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CHECK OUT (SOME OF) OUR entrepreneurs and small businesses


Yeah, we did this last year too! Check out Pitch Your Biz 2017 on our YouTube channel.


It’s time. Take our survey!

Nearly 200 people participated in Big Idea Hastings in some way. We want to know what you think about the event! Let us know how you thought this year went so we can improve (or maybe stay the same) moving forward.

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The room was filled with anticipation and entrepreneurial energy. Let’s just say, Big Idea Hastings 2018 was another success! Nine Finalists were selected to pitch their ideas at this year’s Hastings’ version of Shark Tank. These Finalists had one week to create presentations, prepare their two-minute pitch, and embrace the confidence they knew they would need in front of the crowd. And WOW, we were impressed.

In case you weren’t there, this is how Big Idea Hastings works. It starts with a social at 5:30 pm and we get right into it at 6:30. We start with Pitch Your Biz, a video showcasing our existing entrepreneurs *next paragraph* and then we hear from our aspiring entrepreneurs/Finalists after that. Each 2-minute pitch is followed by a short Q&A from our panel of “sharks”. After all have pitched their ideas, the judges go upstairs to deliberate who moves on to Top 5. Top 5 is announced, Popular Vote starts, and then BAM! we have our Top 3 and cash prizes winners.

Real quick: Last year, we did this thing called Pitch Your Biz the night before Big Idea Hastings. It went over so well, we did it again. Pitch Your Biz is for existing entrepreneurs and small business owners in our community. We know how expensive and difficult it can be to get your name out there, so HEDC and Optix Digital Media teamed up and created Pitch Your Biz, a video promoting them! It’s completely free for local entrepreneurs and small business owners. All they have to do is show up with their 20-second pitch and we create a video to promote them all year long. And when I say we, I mean Optix creates the video and we get the people to show up. Check out the behind-the-scenes shots below or the full video at the top of the page!

So back to Big Idea Hastings. These were our Finalists:

  • Kaylin DeDiana with Willow Tree Grocery: a downtown bodega that would sell organic products, house a juice bar, and offer quick meal options using organic ingredients

  • Hannah Adams with Wooden Essentials: a product using custom-designed wood pieces to be used as reusable air fresheners

  • Rachel Plock with Dec the Halls: a home decorating business taking the hassle out of the holidays

  • Jordan Ismaeil with The Depot: a collaborative artists residency program providing a hub for artists to work and live

  • Natalie Knott with Meraki Inspired Events: a business-to-business event planning business

  • Kris Vrooman with Jord Producers: a mealworm-producing business for exotic animal and human consumption

  • Sarah Nottage-Tacey with Asteria Events and Entertainment: an event planning business for weddings, corporate events, and more

  • Molly Kluver with Ember Bridal Boutique: a wedding dress boutique in Downtown Hastings

  • Kathryn Vontz with Prairie Wild Floral: a wildflower bouquet delivery company using her locally grown flowers and sourcing from other local farmers

Narrowing down to a Top 5 was incredibly difficult for our judges. Let me say that again, INCREDIBLY difficult. The Finalists were prepared, confident, and each one of them could thrive in our community. But a decision had to be made and so the Top 5 were (left to right) Ember Bridal Boutique, Jord Producers, Prairie Wild Floral, Meraki Inspired Events, and Asteria Events and Entertainment. Regardless of who was going to take home the cash prizes, all of the Top 5 Finalists receive a Local Business Package with local resources that will be able to help bring their ideas to fruition (see Professional Partners below).

Next up, a little bit of chaos. Each attendee that evening received two voting tickets as they arrived so they had two chances to vote for their favorite ideas! As soon as the Top 5 are announced, Popular Vote immediately starts and they only have 5 minutes to cast their votes! When we have over 175 people in the room, yeah, it’s a little bit of chaos.

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Drum roll, please. At the end of the night, there had to be a Top 3.

3rd Place and $250 went to Ember Bridal Boutique.
2nd Place and $500 went to Jord Producers.
Andddddd… Prairie Wild Floral took home 1st Place and $1,000!

So what do we do now? HEDC will be working hand-in-hand with these entrepreneurs along with the professional partners. It takes a team, it takes resources, and it takes collaboration to start a business. Make sure you follow us on social media so you can stay updated on the progress!

THANK YOU! We couldn’t have done this without our Prize Sponsors, Coordinating Sponsors, and Professional Partners. A BIG shoutout to all those below.


Hastings Economic Development Corporation & Inspired by Hastings

Hastings Young Professionals

The Lark

Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce


Hastings Economic Development Corporation

Hastings College

Central Community College - Small Business Institute


Community Redevelopment Authority & Business Improvement District

Optix Digital Media

Lutz Accounting

IdeaBank Marketing

Dunmire, Fisher, Hastings, & Pauley