Frequently asked questions about the BIG Idea Competition

Getting Started/Creating an Account FAQ’S

What do I do if I have technical problems?
If you are experiencing technical difficulties, complete the form on the Contact Us page and we will email or call you back with a solution. If there are any additional questions you have about the BIG Idea Competition or Final Event, please reference the Rules and Student Checklist forms.
What do I do if I forget my password?
Click on “Forgot Your Password?” on the login page. You will be asked to enter your email and a new password will be sent to you.
If submitting a team project, do all members need to create a login account?
No; only one team member needs to create an account. That team member will be asked to list other team members and their information when filling out their BIG Idea.
Is there a limit on team size?
Yes. You can have up to three people on one team.
What do I do if my school’s name is not listed?
If your school’s name does not appear, please email the name of your school and address to info@bigideasd.com and we will add it. We will then contact you once it is added so you can complete your login.
Are students required to have an advisor?
Students are not required to have an advisor. When students create their login, they should choose Independent Study for the Advisor field.
What do I do if my advisor’s name is not listed?
After your school has been added, if your advisor’s name does not appear, please contact your advisor to create an account.
Do I have to be a South Dakota resident to participate in the competition?
No. However, if selected as a finalist, you must be able to attend the Final Competition held at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD.

Entry FAQ’S

What are the BIG Idea entry requirements?
Students must be in a high school or home school doing high school studies. The entry for the business idea is a written submission of no more than 1075 words, organized as follows:
  • Concept Overview (75 words)
  • Product or Service (250 words)
  • Market Opportunity (250 words)
  • Competition (250 words)
  • Management and Operations (250 words)
Complete rules can be found on the Rules page in the Competition Guidelines document.
What is the deadline for the competition?
Completed entries and designs must be submitted by midnight, Central Standard Time on Friday, October 31.
How can I make sure my work is being saved while I’m working on my project?
Be sure to click “Save Draft” often while working on your project. You will be allowed a limited time period for your project to be left open on your computer before it times out. (NOTE: You will not be warned when your window is timed out.) If sharing a computer with another student, save your work and log out for the next student to log in so that your data is not overwritten. DO NOT open two browser windows to work on separate entries.
May a business idea be submitted that has been submitted to another competition?
Yes. However, if you were a finalist from a previous years’ competition, you cannot use the same business idea.
Who is judging the entries?
The judges include a mix of economic development professionals, business professionals, business owners, educators, and collegiate business students.
Will I get feedback on my BIG Idea submission?
Yes. You will receive an overall score and judges’ comments after the Final Competition in December. Feedback will be sent to your advisor or directly to you in the case of an independent study student.
What is the BIG Idea Competition’s plagiarism policy?
The committee reserves the right to review all entries and disqualify from the competition any entries where plagiarism is found.
How can I win the $500 Wellness prize?
Anyone participating in the BIG Idea competition can enter. Their business idea must address wellness. To enter, check the “Wellness Category” on your entry form. It is located in the entry form under the “Business Name” section.
What qualifies as ‘Wellness’?
Wellness is defined as a state of being in good physical and mental health. Sanford Health is looking for the best business entry addressing wellness.
How will BIG Idea determine who wins the Wellness prize?
The panel of judges for BIG idea will pick the top 10 finalists for this category. Sanford Health’s expert panel of judges will determine who is awarded the $500 prize out of those 10 entries.
How do I come up with my BIG Idea?
  1. Think about problems that exist in the world that you can create an answer to – texting while driving, sustainable farming practices, limiting damage from natural disasters like fires, floods, etc., long lines at security checkpoints at the airport or other public venues, problems you have personally experienced
  2. Consider how waste and by-products can be used to create new products. An example would be distiller’s grain, a by-product of the ethanol plant, being used as feed for livestock. Is there a business in your community that produces excess waste that can be reused somehow?
  3. Even for a basic service or retail business, you may consider how you can incorporate technology to make the business operate more efficiently or make it more convenient for your customer.

Marketing Design FAQ's

What are the BIG Idea Marketing Design entry requirements?
The required marketing piece for this optional portion of the competition is a full page ad design with a logo which represents your company or product.
The Marketing Design Competition is not a stand-alone competition; students/teams must compete in the Business Idea Competition to be eligible to compete in the Marketing Design Competition. (See complete rules here)
What file type do I use to upload my Marketing Design?
You may upload the file for the Marketing Design portion as a .PDF or .JPG. Additional information about saving files in the appropriate format can be found in the Marketing Design section of the My Project page and at the rules link above.
Are there specific requirements for the ad?
Advertisements are intended to attract people’s attention, engage them about your brand and product, and then invite them to do something. An ad must have a call to action, whether it be visit a store, call, email, or check out a website. You should include the following items. Please refer to the sample ad.
  1. Headline - A headline is typically what grabs attention. It speaks to your target audience and engages them with your message and picture. Never use your logo or business name as the main headline.
  2. Picture - The headline should relate in some way to a dominant picture, graphic, or illustration. This too will help attract attention to your ad. Your headline and picture should work together to capture attention.
  3. Subheadline - A subheadline adds a little more information to better connect with your target audience.
  4. Text - You should have a bit of text or bullet points that outline the unique selling point of your product. After your picture and headline has drawn a reader in, the text will help make the sale to those very interested, but don’t write too much. Keep it simple and short.
  5. Slogan - A slogan is nice to help differentiate your product from others.
  6. Logo - Your logo/company name should be used like a “sign off”, usually at the bottom of ads, but it can go other places. They are usually used in conjunction with a slogan, again to help define your unique product. Think simple, thing legible printing, and think of appropriate colors. Never use your logo as a headline, you will lose points for this.
  7. Contact Information - If a potential customer can’t contact you, you will miss out on sales. Include a phone number, a website, an email address, or a physical address. Make it easy for someone to reach you.
  8. Call to Action - Tell the viewer to do something after you have them interested in your product/service. They can call, stop into the store, make an appointment, or visit a website.
  9. Be Creative - Keep things simple, but experiment with different layout options, multiple photos, graphics, and text.
  10. Be Clear - Make sure people fully understand your product or service. Your ad should not leave any questions as to what you are selling and who may want it.

Final Event FAQ’S

When is the final competition?
The Final Competition and Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at Northern State University in Aberdeen.
How are the finalists determined?
A team of marketing professionals reviews scores the Marketing Design entries and chooses the winner who is recognized at the Final Competition. See the rubric on the Rules page. For the written entries, all submitted entries are scored by three separate judges using the judging rubric on the Rules page. The eight business idea submissions with the highest scores will advance to the final competition. Finalists will be notified during the week of November 17, 2014
What is required of the finalists?
The eight competition finalists will be required to make a six minute presentation on their business idea. Thirty seconds is allowed for the elevator pitch, and the remaining five minutes and 30 seconds is for the presentation that must include a visual component such as a PowerPoint, storyboard, handout, demonstration or other visual component of the finalist’s choice. Finalists will also give their elevator pitch during the Awards Ceremony. The Marketing Design winner will also give an elevator pitch for their idea how the marketing pieces support the idea.
What happens on the day of the final competition?
During the morning, the finalists will give their presentation to the judging panel. Following lunch, the Awards Ceremony will include Elevator Pitches by the finalists and Marketing Design winner, a business owner panel discussion, and the presentation of the awards. A sample schedule can be found on the Prizes Page.
Can other students participate in the final event?
All schools and students who submitted entries to the BIG Idea Competition are invited to the Awards Ceremony. The ceremony will include a panel discussion with successful entrepreneurs, and the eight finalists will deliver their elevator pitches. Awards presentations will then be made to the top three winners in the Business Idea Competition. The ceremony will take place on the same day as the final competition. Non-finalist students may also participate in morning activities (discussions with committee members, Shark Tank roundtable, and luncheon speaker). Lunch will be available for a fee.
How are the BIG Idea Competition winners determined?
Round 1 will be worth 1000 points and Round 2 will be worth 700 points. Scores from the first round (500 maximum) are doubled and added to the final round scores to determine the winners. Rubrics for the preliminary and final judging can be found at the Rules page on the website.

Advisor FAQ’S

Who is considered an advisor?
Any teacher, advisor, or other school personnel who is overseeing a student participating in this competition is considered an advisor. This activity can be part of a class or on an individual basis.
How are advisors informed about competition activities?
Advisors create an account to access the Advisor Dashboard. The Advisor Dashboard includes links for Students, Completed Projects, Draft Projects, Marketing Design Submissions and Advisors. These links give the Advisor information about which students have created an entry and where they are at in the process. Advisors can view their student’s specific entries and marketing designs as well as a list of advisors who have registered on the BIG Idea website, whether or not they are active in this year’s contest. Communication from competition organizers will be via the email address used to create your account.
How can I set up an Advisor account?
Create an advisor login (email and password) by choosing Advisor Login on top of the BIG Idea Competition home page. From there, choose your school from the drop down list. (If your school is not listed, contact info@bigideasd.com to request that it be added.) Once your account is created, your name and school will be listed and available for students to select when completing their entries. Advisors will not be able to change school affiliation once a student has chosen them as an advisor. Once advisors log in to the site, they will have access to the Advisor Control Panel and Advisor Dashboard.
Are students required to have an advisor?
Students are not required to have an advisor. When students create their login, they should choose Independent Study for the Advisor field.

Judging FAQ’S

How can I be a BIG Idea competition judge?
The competition requires a large number of volunteer judges as each entry is judged by three separate people to determine the top scoring entries as finalists. To be a judged, just email your interest to info@bigideasd.com and you will be sent an invitation link to create your judging account?
What is the timeframe for BIG Idea judging?
The judging takes place during the first two weeks of November each year and can be done completely online. In most cases, the judging should take no more than 2 hours time and does not have to be done all at once.
What is the process for the BIG Idea judging?
Once a judge has created an account, they are assigned entries to judge which they access through a judging website. The judges are provided with a scoresheet to complete online with each entry. Examples of the scoresheet and past judged entries are available at the judging website.