Past Winners

2nd Place & People's Choice Winner

Allergy Aware


allergy aware

Brady Barr - '22 Finance Graduate



3rd Place & High Tech Winner

Louie labsLouie Labs

Ben Zuelke
Dan Armstrong
Franz Sherman (Not Pictured)
Heidi Roeschli
Yeng Moua
All - Integrated Engineering

View the 2023 Big Ideas Challenge Program

a person holding a large check


Omar Elkenawy – Computer Engineering



After two years of a fully virtual Big Ideas Challenge, the event was back in person in 2022, the eighth year for this event. Rather than pre-recorded pitches, the five finalists once again presented in front of a live audience.

2nd Place Winner

a person and person holding a large check


Dr. Queen Bee

Sumit Mahajan – Mathematics Graduate

Qamrunnisa Fnu - MBA


3rd Place Winner

Elevatusa person holding a large check

Skyler Smith – Twin Cities Integrated Engineering




People’s Choice & High Tech Division Winner

Dialekta person holding a large check

Autumn Ritter – Business Management







View the 2022 event on YouTube

View the 2022 Big Ideas Challenge Program

Tocco VR

Jim Boyd - Engineering

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's Big Ideas Challenge was held virtually in 2021, the seventh year for this event. Six finalists competed during our highly attended event.

2nd Place & High Tech Division Winner

Hearing Glasses

  • Kaitlyn Gloege - Management Information Systems
  • Abdelrahman Elkenawy - Electrical Engineering/Computer Engineering
  • Alex Shepherd - Computer Information Technology

3rd Place, Ag/Food/Bev Division & People's Choice Winner

Smart Beehives

  • Abdelrahman Elkhatib - Electrical Engineering
  • Sumit Mahajan - Mechanical Engineering

View the 2021 Event

View Event Program Flyer

The 2020 Big Ideas Challenge first place winner, Logan Sendle, posing with the giant check he won from the College of Business

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's Big Ideas Challenge was held virtually in 2020, the sixth year for this event. Six finalists competed during our highly attended event.

Our winners for 2020

First Place, $5000 and people’s Choice, $2000: Logan Sendle, Lakeshore Potential

He advanced to the semifinalist round in the student division of MNCup (the largest statewide business plan competition in the US where the Student Division prize is $30,000).

Lakeshore Potential specializes in weed removal, landscaping, and beach restoration services to lakeshore residents using unique chemical-free techniques.

Where Are They Now

Lakeshore Potential had one of their best years ever in summer of 2020 with larger crews and more orders.

Second Place, $2500: Abelrahman Elkanaway, Alex Shepherd, Kaitlyn Gloege with Hearing Glasses

Hearing Glasses developed glasses designed for people with hearing disabilities. It’ll help anyone communicate between those with hearing disabilities and anyone without needing to know sign language or having a translator.

Where Are They Now

Hearing Glasses placed third in the semifinals of the Student Division of MN Cup 2020. They won Entrepreneurial Bridge ($5000) in 2020 and won the College Compact competition for $10,000. They continue to actively develop their business idea and to do research and development on their prototype.

Third Place, $2500: Sam Csizmadia, Csizmadia Lawn Care

CLC provides lawn care, landscaping, snow removal, and fertilization services.

For the first time in history, we had a tie between second & third place.

Where Are They Now

Csizmadia Lawn Care wrapped up one of their best financial years and over the winter, he is planning for growth for 2021.

Agriculture/Food/Beverage Division, $3000: Jaden Klingenberg, from Downed Duck

Downed Duck’s invention was a remote-controlled boat used for retrieving shot ducks from the water.

Where Are They Now

Downed Duck is actively working on building their manufacturing prototype to prepare for mass production.

“In the past six years, we have given away $70,000 to student startup businesses. Of the 34 presentations that have made it to the finals, 15 of those businesses are still in operation today. We have had about 112 community and alumni mentors and judges help to make this a terrific real-world learning experience for our students.”

The Big Ideas Challenge has been sponsored for each of the last six years by Lloyd Companies. Craig Lloyd is a 1972 graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato. This year, the Agriculture/Food/Beverage Division prize was sponsored by All American Foods.  Other generous sponsors were, BankVista and MN Valley Business Magazine.

We had 32 applications start the process, 20 that went into Round one for judging. A team of community, alumni, and faculty review and score the round one applications. No names or identifying information is given to the judges, just the ideas. The highest-scoring teams advance to Round two. In Round two, the finalists had to write a full business plan and then prepare a pitch and deliver it on stage on April 14, 2020. The combined plan and pitch scores from our judges determined the winners of all of the prizes except for People’s Choice (which was chosen by audience vote).

We encourage all students, from any major, to start thinking about THEIR Big Ideas for next year. Ideas don’t have to be high tech. Your idea could be a novel or play, it could be an idea to clean up the environment, it could be something that helps people with disabilities or a service for agriculture. Join other students at the Center and get help with developing your idea so you can be on stage next year.


Grand Prize Winner

  • 2True Headbands

Maggie Knier won $5000 for the best plan and pitch combination. She also competed as a Semifinalist in the MNCup Student Division Competition in October, 2019 and took third place.

Where Are They Now

2True Headbands has achieved revenues over $140,000 in 2020 and Maggie Knier continues to grow and expand her business. She made masks starting in spring of 2020 as well as her terrific headbands.

2019 Finalists

Hopynn - Second Place and People's Choice Winner

Where Are They Now

Hopynn is on hold. AJ Rana is currently working as a mechanical engineer at Tesla in the San Francisco Bay area.

EnduraMark L.L.C. - Third Place Winner


CalcX Alpha

CEED Energy - Agriculture/Food/Beverage Division Winner

Where are they now? David Bassey is working to build his first prototype of the vertical axis wind turbine in cooperation with partners willing to let him connect it to their greenhouses in Mankato.

Balance - Agriculture/Food/Beverage Division Finalist

Where are they now? Balance disbanded when the team members graduated. Hannah Perez started her own social media marketing agency in Minnesota. Caelin Laakkonen is a Direct Support Professional at Harry Meyering Center.

Grand Prize Winner

EnduraMark L.L.C.

The 2018 Big Ideas Challenge winners, EnduraMark L.L.C., posing with the giant check they won from the College of Business

2018 Finalists

Twin Cities Engineering Consulting- Best Business Plan and Overall Winner

Where are they now?

Twin Cities Engineering is taking orders for their EnduraMark recyclable and reusable marker and they are seeking help getting into large office supply distribution.

Messy Dog LLC

Where are they now?

Messy Dog continues to provide positive reinforcement dog training at their facility in the Old Town neighborhood in Mankato.

O - Cam- Best Pitch Winner

Where are they now?

Sherif and his partners are using the funds from the Big Idea Challenge to develop a functioning prototype of their camera and app.

Mobile Restock

Where are they now?

Michael continues to run Mobile Restock selling cell phones to a wide variety of customers while finishing his degree.

Cubic 3D LLC

Where are they now?

John presented his business at Big Ideas and at 1Million Cups Mankato. At 1MC, a developer offered him inexpensive space to do his additive manufacturing work. His business is operating in the Mogwai Collaborative in the Hubbard Building near the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Ag/Food/Beverage Division


Coconut Whisk Baking Co. - Ag/Food/Beverage Division Winner

Where are they now?

Bella and Myles started selling their baking mixes at Hy-Vee after winning in the Big Ideas Challenge. They sold out of all their product in their first two weeks on the shelves. They have expanded to Hy-Vee in Lakeville, MN and were vendors at the 2018 Twin Cities Veg Fest.

Bella was featured on the cover of River Valley Woman Magazine November, 2018.

They continue to donate 5% of their profits to animals and kids in need.

Grand Prize Winner

Primate Longboards

The 2017 Big Ideas Challenge winners, Primate Longboards, posing with the giant check they won from the College of Business

2017 Finalists (H5)


Lauren Kramer, Katie Lloyd, Anthony Rathammer, Caleb Johnson and Ryan Hoehn

Where are they now? The Hub was built and opened by Dain Fisher in April, 2018 next to the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship based on the work done by this student team.  Based on the team’s recommendations, it was opened as a Food Truck court and park. Learn more>>>

Messy Dog:

Alex Oldenburg

Where are they now? Messy Dog operated as a dog training and grooming business in Old Town in Mankato in 2018 and 2019. As of fall of 2020, she is operating Messy Dog full-time in Cedar Falls, IA. Learn more>>>

Primate Longboards:

Jackson Jones

Winner of Best Plan and People’s Choice by Primate Longboards

Where are they now? Primate Longboards was sold and Jackson continues to create with wood. His current business, Fingrprint, produces custom signs and other commercial products. Wooden Spoon, a Mankato bakery, and UNRL, a clothing company founded by a Minnesota State University Mankato student, are both clients.


Shahari Chowdhury and Connor Martin

Where are they now? Webytor provides website services to businesses in Mankato, MN and Bangladesh. The Hub food truck park and Mogwai Collaborative use their services. They are housed in the Hubbard Office Building. Learn more>>>

ProtoTec Solutions:

John Ruprecht

Where are they now? Prototech rebranded as Cubic 3D in 2018. They sell 3d printer filament, lease and service 3d printers to local companies and also do production and prototyping 3d printing. They are housed in the Mogwai Collaborative within the Hubbard Office Building. Learn more>>>

John joined the faculty of the Engineering Dept at Minnesota State University, Mankato teaching Parametric Modeling, Statics and Project and Value Management.

Grand Prize Winner

Iron Range Maker Space - Andrew Hangemon

The 2016 Big Ideas Challenge winners, Iron Range Maker Space - Andrew Hangemon, posing with the giant check they won from the College of Business

2016 Finalists

Dream Closet - Kylen Felts

Major: Marketing

Where are they now

Dream Closet is an active student charitable organization on the campuses of Minnesota State University, Mankato and Winona State University.

HomeFresh Personal Chef Services - Hannah Thompson

Major: Dietetics

Where are they now

Winner of the People's Choice in 2016, Hannah continues as a personal chef and active businesswoman. She was featured on the cover of River Valley Woman magazine in 2018.

Iron Range Maker Space - Andrew Hangemon

Major: Engineering

Where are they now

Winner Iron Range Maker Space has an 11,000 square foot facility operating in Hibbing, MN.

Northwood Industries - Kody Henning

Majors: Accounting and Finance

SeaJay Enterprises/ - Charles Jennings

Major: Finance

Where are they now

Charles works as a programmer for and continues to develop in his spare time.

Grand Prize Winner

Mankato Pediatric Respite

The 2015 Big Ideas Challenge winners, Mankato Pediatric Respite, posing with the giant check they won from the College of Business

2015 Finalists

Mankato Pediatric Respite - Katie McDonald and Megan Chase

Majors: Nursing

TeleTox, Inc. - Fuad Gazal, Cynthia Ovadje, Emmanuel Adeyemi

Majors: Electrical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Math, and Environmental Science Majors

VikasEd - Christina Tchatchouang, Ebrothie Charles Thiemele

Majors: Counseling & Student Personnel and International Business Majors

Gym Life - Anthony Ulrich and John Engelhart

Majors: Finance and Computer Science

911 Emergency Help - Mohammed Shahid

Major: Marketing