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A Winning Idea

Highway My-Way to Hit the Streets!

Koren Hill, Editor
Warroad Pioneer

    Warroad resident, Nancy Fisher of sf(x) Engineering, Inc., has been announced as one of five winners of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation’s 2010 IDEA Competition. The announcement was made at a banquet held in Bemidji on May 5.  Each of the five winners will receive $10,000 in cash to advance their business idea and could also qualify for up to an additional $10,000 of specialized technical assistance.
    Nancy’s award-winning idea is Highway My-Way, self-stick paper roads that children can use to design their own roadways and then drive their Hot Wheels-size cars on them. Nancy first came up with the idea in 2002 after watching her son, Jonas, make his own roads and cities out of paper and tape.  She then began researching how to make the idea work, but it was temporarily stalled after her daughter was involved in an accident.
    Fast forward to the summer of 2009: The Fishers received the Northwest Minnesota Foundation “Resource” in the mail and in it was an article explaining the IDEA Competition. Nancy was intrigued and after discussing it with her husband, Stephen, she decided to take the idea that had been on the back burner for seven years and go for it. 
    Simply put, the competition involves four stages: completing the initial application, writing a business plan, forming a financial plan and, last but not least, preparing a PowerPoint presentation to pitch the idea to the judges. Many resources were made available to help Nancy along in her plan, including workshops, training and even mentors to answer any questions that arose. “I spent lots of hours working on my plan and presentation and, in the process, I learned a lot about what it will take to get our product launched,” Nancy said. 
    At the start of the IDEA Competition, Nancy had two big questions, “Is this really a good idea? Where can I get the funds to get this project off the ground?” With those questions now answered, she can move forward with her vision of children everywhere using their own creativity while using Highway My-Way. “I have received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement about the product and now we have the funds we need for the development costs,”beamed Nancy. She is hoping to have the first samples of Highway My-Way completed by the end of the summer. 
    Nancy and Stephen Fisher have lived in Warroad for 20 years and have five children, Jay, who lives in Milwaukee, WI, with his wife and two daughters; Jonathan, who is in his junior year at Northwestern College in St. Paul; Julia, a senior at Warroad High School; Jonas, 13; and Justus, 6.

Women inventors sought

By Karen Tolkkinen

Got a breakthrough idea?  The Northwest Minnesota Foundation is encouraging women to enter the annual IDEA Competition.  Now entering its third year, the competition gives winners $10,000 and other assistance to commercialize ideas that either dramatically improve something or that creates an entirely new product, service or business process.  This year, winners included one woman, Nancy Fisher (right) of Warroad, who entered her design for a child’s paper roadway featuring realistic-looking asphalt and curves. The roadways stick safely to a number of surfaces including tables and floors. Called Highway My-Way, the road fits two Hot Wheels-size cars, side by side.  IDEA Competition project coordinator Michelle Landsverk of Fosston notes that more women are coming forward with their ideas.  “The first year,” Landsverk said, “we had a handful of women who registered, but we didn’t have any who went on to become finalists. This year, we had two women who were finalists, one of which (Fisher) went on to become a winner.”  Nancy is president of Warroad-based sf(x) Engineering, Inc., which was founded in 1992 and incorporated in 2001. Her husband Stephen is the professional engineer. Nancy, a music teacher with a science background, said she got the idea for the paper roads after watching her son stick masking tape all over the floor for his toy cars or else draw roads on reams of paper.  “I had this idea seven years ago,” she said. “We ran out of money to put into it and we were kind of stuck, so we were very excited to win.”  She hopes to have the product in stores by Christmas.  To be eligible, an entrepreneur must plan to locate his or her business within the Northwest region of the state. Entering costs $150, and the deadline is November 30. The winner will be chosen in May. For more information, visit www.ideacompetition.org

Highway My-Way™ receives rural business development grant


Amy Tobkin

Northwest Minnesota Foundation

4225 Technology Dr NW

Bemidji, MN 56601

Phone: 218-751-1940


Rural Minnesota business owner receives funding through RBEG program

Bemidji, MN — January 26, 2011 — The RBEG program provides grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate development of small and emerging rural businesses. To assist with business development, RBEGs may fund a broad array of activities. Nancy Fisher, President of sf(x) Engineering, Inc. in Warroad, MN received one of the grants to continue the commercialization of her innovative peel and stick roads that foster children’s creativity. Using 3M™ Post-it® technologies, children are able to build their own roads and incorporate existing toys for hours of enjoyment. Made in USA. To learn more about Highway My-way™ visit www.highwaymy-way.com

RBEG grants visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/rbeg.htm