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The 2020 Idea Challenge has a Grand Prize Winner!

Posted by adminALT on December 16th, 2020

Have you ever found yourself exhausted by endlessly bending to pick up a tennis ball while playing a casual game or playing fetch with your dog?  This is the problem that Kevin Neff, with new-product the Tennis Ball Scoop, is trying to solve.  On December 15, The Idea Challenge, a local business idea competition, held a virtual pitch session for five finalists.  Heard by a panel of industry experts, the Tennis Ball Scoop was named the winner and will receive $5000 to launch his business into the marketplace, thanks to a sponsorship by Northwestern Bank.

The Tennis Ball Scoop is a patented rubber attachment that affixes to the end of a tennis racquet that allows the user to grab the ball without bending to pick it up. Neff has been working on iterations of this design for about two years, taking customer feedback very seriously.  Consumers of the Tennis Ball Scoop are in two market segments; casual racquet sport players (fits on all kids of racquets) and dog owners who play tennis ball fetch.

Neff says he will use the prize money to pay for production equipment so he can start manufacturing and then focus on sales.  You can find the Tennis Ball Scoop on his website,

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 aspiring 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, Northwestern Bank became the financial sponsor, giving The Idea Challenge the opportunity to offer cash awards and reimbursements to the contest’s finalists.  In addition, Co-Lab, a downtown co-working space and part of the Pablo Group, has added to the prize package for the finalists.


The Idea Challenge 2020 Finalists:

  • The Hippie Banker, by Beth Crowell – A business loan consultant and life coach, using a holistic approach to help women get their businesses founded, funded, and grounded.
  • Tennis Ball Scoop, by Kevin Neff – An extremely light weight, rubber device that is easily fastened to the top of a tennis racquet for versatile use by dog owners and casual tennis players.
  • UpStream AV by Jim McDougall Wireless and adaptable audio visual solutions unique to the market, aimed to provide solutions that always work and save money.
  • Portable Multi-Cam & Live Streaming by Kyle Lehman Ivy Media is offering a multi-camera and live streaming video package to bring your event to life. The high quality and 4k deliverable offers crystal clear video with lighting fast delivery.
  • Green Fleet by Bill Lobner – Sustainable, luxury ride service, featuring Tesla electric vehicles, that operates within a 100 mile radius of Eau Claire.


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 advance their idea! All finalists will receive $500 and several marketing and business services incentives to help launch their business idea.

The Eau Claire Area EDC accepts applications and works with individuals for The Idea Challenge year round and is currently accepting applications for 2021.



Becca Coleman
Community Project Manager, Eau Claire Area EDC



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