About

History

The UNI team believed that a technology solution could be found to identify and attract entrepreneurs so that EDO’s could engage them over the life of their business and that such an approach could improve business owner access to resources and their peers. Building upon the premise that all entrepreneurs want to secure cash grants if possible, the Dream Big Grow Here contests were developed as an attractive cash competition to engage entrepreneurs online, where they could then be connected with resource providers in their home communities and online. As it was developed over the first two years, it also became a powerful tool to foster collaboration between existing service providers and a marvelous way to celebrate small business in the state.

We established multiple success measurements for DBGH:

  1. to connect small business and entrepreneurs with regional economic development organizations,
  2. to encourage small business owners to use technology and to interact with one another online,
  3. to leverage widespread marketing and positive publicity for small Iowa companies,
  4. to enhance the supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state.

The use of an online contest to attract, learn about and engage large numbers of entrepreneurs is novel. Unlike business plan competitions which attract only small numbers of deeply committed entrepreneurs, Dream Big Grow Here attracts hundreds of entrepreneurs at different stages of business development and across many industries. The online pitches capture critical information about these entrepreneur’s plans for startup and growth which can be used by regional EDO’s to better serve them and others on an ongoing basis.

Recognition & Awards

  • Mid-America Economic Development Council's 2012 Annual Economic Development Award
  • University Economic Development Association Award of Excellence in Innovation & Entrepreneurship 2013

2016 Finalists

Click below to choose a category of this year's finalists and entrants.


Winner

Southwest Iowa Professional Center

Lisa Irvin
New Era Tax & Accounting
Sidney, IA
With our small towns diminishing, it is critical to have opportunities available for small and start-up businesses. Southwest Iowa Professional Center offers those opportunities, without moving to the big city.
Southwest Iowa Professional Center offers much needed office space, technology, manpower and professional networking in Rodeo Town, USA, also known as Sidney, Iowa. When leasing space at Southwest Iowa Professional Center, each business shares in the cost of common overhead expenses, such as utilities, phone systems, networking and technology. Additionally, a receptionist is available to offer a helping hand when needed, without the added cost of a full-time assistant. High-speed internet, VOIP phone systems and a large conference room allow member businesses the resources they need to ensure success for years to come.
Southwest Iowa Professional Center has additional room for expansion. Grant funds will be used to expand from our current four office spaces to eight private offices and a full-size common break room. Additionally, technology will be enhanced by adding a big-screen smart television to the conference room to allow for professional presentations, continuing education and teleconferencing for professional center tenants, as well as community members.

Current Rank

1

Number of Votes

1033
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Winner

Lumin Therapy: Let it Shine

Meghan Nelson
Lumin Therapy
Sioux City, IA
Lumin Therapy, LLC provides yoga-based community workshops and clinics, organization and school outreach, and one-on-one home sessions for individuals and families with special needs.
Lumin Therapy, LLC will be successful because of the needs we are trying to meet in our community, region, country, and world. And those needs are significant. One billion people living in the world today have special needs. One out of seven children in the world have a disability, one out of five American kids. The U.S. special needs population is 56.7 million. 10.4% of Iowans (aged 21-64) live with some type of visual, hearing, ambulatory, cognitive, self-care, or independent living disability. In 2013, the overall percentage of people with a disability of all ages in Iowa was 12%. That’s just a number, though: what it represents is 365,200 of the 3,047,100 individuals of all ages in Iowa who reported one or more disabilities. 21,300 of the 449,100 individuals ages five to fifteen in Iowa reported one or more disabilities. 6.6% of individuals sixteen to twenty years of age reported one or more disabilities (Iowa Disability Status Report, 2013). In Woodbury County alone, disability population statistics from the pooled 2005-2007 ACS PUMS data reveal that 42.8% of residents aged 5-64 have a reported disability. And these numbers have only grown. These are just snapshots, though. And we’re just talking about Iowa here. As our business grows, Lumin will cross state lines and eventually serve our wider Siouxland community in Nebraska and South Dakota as well. These numbers represent people—people with hopes and dreams and goals and aspirations who don’t always get the ability to achieve. We want to help these people, and not just these individuals either. Part of Lumin’s mission expansion efforts will include reaching out to other need populations, like veterans or those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, behavioral disabilities, and victims of abuse. We want to help our community. We’re called to serve. Lumin Therapy will be successful because these people need us to be successful. Their families need us. Our social services need us. Our community is in need. We can and will help. We will be successful because we get the pleasure and opportunity to discover what is so special about people with special needs. And we’re confident that Lumin Therapy will play a special role in helping our world realize that it’s the people who are special much more so than their needs.

Lumin's primary customers are individuals and families with special needs and abilities. Our initial efforts primarily focus on individuals with Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy, ADD/ADHD, among others, but we're also, as noted above, interested in expanding into other need populations, like veterans and victims of abuse as well. We will reach them by engaging area agencies, organizations, and schools, but also through community-based workshops and events. This work has already begun as we’ve made connections with organizations like Gigi's Playhouse, Mid-Step Services, Opportunities Unlimited, and Pier Center for Autism. Additionally, we’re doing one-on-one yoga interventions with individuals and families, as well as hosting community-wide workshops in a partnership with Evolve Yoga & Wellness, another Sioux City-based company.

To date, there are no other services of this nature whose core values and goals compete with our own (at least none anywhere remotely close to our region). And we believe that we are getting into this business at a very opportune time because of the growth of the yoga industry in our market, its overall widening appeal nation and worldwide, and because of the emerging medical and scientific research that’s being done on the numerous health and wellness benefits of a regular yoga practice. Where Lumin really distinguishes itself is in the primary populations we aim to serve. We are not looking to compete directly with any other yoga studios in our area. We are offering something completely unique, something, to be perfectly frank, other yoga teachers and businesses tend to shy away from. Our mission calls us to serve those individuals and families the rest of the world is leaving behind. We are not alone. There are other yoga teachers leading individuals and families with special needs in a continued practice, but as noted above, there are not any in our area (existing businesses exist primarily on east and west coast). This is the primary reason we feel so strongly that we’ve got a good idea, a good plan, and a customer-base who needs us.

As noted above, one of the places we’d like to expand our services, which “Dream Big, Grow Here” would definitely help support, is with Iowa’s veteran population. In 2013, 57,046 veterans had a reported disability, which represents 27.9% of Iowa veterans. The percent of the veteran population ages 18-64 with a disability living below the poverty level is 33.2%. That veteran population 65 years and older with a disability living below the poverty level is 34%. These statistics are noteworthy because those living in poverty generally have poorer access to meaningful health and wellness options, which again is exactly why Lumin Therapy wants to intervene.

At the moment, we are operating as a cash-based business, but as we expand our services, because one of our co-owners is a physical therapist, we want to eventually open a PT clinic so that we can begin to transition to working with insurance companies. This would be in our 3-5 year growth model. Once this happens we will be offering even more holistic therapeutic intervention opportunities to our Siouxland community and beyond.
We are applying, well, because we are dreaming big and hoping to grow here. This opportunity directly speaks to who we are as a company, what we believe in, and what we want for our business, and more importantly, our community. Lumin Therapy has at its core mission to empower individuals and families with special needs to live beyond boundaries by providing direct care and education of the mind, body, and spirit through the practice of yoga. Our core values are to promote the grace and dignity of the whole person, to enrich the family experience through advocacy, solidarity, and care, and to serve what is so profoundly special about the individuals and families with special needs. Our primary goals are to serve people with physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive needs, to expand therapeutic intervention opportunities in mind, body, and spirit in children and adults with special needs, and to provide a safe, caring, and inclusive zone for children and adults with special needs and their families to collaborate and build community.

Lumin Therapy, LLC would use the “Dream Here, Grow Here” grant money for four primary purposes: equipment, training, marketing, and research. Equipment needs include yoga mats, blocks, bolsters, blankets, and straps, all of which are necessary for the appropriate modifications and assistance with the physical practice of yoga. Trainings include two basic RYT-200 certifications (through Yoga Alliance), a 45-hour Yoga for the Special Child training, a 15-hour Level I Yoga for Veterans certification, a 40-hour Level I Therapeutic Yoga and 95-hour Children's Yoga certifications (with others planned as we continue to grow). Our marketing needs are an enhanced web page, fliers, and brochures, social media pushes, as well as the need to get out into our community for even more parent meetings and organizational pitches. Research needs include a variety of books on children’s yoga, yoga for special needs, and yoga for trauma victims.

Finally, we are applying because this is a family affair and our family is rooted deep in Iowa. After the birth of our third child, a beautiful little girl, Sawyer Rae, we learned that she had Down syndrome (Trisomy 21). Immediately, the stars aligned for us. We began doing yoga with Sawyer when she was less than a month old and now, at just over a year old, she is an amazing little yogi and is doing incredibly well. We were given a gift and we want to share this gift with our larger community. We realize that for our family, for our children, it truly takes a village to raise them in this world to their highest potential. We have a responsibility to this village: to promote the practice of yoga for ALL bodies. Our role is to help individuals and families with special needs to discover their strength and to help build up their character and self-esteem. From our own experiences, on and off the mat, we’ve witnessed and felt personally the healing and the growth that comes through a devoted practice of yoga. We want to help the rest of the world discover this joy, this light. At Lumin Therapy we are called to help others shine. This grant money will help us build our business, of course, but more importantly, our business will help transform our community and our world into a more loving, kind, peaceful place.

These numbers noted above represent needs and these needs are significant, but Lumin Therapy’s desire to help these individuals and families meet these needs is boundless: this will be our life’s work. We want to help the voiceless find their voices, the sedentary to discover motion, those in pain to feel the sweet benefits of release, and those battling to look next to them and see someone fighting right alongside. We want to serve those our society and our world is leaving behind. This is not just about business. This is about making the world a more peaceful, loving, gentle, and kind place. This is Lumin’s heart. We’ve got a lot of love to share and we believe to our core that this practice is our way to help open the hearts of everyone else around else. Steve Hartman of CBS News recently asked, “Why on earth do we call disabled when on the important things they can be so much more able than us?” Hartman is asking the right question, is making the right point. Lumin Therapy, LLC is going to do everything in our ability and power to help the rest of the world experience this too. We’re going to do our part to show that a person is much more special than his or her needs.

Current Rank

2

Number of Votes

1001
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Winner

Taking Vintage To The Next Level!

Tyler Anderson
Roller City
Mason City, IA
Roller skating has proven to be a timeless activity for all members of the family. Roller City has provided family-friendly experiences in North Iowa since 1978!
As the only roller skating rink within a seventy-five mile radius, Roller City has virtually no direct competition and remains one of only a small handful of family-friendly activities in the area.

Tyler Anderson, Chief Fun Officer (Owner) at Roller City, grew up in North Iowa but had no idea Roller City existed. In fact, he only roller skated four times before purchasing Roller City. With a strong background in the hospitality industry, youth development, and youth ministry, Tyler felt uniquely gifted to own and operate a roller skating rink.

Very few business models are more simple than operating a roller skating rink: play music, hand out skates, serve concessions, and clean up! Where Tyler may have lacked in roller skating experience, his history of social media, event planning, and customer service has been the foundation of increasing revenue.

Since Tyler Anderson and his wife, MacKenzie, took over the business in 2011, roller skating participants has increased from 13,000 people to 34,000 people in 2015. On top of open skate sessions, there has been a 400% increase in private events, 300% increase in concessions income, and over 1,000 Roller City shirts sold. Revenue primarily comes from admissions, concessions, and parties.

Roller City is open for roller skating sessions on Fridays and Saturdays, along with private events on Sundays. We have recently partnered with a mobile entertainment company, TJ Party Rental, which has added laser tag (Tuesdays) and inflatable bounce houses (Wednesdays) sessions to our weekly schedule.

The roller skating industry as a whole has generally seen a steady increase in both interest and revenue during the past few years, with a strong trend of families seeking to disconnect from technology and engaging with each other in a social atmosphere. Roller skating is a lifelong activity that promotes social and physical health.

Current market size in Mason City is close to 26,000 people and well over 100,000 within a sixty mile radius.
Roller City believes in Mason City and the surrounding communities and strives to consistently provide a family-friendly atmosphere. We have invested into a new sound system, upgraded energy-efficient lighting, renovated bathrooms, added seating, and re-finished the roller skating floor.

Over the past several years, businesses have had to increasingly rely on technology to remain relevant. The new expectation is to provide several layers of positive experiences when a customer purchases a product from a company. Simply opening up the storefront and expecting people to show up and pay the bills is a thing of the past. Roller skating in circles while listening to music is one of America's great past-times, but adding technology relevant to the experience would greatly enhance the overall experience and retain more customers.

We believe that the next investment that needs to be made to increase facility use and flexibility is to purchase additional technology. If chosen to receive funds from the Dream Big, Grow Here competition, we would purchase and install two HD projectors, two projector screens, two flat screen TVs, and all the necessary cables to connect the system together. After doing thorough research, we would add a new music service, FEC Music, which not only provides family-friendly music videos, but also creates custom video slides to promote upcoming events, concessions specials, pro shop deals, and other advertising options. The new video equipment increases the experience of an open roller skating session as well as provide flexibility for private events.

By intentionally utilizing technology at Roller City, we will increase opportunities and grow revenue. New technology allows us to host seamless themed skate sessions, host corporate training events, industry expos, and promote current products and services. Mason City currently has few options for corporate events and fewer options for families to enjoy an evening out. Increased technology would allow us to provide a better experience and better serve the entire family. We accomplish this through a more engaging experience with music videos and streaming live sports, sharing upcoming opportunities with video promotions, and advertising current product specials.

Most businesses interact with their customers either on an as-needed basis or a short burst during a visit to a brick and mortar location. We have an unique opportunity to capture the attention of our customers during a two to three hour skate session. We have many regular costumers and what better way to inform them then when they are at our facility having a wonderful experience?

With increased ability to reach a wider audience and better serve our current customers, we anticipate the need to hire 3-4 additional staff, including a full-time assistant manager to pursue new options and provide excellent customer service to current customers. New technology would also allow us to increase our open skate session rates and private event rates, increasing cash flow and allowing us flexibility to expand our services. Additional plans with an increased cash flow include a mobile roller skating rental service (available to public schools and youth organizations), building expansion (adding a small restaurant space and indoor play area), and beginning to set aside funds to open a second Roller City location in either Ames or Cedar Falls.

If chosen for the top prize, we would use any remaining funds to put toward creating a mobile roller skating business, which allows area youth organizations, schools, and other large groups the opportunity to rent roller skates for a set period of time. This would immediately create another full-time position and allow us to increase awareness of Roller City and roller skating in general. Additional purchases to make our mobile roller skating business happen include an enclosed trailer, a custom crate on wheels to transport roller skates, and additional roller skates to send out into area youth locations.

Current Rank

5

Number of Votes

716
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Winner

Crayons 2 Pencils - The Next Step

Jill Larsen
Crayons 2 Pencils
Norwalk, IA
Crayons 2 Pencils has been a strong Norwalk based business for ten years. Our program is built on the principle of the importance of the relationship that a teacher has with the child & family through the vital early childhood years as well as the value of hands on activities and educational play.
Our current business model is home-based and dedicated to serving the needs of families with a stay-at-home parent in need of part time preschool. Our program currently serves approximately 45 families and over fifty children ages two – five, through a staggered preschool schedule according to age. Our program has served families in and around Norwalk for approximately ten years. In that time, we have gained an exemplary reputation that has resulted in pre-registrations filling the upcoming year to capacity approximately seven months in advance, with a waitlist and no room for expansion to accommodate all of the families requesting a place in our program.

As a mother of five, and in building strong relationships with the families in my program, I am very aware of the need for a larger child care program that continues to offer a dedicated preschool program, but also meets the needs of working families by providing a full service day care facility. Recognizing that Norwalk is in a state of significant growth, I believe that now is the time to take our current program and business model and move to a full child care facility that will retain the current preschool program in a separate classroom, but that will also meet the needs of all families in our rapidly expanding city.

Based on my experience as both a mother and a business owner, I know that there is value in building a strong relationship with a single primary care provider during early childhood, but also in having opportunities available for educational experiences within a group setting. That’s where my business model is unique to the typical day care center.

At Crayons 2 Pencils, the business model ensures that our teachers are of the highest quality and not just a “baby-sitter” in a classroom. Additionally, our model is built on the foundation of building a relationship with the child and families that remain through early childhood. To accomplish this, teachers will loop with the children as they move up in age and programs. Meaning that a teacher or set of teachers will advance to the next level each fall with the children in their care.

To accomplish our goal of bringing a high quality child care program to Norwalk, we must move from our current home based location to a center where we can meet the needs of both our current preschool only families, as well as families working full-time in search of a single location for high quality child care for children through age ten.

In working with the current Norwalk child care center directors for, “Little Hands Big Dreams” and two church based locations, we all agree that at this time, Norwalk is not prepared to meet the existing need for child care as these centers are often turning families away. With the significant growth anticipated in the upcoming years, another daycare is necessary to prevent families from seeking care outside of the city and causing a loss of money that could be spent in and around Norwalk.
We have found an ideal location that will be convenient for families at 800 Colonial Circle, Norwalk, IA 50211. As the owner of Crayons 2 Pencils, I am prepared to take on the high cost of expenses to open the center such as remodeling to meet codes including the cost of a kitchen with specific requirements for fire codes, adding bathrooms and sinks to classrooms, as well as filling each classroom with the required furniture, educational toys and shelving systems to meet the needs of the children for both the preschool and full-time classes.

Based on priorities, the sacrifice we have made at this time has an impact on the ability for outdoor play. We need to install privacy fencing and build a playground system that will allow safe play so that we are able to continue our goal of providing an organic learning environment. It’s this specific need that has compelled us to apply for this generous grant. Being awarded this grant will allow us to move up our timeline for installing the privacy fence and opening the playground to better serve the needs of the children and families of Norwalk.

Current Rank

10

Number of Votes

514
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Winner

Northeast Iowa Doulas: Iowa's Premier Full-Service Doula Agency

Kaity Klotzbach
Northeast Iowa Doulas, LLC
Cedar Falls, IA
We are committed to excellence and making a positive impact on women, babies, birth, and families for years to come. We aim to help families feel empowered through the process of discovering their own personal philosophies regarding birth and parenting, and supporting them in those choices.
Simply put, we are setting the standard for professional maternity services in Northeast Iowa and surrounding areas, and our tireless work to deliver the best to our clients is never done. We look forward to the opportunity to show you what great doula care in Iowa really looks like.

Northeast Iowa Doulas was created with longevity in mind for doulas to do the work they love, and for families to find the unwavering, judgment-free, and genuine support they need throughout pregnancy, birth and the time after their new baby arrives.

We’ve developed working relationships with care providers in order to create a cohesive team approach for each client. In collaboration with obstetricians, midwives, nurses, and other local care providers, we’re able to make the biggest difference in our supportive roles. Making professionalism the cornerstone of our business, while keeping our vow to make the client our number one priority, has been the foundation on which our agency was built.

Whether someone is planning ahead for a family, just found out they are pregnant, days away from their due date, or several weeks into new parenthood, Northeast Iowa Doulas has something for everyone. As a full-service agency, we’re able to fulfill every need from pregnancy to postpartum. Every client receives well-rounded, personalized care from a team of qualified experts. We are truly a one-stop shop for new and expecting families and offer a wide variety of professional services.

Professional services offered:
*Birth doula support
*Postpartum doula support
*Childbirth education classes and workshops
*Mental health services
*And MORE

Something that makes us unique is that we offer supportive services in a way that is completely free from judgment, opinion or bias. It is true that everyone and their brother will have an opinion on how you should give birth or what provider to chose, etc. and then after baby arrives there will be many different unwanted opinions on how to feed the baby, how to change the baby, or to rock the baby....Without an opinion on how one should parent, but providing endless resources and information, our advice is sought after by new and veteran mothers alike. We support our clients in whatever they decide works best for them and their family.

Northeast Iowa Doulas has worked to create strong collaborations with area providers to make each client's birth team phenomenal. We carefully adhere to a scope of practice to ensure proper support is maintained. We follow a code of ethics and know our role on the support team. We never replace any members of the birth team but seek to enhance it with our presence. As such, we’ve earned the respect of area doctors, midwives and nurses, who are eager to work with our professional team at Northeast Iowa Doulas to make our client's experience respected, supported, and exceptional.

Northeast Iowa Doulas is a fee-for-service business. We offer various packages and have something for every family and every budget ranging from our 'All-in-One' package which includes all of our professional services rolled into one luxury package down to a DIY childbirth education parent guide for those who want to go it alone.

We are leading our competitors by elevating the role of doulas and the entire industry in the eyes of our clients, healthcare professionals, and our doulas by showing them that this is a profession, not a philosophy. Northeast Iowa Doulas is committed to reliable care for every client. Attendance at each of our client's birth by one of our professional doulas is guaranteed because our doulas work in teams of two; something that makes us truly exceptional. Each team begins their on-call time {twenty-four hours a day} from the moment our contract is signed and we are chosen to provide supportive services. This aspect of our supportive services can only be found at Northeast Iowa Doulas.

We proudly serve the Cedar Valley and surrounding areas such as: Waverly, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Dubuque, and everywhere in between. We have future plans to further expand our reach and connect with new and expecting families in other areas of Iowa.
Winning Dream Big Grow Here would help us to further expand Northeast Iowa Doulas and allow for us to reach more new and expecting families who are in need of support during this important time in their lives.

With your help in winning Dream Big Grow Here and increased funding we plan to increase customer acquisition through marketing and advertising efforts by hiring a professional video production company to create a promotional video for our website and social media. By doing this we will grow our business allowing us to raise the compensation for our doulas which will create sustainability for them to better support their own families.

Additionally, we plan to invest in a CRM software for customer relationship management to increase our level of efficiency and service to our clients.

Finally, any remaining money will go towards increasing our budget for Lunch N’ Learns. This gives us the opportunity to collaborate with area OB and midwifery practices to find out how we can work together to provide the best overall care to new and expecting families in Eastern Iowa.

For more information on the wide variety of professional services we offer at Northeast Iowa Doulas, visit us online at:
http://www.NortheastIowaDoulas.com

Our dream is growing and will continue to grow. This is our reason for applying for Dream Big Grow Here. We want to support more families in achieving their own big dreams of growing their families.
Thank you for this amazing opportunity.

Current Rank

15

Number of Votes

263
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ADFly – Cost Effective Digital Solutions for Small Business and Personal Promotion

Scott Burak
ADFly, LLC
Cedar Falls, IA
ADFly, LLC is a digital agency which offers advertising and PR services to developing brands that operate, in any capacity, on the internet. We offer search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media management and web design packages tailored the specific needs of each client.
The Digital Advertising industry is growing, a trend that’s expected to continue through 2020 as evidenced by the annual percent of industry value added (approx. 5.8%) compared to an annual increase in GDP over the same time period (2.2%)[1]. Rising corporate profit tends to lead to an increase in overall advertising budget and the large, consistent growth in internet traffic (expected to double in 3 years) is pushing advertising expenditure towards digital[1], especially in the retail industry.

Small businesses, which are typically slower to pick up on market trends, are not taking full advantage of digital advertising, however. In 2013, digital advertising comprised 15-16% of the advertising budget for companies in the United States, on average. Small businesses only allocated 3% of the advertising budget to digital advertising, a stark contrast[2]. On average, U.S. companies are projected to commit upwards of 25% of their total advertising budget to digital marketing, while small business is still lagging behind[3]. ADFly is poised to seize this opportunity by working with small (and often, local) businesses to tailor marketing strategies that give them real, tangible results.

Like any full-service digital agency, ADFly has a full repertoire of digital marketing strategies to offer clients:

Social Media Management - offered a monthly/annual package rates based on the number & type of social media account(s) to manage, interactivity with the public and fans of client’s brand initial reputation and maintenance of reputation.

Search Engine Optimization - service costs depend directly on the findings of an initial SEO audit, Google webmaster management & analytic report, and necessity of on-page optimization and/or off-page optimization.

Search Engine Marketing - ADFly works with clients to set specific campaign goals (click through to a webpage, pay-per conversion, phone call, etc.) and organizes an advertising campaign with large search engines (i.e. Google and Bing). ADFly collects a 15% management fee on the total SEM budget set by the client.

Website Design - Many clients understand how critical having a website is to their business, but few lack the skills to design their own. Often, small business owners turn to cookie-cutter design sites like Squarespace. These sites do the job, but are accompanied by subscription fees and appear generic to viewers. ADFly partners with a web design team to provide clients with an affordable, custom website and reliable hosting at a lower price than any of the large hosts. Once established, these website do not require programming experience to modify, allowing clients to maintain their site without having to pay again and again.

ADFly began as an experiment in ecommerce advertising through entertainment Twitter accounts, mostly to discern if there is a demand for this type of digital marketing services - it’s this type of social media marketing that sets ADFly apart from competitors. We have bulk rates negotiated with a large network of social media entertainment venues, encompassing a wide variety of consumer targets including fashion, health and fitness, cooking and technology. Our social display network is far more cost-effective for small business or individual promotion than conventional television or radio advertising and often more direct than Facebook or Twitter-sponsored posts.

ADFly offers quality website design and hosting services at prices that are far lower than is typical for the industry. Our proprietary social advertising network represents an innovative alternative to traditional display advertising, which constitutes a novel service in its own right. What really sets ADFly apart from the competition however, is its focus on small business and community outreach. ADFly has provided marketing services for clothing retailers, independent artists, and local contractors and we are currently expanding our local outreach program to provide services to even more businesses in the Cedar Valley. Further, ADFly has offered social media management services and an SEO audit to a local branch of the charity organization Heart to Heart International free of charge, and is currently under consideration for the job.

[1] Turk, Sarah. 2015. IBISWorld Industry Report OD5889 Digital Advertising Agencies in the US. IBISWorld Inc.

[2] DiGrande S, Knox D, Manfre K, Rose J. 2013. Unlocking the Digital-Marketing Potential of Small Businesses. Boston Consulting Group. https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/digital_economy_marketing_sales_unlocking_digital_marketing_small_businesses/

[3] NA. 2015. Digital to Capture 25% Share in 2016. Qiigo Inc. http://qiigo.com/blog/digital-to-capture-25-share-in-2016/
Grant Keller and Scott Burak, the owners and founders of ADFly LLC, are entrepreneurs involved in the University of Northern Iowa’s Student Business Incubator program. Scott is currently pursuing a degree in Interactive Digital Studies with the Digital Advertising and Digital Imaging at UNI and is employed as a Search Engine Marketing account manager at Mudd Advertising, a digital agency servicing the automotive industry in Cedar Falls. Grant is in his final semester as a Biochemistry major at Wartburg College, which has afforded him significant experience in interpreting industry research. Grant has obtained completion certificates in data mining and marketing courses from online institutions on topics such as Pattern Discovery in Data Mining and Using NumPy Python Packages for Large-Scale Data Analytics, and is well-versed in the R programming language which is used for mass statistical analysis and has powerful data mining capabilities.

We are applying to the Dream Big Grow Here contest as we feel it embodies the competitive entrepreneurial spirit we wish to cultivate as the operators of a digital marketing agency and members of the SBI. We hope to purchase the social media management tools that will allow us to streamline our management process (Hootsuite - $179.88/yr), search engine optimization reporting tools (Raven tools - $1188.00/yr) and a new computer (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 250GB SSD approx. $550 self-built) with Adobe Creative Cloud software ($480.00/yr) for content creation. We also intend to market our company to ecommerce companies and small store owners (such as Etsy; $100.00 SEM, $50.00 Facebook promotion, $150.00 ADFly’s proprietary network advertising).

Current Rank

3

Number of Votes

931
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Quilted Strawberry Learning & Retreat Center Expansion

Marlene Gould
Quilted Strawberry
Strawberry Point, IA
Since opening the Quilted Strawberry, I have dreamed of renovating the upstairs of my century old building into a learning and retreat center for quilters. This renovation would provide short term stay facilities where quilters can come to exchange new techniques, relax and enjoy quilting.
The Quilted Strawberry is full service quilt shop located in a historic century old building at the junction of highway 3 and 13 in Strawberry Point, Iowa. We offer quality quilting fabrics, quilt classes and long arm quilting services to our customers. Many of these customers are baby boomers that are looking for a way to expand their creativity and knowledge of quilting. We currently offer classes to beginners as well as the intermediate and experienced quilters. By renovating and restoring the upper level of the building we will be able to expand the business to offer larger classes and overnight stays to quilters and crafters. I am hoping to reach out to the Tri-state area and possibly further to offer a retreat area that not only is for staying but learning as well.

We plan to restore the upper level with new windows, electrical service, energy efficient lighting and heating and air conditioning. If possible we are going to try to implement a lift system to allow quilters to transport their projects to the upper level without having to hand carry these items to the classroom and lodging areas. Quilters will be charged a per night rate with special rates if the retreat center is full. We are hoping to partner with professional quilters in order to provide some different techniques and insights into quilting. If room will permit, I would like to have an area for an additional long arm quilting machine. Quilters could then come in for instructions on operating the machine and would be able to rent the machine by the day to complete their own projects versus paying for these services.

When staying in the retreat center my quilting guests will have access to fabrics, project ideas, classes if requested, the ability to complete their project themselves or just plain ole' down time to relax and enjoy the company of other quilters and make new friends. During their stay the quilters can dine out at our local restaurants or cook for themselves at the retreat center.

With the addition of the retreat center generating revenue, I would also have the capability to hire someone in the shop to help so I could quilt during the day instead of at home at night. This would provide for a faster turn around for those customers that don't want to quilt their own quilts. Additional employees may also be needed to help with the housekeeping after the retreats to do the housekeeping and laundry.
I have been "Dreaming" of restoring this space since I opened in 2013. I currently have invested a lot of sweat equity into the business and it is growing. In northeast Iowa we have 10 -15 quilt shops, but not a one of the other shops offer all the same fabrics, patterns, or classes. I would use the "Dream Big Grow Here" funds to put the 10-12 new windows in the building and to help us offset this expense. The building itself has been used for a grocery store, a bakery,a meat locker and smokehouse, living quarters for the baker and his wife, a funeral home and now a quilt shop. To restore the upper level would allow myself and my husband an additional source of income and a chance to meet new quilters that enter my shop - they all have a story to tell and many times that story is told through their quilts.

I have always believed that you can achieve what you dream - you just have to work hard and want it.

Current Rank

4

Number of Votes

841
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"If You're Dreams Don't Scare You, They're Not Big Enough"

KELLY BAY
Five Island Spa Company, Inc.
Emmetsburg, IA
Five Island Spa Company is a growing massage therapy, aesthetics and aromatherapy based practice looking to hire and expand. My goal as owner is simple: supply my practitioners with all of the resources they need to be successful, and to inspire others along the way.
Five Island Spa Company is successful because our business model addresses two major obstacles faced by the massage therapy profession in rural areas, each of which I encountered personally in the nearly five years I worked building the practice as a sole proprietor. We are the only multi-therapist practice in a thirty mile radius, and the only practice to focus solely on bodywork and skincare in the region.

The first obstacle is the perception that a good massage therapist is hard to find and nearly impossible to get an appointment with. Massage therapists are often hidden in the back of chiropractic clinics, salons and business offices; further complicating scheduling is the fact that many sole practitioners are in session most of the work day and unable to take calls and inquiries. Many seasoned therapists are booked out for weeks.

Five Island Spa Company first addresses this obstacle with accessibility. We have multiple therapists available so that clients don't have to wait weeks for an appointment. We employee two receptionists so that phone calls are answered promptly. In addition, we utilize online scheduling to ensure that appointments can be made at any hour of the day.

Secondly, we address this obstacle with professionalism. There are no unknowns or concerns when making a new appointment with our massage therapists. Our clients know that our therapists are educated, trained and trustworthy. For this reason, we receive many referrals not just from clients, but from the local chiropractors and physicians who know and trust in our work.

The second major obstacle faced by our profession is from a practitioner stand point. Despite having two massage therapy courses at Iowa Lakes Community College, there is an overriding mentality that it is hard to become a successful massage therapist. The start up costs and overhead expenses, combined with the time it takes to build up a clientele often deter many new graduates from taking the leap into practitioner.

Five Island Spa Co takes allows new graduates to jump right into the profession and focus on building their clientele and expanding knowledge and skills while the business and management issues are initially taken care of by ownership. "Initially" because it is my personal goal that each practitioner we bring on has the opportunity to learn the business side of the industry as well as hone their hands on skills.

Overcoming these obstacles has allowed Five Island Spa Company to expand from a single massage therapist to include four licensed practitioners and two receptionists in the past eighteen months. Our service list has grown from simply massage to include facials, waxing, Thai Yoga and Aromatherapy. Our gross sales increased by over 250% from 2014 to 2015 and we are aiming to increase another 100% by the end of 2016.

To accomplish these goals we are working closely with Katy Thomsen, a business consultant specializing in marketing and corporate training. We have a thorough marketing campaign planned for the year. Each quarter, we will do a direct mailing to each of the surrounding areas, north, south, east and west, to attract new clients. Each mailing will be tracked through our POS system so that we will be able to further narrow our target market in the future.

In addition, monthly specials will be advertised in the county newspapers and press releases focused on the impact our practice is making are scheduled to go to surrounding areas. We are also focusing in on Facebook and social media advertising, including targeted marketing using newsletters directed at our current clients.

From a management perspective, I am dedicating this first quarter to building and writing a comprehensive employee guidebook including roles and processes for each position. This may seem like a small step for many companies, but after five years as a sole practitioner, I feel that by putting the policies that contributed to our success in writing is the most important step I can take to ensure my employees are set for growth.

Secondly, I am transitioning to a part time practitioner role so that I can spend more time planning the growth of our company, as well as be more available to my employees. We have bi weekly one on one sessions set up for each practitioner as well as monthly team meetings to encourage open lines of communication, and analyze potential areas of growth and training.

Our 2016 gross sales goal is $200,000 with a profit margin of 25-30%. By the end of this year, we want to be in a larger office space to accommodate the growing clientele and staffing needs. We plan on hiring at least one more part time therapist beginning in June 2016 and are actively recruiting for that position. By the end of 2016, I hope to have solidified the roles and responsibilities of a full time office manager position and will be taking applications for that role.

By 2018, my goal is to have transitioned completely to an ownership role, leaving a fully staffed and well functioning business in the hands of our well trained, knowledgeable and competent employees. It is at this point that I dream of turning my attention to the second part of my goal, inspiring others to dream big and grow here through classes and consulting focused on small business and individual professional development.

At Five Island Spa Company, we know exactly who we are and where we are going, and we greatly appreciate your time and consideration in helping us get there!
Five Island Spa Company currently resides in a downtown location with three treatment rooms that are shared among our four practitioners. As we look towards the future, expanding our services, clientele and hiring more staff, we will need a larger space. Should we win the Dream Big, Grow Here prize money, all proceeds will go towards securing and renovating a larger location, preferably remaining in downtown Emmetsburg.

Current Rank

6

Number of Votes

695
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Transcend Your Limits

Chris Doster
CrossFit TYL
Creston, IA
CrossFit TYL is on a mission to help people become the healthiest and strongest version of themselves. TYL has a fitness program designed to fit all ages, abilities, and goals.
CrossFit TYL uses constantly varied workouts combining Olympic barbell lifts, gymnastics, bodyweight exercises, and metabolic conditioning (cardio) in a way not duplicated in SW Iowa. Each class is overseen by coaches who instruct proper form and scale the movements so they can be done by athletes from middle school children to senior citizens. This translates to a vibrant, supportive community from all different backgrounds united by the common goal of reaching our physical potential. Of course this has a carry over effect into members personal lives. Healthy people are happy, productive members of their community.
Our membership has outgrown our coaching staff and equipment. The money from Dream Big Grow Here would be used to: 1) Help some of our experienced members attend trainings to become certified CrossFit coaches. 2) Purchase enough equipment for our 20-25 person class sizes. 3) Marketing to maintain a steady level of growth and member retention.

Current Rank

7

Number of Votes

624
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Growing Up with Little Sports

Jed Eichhorn
Eichhorn Recreation, LLC
Marion, IA
Little Sports creates a win-win for families and care centers by offering recreation opportunities for 3-5 yr olds during the day. Children have the chance to learn about sports while preserving much needed family time in the evening.
Little Sports brings recreational opportunities to your children so families don't have to run around in the evening. We offer a variety of programs to keep it new for children every year. Families are inundated with extracurricular activities and more and more want to introduce their children to sports at a younger age. We save families mileage and the stress of coordinating schedules. The daycare wins as they can taught that they offer these extracurricular programs for families. Not every daycare has space to offer programs so it is unique.

Income
Parents sign up individually for programs (basketball, tennis, soccer, football, or t-ball). Programs last between 4-10 sessions (days) with a cost of $7 per day per child. Each session (day) is 30 minutes in length. We keep a 1 to 6 coach to player ratio. Therefore having the possibility to make $84 in an hour if the programs fill to max.
I am applying for the Dream Big Grow Here contest because I am looking to further develop my business. I have been working with a local artist to help me come up with a characters and a logo for Little Sports. I am also in the process of writing a book for each program I offer explaining what the children will learn in the program. The money will be used to finalize these two key aspects of my business as well as help develop a Franchise Opportunity. I believe by making this a franchise, I can help the great young professionals in the Recreation Field that cannot find a job once out a college or when transitioning between jobs.

Current Rank

8

Number of Votes

562
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A Little Help goes a long ways!

Jerry McGill
A Little Help Home Care
Le Mars, IA
We are passionate as an organization about helping Seniors to experience fullness of life while continuing to live at home. Our Mission is; "To provide with passion the highest quality of help to individuals, which will enable them to live with fullness of life in their own homes.
My wife and I began our agency in December of 2012. We believe there is a great need for the services which we provide. There were other agencies providing the services to our area, however, these agencies had to travel considerable length to provide the service to the rural areas, therefore, it was more expensive than it had to be. We have created a Business model which allows us to provide services not only in Plymouth County, but also in the surrounding rural communities. Our model will be used to meet the needs of Seniors throughout our State. The Senior population in Iowa will continue to increase for the next 20 years, the need will be great and we are trying to be prepared for that need as it continues to grow. It is our goal to provide the best quality of care at the most reasonable rate possible. I take great pride in every aspect of what we do as a business, including hiring. We currently employ 14 part time staff.
I am applying for the contest because I truly want to keep our services affordable. A need has been brought to my attention, through many requests, for wheelchair transportation. If I were to win the dream competition, I would apply the money toward the purchase of a wheelchair accessible van which would allow us to provide that additional service, not only to our clients, but also to local nursing homes and assisted living communities which have called us requesting that service.

Here is a link to the van that we are interested in purchasing:
www.transit-works.com/transit-connect.php

Current Rank

9

Number of Votes

556
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"Art On The Plaza" artist owned gallery..11 S. Federal..Mason City, Iowa

Pam Coffey
Art On The Plaza
Mason City, IA
We are an artist owned gallery that offers an affordable place for artists to promote and sell their art. The gallery workers are all artists and we provide a place for indivduals to find locally made quality artwork. Our goal is to offer classes and opportunities for the public to experience art.
Our artist owned gallery was formed to provide an affordable place for artists to promote and sell their art.Yearly membership paid for insurance and store set up.The board consists of working members, divided into committees and we meet monthly.We have an appointed director who at this point receives rent free space for her work. Committees are: Finance, Membership and Acceptance, Education and Events, Marketing and Advertising, and Store setup and Display. Our 12 working members are the board and decision makers. They pay a slightly higher rental fee and gain 100% of the profit for their sales. Non working members may attend meetings and receive monthly minutes. We have two levels of rental fee payment for non working artists and a % fee of their sales stay in gallery funds.
In the beginning, membership covered insurance and initial advertising. Monthly fees cover rent and supplies However we need "Dream Big" funds to help sustain add grow our business. One priority is building a customer base. To do that we need to expand our outreach with more advertising dollars, e-mail marketing campaigns and a professional quality website. Another goal is to host events that would bring the public to our gallery. We want to provide opportunities for patrons to connect with our artists. Demonstrations and hands on activities will give the community a greater appreciation for the processes of creating art. Funds would help get the word out, as well as cover costs of materials. We have a dream to provide a place for artists to share their talents with the community. We appreciate your vote to help us achieve our dream!

Current Rank

11

Number of Votes

440
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Sharing the Joy of Art through Active Participation

Kim Blakesley
Cedar Valley Art and Wine
Cedar Falls, IA
Cedar Valley Art and Wine offers a safe and encouraging learning environment where patrons enjoy an entertaining, unique and relaxing 3-hour painting event. Our unique philosophy of teaching provides an avenue for all to express their inner artist. Ages four and up are welcome.
The birth of Cedar Valley Art and Wine working painting studio was and still is a culmination of my love for the arts, experience as an educator and background in business. The business model used is not a typical model. I chose to model the painting studio after a public school system art classroom along. The budget is also modeled after a public school systems, that simply means spend as little as you can to give the "students" the most for the money. The set-up within the studio provides easy access to all painting and multi-media supplies patrons need to complete their paintings.

Our philosophy, "Art has No Wrong Answer," has resonated through the Cedar Valley and surrounding areas. Patrons' are exploring their creative side through the guiding hands of our artists. Step-by-step instructs walk patrons through the selected painting for the time slot from start to finish. Help is always there and never with a condescending tone or look. Patrons are put to ease through the use of calm tones, encouraging words and excellent instructions.

Our philosophy is one unique aspect of Cedar Valley Art and Wine. The other is the ability of all patrons to bring their own wine, beer or non-alcoholic beverage to their painting event. This keeps their cost down and takes the liability of alcohol into their own hands. No liquor license is required.

Painting events are offered at five different price points, $10, $25, $35, $40 and $45. The price of the event is reflected in the different size canvases. Types of events offered include public and private events. Public events include Kid's paints, Couple's Paint, Date Night, Free-style and others. Private events include but are not limited to birthday parties, bachelorette parties, retirement parties, baby and bridal showers, staff development, team building and fundraising. A portion of the proceeds from a fundraising event is given directly to the coordinator.

Cedar Valley Art and Wine is considered a part of the entertainment industry. The hands-on portion of the business also places us in the education field. We began with five events per week and have expanded to our current event listing to 14 per week. Our move from State Street to Main Street, along with the expansion within our Main Street location gives us the opportunity to have 21 events per week. We are still working towards that goal.

Another avenue of income is traveling to business or school locations. The minimum attendees to travel to another location is 15 with the maximum set at 100. We have traveled to such locations as Fox Ridge Winery (42 attendees), St. Mary's Catholic Church( 64 attendees), Wartburg College (100 seats for student entertainment), East High School (staff development of 90 educators), and numerous churches throughout the Cedar Valley.

Our first studio sat 30 people. We outgrew the location in less than six months and expanded to a second area within the same building. Six months later, we were scrambling to find a location to open a third studio area. We found this building on Main Street but it was in dire need of remodeling. The first two areas were up and running by September of 2015 with the third opening in November. The maximum number of attendees we may now seat is 89. We had our first event in the third studio on November 14th. Since that time, we use the studio a minimum of once per week.

I am the owner and the only full-time employee. I managed all aspects of the business for the first four months and hired in my first contract laborer. Four months later we added three more. Just recently, we lost one artist and hired three in to take her place. We currently have six part-time artists. All artists work on a contractual basis. Each individual has artistic talent and the ability to teach patrons how to complete each painting with easy-to-follow instructions.

We have no direct competition in the Cedar Valley and surrounding areas. We consider a fifty mile radius of the Cedar Valley area as our market size.
Cedar Valley Art and Wine is applying for this grant specifically to expand our painting/multi-media supplies into the third studio, replace broken and loose easels, and replace worn out paint brushes. We are also wanting to have professional brochures designed and printed for disbursement at the Cedar Falls Tourism Center, Business Expo's and at our business location.

Current Rank

12

Number of Votes

341
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Dreamy Feet or Foot Escape

Donna Tea
Cypress Massage
Sioux center , IA
Dreamy feet. A place where you can meet friends for an amazing foot soak, or enjoy one on your own. Reflexology will be the main therapy offered by several therapists. There will be a book and computer based reference library for natural remedies, old & new.
Currently I offer massage therapy at Cypress Massage. I love every part of my business but would like to expand services to reach more people. The foot soak service can be stand alone or included with a reflexology treatment. Massage therapy and reflexology are very popular and there are not enough therapists in our area. I am looking to train and employ reflexologists to meet the demand.
With Dream Big, I am looking to expand my business by employing more therapists and offering different services. With foot spas and more therapists, we would be able to help and educate more people in the benefits of reflexology and stress relief. The foot spas would also provide a more affordable stress relieving session.

Current Rank

13

Number of Votes

314
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Help Us Build Dreams Through Dance!

Sabrina Schmitt
Expressions Dance Studio
Hawkeye, IA
Expressions Dance Studio teaches kids from preschool to high school studio dance techniques. We specialize in Creative Movement, Ballet,Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Acro, Musical Theatre and Stretching/Flexibility. We have several locations in Iowa: Cresco, Decorah, West Union and Fredericksburg.
Expressions Dance Studio is in session with regular classes from August to May. In each class, dancers learn technique from August to December. From January until May dancers are practicing choreography that is solely written by Expressions Dance Studio teachers. Throughout the year, including the entire summer, students are given the opportunity to compete in and showcase their dance abilities in events both statewide and nationwide.
Expressions bills parents for students' dance lessons every nine weeks. Students do not pay during the summer months when they are competing. Currently all summer prepwork (choreography and time spent teaching) are free of charge. Each time payment is due during the regular studio year, parents are allowed into the studio to see their student's progress and what they have been learning. Discounts are offered to families with more than one student, and also for dancers taking multiple classes.
Expressions Dance Studio is unique to the area we live in because the Fine Arts are rare here. School arts programs are struggling with cutbacks, so we offer a creative outlet for many young people. Every class is taught original choreography, written by Expressions Dance Studio teachers, to be performed at a recital in May of each year. Our more advanced pointe dancers are also sometimes offered opportunities to perform excerpts from classical ballets, such as Swan Lake, during the recitals. Expressions is a full-fledged studio like no other in the area. In addition to the regular dance instructors students learn from on a weekly basis, we bring in other dance professionals throughout the year to teach the kids new skills. We have collaborated with Rivers Ballet in the Twin Cities, Desmond Walker, owner of DW Choreography, a dance studio and production company, Valery Lantrotov, a former principal dancer with the Moscow Stanislavsky and Kremlin Ballets, as well as a guest dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, and Candace Michelle Franklin of the Joffrey Ballet. Working with Ms. Franklin even led to one of our dancers auditioning for and being accepted into the Joffrey's Summer Intensive Program.
In the last few years, we have started taking dancers to the Jump! Dance Convention in the Twin Cities. This is a nationwide program offering classes, competition and scholarships to other dance events. Since we have started participating in Jump! we have had two students rewarded with scholarships to the Dancerpalooza dance convention in Long Beach, California.
In addition to being rewarded with scholarships, our students are rewarded with the experience of meeting dancers from all over the country--this includes dance professionals and other dance students.
As you can probably imagine, teachers, students and their families spend a lot of time and money to participate in these competitions. There are often registration fees for these events, followed by costume costs, buying dance shoes, and travelling to the events. For some dance families, these competitions are simply out of reach budget wise. This past December, Expressions Dance Studio teachers sponsored a student's participation in Jump! when she otherwise wouldn't have been able to go. Unfortunately, her father is suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer and the family has many medical expenses. The teachers all agreed that she deserved the opportunity to attend and for both of her parents to see her participate in the event.
From this experience, we have realized our next goal for the future: A not-for-profit extension of Expressions for competition opportunities. With the money from Dream Big Grow Here, we can start a fund for students to be able to compete and go to dance events that they otherwise might not be able to attend.
For many dancers, this will be a way to have them achieve their dreams and jump-start a career in dance. Not only are these competitions and events an amazing opportunity for them now, they can be a huge stepping stone for their future.

Current Rank

14

Number of Votes

275
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Keeping it green by going mobile!

Kyle & Sarah Scheel
Scheel's Professional Lawn Care, LLC
Fairbank, IA
Our name says it all: Scheel's " Professional" Lawn Care! We take property maintenance to the next level. Not only do we come dressed to impress, we provide service to impress! Anyone can run a mower or a snow plow. It's the finished product that lets us stand out above the rest!
We are a mid-sized, fast growing, lawn, landscape & snow removal business. We starting our business in a market that was lacking a property maintenance company that could provide high quality, professional services, in an efficient manor. We service about a 30 mile radius consisting of approximately 15k people. Our services are lawn care, lawn maintenance, landscaping & maintenance, pest control & snow removal. Our quality work helped us to quickly grow leaps and bounds by referrals. Over the past 4 years, our team has grown from 3 total employees, to 11 in the summer and 16 in the winter. We are unique in the area because we are professional - We are always in company uniform, utilizing company trucks and providing our employees with industry specific education & training. We provide professional service yet still go the extra mile for our clients, tailoring services to their needs. We strive to provide high quality service and jobs to the community. In our opinion, a well manicured and maintained space is an inviting, welcoming space. We like to provide that environment to both our residential & commercial clients. Proof of this theory is a small community park that we volunteered to renovate & maintain last year. It was originally an empty weed & gravel filled lot where a building burned down. Our team brought in topsoil, seeded, planted trees & landscaped the park. The city put up a wrought iron fence and another local contractor built a band shelter for it. It is now a local gathering once a month for the community to listen to live music, enjoy kids activities & come together as a community! The Dream Big, Grow Here program describes us perfectly - We had a Big Dream.. And we are Growing Here, in our home town, making a difference!
We are applying for Dream Big, Grow Here because as we grow, we need to continue to stay efficient. We would like to be able to stream line our production process by using mobile technology. We would like to purchase mobile software & tablets and/or phones for our trucks. This would allow our crews to pull up jobs & enter production real time. They would be able to access site maps & diagrams to verify each job is completed accurately. Mobile technology will save countless hours in the office manually entering times for the previous days work. It will also allow us to track routes & times to maximize the efficiency of our daily routines. The more efficient we can be as a company, the more money we will be able to put towards equipment or employee benefits! We would also like to update our website to streamline processes for our customers & applicants.

Current Rank

16

Number of Votes

260
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Pooch Purrfect Grooming & Boarding - Providing a safe home-like experience for your pet

Kathy Lynch
Pooch Purrfect
Sloan, IA
Pooch Purrfect Boarding and Grooming is a full-service pet care facility dedicated to providing high customer satisfaction by giving excellent service and quality pet care in a fun, clean and enjoyable atmosphere at a reasonable price.
Pets play an ever-increasing role in our lives and people are choosing to provide their pets with a good quality of life. Owners with active pets are seeking alternative outlets for their pets and peace of mind for themselves knowing their pet is getting the attention they need.

Pooch Purrfect provides daycare, overnight boarding, and grooming, as well as specialty pet products with convenient hours for clients to drop off and pick up pets. We are conveniently located on Hwy 75 with easy access to and from Interstate 29, Hwy 141 and Hwy 75.

As owner of Pooch Purrfect, I have lived and worked in the Sloan area for over 20 years, most of those years working with pets and owning several pets myself. I have been a volunteer and previous vice-president of Noah's Hope Animal Rescue and have fostered over 100 rescued pets, adopting 6 of them. I have worked and/or volunteered at Westwood Animal Hospital part-time for many of the past 20 years grooming dogs, cats, and even guinea pigs. I have built a clientele that numbers over 100 currently.

Last year, it became apparent that the space at the Westwood Animal Hospital was no longer adequate for the number of clients I had. I had no room for boarding large dogs, or more than a few small dogs. I built a new building last fall that provides the needed space for grooming and boarding - large or small animals.

I also realized that there was a need for a new, larger facility because the closest boarding to Sloan was Sioux City or Mapleton which makes it inconvenient for a large number of people in and around Sloan. I currently have clients from Sergeant Bluff to the north, Onawa to the south and Moville to the east. My clients come largely by word of mouth. Satisfied customers tell their friends, and first-time customers become repeat customers for both grooming and boarding. My market area serves well over 6,000 people.
I am applying for this grant because although the building is built and I am operational, I did not have enough money at the end of the project to put up adequate fencing to allow a large enough area to take dogs out to relieve themselves and to let them have supervised play on nice days, off leash. I currently have used fencing that is not secure enough to let dogs out in, off-leash. My first concern is pet safety and currently I need to take dogs out on a leash for their safety. So I would use the money to purchase new fencing that would be properly installed by professionals so pets can go out into the fenced yard to play and I won't worry about them getting through the fence and getting hurt. Being on Hwy 75, safety is a big concern.

Current Rank

17

Number of Votes

236
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A Movement - Battle of the Bands

Joshua Jacobsen
Forte Studios
Boone, IA
We are a professional audio production studio located in "small-town" Iowa dreaming of an annual concert downtown Boone! A concert that features talented bands of all musical genres battling to record for free! We are starting a movement to support midwest talent and our community of businesses.
Forte Studios has been open for almost two years. The development of the business, including construction of the facility and the business plan was done over three years (2011 - 2014). Our studio is unique because of our versatility. We are a full production audio services studio. This includes servicing music enthusiasts by recording albums and demos, secondly, servicing the public and judicial sector through the use of audio forensics and enhancements.

In a short time we have witnessed musicians and bands change their minds about recording in Nashville or the coast and instead... record in Boone, Iowa with us. As a result, we are working with artists from all of over Iowa and into the surrounding states. We are differentiated by the use of the newest audio technologies and acoustics that produce a superb sound. We want to share our expertise and facility by creating an opportunity for bands to compete for a free album recording!

Our challenge: Marketing the studio online is difficult, because we are not located in a major metropolis. For example, last year we marketed the studio using Facebook, google and bing ads, SEO marketing and printed advertisements. There was little response to those efforts, instead we witnessed great response by people touring the studio and referrals from the clients we worked with. This reinforced the idea that if we could get people to visit the facility, we know they will see and hear the difference we make.

The Solution: The battle of the bands concept is a marketing solution for both talented bands and the studio. By holding the event outdoors next to our studio with a full production stage we will be able to create a strong awareness of the talent in the midwest and our studio. What better way to market, than make it fun?

Like our business we didn't want to throw an idea out and see if it catches on. In fact, we conducted a 6 day survey on Facebook and a few of the local music communities to see what kind of interest there would be. The results SURPRISED us!

56 Bands said they would be interested in applying!
96% of the respondents indicated they would be interested in attending as a spectator!
10 Vendors indicated they would be interested in sponsoring the event!
This data was based on 394 visitors with 24% responding to the survey. A few of the graphs are included as pictures.

Our Conclusion: We believe that because the annual 103.1 Lazerfest festival has ended, this opens an opportunity to create a new event that isn't focused on spending money on national acts, rather focused on supporting unsigned artists and offering them the opportunity to succeed by recording their album for free at our studio. This not only helps our business by working with talented artists and creating additional awareness of our studio, but it also supports the restaurants, hotels, and local brewery in Boone, IA.

Our idea for the battle of the bands competition is a WIN - WIN for everyone! This competition offers an opportunity to start and grow the event and make it an annual staple in central Iowa.
Stop at a local venue, festival or fair and you will find talented bands and musicians. Many are dedicated to making this their career and sharing their story with us. The entertainment industry has changed. The entrepreneurial ability to self-market and promote is within reach for a dedicated artist without the need for a record contract. However, recording a professional sound costs money and some of the midwest's greatest talents struggle. We want to change that with a new movement... An annual Battle of the Bands held in a "small town" community that supports local businesses.

Forte Studios is applying to acquire additional funds. We are also working to identify sponsors to develop and start the first annual Battle of the Bands contest. The entire amount or 100% of the winnings we win will be used to rent the outdoor stage, sound, security and prize money for the winners.

Current Rank

18

Number of Votes

222
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Making A Difference With Animals Therapy

Toni Van Werden
Turning Point Evaluations, Inc.
Winterset, IA
Creating awareness with victims of abuse, domestic violence, and veteran programs associated with equine therapy and animal assisted therapy with canines. Assisting individuals in making positive lifestyle changes to meet their potential and live the fulfilling life they were meant to live.
• Model
o Model was community driven based by courts, schools, attorneys, community members, DHS and studies showing that Madison County is a county in need of assistance
o Based off of the needs of the community
o Pertaining to mental health, substance abuse treatment and community outreach
o Individually based
• Unique
o We don’t turn anyone away
o The substance abuse works with the needs of the individuals, while following the guidelines and requirements by the state.
o Turning Point has the oversite of Dr. Herbert Notch. License number 2 in Iowa as a neurologist/psychologist. He implemented programs, which are still thriving today.
o Mental health therapy has a variety of techniques and partners to ensure the quality of care for the individual is met
o Community Outreach allows for the use of equine and canine assisted techniques.
o We use the horses for therapy with a variety of options: Veterans comes to focus on PTSD and co-occurring disorders, children and their families, individual sessions
o Work with courts, schools, DHS, therapists, doctors, police department and so on
o Community partners work together to assist with the family needs
o Employees Live in community and respond when needed
o This agency is not afraid to reach out and offer support
• Money
o Grants
o Donations
o Tt19, when applicable
o Insurance, when applicable
o Fundraising
• Competition
o There are other providers in the area, yet we coordinate to meet the needs of the individuals
• Mental health industry is a challenging field to work in. With co-occurring disorders, medically driven disorders and the overall human aspect changes daily. To be allowed in the front lines with an individual can be draining. However; with the agency we created, it no longer feels like a job. Turning Point is allowed by the individuals we serve to walk along side of them. Providers do not see ourselves as ‘fixers’ or ‘helpers’ we are just simply a tool that can be used to guide the individual in taking their personal journey of HOPE to the next level.
We are applying for Dream Big, Iowa because we feel we could make an even bigger difference in our community with funds collected from this competition.

We would use the money to establish new tack (saddles, halters, leads, bridles), safety equipment (helmets for riding) and the necessary items (paints, balls, therapy equipment) needed to keep our equine and canine program up to standards. We could also use money for transporting kids to and from the program at the ranch.

Current Rank

19

Number of Votes

139
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Corporate Team Building Through African Rhythm and Drummg

Philip Seward
Hand and Heart Drumming, LLC
De Witt, IA
I have a consulting company that uses African drumming to illustrate the aspects and benefits of team building in the corporate environment.
We provide Interactive consulting seminars for businesses.
We bring enough full size drums and percussion for up to 50 people. We then illustrate how the properties of African drumming can be applied to team members in a company. Participants learn to drum in minutes. This allows facilitators to introduce the concepts of customer, service, sales, maintenance, management, and leadership all connecting to group drumming. My company is unique in this area. Unlike other Team building African Drumming seminars, we possess experience in, corporate atmosphere, Customer Service, IT, Indoor and Out Door sales, and management. For our income we book seminars in business, as well as, performances in schools-to offset our early growth. Our industry competition is sparse and does not possess the background skills we have to provide adequate service for our customers. We are active in our community as we donate seminars and programs for charitable .org entities. We currently are conducting a residency with the Gilda's club cancer support center. We have also performed seminars for no-profit schools. We are targeting At-Risk Teens, Prisoner support groups, and PTSD Veterans as recipients of free seminars and programs.
I am applying for this grant because I am new to the Quad City area and the surrounding cities in Iowa and Illinois. It is important to have a broad reach due to the niche market I have. I need exposure and plan to donate seminars to United Way throughout both states as a way to gain notoriety. I also need a direct mailer campaign to target businesses to gain a stronger presence in the consulting industry. I need funds for vehicle upkeep, as travel is a large part of what I do. I also cannot expand with out sufficient equipment to accommodate the larger companies I am encountering such as banks, and manufacturers. I have also have the ability to sell drums at my events to augment slow periods so I will need merchandise. I will need uniforms for employees. I need the funding to sponsor guest artists to perform.

Current Rank

20

Number of Votes

129
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Riding Light-growing (enriching) children and adults through equine experience.

Judy Wiedemeier
Riding Light Horsemanship, LLC
Buffalo Center, IA
Riding Light Horsemanship exists to enrich the lives of children and adults centered around equestrian activities. Character, confidence and skill are developed through interaction with the horse in a variety of settings.
Riding Light Horsemanship (RLH) was established in 2015. RLH separates itself from the rest of the local equine riding industry by focusing on student development as much as riding. Our focus is on beginner students who are allowed to progress at their own pace and are promoted to the next level of riding based on the basics of safety, equine knowledge, skill and confidence. Our competition is much more focused on riding and showing.

We offer one on one (private), or one on two (semi-private)training sessions. Four one-hour private sessions may be purchased for $100.00. Five one-hour semi-private sessions may be purchased for $100.00. After the indoor arena is established, we also plan to lease arena time. The details in regards to this are not finalized.


The nearest competition is 25 miles away. Based on the amount of interest and participants in 2015 combined with those we weren't able to offer lessons to due to lack of time and good weather we have found there is a demand for this business and facility in our area.
Our current facilities can not handle the number of individuals who would like to participate in our program. Our round pen is too small for the semi-private lessons. It needs to be doubled in size which would include the purchase of additional gates and dirt work to ensure safe footing.

We own a 40' x 80' pole barn which can be converted into an indoor riding arena for both lessons and rental. Establishment of this arena would allow for additional opportunities for lessons during adverse weather and seasons with fewer daylight hours. To convert this building to a safe riding area we would need to install sheets of 6 foot ply wood to the inside walls to give them a smooth surface so riders would not "catch" their feet when riding by the supporting beams. We need to bring in sand for the footing and additional gates for door ways to allow safe entrance and exit. We would also need to install electric and lighting.

Riding Light Horsemanship is truly my dream business. I have had a passion for horses since I was a child, and now I wish to pass on that passion to others and help them experience the joy of spending time with and riding horses. Unfortunately, it would take several years before we would have the funds to expand to the level described above. I hope you consider this worthy of your award.

Current Rank

21

Number of Votes

126
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Help Us Take Local Wellness to A New Level!

Tambrey & David Groves
Twin Flames Wellness Centre
Akron, IA
Our dream is to purchase necessary supplies to open a wellness center in Akron, focusing on massage & bodywork, yoga, Zumba, Pilates and other forms of fitness... a place to relax and rejuvinate.
No one else in the area offers anything like what we have to offer. While there are other massage therapists, there are not all of the other health services we will offer, such as yoga, Zumba and pilates...a retail area with herbs, teas, essential oils and health conscious products...a room to relax and focus/meditate.

We will offer monthly workshops such as herbal remedies, couples foot or facial spa night and soul painting to bring the clients from surrounding towns and counties with an estimated population of about 24,000 and give them activities they might not otherwise have access to. These activities will also bring them through our doors to then see all we can offer and help them with!
We would be able to purchase a couple of massage tables, chairs and coverings, massage and essential oils & other necessary items needed to start out with.

Also waiting room seating, carpeting or area rugs, retail products to start with, and office supplies such as computer, printer etc.

While we won't be able to get all we eventually dream of offering, this grant award can go a long way, with thrifty and creative shopping!

Current Rank

22

Number of Votes

114
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kor... design from the inside out

mary segriff
kor
cedar rapids, IA
kor is challenging conventional thinking of design and space planning. Through research-based, workplace analysis, design is about achieving desired business outcomes and establishing priorities for smart workplace investments. kor has saved their clients millions of dollars in their 12 year tenure.
At kor, we are reinventing who we are.

Though our mission of providing our clients great solutions for their facilities has never changed, the world has. There is so much information and our clients are confused. Do you call an architect, a contractor or a furniture dealer? Should you duplicate what Google or Facebook are doing or follow one of the trends that you have read about or let the squeaky wheel in your office dictate what you do? Will you know if their plan will actually support the work your employees are asked to do? How will you measure the success of your project? Facility changes are very expensive! Do you really want to experiment?

We provide upfront and predictive, not post-mortem analysis. kor has saved our clients millions of dollars in reduced square footage, furniture redundancy, and building costs. We have provided data to owners of companies that have influenced major building projects. We have provided solutions that have increased employee productivity and improved engagement. We have facilitated change strategy and ultimately have improved organizations bottom line.

Through our process and our partnership with environmental psychologist, Sue Weidemann PhD. (BOSTI) pioneer in workplace strategy, we have changed the game in this unmined science. We provide facilities triage to assist our clients in developing a master plan giving them the tools necessary to make decisions and who they need on their team.

Not typically what one thinks of from a furniture dealership and commercial interior design firm.

We are women owned, Iowa Targeted Small Business and member of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners). We are charter and board members of IFMA (International Facilities Management Association) and their alliant group WE (Workplace Evolutionaries) We are active volunteers presently serving on ECI (Early Childhood Iowa) board.
Because we no longer view ourselves as a furniture dealership, as furniture is only a piece of the design solution, we need to revamp our website and our marketing strategy to convey who we really are. We are taking our own advice and hiring an expert in this field.

We believe our process can work nationwide and we are exploring avenues and personel to do this.

Current Rank

23

Number of Votes

87
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Iowa's First Residential Airpark

James Zangger
Zangger Vintage Airpark
Larchwood, IA
Located on Iowa's oldest privately owned public use airport. We are offering residential lots, with runway access, to those with an active interest in aviation who would like to "Live With Their Plane".
Residential airparks were originated in the southern states. We are unique in the mid-west but believe there are folks that would like to "Live With Their Plane" here as well. The nearest competition is over 175 miles away near Minneapolis. Our market size is potentially the lower 48 states with the primary source of income from lot sales. We would like to re-establish a full service FBO (fixed base operator) that offers flight instruction and aircraft maintenance.
If we are granted funds from this sponsorship we would like to place advertising in a number of different aviation periodicals. We feel this would give us greater exposure. I will also plan to be a vendor at a number of different area fly in activities during the summer.

Current Rank

24

Number of Votes

63
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Dream to the White House

Barbara Reiter
The White House of Eldora
Eldora, IA
The White House of Eldora doubles as a Bed and Breakfast with a European touch and a cultural center to provide events and opportunities to locals to perform in an intimate and yet elegant atmosphere.
We are unique in bringing residents closer to their European culture through musical and culinary events typical of Spain/Mexico, Austria/Hungary/Germany, Italy and France to be offered in connection with a Bed and Breakfast Inn. Profit will be made from monthly events and room rentals for special occasions in a smaller scope and accommodations as the bed and breakfast establishment as well as proceeds from the sale of European pastries and German style breads. Presently there are 2 B and Bs in Eldora that provide 3 guest rooms. The White House will have four guest rooms of its own. Otherwise, there is a motel in town. Immediate market size would include the Hardin County population of roughly 17,500 in neighboring towns such as Grundy Center, Holland, Steamboat Rock, Wellsburg, Iowa Falls etc. Eldora is the home of Pine Lake State Park which draws a lot of sportsmen and nature lovers to the area.
Why The White House of Eldora Bed and Breakfast?
After having left Iowa in the seventies to go to California and receiving vocal training there, I ventured to Germany in the eighties to attempt a career as an opera singer. Being successful in that endeavor for fifteen years, I left the stage in 2000 and began a 15-year teaching career in Berlin. Long hours and little pay had left me with no time for friends I cherished and on the verge of burn-out. I felt I had no life at all and needed a more meaningful way to spend the rest of my life.
At about the same time, word reached me that my nephew had a brain tumor. When he passed away in 2014 leaving my dear niece alone with two teenage boys, we decided to join forces instead of each of us being alone and unhappy apart. In my many visits to Eldora I was fascinated by the peacefulness and openness of the people I had met there. I was also fascinated by a white house across from niece´s home that grandly stood on the corner but appeared to be empty.
Once having inquired about it and arranged to see the inside of the house, I was completely enamored with the character and potential of the “Grand Dame”. I could immediately envision it as the home I never had been able to have through my unstable life as an opera singer and the necessity of having to move ten times in thirty years. Built in 1915 and in need of reconstruction and renovating from the ground up (no running water, no heat, no functioning electricity), a dream had been born in my mind with a suggestion from my niece and we could imagine this house becoming a bed and breakfast establishment with a European touch. As many people in the area emmigrated from Germany and settled here this seemed a logical course to pursue.
Although not technically on the market, we were able to acquire the house and my dream of a B and B and cultural center took roots. Meetings with the mayor, city developer, and city manager were very positive and the need for such an establishment was voiced…I felt encouraged and indeed I have received astounding community support from neighbors, contractors, and friends. In the meantime, due to the stately grandeur of the house, we have come to lovingly call it the White House of Eldora.

How is my dream to be realized?
Using a modest inheritance and the proceeds from the sale of my apartment in Berlin, which had miraculously increased in value within a very short time, and having gotten preliminary bids from contractors as to the costs that would be incurred, I knew I could begin the work on the reconstruction but would have to look for further financing.
Now roughly nine months into the project ( returned to Eldora in May of 2015), three rooms have been completed and much of the groundwork has been done: heating on the first floor restored, plumbing completely redone, electricity rewired but not completed, first floor floors have just been refinished. Baths have been started but not finished as well as the kitchen. Most of the equipment and bathroom fixtures as well as flooring, I was able to aquire at the Restore or the Stuff and some were given to me including a claw foot bathtub. All are in storage in my garage waiting for the final installations.
As I was determined to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the building of the house in 2015. Neighbors, friends, and family pitched in and helped with cleaning, stripping, painting, wallpapering, and restoring of light fixtures. Many contributed needed items such as light fixtures, curtains and rods, rugs and furniture as well as garden work like cutting down overgrown shrubs, blowing away leaves and shoveling snow from my driveway and a mantel piece that looked like it was made for the fireplace it now graces although found in a relocation home. It was truly a community effort.
On the 5th of December 2015, we celebrated the our progress by my hosting an evening of European specialties from Spain, France, Austria, and Italy and a musical Program of Sigmund Romberg(due to his connection to the Viennese operetta and coming to the US in the early 20th century) and Christmas songs from those countries. Anyone and everyone who had contributed in some way had been invited and they all came dressed in Edwardian style or formal attire. My nieces, dressed in Downton Abbey style maid dresses helped with serving the food and drinks.

Why do I deserve the funding?
I have never been afraid of working hard to achieve my goals. Once deciding to start the bed and breakfast project I returned to Berlin and began planning my move back to the US, a huge endeavor in itself. Knowing I wanted to offer my guests and people of the community European pastry specialties and German (artisan) breads, I took countless classes at the Baking School in Charlottenburg and attended a barista course at the Berlin School of Coffee.
As a child I grew up under the influence of my very creative mother and learned how to sew, do flower arranging, make candles from scratch and much more. I discovered my voice early on in Kindergarten. While in California, I prepared my singing career by taking private voice lessons and simultaneously working full time in the semiconductor industry. My career as an opera singer gave me invaluable experience on stage and I realized I had also discovered a talent as stage director.
Now looking at the tasks that remain, I feel the need of pursuing further funding is inevitable. I have used my own capital (roughly 60 K) prudently and have searched for and found many bargains but expenses threaten to overcome the project. The Dream Big Grow Here grant money would help me - us, the people of Eldora and surrounding communities, complete our White House in time for the proposed opening this year in June. Estimated expenses still to be incurred approximately 70K.
Funds would be used to complete the heating system in the second floor guest rooms, install an air-conditioning system throughout the house, reconstruct the deck area so it is accessible to and safe for guests to breakfast and or enjoy the beautiful Iowa evenings (at least before the heat and humidity kick in), or to complete landscaping.
Recently, I heard a message on how Jesus transformed the water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana, and how he transformed so many lives during his ministry and still is. It reminded me of the transformation that has been going on in the White House and also in my own life…finding meaning and opportunity to give back some of what I have been given throughout my life and to serve.
The mission of The White House of Eldora is to enlighten and enliven the community and its guests to cultural and spiritual growth. I feel I am well qualified to accomplish the mission and would welcome the financial support of the DBGH grant.

Current Rank

25

Number of Votes

50
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Helping special needs children through tele practice

Keith Reuter
Therapy Station, PC
Sioux City, IA
Therapy Station, PC. is a new pediatric therapy clinic in Sioux City, IA. We offer Speech, Occupational, Physical and Feeding clinics to children with special needs.
Most therapy for pediatrics is done in hospitals and at schools, but for most children this is simply not enough. Our therapist at Therapy Station fill this gab to provide more of a one on one approach. Our clinic is funded today by private and state run insurance companies. One of the problems is that over 90% of our clients are Medicaid which is a problem due to the low reimbursement rates, only reimbursing 25% of what is billed. Our clients families are in need of our services, but many are low income and can not always come for therapy. We provide services to children on the autism spectrum. Those that can not eat, walk, communicate even for the simplest things. Children with special needs continues to grow and with therapist and clinics growing more sparse due to competition for higher paid sectors within the industry our clinic is that much more relevant.
Therapy Station needs to exist, we have a need to help those children that can not help themselves. Therapy Station wants to start a tele-practice in the community. There are now options that will allow our clinicians to remote in directly to small towns or even client's homes to provide therapy. Even if someone can not get to our clinic because it might be too far to drive, bad weather or other conflicts we can still provide therapy. The money would be used to purchase the equipment needed for this therapy.

Current Rank

26

Number of Votes

30
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Ask My Car Guys .com - Have car questions? We have answers.

Beth Howd
Kar Kraft Engineering, Inc
Forest City, IA
An automotive parts and services website to help people who don't know anything about cars find the answers that they need to keep their life (and car) running smoothly.
Our story:
AskMyCarGuys.com originated from the many requests by friends, family, and 2nd to 6th degree relations for my husband, Chris, and his best friend, Brian, to diagnose and/or fix a car problem, check a repair shop’s opinion, figure out what car (new or used) to buy, price and order parts, etc. We were sitting around at church one day laughing as Chris and Brian worked to diagnose a friend’s car problem and realized that their automotive banter and collaboration would make a great website that could offer real help to regular people who have to make regular decisions about their cars and don’t know where to start.

Ask My Car Guys is a unique automotive platform:
• Instead of targeting the Do-it-Yourselfers (DIYs), which the rest of the aftermarket industry targets, we are targeting Do-it-For Me’s (DIFs), which make up 80% of the people who drive cars. According to AutoMD, 91% of DIFs would be willing to try doing their own automotive work if someone would bridge the knowledge gap for them and help them build confidence in their ability to modify/repair their cars.
• We will offer live chat sessions for answering automotive questions which none of the competition is currently doing.
• We will appeal to the whole person, not just car parts. The car you drive becomes part of who you are, and so we will offer advice on everything from choosing the right car for you or your child to how-to information for personalizing your car and for basic everyday repair along with the fun accessories that can be hard to find at a regular store.
• We will cultivate an Endorsed Local Provider list to help people who need to have their car worked on by professionals have confidence about who is servicing their car and what they are being told about their car. Over 80% of women would prefer to go to the dentist than to take their car to the shop (AutoMD). Our recommendations will take the pain out of car maintenance and repair for the everyday person.
• Our experts: The two main content contributors to the site are already recognized within the aftermarket industry and the automotive blogging community. Chris has won 14 industry awards for automotive part design and innovation and still maintains his blog – motorcitymusclecars.com – that is recognized through the industry as an automotive news. Brian was the editor for AutoTrader Classics and is the content management consultant for the NAPA Know-How Blog, which provides information and education about parts NAPA is featuring. Both Chris and Brian love cars and love sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with others.
• Instead of offering everything in an unorganized, unfriendly manner, and overwhelming manner, our web-store will offer specific products that we believe are easy to use and that we can provide reviews of and educational information for. If we don’t actually offer the product, we will participate in affiliates programs to make money from our referrals. We also plan to engage third party sources, like lenders, to do all-in-one hassle free shopping for cars.

We will make money by:
• Selling parts through an online ecommerce platform.
• Using affiliate programs for parts and services that we don’t offer directly.
• Collecting commissions on premium and outsourced services like buying cars
• On site advertising.

Our Industry:
The automotive market is expected to see 238.4 billion dollars in sales in 2016 with a compound annual growth rate of 4%. The average age of vehicles in the US is 11.5 years, which is the oldest the vehicle fleet has ever been.

Our Competition:
We are working to capture the untapped market that currently sees their cars as black boxes that they are not in control of, but who could easily turn their car into a craft. Since we are targeting DIFs, we don’t have direct competition because DIFs tend to use dealerships to service their cars, and dealerships specialize in serving newer cars, not the rapidly aging car fleet in the US, because dealerships only carry parts for 6-10 years after production ends. Of the 260 million vehicles on the road, 120 million of them are 6-14 years old, according to IHS, and therefore more difficult to service at a dealership.

Our indirect competition would be the stores like NAPA, AutoZone, Advance, CarQuest, and O’Reily’s, which target DIYs. These stores, however, do little to nothing to reach customers who are not already in the automotive aftermarket.

Our Market Size:
The market can be divided into two major areas – replacement parts and aftermarket accessories. Both arenas traditionally focus on DIY men and enthusiasts as customers, but women are just as likely to be involved in car buying decisions as men. There are over 10 million college educated women between 23 and 40 in the United States who have the ability to accessorize their cars but generally do not have the confidence or know-how to start. As the average vehicle age in the US increases (currently 11.5 years) more cars will need parts and more owners will be looking for economic ways to update their cars without buying a new car. Over 80% of people research automotive purchases (cars, parts, accessories) online, but only 6.7% actually purchase online. This is the exact opposite trend that big box stores see and suggests an opening for an effective automotive ecommerce tool.
The Dream Big Grow Here contest will allow us to launch AskMyCarGuys.com and market it to both friends and strangers. If we win, the majority of the money will be used to purchase a subscription to All Data, the subscription service repair shops use to determine labor estimates and how to do installations, and to pay someone to answer questions live on our site. No other website is currently offering consumers real time answers to automotive questions, so this option will differentiate our site even more.

A smaller portion of the money will be used to supplement the website we designed through things like graphic design, targeted market research, social media, trade show and festival marketing, and other management fees like web hosting and domain fees while the site is starting to generate its own revenue.

Simply participating in the contest will give the site exposure to new groups of people and provide useful feedback for optimizing our company and vetting our idea.

Current Rank

27

Number of Votes

29
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Scotty's Auto Service - Revitalize, Repair & Reach!

Scott Anderson
S.J. Enterprises, Inc DBA Scotty's Auto Service LLC
Mason City, IA
Located in Mason City, Scotty's Auto Service is a gem known to the locals offering auto repair and car sales. Starting off as a one man team, offering affordable service and honest work has been the key to our success. With your help, we are seeking an opportunity to expand our building.
Our mission is simple. Provide quality service to our loyal customers.

As a young boy watching my Dad and Grandpa fix cars for their neighbors, I knew from an early age where my career was headed. After graduating in 2000 with an Associates of Applied Science - Automotive Technology Degree from North Iowa Area Community College, I began my career in the automotive industry. Within a short few years, I started Scotty's Auto Service and have been on the move ever since! We pride ourselves on a business model centered around our loyal customers. When customers walk through our door, they rest easy knowing they are getting a personalized service that many people aren't provided in this type of industry. They have come to love the fact that they can talk directly to the mechanic who worked on their car. They love that one on one interaction! We steer away from the corporate feel where you don't know who is working on your car and you can never seem to get any questions answered when you need them!

Our focus is on meeting the demands of our growing customer base. We primarily service a local customer base but also welcome drop-ins and referrals from tow truck companies as well. Within our city, we compete with approximately thirty auto repair businesses and twenty five used car businesses in our town, not including the various businesses in the surrounding areas. We differentiate ourselves by offering a warranty on all vehicles that we sell. Additionally, we fully inspect and repair any vehicles prior to selling them to ensure they are safe and ready to go. Unfortunately, that is not a common practice in our industry with used car sales. Unlike other competitors, we have the ability to focus on the safety and inspection of the cars in-house which provides us with an in-depth knowledge and history of the car, enhancing the customer satisfaction. In that sense, our business model mirrors the likes of new car dealerships in our area. Further, we have paired up with a national auto parts store in our area to provide our customers with a worry free protection program. With this program, any repairs that they have completed at our business are covered through the plan should the part ever be deemed as faulty. The plan also includes roadside assistance service reimbursement, in case our customer should ever find themselves stranded! This is premiere customer service provided through us at no cost to our customers.
With the help of Dream Big, Grow Here, these funds will be used to expand our building through adding on square footage to our repair garage. Currently, we have a two bay garage with only one hoist for repairing vehicles. By adding an additional bay to our repair shop, it increases profitability by allowing us to take on more customers each and every day. We would also like to add more lighting to our busy road front to maximize safety. Our desire is to participate in the Mason City Corridor Revitalization Loan Program, which allows select business property owners in select parts of our town to participate in a program which matches our dollar for dollar investment, to rehabilitate and update building structures. This program was recently developed to bring vitality to these specific corridors of town. By pairing these funds together, we would be able to make this goal happen for us! We feel strongly in our business and in our community and would love to embark on this new adventure in 2016!

Current Rank

28

Number of Votes

5
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