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Fixity takes home the $5,000 Grand Prize in the 2018 Idea Challenge

Posted by Eau Claire Area EDC on December 26th, 2018

Fixity, an idea submitted by Andrew Niese for an app to report and manage issues within a city, was awarded the 2018 Idea Challenge Grand prize of $5,000 towards reimbursable business expenses to move his idea into the local marketplace. Niese explained that he came up with the idea after he took up running:

“Fixity started shortly after I took up running a couple years ago. I’d keep noticing things like overgrown branches blocking the sidewalk, and dangerous crosswalks. When I tried calling the city, sometimes it was tough to reach the right people or describe exactly where the issues were, so I thought maybe this was something that software could help with.

“I think a lot of people want to be proactive in helping shape their neighborhoods and making them better places to live. Fixity is about helping them do that and helping cities to respond effectively.”

The Idea Challenge is an annual contest where individuals in the Eau Claire Area can submit their idea for a new product, service, or process. Entrepreneurs and inspiring entrepreneurs submit their ideas to the Idea Challenge where the Eau Claire Area EDC then walks them through the process of taking an idea and moving it into the marketplace.

Launched by the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation in 2007, the Idea Challenge has been supporting local entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers within our community for over a decade. In 2011, thanks in part to the added contribution of the Idea Challenge’s sponsor Northwestern Bank, the Idea Challenge was able to offer cash awards and reimbursements to aid some of the applicants in advancing their idea.

When asked what the next steps are for Fixity, Niese said “We’re doing a limited beta test now, so next we want to reach out to more cities and expand that. Marketing will be a big thing. If I can find help to increase awareness and outreach, that will free me up to focus on product development. The Idea Challenge prize money will really help with that.”

Fixity was presented alongside four other ideas that had been submitted to the contest throughout the year. The five Idea Challenge finalists that presented for the $5000 Grand Prize – in no particular order – are as follows:

  • Shockless Chisel by Thomas Zimbauer Jr.- an ergonomically designed chisel to ease the discomfort of use for home renovation projects
  • Fixity by Andrew Niese- an app to report and manage issues in a city
    Payload by Eric Boud – new type of functional ammo packaging
  • Foam Forge LLC by Ronald Barribeau – customized foam weapons for fun & fighting
  • Revolutionary Studios Revolutionary Studios by Nick Scherrer – a 3D scanning company

Gerald Jacobson, President of Northwestern Bank explains how the Idea Challenge continues to impact the Eau Claire area –

“The Idea Challenge has again given many budding entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their ideas of future businesses. The breadth and creativity of their ideas shows that our community is vibrant and growing. I am sure that some of these ideas will blossom like previous year’s winners and contestants whose businesses are evident thru out the Eau Claire area.”

Through the Idea Challenge, dozens of ideas have been assisted into the local marketplace. Some notable examples include:

  • Chip Magnet who makes Non-GMO salsas, relishes, and sauces that are sold in 7 states throughout the Midwest
  • Gorilla Dumpster Bags with an innovation in the dumpster industry that’s cheaper and environmentally friendly than traditional steel dumpsters.
  • Earthbound Environmental Services who provides flexible organics recycling service for both residential and industrial clients.
  • Silvermine Stone Company who invented a mortarless stone siding sold throughout the US and Canada
  • Northern Star Fire that is the only directional guidance system available to firefighters and an innovation in safety for low-visibility environments.
  • Chippewa Valley Tours (AKA Three Foodies LLC – and last year’s winner of the Idea Challenge) a walking tour that will stop at several different restaurants/establishments providing a tasting at each stop while also providing a look into downtown Eau Claire’s rich history.

Products from these Idea Challenge applicants, as well as many, many more, are being sold throughout the nation. As explained by Jacobson,

“I feel that the Idea Challenge gives the push for someone to take their idea from the kitchen table and make the idea a plan, which has benefited the entire community in new business startups.”

The Idea Challenge is open to any individual or company with an idea for a new product or service. For over a decade the Idea Challenge has been assisting entrepreneurs in getting connected to community resources, practicing their pitch, assisting in getting their idea into the market, and –of course- the chance to win $5000 in reimbursable business expenses to move their idea forward!  The EDC accepts applications and works with individuals for The Idea Challenge year round and is currently accepting applications for 2019.

Submit your idea online at!