In 2010, Far Reach developed a platform for the University of Northern Iowa’s MyEntre.Net
program to host entrepreneurial contests. The Dream Big Grow Here (DBHG) platform allows entrepreneurs to submit their dreams of owning and growing their own businesses, and winners earn monetary prizes to invest back into their business’s needs.
As we entered this year’s Dream Big Grow Here
contest, some visual and functional updates were needed to improve the Iowa contests and allow the platform to expand to other states.
At 3 years old, the previous DBGH site looked dated. The new look is cleaner, easier to navigate, and has more white space. It’s more reflective of current web design trends, while displaying the necessary content in a logical format. Though the site is not optimized for mobile, it is much more mobile-friendly than the previous site, with faster load times and larger buttons.
Improved Front-End User Interface
Based on feedback from MyEntre.Net and DBGH users, we revamped the way entries are submitted and voted on. The updates make the front-end more functional and user friendly.
For example, instead of entries being tied to MyEntre.Net accounts, individuals submitting a dream create a Dream Big Grow Here account, and entries are kept separate from MyEntre.Net—an important step in making the system scalable.
In addition, voting is now validated through Facebook login. Previously, voting was monitored through IP and email addresses, which allowed cheating workarounds. With Facebook login, preventing and determining fraudulent voting is much easier.
Scalability to Other States
Previously, the DBGH was limited to Iowa. However, with the front-end changes discussed above, the platform can now be used by other states that want to host similar contests. Currently, Oklahoma is preparing for early-2014 contests, and other states are in the planning stages.
Streamlined Admin Processes
Because the plan was to take DBGH to other states, the entry and voting management area of the site had to be disconnected from MyEntre.Net and incorporated into its own back-end. Entries and voting are now easier to manage within the system—individually for each state.
The Dream Big Grow Here contests have proven effective for generating buzz around local small businesses. Regional contests provide exposure for entrepreneurs who enter, even if they don’t win. Voting is encouraged through social media, so word of mouth spreads quickly.
Check out your local Dream Big Grow Here contest (currently in Iowa
), and watch for more states adding contests in the coming years.
What the Client is Saying
“I just wanted to write a note about how happy our UNI team is with the Dream Big Grow Here website(s). I know we put you on a tight deadline, but your team members (and James very specifically) have really pulled through on the changes we needed to make to not only get the Oklahoma expansion possible, but also get the Iowa site where we wanted it to be. Thank you all—and thank you James!—for all of your helping getting this done. I cannot express enough how pleased we all are with the end result. If you haven’t had a chance yet, take a look at our new sweet sites at DreamBigGrowHere.com & DreamBigOklahoma.com.
—Rob Williams, MyEntre.Net