i.d.e.a WF participants reflect on competition

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:46 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - If you’re an entrepreneur looking for an opportunity to jump-start your business, i.d.e.a. WF might just be the program for you.

It’s an annual business development competition that supports local entrepreneurs.

There is no participant cap so anyone can take part the competition consists of 10 steps to win your share of $50,000 cash.

i.d.e.a. WF began in 2010 and has since awarded more than $300,000 in cash and about a half million of in-kind services to more than 30 different winners. Almost 70% of these small businesses are still operating in the Wichita Falls area, employing local people and bringing revenue to our community.

“It started out as a business planning competition, but it’s really grown into a mini-course on owning your own business. So a couple of years ago we added all of these additional classes so now you don’t just learn how to write a business plan, you get a class on understanding financial statements performing statements, marketing,” i.d.e.a. WF coordinator Jeannie Hilbers said.

Gary Keeny is the owner of Keeno’s Beef Jerky, the 2013 i.d.e.a. WF winner, is a perfect example of the success a business can gain from taking part in the competition.

“What I didn’t realize was that all of the other things that came with it, the mentorship was just exceptional and it made all the difference in the world,” Keeny said.

Before he entered the program, Keeny explained he was completely clueless about where to even begin pursuing his business, but he was determined and it took him further than he ever imagined.

“For instance, I’ve got packages going out today to Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Arizona, Las Vegas. And you think this is a little ma and pa jerky operation in 2,500 square feet in Wichita Falls, Texas and no we would have never guessed that would happen,” Keeny said.

Other participants can agree the competition has made all the difference in their business, even if they were not selected as a winner. For instance, Brent Donley, owner of Hospice at Home and a 2021 i.d.e.a. WF finalist, credits i.d.e.a. WF for much of their success.

“We absolutely benefited from i.d.e.a. WF. Without i.d.e.a. WF, Hospice at Home wouldn’t be a reality,” Donley said.

That’s because i.d.e.a. WF provides much more than a cash prize. During the competition, participants are led through the business planning and startup or expansion processes from start to finish, an element past participants say is priceless.

“It’s hard to find that for that price, you’re paying $295, you’re getting six workshops out of that. If you were to have to pay your CPA to sit down with you for a couple of hours, you would be paying more than that. So it’s just a lot of good information,” Hilbers said.

There will be six identical and free orientation sessions available for anyone to join starting Feb. 2. Each will take place in room 131 at the Dillard College of Business Administration at Midwestern State University. For more information, you can visit their website by clicking here.