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.


While not an 'Industry' in the classic sense, this contest is for anyone who is just starting out.


Blaine's on Main Conrad, IA

Blaine Fisher
Blaine's on Main
Conrad, IA
A restaurant with a simple menu owned by an adult with intellectual disabilities
Blaine's on Main will be a restaurant that will feature daily specials. Those daily specials will be named after people that have been "influential" in Blaine's life, such as coaches and staff from his alma mater football team, hence the "Locker Room Slider" sandwich and so forth. We will display a picture and their story and how it connects them to Blaine. He will also have a gift shop inside the restaurant which will offer gifts made by those with intellectual disabilities from the state of Iowa, along side their work will tell their story as well. He hopes to eventually hire others with disabilities and give them a place to learn job and social skills. He will also sell home made soaps and fresh honey products. He will sell baked goods and hard ice cream as well. Conrad has a Casey's and a bar that serves lunch but there are no restaurants in Conrad operating during the daytime hours.
Blaine would use the money to help with construction expenses, purchasing equipment and purchasing t-shirts as uniform tops.

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Red Acre Barn and vineyard will be a 5,632 square ft venue space for wedding receptions and events.

Sherry Peterson
Red Acre Barn
Prole, IA
We are using reclaimed wood on the inside from old barns in Iowa to transform Red Acre Barn from ordinary into the extraordinary! It will be a flawless blend of rustic, elegance, and beauty that provides the picture perfect backdrop set on 24 acres of land.
Red Acre Barn will combine the authentic feel of a true Iowa barn with the highest levels of service. When renting our venue, we will offer the following:

• Capacity of up to 300 people
• Use of the barn and surrounding area
• Multiple ceremony sites inside and outside
• Use of tables and chairs
• Table linens, chair covers, photo “booth” area, ceremony arch, tree stump centerpieces, and whiskey barrels rental options
• Separate preparation rooms
• Plentiful parking area for up to 150 cars
• Full service bar
• Trained bartenders for alcohol
• Kitchen facilities available, including a stove, fridge, and microwave (outside licensed caterers must be brought in)
• Accommodations/outlets for a DJ or live band
• Modern restrooms

Today’s smart contractors know that whenever possible buildings should be designed and built green. Sustainability is about end-use, how a building functions for occupants within the community. While in the planning stages of Red Acre Barn, we are focusing on three major components for our building project:

1. Sustainable building/energy efficiency
2. Design (including location/zoning)
3. Material/Beauty

We are installing GSHP (geothermal source heat pumps) which is one of the most efficient heating and cooling systems available today. GSHPs save money, both in operating costs and maintenance costs. Investments can be recouped in as little as three years. There is a positive cash flow, since the energy savings usually exceeds payment on the system. Currently installed systems are making a huge difference in our environment! The systems are eliminating more than three million tons of carbon dioxide and is equivalent of taking 650,000 automobiles off the road. GSHP systems conserve energy and, because they move heat that already exists rather than burning something to create heat, they reduce the amount of toxic emissions in the atmosphere. They use renewable energy from the sun, and because the system doesn't rely on outside air, it keeps the air inside of buildings cleaner and free from pollens, outdoor pollutants, mold spores, and other allergens.

This spring we will be planting a small scale vineyard, approximately 2-4 acres. Grapevines not only produce sweet and versatile fruits, they add an element of drama to a landscape. Once we turn a crop, our plan is to sell our grapes to a local winery, allowing them utilization for their estate wines. We would like to, as part of our partnership agreement, sell the winery’s wines at our full service bar. As part of zoning, our intent and design is to preserve the agricultural resources of Warren County and protect agricultural land from encroachment of non-agricultural uses and activities.

Today, reclaimed wood is considered to be a green building material because of its arguably better ecological properties. We believe that it is our ecological responsibility to build green. Reclaimed wood is 100% original and not mass produced like other wood products. It is real. Reclaimed wood is often referred to as "historical wood" or "story wood" because every board tells a story about where it came from and how it arrived. We are excited to share our story with our clients! The seemingly endless variations in color, grain and texture transform the ordinary into the extraordinary!

Depending on where you get married, the cost of your wedding can vary significantly from the national average of $29,858. Currently in Iowa, the average cost for the following are:
Event location: $2,747 - $4,579
Event bar service: $1,823 - $3,039
Event rentals: $1,316 - $2,194

Currently in Iowa, the following are 3 comparable wedding barn venues:

1. Barnes' Place, Adel, Iowa
Open year round
Rental fee is $4,500
Seating for 300

2. Stonehaven Barn, Desoto, Iowa
Open May 1-Nov 1
Rental fee is $3,000
Seating for 110

3. De Novo Barn, Decorah, Iowa
Open year round
Rental fee is $5,400
Seating for 200

Red Acre Barn, Prole, Iowa
Open year round
Rental fee is $4000
Seating for 300

Sherry Peterson, graduated from Simpson College with a Bachelors degree in Art, concentration in graphic design and photography. She has 10 years of experience in the field of web and graphic design for EDJE Technologies and 9 years of experience in photography. Sherry is trained in computer graphics packages such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, and InDesign, as well as knowledge of Flash. She also keeps up-to-date with constantly evolving technologies in online social networking and work closely with clients to create innovative, effective campaigns. Sherry has successfully built a photography business, http://spphotographydesign.com/, and branded herself. She has expanded her clients much through the use of Facebook, her website, and word of mouth.

Sherry's family is her driving force behind Red Acre Barn. She is the owner, along with her husband and partner, Kyle Peterson, sister and partner, Holly Burgin, and brother in law and partner, Jason Burgin. She is a mom of two gorgeous children, Jaxon and Knox. Sherry grew up in Indianola, loved being creative her whole life, and have always had an infinite love for art, sports, and design. Like all things we love, Red Acre Barn was born from a whim, nurtured by passion, and grew from the unexpected, unpredictable twists that life has gifted us along the way. In February 2013, we discovered a love for old barns. At the time, Sherry was running her own photography business, and because of her success, our vision developed into the pursuit of growth and expansion to include a venue.

Giving is fundamental to our business; we want to help change lives. Together with our customers, we’re hoping to transform wedding bookings into a force for good around the world. The premise is simple, but the potential to help others is huge. When a client books a wedding at Red Acre Barn, we’ll donate money to fill 5 “Backpacks 4 Hunger” for children in our community in their name. By donating 5 backpacks, we’re helping improve the health, education, and well-being of a child. We're excited to make giving a powerful reality every day, to spreading love, and change the life of children in need!
We would love to use the money we win to upgrade our outdoor space so that its a little safer and more user friendly for our guest. We would add two light poles to our parking lot and where our outdoor ceremony location is already shaped, we would upgrade the path down to it with cement.

Thanks for considering us, we are excited to be pursuing our dreams and to help grow Warren County!

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Iowa Climbing Company Supporting Life at Elevation! Inspired by Rock ~ Driven by Passion

Alberto Lacayo III
Climb Lab
Cedar Rapids, IA
We are committed to supporting life at elevation by creating products designed for the challenges of climbing. Naturally disruptive our approach to verticality will definitely rock the community. Founded in Iowa we embrace the responsibility of putting the state on the map for climbing.
Climb Lab has established itself as one of the only climbing companies in the state. Driven by a passion for reaching new heights, our products invoke a desire to explore. We aim to attract customers who respect socially aware businesses in order to meet the expectations of our target market. One of Climb Lab’s strongest features is the evident growth potential due to the uniqueness of what we have to offer. Niche products allow the company to be dynamic in the industry and unreliant on singular trends or markets. With goals of launching four products in the next three years, ambition is our only remedy. The impact can be felt across the corridor starting with local manufacturers such as Beratek Industries and Midwest Metal Products, two companies already showing commitment in supporting initiatives with the development of the following projects. Our most viable products include:

Climb Salve, an organic hand salve created to help rock climbers farm back their skin and get back to what matters. This product is universally marketed to anyone with irritated or dry skin seeking relief.

CNKTR, a true hack and travel-friendly product enabling rock climbers to use stick clipping devices or carabiner extensions while preserving storage capacity, saving weight, avoiding stringent airline fees, and most importantly – climbing safely no matter where the adventure takes them. Also *3D-printable (ready for build-out with BeraTek Industries).

AngleLock, a technical anchoring device engineered to allow rope access specialists and tower technicians the freedom of easily anchoring where there are angle supports or I-beams
(prototype testing underway).

Climb Space, climbing journal app (Android/iOS) with wearable device capabilities allowing altimeter readouts, elevation tracking, GPS integration, and an all-in-one intuitive interface enabling easy management of logs or entries.

Market: Rock climbers, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone working at height make up our target market and primary demographic. We have established a strong relationship with the local climbing community and our mission, products, and vision have been well received. We are actively engaged as a partner of the Iowa Climbers Coalition and support their efforts providing influence on our greater region.The most important revenue stream will be generated online through a web store featuring: climb salve, CNKTR, branded apparel, climbing products, and 3D printables for on-demand purchases. *Nearly half of all Americans (48.4%) participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2014. This equates to 141.4 million participants who went on a collective 11.8 billion outdoor outings. (Outdoor recreation topline report 2015) We hope to support these outings by getting our products to market as soon as possible.
Big Dreams: As a teacher, rope access technician, and passionate rock climber I, Alberto Lacayo, love climbing and I hope to spread that joy with others. It’s been my dream for the last four years to start a climbing company in Iowa. Employed at both Coe College & Kirkwood Community, my roots in Cedar Rapids run deep, and my love for Iowa flows through each vein. From my experience as a wind turbine and cell tower technician in Iowa to rock climbing on Kentucky sandstone, my climbing background is very diverse and I hope to convey that through the development of the products I help design. Climbing is not all about heights and pushing the limits. Climbing builds strength both mentally and physically, helping to develop character traits that support a vibrant community. Since inception in 2013, the mission has always been to build a stronger community through health & recreation. By winning Dream Big Grow Here, Climb Lab would secure the launch of both the Climb Salve & CNKTR. With regard to bringing both products to market, the first priority is to scale up production and begin hiring a team necessary for the maturity of sales and operations. Hiring would include: computer aided drafter, graphic designer, sales engineer, and a fulfillment team. This influx of resources allows for the free flow of design and intrigue, creating a cyclical process for continued development of new products. This benefits the community by hiring graduates and corridor talent to make these levels of maturity possible.

We plan to appropriate all resources obtained through DBGH accordingly:

1. Equity to fund Climb Salve & CNKTR build-out with local manufacturers.
2. Development of webstore capable of selling products online + 3D streaming capabilities.
3. Legal guidance & protection of intellectual properties.

Local climbing impact: As a benefit to our community, we strive to bring awareness to Iowa's inherent potential to be become a more visited climbing destination. With maturity of Climb Lab we hope to be the leading advocates for climbing in the state while using our influence and resources to support a network of rock climbers committed to crag-stewardship. We hope to boost opportunities for outdoor recreation in our region and help Iowa elevate the standard of climbing.

Please contact with questions & Thank you for helping us reach our peak!

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Improving the Environment and Lives: Building Innovative, Clean Tech Products

Maxwell Chinnah
Terraoak, Inc.
Waverly, IA
We build efficient clean cookstoves that reduce wood/charcoal usage by 50%, and reduce smoke-pollution by 90%. It involves no consumer change-behavior, as individuals can still use firewood/charcoal but without the harmful smoke-emissions; and they will also be able to charge their cell phones.
The founding team is comprised of Maxwell Chinnah (https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxchinnah) and Godwin Attigah (https://www.linkedin.com/pub/godwin-attigah/97/979/320). Maxwell is a graduate of Wartburg College with a degree in Computer Science and minor in Graphic Design. He intends to further his studies in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Godwin is a Junior and is studying Computer Science and Business Administration. Maxwell and Godwin both have engineering backgrounds and experience with hardware, electrical products. Maxwell serves as the CEO, and Godwin is the CTO.
The inspiration for Terraoak came from Maxwell's childhood experience of losing his Grandma. Maxwell's Grandma relied on firewood to prepare meals owing to lack of access to stable electricity. She later suffered from respiratory issues and vision problems that, unfortunately, led to her death.
Drawing from Maxwell's experience with his Grandma, the team noted the serious risks posed by current cooking systems in rural and urban Africa (and other developing societies) that rely on charcoal, wood, diesel, and other fuels that are expensive (either in time or money) and detrimental to the environment and public health. Even though there are other cooking devices currently on
the market including the Electrical Cooker, LPG Stoves, Charcoal Stove amidst others, the team evaluated existing options and understood that these are limited in certain important ways:
1) Over 75% of Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to stable electricity; this limits the usage of electric stoves.
2) Prices of LPG are climbing through the roof and becoming exceedingly expensive for the average user, even though it is the most used alternative to the electric stove.
3) Other stoves including Charcoal and Firewood stoves consume high amounts of fuel and cause directly about 4 million deaths per annum (owing to smoke-pollution, which causes respiratory issues and vision problems).
The team realized that any cooker of the next generation should leverage lower operational cost, reduce the overall emission of harmful gases, and improve accessibility to electricity. The team has gone through several, often-challenging iterative processes of design and prototyping; thereby culminating in the Genesys Cooker.
Even though this product is meant to be deployed internationally, the team has identified a niche market in the US comprised of campers. The Global Market for cooking stoves in the developing world as of the end of 2014 was $300 Billion and the market is expected to grow at 15% over the course of the next three years. Overall 500 Million households globally need to be provided with cleaner cooking methods as per the UN’s Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
The team has received funding from Duke Energy, The Resolution Project and the Iowa Renewable Energy Association. The team is currently consulting with Patent Attorneys from the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe Law firm for purposes of filing patents for the proprietary technologies in the Genesys Cooker.
Money will be made from revenue of the sales of the stove to campers in the United States, and internationally to developing societies. The team will also be building other lines of products, such as a bulb that will be charged with the heat energy from the stove and can be screwed back into a lamp holder to produce electricity for folks that live off-grid or have limited power supply.

After the beta-testing with campers in Iowa, we will also launch internationally--starting with Ghana. For this, we have solidified key alliance partnership with the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana). The YES is a governmental organization that is dedicated to providing employment opportunities to unemployed youths in the region. As part of this collaboration, we will receive a center for training and exhibition, and 50 unemployed youths to help with assembly and distribution of the stoves in the region. Through this, we intend to create employment in the region while promulgating the practice of cooking with clean energy.
Even though we will be launching our product internationally in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, we will expand to other countries in the Sub-Saharan African region after we have gained some market credibility in Ghana. We will also be expanding to other developing societies that are affected by smoke-pollution from inefficient cooking systems such as India, Guatemala, etc.
One of the top reasons for applying is to be better positioned as an individual and a startup to save the lives of the 4 million people that die yearly from smoke-pollution, just like my Grandma. Also, one of my life's mission is to inspire other young, budding entrepreneurs through my efforts with Terraoak.
Since the team has built a functional prototype, funding is needed for beta-testing. The funding will be used to test the Genesys Cooker with campers here in Iowa. The beta-testing will revolve around Human Centered Design; and based on feedback collected from campers, the team will make necessary modifications in preparation for commercialization this year.
This beta-testing will generate more jobs in Iowa, as we intend to set up an office space, employ people and solidify manufacturing connections for commercialization. To facilitate this, we already have secured a license, from the state, to do business in Iowa.
Implementing our beta-testing in Iowa will allow us to get the feedback we need to make modifications for commercialization. This will, in turn, allow us to generate revenue for research and development to innovate and launch other Clean Tech Products. It will also enable us to generate enough funds to launch internationally as well.

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Build a food co-op in Cedar Falls!

Steve Hoodjer
Cedar Falls Food Co-op
Cedar Falls, IA
The Cedar Falls Food Co-op is a community of health-conscious local food lovers in Cedar Falls and surrounding areas who aim to open a 10-14,000 square foot market providing fresh, local, and organic food. We began gathering memberships in 2014 and are ready to take the next step towards opening.
What makes us unique is that a food co-op is a business owned and operated by our members. We sell memberships to people in our community who will benefit from specials and discounts at our future store, have a vote in how the business is operated, and share in the profits of our success. Rather than one entrepreneur or a few partners going it alone, we are building a community of people invested – literally – in our success. We currently have nearly 300 “member-owners” – the early adopters who have bought into the vision – and need to recruit an additional 500-700 to raise the capital and demonstrate the base of support needed to flourish. Interest in local and organic food is booming across the grocery industry and in our city, the Cedar Falls Food Co-op is in the right place at the right time. Anchored by the University of Northern Iowa,
a thriving industrial park, and a growing medical sector, Cedar Falls has the income and demographics to support this venture. It is our goal to locate in or near the downtown area, close to trendy shops and restaurants but away from other grocers to maximize our market share.
The largest competition comes from traditional grocers who are rushing to get into the local and organic market space. Hy-Vee recently expanded its “Health Market” concept in our local store,
making it one of the largest of its kind in the chain. Retailers Target and Wal-Mart have recently expanded their healthful owned brand selection to reach increasingly discerning consumers.
The next step in our development is to hire a consultant from the food co-op industry to do a professional market analysis. We believe this will guide our Board of Directors in their plans for when and where to open our future store. We believe this will also demonstrate our viability to those who might be interested in the venture but have not yet joined us.

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Qneo - The most community-focused coupon app on the planet!

Lloyd Lee
Sioux City, IA
Sure, there are loads of coupon apps out there - but none like Qneo! With 3 daily notifications - morning, noon, and night - we will offer up to 90 deals total per day! And the best part...it's all small and locally owned businesses!
So the way it works is two-fold:

1. We provide users with a FREE mobile and desktop app. Through the app we notify them 3 different times (6 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m. – what we call Slots). In each Slot there can be up to 30 coupons and deals (what we call Q’s), all to small and locally owned businesses in your area. If you like a deal, you bank it. If not, pass. But if you don't bank a deal before the next Slot arrives, you'll lose the deal for good!

Once a deal has been banked, the user has 7 days to use it (and can only be used once). If the deal hasn't been used by that time, it's gone for good! Don't worry, we have in-app notifications to remind you :-)

2. The other side of Qneo is helping these small and locally owned businesses by offering the Qneo service at a fraction of the cost as other marketing avenues. Businesses purchase 1 (or up to 3) of the 30 available Q’s in each Slot. Each Q is purchased individually - there are no subscriptions, no hidden fees, and no trickery! With any purchase(s) in a month, the business is sent an analytics on how their Q(s) performed.

Once a business has registered, it is put on a short waiting list. We then set up a registration time to meet and get it going by showing how to use Qneo. We will also provide them with marketing materials (table tents, window stickers, flyers, etc.) based on the business. We provide businesses with free templates to style their Q’s. They can also design their own image or hire use to design and place their images strategically throughout the month. These different levels of service gives businesses options based on their time and marketing budget

Once they've decided on a Q and a time, credits are used to reserve the selection. Credits are purchased as they go so there aren’t any subscriptions.

We also plan to donate a portion of each Q sold towards improving youth education within the specific community where the Q's were sold. We believe in giving back to each community which is why we're offering a FREE app, the most cost-effective marketing platform, and community donations - it's a WIN WIN WIN!

We can do all of this because we've built Qneo to run on its own. Once a business has been trained on how to use it, we are able to keep our costs low with no overhead. We've been able to team up with local businesses and offer giveaways; we've hit the streets, promoting Qneo on the ground; we've utilized our connections on Facebook; we're creating connections at local small business events. All of this guerilla marketing is another way we're able to keep our costs low which is why we can offer our services below competition pricing.
We are applying because right now we only have an Android app, causing us to lose about half of the market. By using a third party program called Xamarin, we will be able to host all of our source code in one spot, allowing us to be more streamlined.

Xamarin uses the C# programming language (which is the primary language of our developer!) and converts that code to native Android and iOS languages.

We would also like to put more capital towards our marketing budget. This includes Facebook advertising, marketing materials for businesses (table tents, table tents, window stickers, flyers, etc.), and using local companies to advertise through (such as Canned Ads here in Sioux City) to promote Qneo.

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John Gray
Cedar Falls, IA
- Hey my name is John Gray and I am a senior movement exercise science major at Northern Iowa! I want to create a motivational alarm clock to bridge the gap for, high school and college aged, athletes looking for extrinsic motivation and their professional idols. Join the #Rise&GrindMovement; today!
- What makes Rise&Grind; so unique?
- - This will be the first alarm clock based app that will bring audio recordings (and instant video blogs in the future) from professional athletes, motivational speakers, and spiritual leaders straight to your cell phone to wake you up in the morning or throughout the day!
- -Also, this alarm clock will have built in features to hold the user accountable by:
- - Not allowing the user to hit snooze before audio recording is finished
- - User is allowed to set alarm clock as their own voice or a mutual friends voice sharing a motivational audio recording
- - To shut down the alarm completely you must enter a keyword of the day or personal motivational phrase

- Rise&Grind; is currently seeking guidance out for the most beneficial way of creating the most revenue stream. Some potential ways we can create a revenue is a monthly subscription of x amount of dollars, a one time fee of x amount of dollars, or a yearly subscription. Another potential idea is buy and sell each individual audio and create a music sharing application for alarm clock ringtones. Along with creating the potential for speakers to have monthly subscribers paying x amount of dollars per month. I say x amount of dollars because I am still doing more market research for the most efficient way the user is currently paying for applications on their phones already.

- Rise&Grind;'s mission is to define the grind by some of the best athletes in this world, motivational speakers, and spiritual leaders from all backgrounds in this world. This mobile application will not only help motivate you through audio recordings from famous people but also focusing on personal long,short, and daily goals. The market for this product is already gaining a lot of traction of people of influence like: UNI Alumni and starting running back for the Arizona Cardinals- David Johnson, Hope City Church Pastor Q, local entrepreneur Tim Bohr who has business team of XXX and high rank leaders within their business who have teams of XXXX as well who are willing to test this product. I will be sitting down to meet with David Johnson is hopes of making him the face of the company and use his connections along with LJ Fort's connections who plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers also a UNI Alumni. Also the number of people who are athletes from middle school aged through college in America alone is an astonishing number. This app has the potential to bridge the gap between professional athletes and motivational speakers with kids in foreign markets as well.
I am applying for the Dream Big, Grow Here competition because in order to take the next step once I wrap up prototype audios from professional athletes and Pastor Q as well as prototype user feedback. I need money to get a developed version of the ios (and Samsung in the future) version to continue user testing.

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Be Well God Bless – A Place to Learn, to Share & to Grow

Angie Huffman
Be Well God Bless
Osage, IA
Connecting entrepreneurs, small business owners and not-for profit organizations who are searching for a way to share their passion and information to a community of like-minded people so they can gain exposure to their ideal clients and create a ripple effect in the lives of other.
I knew since 8th grade career day that I was passionate about wellness and recreation. I went to NIACC first and then to school at UNI and graduated in Leisure Services. While in college I wanted to gain as much experience as I could in the field. I was a lifeguard in Wisconsin Dells, worked at a ski resort in Colorado, was a counselor with Camp Adventure running a day camp for military kids in Georgia, worked at The Boys and Girls Club in Waterloo, and interned at Hartman Reserve Center in Cedar Falls. After I graduated I married my high school sweetheart, Derrick who worked at the federal prison system and we moved to Rochester, MN. I worked at a home for people with disabilities and ran the recreation department. We had our first son Meirick and then had an opportunity to move back home to our family’s farm. I started working at the YMCA in Charles City. New Hampton was in the process of building a new wellness complex and I became their first director. While there we had our second son Parker. After about 3 years of operation at the CWC, Osage was developing a plan and I started as the first director at the Cedar River Complex which was at the stage of designing blueprints for an $18.5 Million events center, museum, 600 seat auditorium, wellness center and community project. While working we had our daughter Samantha and after 3 years of operation I decided it was time to spend more time with my family and have a better balance in our life. My husband works at the FMC Landfill and we grain farm with my parents near Elma, Iowa.

I believe God puts us in certain places, at certain times to learn, to share, or to grow. On our journey we became involved in selling health products and discovered the power of word of mouth promotions but we soon encountered several obstacles with these sales methods, such as over-zealous sales personal who annoyed or intimidated potential customers, a lack of product information, and a limited exposure to a customer base. With our new found industry of network marketing and my background in traditional wellness programs and non-profits, I wanted to find a way to make it easy for people to share what they do with others in a simple and non- threatening way.

My husband likes outdoor sports, so imagine a magazine that has information and articles on fishing, archery, canoeing, trap shooting, hiking, and all the things that relate to outdoor sports. Now imagine an index in the back of this magazine that lists each specialty shop and service provider like bait shops, archery clubs, canoe rentals, trap ranges, hiking outfitter, etc. that you can look up by their name, the type of product or service they provide, or a zip code to see what’s closest to you. Imagine also that there is a calendar in the center of this magazine of all the events that are taking place through anyone of these providers. And a way to discuss and get advice from others that are reading this same magazine. There are a couple problems with this magazine. First, it would be really big and heavy, expensive to print and quickly out of date. It would also be hard to find the page of what you are looking for and it would be hard to share with others.

Be Well God Bless is a website that is free for guests to search the site, view the member directory pages, post a question on the message board, read the blog that features members knowledge, follow social media sites that highlight members, view and share community calendar events, enroll for on-line education and webinars and have the ability to flip shopping on its head. Instead of going out to stores or searching on Google, a customer can post a request on our home page and our members will be notified first of what they are looking for. Providers are then able to get in contact with customer and describe what they have available.

There is a fee of $9 month for basic and $29 month for premium membership. The benefits are having a team member complete all of the setup and on-boarding for you. There is no technology or logging in required. An assigned team member takes care of you right from the beginning and continues to update your display at no extra cost. A person from our team will greet each new member, review the site with them and record a phone conversation learning about the member and their passion. The recording can then be edited and posted on the member page. All of the features and tools are designed to build the members customer base and also encourage satisfied customers to share through word of mouth combined with the member’s page.

Another way that Be Well God Bless is creating a ripple in lives is that 11% of all membership profits are put into a foundation and members may apply for grants to create a ripple in their own community.

I invite you to learn more now by texting BWGB to the number 72727 on your cell phone. You will receive the Be Well God Bless mobile page that will give you more information.
We are submitting this “Dream” application to increase the number of people who know about Be Well God Bless and to help all understand how this could be a positive ripple effect in their life and the lives of others. We are excited to gain experiences, make connections and learn more about the start-up business model. If we were to be awarded grant money it would be used to grow the team and market our website.

Our team now consists of Angie Huffman-founder, Sara Broers-Social Media, Tim Heeter-Tech Support, Velda & Val-Office Support. This grant would allow us to grow our team with Connectors-who connect with potential members, Greeters-who would welcome members and do a recorded phone call to learn about the passion of the members, & Gurus-who would edit the recorded call and upload information on members pages.

As our business gets started we will be making several personal contacts with individuals to share our story. We could jump start the process to get the word out with a marketing campaign. Money from the grant would allow us to use on-line and traditional ways of marketing to connect with our niche market letting people know Be Well God Bless is a Place to Learn, to Share, and to Grow.

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Culture Company will bring together individuals in the Midwest; young professionals, students.

Genesis Rivera
Culture Company
Sioux City, IA
Culture Company was created in order to connect, guide, and inspire Midwestern Communities. Bigger cities have a sense of their own culture which helps inspires individuals to do more, be better. With Culture Company, we will create creative opportunities and business opportunities for the future.
Culture Company is it's own industry of its kind. Including a blog filled with articles, highlights on volunteers and role models, and a taste of life in the Midwest. In the Midwest, there are limited industries that allow students and individuals to express themselves and be able to diversify their perspectives. The plan is to connect individuals around communities, inspire them through networking and events, create learning experiences, and provide resources to find information on guiding them for the future. We will make money through events, fundraisers, and merchandise. Our audience is made up of online viewers, students, locals who would pick up the magazine in local stores/restaurants, and guests staying in nearby hotels. The content of this blog will start on a website that will be updated daily. Then, after a period of time, the information is collected into a compilation highlighting the best content to push into a Magazine. Highlighting moments, role models, trends, and articles. This magazine will gain income from advertisements. Advertisements online and in print. The website will be our biggest resource, and the print will be the source for audiences to find information around them about what is good in local Midwestern cities. We will create different departments, including arts, photography, graphic design, PR, and finance. With time, we will gain professionals that can be leaders and then guide future students and interns. The brand will allow others to believe they can achieve anything and work for what they believe. The brand will also create a positive ambience & culture for the audience viewing material in print and online. Propaganda will come from live in-person events, community fundraisers, collaboration with businesses, sponsorships, and merchandise including clothing and brand stickers. We would like to help guide the youth of the future, create jobs, mentor students, and of course, give back to the community. As of now, this industry is scarce and Culture Company wants to be the monopoly providing resources, connecting people in the Midwestern area, and being an inspiration for the youth of tomorrow.
The reason we are applying, is to earn the Startup money needed. We will use this to start promoting more awareness and hosting community events. This includes collaborating with other businesses as well. We hosted a fashion show once to test things out, and this resulted in more than 100+ attendees, 3 hours of entertainment + inspiration, and a chance for individuals to live out their dream careers. Including photographers, models, DJs, PR, etc. There is definitely great potential. We will also use the money to provide a Mac Computer + Camera to keep the website live. It doesn't take much to run a website, but it will build our source of income where you can find merchandise, run advertisements on local businesses (based on your zip code), display interviews, and list information about events (in or around your area). Then, we will print a portable version of a magazine Issue to distribute around local businesses, restaurants, and hotels. The trend of this company has much potential to influence those currently living in the Midwest, and those visiting. We would like to inspire others to believe in their dreams and learn more about what they can do, and how to do it. The demand for merchandise and events have been a big thing since we first started demo-ing this project. Let's make this dream a true reality..

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Tommy Woods
Cedar Falls, IA
Latch technology will change the way people wear hats for the better. This new application of a ratchet strap features a clicking noise and locking mechanism that promotes a feeling of security. These features align nicely with the branding of Latch.
Latch will use product feedback from top-level athletes to improve existing and future product mixes. I will purchase 100 hats and equip them with the new adjustment mechanism. They will be distributed to test subjects in exchange for answering questions relating to the look, feel and price of the hat. This will build awareness, educate consumers and affectively perfect the LATCH design. Test subjects will complete survey on www.latchclick.com after 2 weeks of use.

Latch has a mutually beneficial agreement with a business called Courtside Films. They will provide us with access to top 100 high school basketball prospects in the nation in exchange for free exposure. Athletes will be prompted to share our web-site and product photos on their social media in exchange for free athletic apparel. Some of these top 100 basketball players have up to 150,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter. The millennial generation is Latch’s most general target market. This will be broken into subcategories. Millennial’s are known for being active on social media.

Moreover, Latch will secure a niche market with snowboarding and free-style skiers. Sports such as baseball, tennis, basketball and wrestling will be featured in the marketing plan. Latch technology will make hats fit better than ever before. No one need worry about finding a hat that fits correctly or deal with complicated sizes. When competing or training in windy or intense conditions, the hat will remain in place in a comfortable fashion. Sports such as golf, tennis and baseball will especially benefit from this new technology due to performance standards. Latch will license its technology to companies that already have an established brand such as Nike or New Era. The Latch brand name will benefit from being aligned with other respected brands.
Dream Big Grow Here 2016 is a prestigious competition that could propel my dream into reality. I know how much work that goes into building something from nothing and have a long way to go, which fuels me even more. It would be an honor to compete with some of the top entrepreneurs in Iowa for $5,000. There will be a lot of great friendships and mutually beneficial partnerships established throughout the competition. I look forward to meeting everyone involved and have the opportunity to advance my business.

Expenses Cost ($)

Utility Patent 4000
100 Hats 1600
Alterations 200
Print 120 Units 75
Office Supplies 50
Social Media 300
Web Design 500
Legal 405
Trademark 650
Total $7780

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#STOP1in12 - Suicide Awareness College Campus Campaign

Travis Lloyd
Changing Lives Entertainment, LLC
Des Moines, IA
1 in 12 college students has created and written down a suicide plan. Suicide is the leading cause of death among college students aged 18-24.As an established clinician & speaker with proven results in mental health advocacy, my #STOP1in12 campaign will empower colleges and universities nationally.
The #STOP1in12 campaign is designed to empower colleges and universities in decreasing the rate of suicide amongst college aged students.

The campaign encompasses 3 avenues for community impact related to suicide awareness & prevention:
1. Speaking Engagements - on campus live events
2. Empowerment Resources - social media statistic images, inspirational/educational videos for social media awareness, fact sheets for distribution on college campuses, ect.
3. Educational Training Videos - for use in wide-spread distribution


*SPEAKING FEES - every college/university has allocated budgets for student engagement events such as during the nation-wide suicide prevention month of September

*PROGRAM LICENSING - educational materials will be developed and made available for sale to colleges/universities to implement campus-wide suicide prevention campaigns.

*BOOKS - emotional wellness and learning to deal with past traumatic experiences is key in prevention. my book Overcoming Emotional Trauma: Life Beyond Survival Mode will be marketed and sold in association with the #STOP1in12 campaign. http://www.overcomingemotionaltrauma.com

Public 4-year institutions.......629
Private 4-year institutions...1,845
Public 2-year institutions.....1,070
Private 2-year institutions......596

Total # of U.S. college/univ..4,080

**These educational institutions have an annual budget for student engagement & events specifically related to mental wellness & suicide prevention

***Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, IA has already booked the FIRST #STOP1in12 Suicide Prevention week event in September 2016.

**I am already self-employed as a keynote speaker and author in related markets inspiring and educating clinical professionals such as psychologists, therapists, social workers, and foster parents. My story is credible and viable.

**I personally have first-hand experience with friends and loved ones who have deeply struggled with suicidal thoughts; some even following through with the act. My guess is you have someone in your life who is struggling still today.

**Prior to seeking to inspire through speaking and authoring full time I spent nearly 15 years working as a Registered Nurse in mental health units, emergency departments, and community based crisis intervention with law enforcement. REAL STORIES = REAL HOPE.

Educational institutions work with speakers and educational materials every year. Simply Google search "Suicide Prevention Speakers" and you will see a long list of other presenters who speak on this topic.

Sometimes you'll find presenters who offer professional mental health experience and others offer personal experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts; rarely do you find both. That's my edge and that that edge has proven success thus far in my career within professional development events.
I am seeking these investment monies to fund the expenses related to the initial development and launching of the #STOP1in12 Suicide Prevention Campaign. The goal will be to establish a national tour consisting of a minimum of 30 events. These events will generate enough revenue to enable the campaign to be self-sustaining and continue to grow. Growth will include further development of books, videos, and other awareness media as well as expanded distribution.

The #STOP1in12 Suicide Prevention Campaign is a project of my company Changing Lives Entertainment, LLC which houses my work as an established speaker and author.

STEP 1 of 3

$500 - Produce a campaign awareness/educational video
$250 - Develop & design email capture freebies/empowerment stat sheets for gathering contact info on web page
$250 - Design quote images, posters, and related media for online and print promotion
$250 - Order first allotment of awareness giveaways for live events (bracelets, bookmarks)

STEP 2 of 3

$1,000 - 6 month social media campaign marketing/promotion
$500 - Labor for developing and disseminating press release in a minimum of the first 20 states via email
$1,000 - Labor for market research to identify & set up email marketing campaign directed specifically campus event coordinators in a minimum of the first 20 states

STEP 3 of 3
$750 - capture event footage & promote a specific awareness and promotional video based off of live event footage

Organize a complete resource list to make available on the web page for easy access to colleges and individuals. This includes an easy to understand step-by-step guide to helping others cope with and overcome suicidal thoughts.

Field incoming and follow-up calls/emails for booking #STOP1in12 events and continue to perform the tour starting September 2016.

Build partnerships and collaborations with national suicide prevention organizations (interviews, article writing, appearances, etc.)

Collaborate with local Iowa colleges and universities to create a team of college students who will serve the expansion of the campaign as an internship for small business development, marketing, advertising, etc.

Continuously promote getting the book Overcoming Emotional Trauma listed as a course-specific reading material in colleges the campaign works with.

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Kesshi Studios

Adam Gonshorowski
Kesshi Studios
Sioux City, IA
Kesshi Studios is a digital entertainment company that specializes in the development, production and distribution of original transmedia content, web-series and films with a focus on interactive ebooks and virtual reality storytelling.
In a world that's saturated with amazing photography and film, it's hard to create imagery and stories that evoke an immediate emotional reaction with an audience that's "seen everything." One of the best ways to rise above the noise and crowded landscape is to tell stories in ways that are all encompassing through using the technology that is already in our homes, tablets and smartphones, as well as emerging technology like 360 video and virtual reality (VR). By targeting young adult audiences with our new storylines and bleeding edge technology we are apt to capitalize on the next movement in content delivery. Kesshi Studios, founded by award winning filmmaker and writer, Adam Gonshorowski, brands itself as a pioneer in the digital direct to consumer transmedia landscape, using existing digital market places, such as, the iBooks, iTunes, Amazon, Kindle, and Nook to directly reach our customers and fans. iBooks has introduced many ways to present and display content, with an audience of over 800 million iPad users across the world. It’s been reported that since mid-September 2014, over one million customers visit the iBooks store every week, which makes for a huge potential market for authors and publishers. Our goal being to create new entertainment experiences and franchises through transmedia storytelling which is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. Imagine reading a book for the first time and being able to see artwork, photos, video, and hear sounds such as the characters talking, music and sound effects all while being full immersed in the story through headphones and a tablet. It is this transmedia story experience that enhances an ordinary book to an immersive, interactive experience. These will be new stories built from the ground up to use the best mediums for storytelling in an all encompassing experience, using video for action sequences, using words for character development and inner thoughts, using photos and artwork for world building, and sound for atmosphere and immersion. It is taking the best parts of each individual medium and combining them into one immersive experience. Plus leveraging existing markets allow us to sell add ons to the story within the platform much like how downloadable content for extra levels in video games works. This allows easy impulse purchasing of films, music, and other merchandise within the story. It would be like reading a book then being able to buy the movie instantly without ever having to put down your tablet.

This venture will be successful due to not only the artists, writers, and filmmakers involved but the new method of storytelling being developed through existing digital platforms for direct to consumer content delivery.
Starting with our first book "Myles Quandary and the Lost Tomb of Genghis Khan" which is about Myles Quandary who is not quite a normal student at Excelsior Academy, he is an adventurer in search of not only fortune and glory, but his father, Jack Quandary. Jack went missing during Myles’s freshman year at Excelsior and Myles has been searching ever since. During the first week of his junior year, Myles discovers a clue to his father’s whereabouts and he stops at nothing to get from Excelsior Academy in upstate New York to China, where rumor has it his father has been taken by a ruthless mercenary, Frank Terry, in search of the lost tomb of Genghis Khan. Legend states that within the Khan’s tomb is a shaman’s scroll that can heal any wound and make any man invincible. Myles must rescue his father and find the scroll before it falls into Frank’s hands . This original YA adventure story is a new franchise for the fans of "The Maze Runner", "Harry Potter", and "Indiana Jones" to enjoy and they will be our target consumer in which we will tap into fandom consumerism which extends beyond the initial book purchase but to other merchandise as well.
This venture will be successful due to not only the artists, writers, and filmmakers involved but the new method of storytelling being developed through existing digital platforms for direct to consumer content delivery.
The financial support would be used for the development and production of the first transmedia story in the “Myles Quandary” series. These funds would be specifically used for upgrading aging equipment, such as camera, lenses, and computers and for hiring artists to begin work on the visual elements of the story, such as, concept art, virtual worlds, and other visual elements that will enhance the transmedia story. These funds will allow us to forge a new type of storytelling experience that has never been done before.

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Morgan Jacobsen
Iowa City, IA
Empowermeapp (Empower) is a mobile application for people to express their questions, thoughts, and challenges anonymously in a safe place.  Peers and professionals create communities to offer support, accessible by the users. Empower allows users to connect with their community anywhere, anytime.
Competitive Advantage
Whisper and Yik Yak are both anonymous applications. Both have millions of users, and each has received over 60 million dollars in venture capital. Whisper combats cyber bullying by paying 130 human moderators, and Yik Yak geo-fences out high school zones to encourage a more mature audience. Empower is superior in two ways. First, is the comment approval process by members in the community and second, is it fosters the connection between peers and professionals.

Koko is a new start-up app to try to use crowdsources cognitive therapy. They are in the early stages as well, but they focus only on problems, don't have the comment approval process, and users are not able to choose their pictures. From customer discovery, we found our target market wants to use their pictures and doesn't want to look at an applicaiton with only depressing topics.

Revenue Model
Businesses have the ability to create an account by paying a subscription fee. The fee will be smaller for the local sponsorship model and more expensive for the national sponsorship model. The business account allows the company to provide information about the services they provide as well as giving contact information. The business may also provide information on local or national resources. This gives the business a positive brand image from helping the community. The key distinguishing feature between the consumer and the business account is the consumer account is anonymous and the business account is not.
Trying to build an app is expensive. We were fortunate to have an intern through the John Pappajohn Entreprenuarial Center at The University of Iowa work on our first alpha version of the application. Our first version needs more revision and adjustments and most likely a complete rebuild. Therefore, the money would go towards continued application development.

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Every Contractor's Dream

Calvin Nesbitt
Insulation Plus of Iowa
Des Moines, IA
Insulation Plus of Iowa is every contractor’s dream. Finally, there will be a weathization and insulation resale store located near the downtown area offering convenience and competitive pricing. Our location will make supplying materials for contracting jobs easier and less expensive.
Insulation Plus of Iowa will offer for sale a wide range of insulation and weatherization supplies at a convenience location near downtown Des Moines. Thus our location itself will save our customer time, which can be better spent completing their projects. In addition the business will offer in depth knowledge of the customer needs. Not only do I have experience in this line of work but I enjoy it as well! This will give contractors an alternative to the Big Box stores.

Due to the growth of Des Moines and surrounding areas, new home and business construction is growing. There is currently no other resale store in the downtown area that offers these products and service. Our location and lower overhead would allow us to have competitive pricing and delivery for a small fee.

With the closing of Des Moines and Jewett Lumber and the Restore moving further out customers working on projects in the downtown
area would find our location more convenient then our competitors such as Menards and Home Depot. We are located close to the Freeway and traffic count for this location is 15,001 vehicles both ways. Thus our market area is not limited to downtown but could also include Altoona, Windsor Heights, West Des Moines, Pleasant Hill, Clive, Waukee, and Johnson.
I am applying for this grant because I believe there is a need for this type of business in the Des Moines metro area. As a small business owner I find it is hard to gain access to traditional funding and am happy to have this chance to apply for this grant. The funds would be used to purchase supplies and inventory so that I can open the store and begin serving my customers.

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