Ignite! Ideas Contest

Ignite! 2014 Ideas Contest

Attention all start-ups, small business owners, social entrepreneurs, savvy

studentsbig thinkers, and go-getters. We’ve got a proposition for you. EngenuitySC and Wells Fargo are teaming up to give away $5000 for your ideas!

Everything You Need to Know



Ignite! 2013 Winner Brandon Gantt

  • Ignite! Ideas contest submission closes: Friday, October 24 at 11:19pm

  • Top 5 submissions are notified: Friday, October 31

  • Interviews of Top 5: Thursday, November 6

  • Top 3 (who will present at Ignite!) selected and notified: Friday, November 7

  • Ignite! Dress Rehearsal: Tuesday, November 18

  • Presentations at Ignite! and winner announced: Wednesday, November 19

Who can enter?

  • Must live in the South Carolina Midlands (includes Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda and Sumter counties)
  • Individuals
  • Organizations (if entering on behalf of an organization, be sure to list your pitch person as the main contact)
  • Students (including those who are entering The Proving Ground competition)
  • Sorry! Past Ideas Contest winners are not eligible to enter

​​What kind of ideas are you looking for?

  • Any great idea, from a new product to a novel business solution.
  • Ideas should be well-thought out, exciting and represent a chance to use $5,000 to start something innovative.
  • Any great idea, from a new product to a novel business solution.
  • Ideas should be well-thought out, exciting and represent a chance to use $5,000 to start something innovative.
  • If your idea is similar to someone else's, that's okay! Your challenge is to tell us why your solution is unique and scalable.
  • While there isn’t a specific type of idea we’re looking for, some of the best ideas we’ve seen have been in social entrepreneurship, community activism, philanthropy, or a new company or product

What kinds of ideas are usually "winners"? What's the vibe of the contest? 

  • We’re looking for ideas that excite and people who embody the spirit of entrepreneurship. 
  • Winning ideas can be in development stages or truly just an idea. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a full-blown business plan. 
  • An upbeat, exciting presentation is just as important as the idea itself: after all, our $5,000 Wells Fargo grand prize will be awarded to a winner chosen by the live audience at Ignite! The audience at Ignite! includes 600 movers, shakers and groundbreakers in the Midlands. It’s a mix of business leaders, elected officials, entrepreneurs, students, and little bit of everything else. Inviting your posse to Ignite! has its benefits - and could help push you over the edge to win! 

What's the process? 

  • Record a 2 minute video explaining your idea and upload to YouTube, Vimeo, or elsewhere online.
  • Submit your video link with a summary of your idea (about 250 words or so). Tell us how your idea will start something new, exciting, innovative, or just plain awesome.
  • If selected as a semi-finalist, you’ll present to a panel of judges.
  • If you make the cut, you’ll be invited as a finalist to present live at the event. Bring your entourage. Wild cheering encouraged.

How do I enter? 

  • Record a two-minute video highlighting your creative presentation skills. Remember, you're trying to sell someone on your idea - get creative and have fun with it! Samples from last year's finalists are below.
  • Fill out the entry form below. It will include space for a 250-word summary of your idea where you should outline the challenge, your solution and how $5,000 from Wells Fargo could kickstart your plan. 
  • Our judges will narrow down the entries to five semi-finalists. If selected as a semi-finalist, you’ll present to a panel of judges. The judging panel will select the top three finalists. If you’re one of top three finalists, you’ll be invited to present live at Ignite! 2014. The winner will be selected by the audience at the event.

How will I win? What are the judges looking for? 

  • Name & why you’re participating
  • What’s your big idea?  
  • Concept pitch: what is it and why does it matter?
  • Relevancy to the Midlands: What need does it address and why implement it here?
  • Potential impact: How is it going to help our community, create jobs, etc?
  • Realistic execution: How exactly will you use the prize money to pull it off?
  • Special sauce: What makes your idea the best?

Ready to enter?

Fill out the form below. If you have more questions, call us at 803.354.5720. Now - go make movie magic!


Please provide a 100 word summary of your idea.

How will this idea start something new, innovative, or novel? What change will this idea catalyze? How will this move Columbia and the Midlands forward? Include your idea is and why it matters; how it’s relevant to Columbia; how it’s impactful; how you’ll execute and use the prize money; what makes your idea unique.