The BIG Challenge

Build – Innovate – Grow in Northwest Iowa

Submissions accepted September 6th through October 10th, 2021.

The BIG Challenge graphic


The BIG Challenge allows entrepreneurs the chance to submit their dreams to start or expand a business, then encourage friends, family, and customers to vote for them online. Five finalists will present their idea to an audience and judges in a pitch competition with $10,000 in prize money to be awarded.

Submit Your Idea

The submission period for The BIG Challenge 2021 will open on September 6 and continue through midnight on October 10th, 2021. To enter, you’ll need to fill out the online application, including a short video submission.


  1. Be located in Lyon, Osceola, Sioux, O’Brien, Plymouth, Woodbury, or Monona County.
  2. Own a for-profit business.
  3. Have fewer than 5 full-time employees.
  4. Have been operating your business for 3 years or less.
  5. Have not been awarded prize money in a previous Dream Big Grow Here competition.


Finalists will recruit friends, family, and customers to vote for their idea online during the voting period. Voting will take place from October 6 – 15.


The top three vote-getters will advance to a pitch competition, along with two additional entrants chosen by a selection committee. Each finalist will have access to the University of Northern Iowa’s Business Concierge Services, as well as receive personalized coaching from the Small Business Development Center and UNI’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation.

Pitch Competition

The regional contest will be held the evening of Thursday, November 18 at a location to be determined. The finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their ideas with first place receiving $5,000, second place receiving $2,500, third place receiving $1,500, and fourth and fifth places receiving $500 to grow their business.


The BIG Challenge is sponsored and organized by the economic development organizations that are a part of Iowa’s West Coast Initiative and Northwest Iowa Developers and includes the following counties: Lyon, Osceola, Sioux, O’Brien, Plymouth, Woodbury, and Monona.


Iowa's West Coast Initiative

Northwest Iowa Development

Siouxland Economic Development Corporation