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IDEA competition: Regional entrepreneurs recognized

The Northwest Minnesota Foundation hosted the IDEA Competition honoring seven area innovators, selecting five finalists. Shown above Dave Cermak, left, Jennifer DeBarr and Mark Landes, inventors of Shield Snap are presented with a plaque as a finalist from Bemidji State University President Richard Hanson. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
IDEA Competition Winners (left to right):James Marvin and Jay Fisher of 11 Hockey; William and Julia Stephani with the Slot Rail Fence; Brady and Jodi Dyrdahl with the Sidekick; Dave Cermack, Jennifer DeBarr and Mark Landes with the Shield Snip; Tamey Noel, Jeff and Dan Sullivan with the Varimax Evaporator. Monte Draoer| Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI- Five regional entrepreneurs were recognized Wednesday night by the IDEA competition to honor their breakthrough ideas.

"It is incredible what companies can do in terms of impact our lives," said James Burgum, keynote speaker for the event and co-founder of Arthur Venture Capital in Fargo, N.D. "It is something that really should be thought about. Ideas that we are cel-ebrating; these things can be real, these things that start as a small spark and they really can turn into something."

This year's winners included:

- Jeff Sullivan, Bemidji, for his Varimax Evaporator, a evaporative technology that evaporates surplus industrial and agricultural waste water.

- Mark Landes and Jennifer DeBarr, Bemidji, for their Shield Snip used to cut coaxial wire used in the aviation, medical and telecom industries without causing damage.

- William and Julia Stephani, Puposky, for their Slot Rail Fence, which is a strong wooden fence that has built in slots for easy assembly.

- Brady and Jodi Dyrdahl, Shelvin, for The Sidekick, a snowmobile work stand that stabilizes a snowmobile allowing for easy access to perform repairs underneath the sled.

- Jay Fisher and James Marvin, Warroad, for Eleven Hockey, a company that manufacturers hockey sticks made of longitude fibers, allowing for a strong yet light hockey stick meant to outlast its competition.

The fourth annual IDEAS competition banquet was held Wednesday night, wrap-ping up a six month competition. Each finalist submits a business plan for their product and conducts a presentation to a judge panel made up of equity finance groups, bankers, business development professionals and en-trepreneurs.

Winners of the competition receive $10,000 as well as a year's worth of expert advice from a business coach.

Corey Westrum, a 2010 winner and owner of Insect Inferno, a trailer built to heat and kill bed bugs from any clothing or blanket, said that the IDEA competition is what jump started the product's recognition nationally.

"We learned a lot from the IDEA competition," Westrum said. "Stuff that we use in our business every day."

Westrum advised the IDEA finalists to work hard, be persistent and listen to what people have to say.

Award winner, like Mark Landes are thankful for the IDEA program and the opportunities it has opened up and the future advice that it will offer.

"The IDEA competition is like a rollercoaster you can't wait to get on and then when you get on you can't wait to get off," Landes said. "But then when you get off you want to get back on again."

Project Coordinator for the IDEA competition, Michelle Landsverk said she was very impressed with this year's finalists and hopes for con-tinued success for the program in the future.