Cedar Valley of Iowa -The 2nd Annual Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley contest concluded on the evening of October 18th, 2012 with a “pitch-off” by five finalist of the online popular vote portion of the $5,000 grant contest.
The winner of the pitch-off, Lizzy Mae’s Cupcakes & Sweets – pitched by Dawn Pursell of Waverly, was chosen by a panel of business entrepreneurs and experts from the fields of law, technology, finance and entertainment. Twenty-one start-ups and small businesses participated in the popular online voting generating over 9,300 votes, from 44 states and 16 countries.
The Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley competition provides early stage and emerging small business an additional financial boost to accelerate the growth of their business. The contest was open to start-up and small businesses in the Cedar Valley Economic Area comprised of Butler, Bremer, Buchanan, Black Hawk, Chickasaw, Grundy, and Tama counties.
“This year we saw more businesses competing in the contest take advantage of the free business services available through the University of Northern Iowa, MyEntrenet and the Small Business Development Center” commented Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber.
“This is the whole point of the contest…helping these individuals take their business idea to the next level.” added Nate Clayberg, Chair, Cedar Valley Marketing Partnership.
Both the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber and the Cedar Valley Regional Partnership were regional sponsors of the statewide contest. Lizzy Mae’s Cupcakes & Sweets will compete March 7, 2013 for a chance to win $10,000 at the statewide pitch off sponsored by MyEntre.net during their annual conference. Pursell plans to use the prize money to expand her baking operation and open a store front in Waverly.
Other event sponsors for the Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley Pitch-Off event included, MyEntre.net, UNI’s Business Incubator, Point Builders and PDCM Insurance.
Other finalist included:
Computer Troubleshooters Computer Service and Sales(Cory Vieth) – Waterloo, Eat Cakes Cakery (Elizabeth Wilson)– Hudson , Watapri (Jane Zehr)– Waverly, and Recycle Rite Inc. (Brian Hoyer)- Cedar Falls.
Kate Washut of Far Reach Technologies moderated the Pitch-off. The judges panel included; Wade Arnold CEO of Banno; Darin Beck CEO of Barmuda MMC; Eric Johnson of Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman & Johnson, P.C.; Mark Stewart of Prime Logic Partners and Nick Evens of The Veridian Group.
Returning to the Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley Pitch-Off event and delivering the keynote was author Sarah Miller Caldicott, great grand niece of Thomas Edison. Caldicott’s presentation How Collaboration Drives Innovation: A Midnight Lunch with Thomas Edison, was based on a soon to be released book. Co – author of the book Innovate Like Edison, Caldicott has recently released an e-book titled Inventing the Future: What Would Thomas Edison be Doing Today.
Dust added, “Cedar Valley Innovation Day is one way to celebrate the strength and vitality of the individual entrepreneurial drive in the Cedar Valley economic area, and the improvements it brings our businesses and lives.
The contestants of Dream Big Grow Here-Cedar Valley have taken the first steps to growing the next dominant business with whatever product or service improvement they have put into the marketplace. These aren’t hobbies, or businesses that plan to remain garage-based operations. DBGH-Cedar Valley contestants are in the mold of many, many other Cedar Valley dreamers who started with a vision to help businesses and consumers to do something better – innovating. Their success at innovation has earned them a place among the best in the nation in their industries. Remember, the innovation of John Froelich and his partners in the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Co. – introducing gasoline powered traction – changed agriculture around the globe. It’s that commitment to find new, better ways to produce and provide in America’s Free Enterprise system – innovation – from the Cedar Valley – that is celebrated in this event.
Cedar Valley Innovation Day is a way to inform and demonstrate why it’s critical to create a welcoming place for people to innovate. We need that brainpower – continually striving to find the next better way to do something – create – make – or deliver something – to expand our economy. Encouraging, welcoming and celebrating innovation is still another way to Be Part of Something Greater – the Cedar Valley of Iowa.”
More information about Lizzy Mae’s Cupcakes & Sweets can be found at www.facebook.com/LizzyMaes Cupcakes Sweets.
Plans are already underway for the 2013 Dream Big Grow Here Cedar Valley & Cedar Valley Innovation Day. Businesses and individuals interested in participating or sponsorships should contact the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber at 319-232-1156.