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North Iowa Dream Big Grow Here Regional Winner Announced – Hoover’s Hatchery

Wednesday, December 18, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeanne Yocum
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On December 4 the Dream Big Grow Here North Central Iowa regional contest was held in the NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC).   


Mason City, Iowa - The Dream Big Grow Here contest is an opportunity for Iowans to fulfill their dreams of self-employment and business ownership. Participants both learn and exploit digital marketing through Facebook and other online venues to grow their business. The judging criteria for the North Iowa contest evaluated both digital marketing social media excellence and interstate commerce impact. The power of the internet to reduce or remove geographic market boundaries is especially important to rural areas like North Iowa.


North Iowa finalists each had 10 minutes to make their "elevator pitch” and an additional five minutes for questions and answers with the judges.


Judges representing the regional sponsors evaluated each finalist’s current online presence and social media efforts. They looked at the finalist’s track record of converting online relationships to interstate sales. The judges also considered future interstate commerce impact from fully realizing the potential.           


Ten regional contests were held in Iowa with entrants submitting their "dreams” online and encouraging customers, friends, family, and community members to vote for them.  The top five vote-getters ("likes” on Facebook) and two wildcards were chosen to compete in the regional North Iowa ‘pitch off’.   The winner of each regional contest receives a check for $5,000 and a chance to compete for $10,000 at the state level.


The top five vote-getters and two wild cards for our region that competed in the pitch-off were:


Tyler Anderson           Roller City                    Mason City      Tourism/Leisure Activity

Jake Prazak                 North Iowa Fitness      Mason City      Tourism/Leisure Activity

Liz Neighbors              Beyond Baby Inc.        Eagle Grove    Health Services

Stacey Wood              Fashion Gemz             Mason City      Clothing/Retail

Jennifer Kellog            Jadiva by Jenny          Mason City      Craft/Retail

Julia Dannen                D & S Services            Mason City      Accounting/Payroll Services

Tony Halsted               Hoovers Hatchery       Rudd                Agriculture Wholesale Supplier


The North Iowa regional winner was Tony Halsted of Hoovers Hatchery. 


Halsted said, "Hoovers Hatchery feels extremely privileged to have been selected for the final pitch and ultimately winning the Dream Big Grow Here North Central Iowa regional contest.  We want to thank the other businesses who were involved.  It is outstanding to see so many small businesses with the same dreams we have.

We will use the funding from Dream Big to fund our developing technology base to bring eCommerce dollars from other states into the great state of Iowa.  We look forward to representing our region at the state level in May and sharing our story. We appreciate the support from the local sponsors of Dream Big and other small businesses and citizens of North Central Iowa.”

Daniel Pitts Winegarden, NIACC’s Director of Incubation and Acceleration in the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center said, "We had several strong pitches by finalists who demonstrated current social media traction and excellent future potential to support North Iowa’s export-focused economy. Importing dollars to the region is a high priority. In the end, Hoover’s Hatchery’s success at adding over $500,000 in online sales in 18 months from new out-of-region customers won the day. Hoover’s created a new web site with a compelling and convenient online store and web commerce shopping cart. They actively supported the web site with effective social marketing on Facebook, Pinterest and more to drive traffic to the new web site. It paid off in substantial out-of-state sales, new direct customers and new dealers. Their next step is to move their dealer support system to a similarly sophisticated online system. Based on past success and future potential, Hoover’s exemplifies the power to transform a traditional business model and create new business growth by moving online to attract dollars from beyond the local region.”


We want to thank all the Lead sponsors for Dream Big Grow Here 2013 are the University of Northern Iowa and the Iowa Bankers Association.   Locally, the contest is sponsored by the following organizations:


  • NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
  • North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation
  • Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce
  • Mason City Chamber of Commerce


The national NACCE Innovation Award winning NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center provides college level courses and degree programs in entrepreneurship, as well as comprehensive consulting services for business start-ups, existing industries and owner transitions in the North Iowa region.   Space is available for start-up businesses in the North Iowa Business Incubator. For more information, contact the NIACC JPEC at 641-422-4111.


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