Does your business provide a product or service that makes an impact on the lives of women and families? The Small Business Administration (SBA) is sponsoring the InnovateHER competition, a contest for entrepreneurs to unearth innovative products and services that empower working women and their families.
The competition was inspired by the changing face of the U.S. work force. Today, women make up almost half of the work force; most children live in households where both parents work. In addition, women are increasingly caring for aging parents while juggling the demands of work and home. As demands on women and families grow, the need for products and services that address these unique challenges is growing, too.
InnovateHER provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase products or services that help women and families. The potential for commercialization is one of three criteria that judges will use to evaluate submissions, and it carries the greatest weight (40 percent). The product or service must also have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families (30 percent) and must fill a need in the marketplace (30 percent).
Examples of relevant businesses might include:
- A website or app that lists approved baby sitters in the local area
- Fresh ingredients mailed to your door with a recipe for an easy-to-cook dinner
- A Bluetooth device that looks like a designer bracelet
The first round of the competition started March 1. Throughout March, universities, accelerators, resource partners and other organizations will host local InnovateHer competitions. (Both men and women entrepreneurs who meet the criteria can enter.) On April 1, each host organization will select one local winner. Local winners’ names will be submitted to the SBA, which will choose a maximum of 10 finalists.
During National Small Business Week, May 4 – 8, 2015, finalists will have the chance to travel to Washington, DC, and pitch a panel of expert judges. The top three winners will receive awards as well as prize money totaling $30,000 ($15,000 for the Grand Prize winner, $10,000 for Second Place and $5,000 for Third Place). Finalists must cover their own travel costs to Washington, DC, for the national competition.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.