High school students pitch businesses in BIG Idea Final Competition

Out of the 277 entries this year, eight finalists made it to the final competition.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 6:14 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The BIG Idea Final Competition was held at Northern State University on Wednesday, marking the 15th year of the business pitch competition.

In the competition, high school students from both South Dakota and out-of-state create a pitch for a business and present their idea to a panel of judges.

Out of the 277 entries this year, eight finalists made it to the final competition.

”We hope that they’re learning something about business. They’re realizing some of the things that go into making a business and, hopefully, making a business successful to give them the idea to realize that your lifelong work doesn’t have to be working for somebody else. You can create a business for yourself and work for yourself,” said BIG Idea committee member Patrick Gallagher.

Garrett Crawford, a junior at Aberdeen Roncalli, pitched a steel building business. Crawford says the competition gave him an insider glimpse at what being an entrepreneur is really like.

”I feel like we all think we have this idea of what it takes to start a business, but you see the other side of it and a lot of what it takes. You don’t see the whole thing,” said Crawford.

Crawford says he comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, but wanted his idea to be unique to him.

“My parents and a lot of my family members are entrepreneurs, and they all have their thing. I didn’t want to piggyback off of them. I wanted something that was my own. I enjoy manual labor kind of work. I can’t sit at an office desk or do that kind of stuff. That’s kind of how I came up with it and I saw a need for it,” said Crawford.

While every finalist was awarded a cash prize, awards were also given to the top three finalists for both the in-state and out-of-state competition. Special category awards were also handed out. A trio of seniors from Warner High Schoool that included Kendyl Anderson, Kamryn Anderson and Kiah Koch took home the Wellness Winner award for their pitch of a rural assisted living home that caters to farmers.

Kendyl Anderson says the most surprising part of participating in the competition was learning how much money goes into starting a business from scratch.

”I would say the financing was the most surprising thing for me. I didn’t realize how much money you have to put into businesses to start them,” said Kendyl.

Kendyl’s twin sister Kamryn said the competition helped her expand her skillset.

“Obviously, getting the chance to speak in front of people is a great skill for everyone to have because you’re always going to have to do that at some point in your life. It’s also definitely opened our eyes to what business actually is and all the factors that go into creating your own, so we definitely learned a lot from that as well,” said Kamryn.

On top of the cash prize, all of the finalists of the BIG Idea Competition also received a scholarship they can redeem at Northern State University, Presentation College or South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

The winners of the in-state competition are listed below, and a full list of special category winners and finalists can be found here.

In-State Competition Winners:

1st Place: Noah Felderman of Doland High School for “Feldy’s Ice Cream.”

2nd Place: Pack Forster, homeschooled (Howard), for “Free Bird RC.”

3rd Place: Cole Bisbee of Groton High School for “Punch Out.”