BIG Idea launches high school business competition

ABERDEEN –  Youth – entrepreneurship – cash – scholarships: These are the key ingredients in the BIG Idea Competition which is launching its 15th competition this fall. 

High school students across South Dakota are invited to compete in this business idea competition where nearly $35,000 in cash and scholarships are awarded.  

Students will be able to submit their business idea applications online from Sept. 1 until Oct. 31.

The online application as well as various resources and examples can be accessed at the BIG Idea website:

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, agriculture innovation and marketing design. 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 learn about those business basics. Our committee is planning for an educational, fun and in person final event. As details are confirmed, we will be sharing information on our website and social media.”

Applications submitted by the Oct. 31 deadline will be reviewed and ranked by judges across the state.

The eight 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 South Dakota School of Mines & Technology will be awarded as well.

One winner will be chosen from among all the marketing design entries and recognized at the final competition. One winner will be chosen each for the Wellness and Agriculture Innovation categories and recognized at the final competition.

The final competition and awards event will be held in person on Wednesday, Dec. 8, at Northern State University in Aberdeen. The day will involve final presentations, mentor conversations, business speakers and finalist elevator pitches prior to the awards presentation.

Since inception in 2007, the BIG Idea Competition has received over 2,850 entries involving over 4,000 students from 100 schools. The competition is open to any high school student in the state. 

The winning entry in 2020 was Goats-2-Go, by Matea Gordon of Sturgis Brown High School. A complete listing of the 2020 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, Agtegra, Missouri River Energy Services, Northern State University, Presentation College, SD School of Mines and Technology, Northwestern Energy, McQuillen Creative Group, South Dakota Agriculture Foundation, Midco, Aberdeen Development Corporation, the Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation, GROW SD, Angelhaus and 3M.

 Questions regarding the competition can be directed to Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center at (605) 698-7654 x 144 or [email protected]


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