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BIZ launches competition for technology start-ups

Have an idea for a tech start-up, but not sure where to go with it?


Mike Colwell, executive director of the Business Innovation Zone (BIZ), wants to help. The BIZ, along with a number of Central Iowa sponsors, is participating in a statewide Dream Big Grow Here contest, launched by the University of Northern Iowa Regional Business Center.

The contest allows emerging small business owners to upload a one- to five-minute pitch video about their idea, which will be voted on by the public online. Central Iowa is one of eight regions that will award a $5,000 prize to the participant who earns the most online votes. Each regional winner will compete for an additional $10,000 award at the state level.

“Some of the software companies that are start-ups, their running cost per month outside of payroll could be literally a couple hundred dollars a month,” Colwell said. “So I think for a young entrepreneur that’s just getting going that can live cheap, it’s several months of runway. It’s a chance to try their idea out.”

Even the participants who don’t win the contest will get the valuable experience of thinking through and pitching their idea, he said. And chances are if it’s a good idea, the right person will see it.

“There really hasn’t been anything for those people who say, ‘I just got an idea; where do I begin?’” Colwell said. “In anything, you start with idea generation, and we see how many great ideas we can come up with – and out of those how many businesses might come out of it.”

Entries can be uploaded to the Dream Big Grow Here website at www.dreambiggrowhere.com, beginning today (July 15).  Entries will be accepted through Aug. 15, and voting will run Aug. 16-30.

Entrants must be 18 or older, operate a tech start-up, have no offer of sale of product or service, and be for-profit.

Colwell credits area business sponsors as the reason for the BIZ’s involvment. Donating businesses and organizations are BrownWinick law firm, LWBJ Financial Capital Investors, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith P.C., Silicon Prairie News and McLellan Marketing Group.

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