L-D team tapped for 10th anniversary South Dakota BIG Idea finals

December 4, 2017

L-D team tapped for 10th anniversary South Dakota BIG Idea finals

DEADWOOD — Three Lead-Deadwood High School students thought they had a big idea. Turns out, they did.

The Digger team of Michael Crawford, Angelica Jones and Kaelin O’Leary, students of personal finance teacher Matt Campbell, are one of eight finalists advancing to the 10th anniversary South Dakota BIG Idea Competition Thursday at Northern State University.

The competition encourages students to consider new ideas and opportunities for creating a business in their own region.

The students will pitch their business development prospect, a revolutionary new restaurant idea that eliminates the formalities associated with eating out.

“I think what probably stood out to the judges was the unique twist they put on a restaurant business,” Campbell said. “The business is called Antisocial Eats. I think many people would be drawn to their idea for a restaurant where one need not tip or have an order taken by wait staff and could experience the privacy of private tables set up in cubicles where they could watch just the game they are interested in (as opposed to trying to watch a game at a sports bar with 15 games going on at once) or have a private conversation without dealing with noisy talk from nearby tables.”

“The restaurant uses tablets, so you can kind of take care of your own order, so there aren’t any waiters or hosts,” O’Leary explained. “You order your own food on tablets we provide, and when it’s ready, it shows up on your tablet, and you come and get your own food and take it back to your own spot.”

“It’s sports bar themed, that kind of food, wings, nachos, is what we were thinking,” Crawford said. “So you still get that whole atmosphere, but you don’t have to deal with the whole social aspect. There is also a lot of human error associated with someone taking your order. With a tablet, it’s more concrete, so that is eliminated.”

“We were thinking it is something that would appeal to people who are really busy and there are a lot of why people who get nervous asking for food and feel like they’re bothering people,” O’Leary said. “It’s just a lot easier to just do it on a tablet. Also, this would be smaller individual tables. It’s more designed for small groups. We would also avoid paying hosts and waitresses. We would just have a floor supervisor, just in case something would go wrong with the technology.”

“For our location, we chose Spearfish because people from surrounding areas go there ... To college, people go there for groceries,” O’Leary said.

“We thought about Rapid City, but it’s so much more expensive for rent and lots, everything, so Spearfish was the best option,” Crawford said.

Competition for the contest was fierce, as the eight finalists were selected from 243 applications submitted by 37 different schools.

“I was very surprised,” Jones said of learning her team was one of the finalists in the competition. “I wasn’t expecting us to be one out of 243 teams and we were in the top eight. It was very exciting and very surprising.

“Because such a large number of people that competed,” O’Leary said.

“We were the only team from this side of the state -- all of the other schools are east river -- and that, alone, surprised me,” Crawford said. “And especially to be selected from our class. There were a lot of good ideas in our classroom, too.”

“We are very excited for this opportunity,” said Campbell, explaining that everyone in his personal finance class participates in the competition, either as individuals or in groups no larger than three.

“My goal is to encourage students to think of entrepreneurial opportunities in our community,” Campbell said. “I would also like students to gain experience presenting in front of community members and learn how to communicate clearly. Even the students who did not make the final eight, got the opportunity to present and there were many other terrific business ideas that did not make the final eight. Many of the other entries in the competition come from classes in schools across the state and homeschool students can compete, as well.”

First round judges included 108 volunteers, along with 204 college entrepreneurship and business students.

During the BIG Idea Final Competition, finalists will have six minutes to present their idea to a panel of judges and compete for nearly $5,000 in cash prizes and scholarships.

Prizes for the eight finalists include $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place and $250 for third place. Scholarships to both Northern State University and Presentation College will also be awarded.

Campbell said the students will benefit from this state competition by being able to interact with the other competitors and visiting with the entrepreneurs who will serve as their mentors.

“Some students in this competition have gone on to implement and open their own business,” Campbell said. “Even if they choose not to pursue the business idea further, they will gain valuable experience giving a public presentation and will get the opportunity to work collaboratively on a challenging project.”

Would this group ever seriously entertain the idea of implementing Antisocial Eats?

“Later, if we had all the resources we needed and really thought it through,” Crawford said. “It would have to be all of us, though. It couldn’t be one of us alone.”

All students who have participated in the competition are invited to the awards ceremony, which will feature keynote speaker Michael Grabham, innovator of Package Guard, as well as a panel discussion with local business owners.

“I am very proud of these students. Angelica Jones, Kaelin O’ Leary and Michael Crawford are great students,” Campbell said. “They worked hard on their presentation and I know they will do well in Aberdeen as they have already presented their plan to a panel of local business people and economic development and Chamber of Commerce representatives. They are working just as hard to prepare for this competition. I am confident that they will do well.”

The competition is coordinated by the Small Business Development Center and funded by several partners and the competition is a result of the inputs and collaboration of those organizations and other Aberdeen entities.

“I would like to thank Toby Keehn (owner of Mustang Sally’s), Jamie Gilcrease-Heupel (owner of Lotus Up), Lori Frederick (Lead Economic Development) and Marta Artz (Deadwood Chamber of Commerce) for generously giving their time to serve on a panel to hear all of our Personal Finance students pitch their business ideas in class,” Campbell said. “They listened to the presentations, asked questions and gave feedback to the students. We appreciate their help. All of the students really enjoyed it and it will benefit Michael, Angelica and Kaelin in the competition.”

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