for one purpose — to grow the economy of Northwest Minnesota by outfitting the next generation of homegrown innovators for success in the global marketplace. To accomplish its purpose, the program identifies the most promising ideas and entrepreneurs through a competitive process, awards cash to winners, and provides intensive follow-up assistance. Since inception, 24 winners have been selected, and more than $400,000 has been awarded to help these entrepreneurs in commercializing their ideas.
The 2019-2020 IDEA Competition will be open for submissions on November 1, 2019.
If you have an innovative business idea and want to turn it into a profitable business, the IDEA Competition can help. The IDEA Competition will add momentum to your business strategy, whether you’ve never started a company or you’re already in business and generating revenue.
IDEA Competition participants receive:
- Valuable tools and business development resources
- A business coach
- Open access to all IDEA labs
- A chance to present your business idea to potential investors and business leaders
- A chance to win one of our $10,000 cash prizes to get your business moving
- A chance to win valuable professional services such as accounting, legal, and marketing
- A chance to win a spot as a semifinalist in the Minnesota Cup
Business opportunity: A strong business opportunity is one which effectively addresses a real customer need or problem and which has a strong likelihood of becoming profitable.
Business model: a well-articulated business model clearly explains how the business will generate revenue, i.e., how customer transactions will occur.
Strength of entrepreneur team: a strong entrepreneur team is one in which key leaders and advisors are available (or identified subject to financing) to fill key positions to execute the operations plan.
Strength of financials: strong financials are based on solid assumptions, and show a clear path to revenue, and ultimately, profitability.
Strength of marketing plan: a strong marketing plan includes strategy founded on good market research, shows understanding of the target customer, identifies who will be responsible for what, and is tied to timelines.
2nd Place: Ward Enterprises
3rd Place: D3D
- Caroline Hayden LLC
- Real Good Bath and Body
- Bolton Bees
- Stittsworth Meats
- NISKY, LLC.
- Far North Spirits
- Aircorps Aviation
- LitWeaver Inc.
- Eickhof Columbaria Inc.
- Wagner Malting & Brewing Inc.
- Addy-Olly, LLC
- CR Data Solutions
- Reel Deal
- Stand Alone Game Calls
- Lamplighter Hockey
- The Sidekick
- Slot-Rail Fence
- Varimax Evaporator
- Eleven Hockey
- LaValley Industries
- Grand Steer – Turn@bout
- Craft Night Out
- EquipAll Grapple/Hoe
- LaValley Industries
- Insect Inferno
- Highway My Way
- Trophy Head Shot
- MacAttach Inc
- Digi-Key – innovative business model
- Mattracks – innovative products
- Central Boiler – innovative products
- Northern Woolen Mills – innovative sales model
- Wells Technology – innovation in product development
- Weave Got Maille – innovative sales model
- LaValley Industries – innovative products
- Insect Inferno – innovative process
Round One – for the first round, you will have to submit a business plan, startup costs, and cash flow projections. The IDEA judging panel will review and score your materials and provide you with feedback on your plan and financials. The highest scoring round one applications will be advanced to the IDEA finals.
Finals – if you are chosen as an IDEA finalist, you will be asked to refine your business plan and financials based on the feedback you have received from round one. You will also be required to create a 30 second video and an oral presentation for the IDEA judging panel. Winning the Competition Based on the final business plan, financials, video, and oral presentation, the final judging panel will select up to three winners which will each receive a $10,000 cash award, valuable professional services (accounting, legal, marketing), and attention in the media. Finalists who are not selected as Grand Prize winners will each receive a $1,000 cash award.
All IDEA participants are winners. Simply going through the process has helped past participants refine their business strategies and better position themselves for commercial success.
For the purposes of the IDEA Competition, Northwest Minnesota includes the following counties: Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau.
Either an individual or a team of up to four persons is eligible.
If you are part of a team, intra-team confidentiality is the sole responsibility of team members, and we will not arbitrate any disputes among team members that arise during the competition. Individuals or teams advancing to the final round will be required to submit a brief statement of their venture to be used for public relations purposes. This may be as general or specific as a team desires, but it should be considered public information. We expect all judges to act ethically. Special note: all developmental work done with the Northwest Small Business Development Center will be confidential and a signed confidentiality form will be in place prior to beginning consulting work.
- Northwest Minnesota Foundation
- Headwaters Regional Development Commission
- Northwest Regional Development Commission
- University of Minnesota – Crookston
- Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence
- University of Minnesota Extension
- Batchelder Family
- Christian Brothers Inc.
- Keith Johanneson Family
- Steiger Family
- Don Ricke
- Mark Larson and Ron Stordahl
- William (Bill) S. Marvin
- Dennis and Glen Brazier
- Andy Wells
- Edgar Hetteen
- Michelle Landsverk
- Grant Oppegaard