Students FAQ’s

Getting Started/Creating an Account FAQ’S

Can I participate if I’m not in the United States?

Unfortunately, we do not accept entries out of the country at this time.

Do I have to be a South Dakota resident to participate in the competition?

No. It is open all students across the United States. However, if selected as a finalist, you must be available on the day of Final Competition to present your business idea to the judges in real time. The Virtual Final Competition for students outside of South Dakota will be held via Zoom the day prior to the In Person Final Competition.

What do I do if my school’s name is not listed?

Each student and advisor must choose a school in their profile.  For Advisors, please use the contact form to email the name of your school and physical address and we will add it. For students, complete the school information form when prompted to have your school added.  We will contact you once it is added so you can complete your login.  To assure accuracy, this is manual process so please allow time for approval.  To allow processing time, requests to add a school should be received by 3pm on October 30th.

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 if they are not working with an advisor.

What do I do if my advisor’s name is not listed?

If your advisor’s name does not appear, please ask your advisor to create an account and then be sure to choose them as your Advisor as soon as possible and BEFORE you submit your entry.

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 able to add other team members to the entry once a draft of the entry has been saved.

Is there a limit on team size?

Yes. You can have up to three people on one team.

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.

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.

Entry FAQ’S

What is the deadline for the competition?

Completed entries and designs must be submitted by midnight, Central Standard Time on October 31.

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:

Complete rules can be found on the Rules page under the Competition tab.

How do I find out what industry my business is in?

When you fill out your BIG Idea entry form, you will be asked to select an industry that best classifies your business. Please refer to the  North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to find what industry your business is in. You can view the document here. If you are still unsure, ask your advisor or take your best guess.

What is the purpose of the Reference section?

The BIG Idea Competition has always had a strong position against plagiarism; part of our mission is to spur creativity. Likewise, our judges are interested in knowing how students come up with their ideas. The Reference section allows  students to share what inspired their idea by listing any research, articles, personal experiences or other sources used in creating their entries while also giving appropriate credit to sources.  BIG Idea does not require a particular citation style but suggests URL’s for internet sources and title, author, date, publication for others.

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 before the next student to log in so that your data is not overwritten. DO NOT open two browser windows to work on separate entries on the same computer.

What is plagiarism?

BIG Idea takes plagiarism very seriously. Below are 5 examples of plagiarism as defined by Scribbr. Where the definitions below reference ‘someone else’s’ words or ideas, keep in mind that this also means words or ideas generated by artificial intelligence tools.

“Plagiarism comes in many forms, some more severe than others—from rephrasing someone’s ideas without acknowledgement to stealing a whole essay. These are the five most common types of plagiarism:

  • Global plagiarism means passing off an entire text by someone else as your own work.
  • Verbatim plagiarism means directly copying someone else’s words.
  • Paraphrasing plagiarism means rephrasing someone else’s ideas to present them as your own.
  • Patchwork plagiarism means stitching together parts of different sources to create your text.
  • Self-plagiarism means recycling your own past work.”

What is the BIG Idea Competition’s plagiarism policy?

BIG Idea reserves the right to review all entries and disqualify from the competition any entries where plagiarism is found. Applicants will be required to state their references and confirm that their entry does not include plagiarism prior to submitting their entry.  Entries identified as potential finalists will be further reviewed with plagiarism/AI checking software.

How can I make sure that I have completed everything before my final submit?

The Student Checklist includes everything students need to do before submitting their final entry. Locate the checklist here.

Who is judging the entries?

The 1st round of 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 if you are an independent study student.

May a business idea be submitted that has been submitted to another competition?

Yes, in fact, we encourage it. The more feedback you can receive on your business concept, the better. However, if you were a finalist in a previous years’ BIG Idea competition, you cannot use the same business idea. You can compete with a new idea.

How can I compete for the $500 Wellness prize?

Your business concept must promote Wellness to enter this category. For the purposes of this competition,’Wellness’ is defined of being in good physical and mental heath. If your business idea fits in the Wellness Category, select Wellness in the dropdown box in the “Special Award Category’ section of the entry form.

How will BIG Idea determine the winner of the Wellness prize?

The top 10 finalists for this category will be determined by the scores from the first round of BIG Idea judging. Sanford Health’s panel of judges will then review those 10 entries and determine the winner of the $500 prize.

How can I compete for the $500 Agriculture Innovation prize?

Your business concept must promote Agriculture Innovation to enter this category. For the purposes of this competition, Agriculture Innovation is defined as an agriculture business that incorporates innovation, technology and/or leadership into agriculture or agriculture education. If your business idea fits in the Agriculture Innovation Category, select Agriculture Innovation in the dropdown box in the “Special Award Category’ section of the entry form. Must be a South Dakota student in order to participate.

How will BIG Idea determine the winner of the Agriculture Innovation prize?

The top 10 South Dakota finalists for this category will be determined by the scores from the first round of BIG Idea judging. The South Dakota Agriculture Foundation’s panel of judges will then review those 10 entries and determine the winner of the $500 prize. South Dakota students can only win this award.

How can I compete for the $500 Hometown Business prize?

Your business concept must promote Hometown Business to enter in this category. For the purposes of this competition, Hometown Business is defined as retail, hospitality, grocery, or trade business that has a physical storefront as well as an online presence (either selling or advertising online). If your business idea fits in the Hometown Business Category, select Hometown Business in the dropdown box in the “Special Award Category’ section of the entry form. This award can only be won by a South Dakota student.

How will BIG Idea determine the winner of the Hometown Business prize?

The top 10 in-state finalists for this category will be determined by the scores from the first round of BIG Idea judging. The panel of business owners representing the South Dakota Retailer’s Association will then review those 10 entries and determine the winner of the $500 prize.  In addition to the category definition, judges will also consider the viability of the business idea in a small community (5,000 population or less).

How can I compete for the $500 Makers Award prize?

For the purposes of this competition, the Makers Award is defined as a business concept that creates and builds a physical product, which could include a custom product built one at a time or a product that is made in larger quantities. Select Makers Award in the dropdown box in the “Special Award Category’ section of the entry form. Must be a South Dakota student in order to participate.

How will BIG Idea determine the winner of the Makers Award prize?

The top 10 in-state finalists for this category will be determined by the scores from the first round of BIG Idea judging.  Blackout Industries will then review those 10 entries and determine the winner of the $500 prize.

Final Event FAQ’S

When is the final competition?

Two final competition are planned.  The Virtual Final Competition for students outside of South Dakota will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, December 10, 2024.  The in person Final Competition and Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, December 11, 2024 at Northern State University.

How are the finalists determined?

There are 2 rounds in the BIG Idea competition.  Round 1 determines the finalists and Round 2 determines the winners.  In Round 1, each entry is rated by 3 different judges and those scores will be averaged to determine the final Round 1 score. The top scoring qualified ideas will be finalists who advance to the final competition.  There will be 8 finalists for both the virtual and in person competitions.   The Round 1 judging rubric can be found on the Rules page.

Finalists will be notified mid-November and will be provided with final event details.

 

What is required of the finalists?

The eight competition finalists for each competition will be required to make a six minute presentation on their business idea to a judging panel. Thirty – sixty seconds is allowed for the elevator pitch, and the remaining time is for the presentation. A visual component such as a PowerPoint, storyboard, handout, demonstration or other visual component of the finalist’s choice is required. Finalists will also give their elevator pitch during the Awards Ceremony. Special category winners will also give an elevator pitch for their idea.  All finalists and special categories winners will be provided detailed instructions once they are confirmed, and they will also be invited to a virtual orientation one week prior to the event.  Most of all we want you to have fun and learn about entrepreneurship!

What is the role of the specialty category award winners at the final event?

Specialty Category awards are determined, and notified, prior to the final event. They are invited to participate in the activities at the final event. Specifically, these winners will be asked to give an elevator pitch of their idea at the Awards Ceremony and will be presented their awards during the ceremony.

What happens on the day of the final competition?

During the morning, the finalists will give their presentation to the judging panel. Students will have time to visit with their mentors and participate in a variety of activities outside of their presentations. Following lunch, the Awards Ceremony will include Elevator Pitches by the finalists and special category winners, a business owner panel discussion, and the presentation of the awards.

How are the overall BIG Idea Competition winners determined?

In the final round, a separate panel of judges for each competition will evaluate all eight finalists’ presentations to determine their final rank. Rubrics for the  final judging (Round 2) can be found at the Rules page on the website.

Special Category winners are determined by the award sponsors.

Do Honorable Mention students participate in the final event?

Honorable Mention students will have the opporutnity to prsent a pitch for their idea the morning of the competition.  All Honorable Mention students will be invited, and the limited spots availalbe will be filled on a first come first served basis.  These presentations will take place in person at Northern State University on the day of the final competition.

Can other students participate in the final event?

Absolutely! All schools and students who submitted entries to the BIG Idea Competition are invited to the Awards Ceremony. During the morning, all students can participate in various activities, booths and tours including the BIG Idea Selfie Contest.  Following lunch, the Awards Ceremony will include a presentation from successful entrepreneurs, and the finalists and special category winners will deliver their elevator pitches. Awards presentations will then be made to all the winners in the Business Idea Competition.   If you can’t be in Aberdeen, the event is livestreamed as well.