The U.S. Small Business Administration - InnovateHER Challenge is a business competition used to identify, recognize, and reward excellence in entrepreneurs.The Challenge was created on the idea that our nation’s workforce looks very different from 50 years ago. Today, women now make up nearly half of the labor force and play a critical role in our nation’s economic prosperity. Most children live in households where all parents work and as our population ages, families are increasingly caring for aging parents while balancing the needs of work and home. As the demands on women and families grow, the need for products and services that address these unique challenges increases. SBA's InnovateHER provides that platform.
The goal of the Challenge is to showcase products and services that do the following:
(1) Have a measurable impact on the lives of woman and families
(2) Have the potential for commercialization; and
(3) Fill a need in the marketplace.
The 2017 InnovateHER Challenge is a national prize competition that culminates in a live pitch Final Round. The two division winners of the St. Louis InnovateHER Challenge will be submitted and reviewed by the SBA for admittance into the national InnovateHER Semi-Finals. Up to ten (10) InnovateHER Finalists, will be invited to compete for $70,000 in cash prizes provided by The Sarah Blakely Foundation.
What do winners of the St. Louis InnovateHER competition receive?
- The Illinois division winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize coordinated by the IL Metro East SBDC and up to $1,000 of in-kind legal services provided by Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd.
- The Missouri division winner will receive a $2,000 cash prize along with an array of in-kind professional services coordinated by the Missouri SBDC St. Louis
- Each division winner submitted by an approved local host will advance to the semi-final round of the national InnovateHER Challenge.
SBA will review all semi-finalists nomination packages submitted by the local competition host organizations and select up to ten (10) finalists. In September 2017, the finalists will be invited to participate in the national InnovateHER Challenge (Location TBA) scheduled for September 2017, where they will make a live marketing pitch to a panel of expert judges drawn from the private sectors and compete for up to $70,000 in cash prizes.
Participation in 2017 St. Louis InnovateHER Woman Business Challenge
Applicants will be required to submit a complete business plan to be eligible for semi-final consideration. SBA also set the following guidelines:
This Challenge is open only to:
- Citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are at least eighteen (18) years of age at the time of their submission or team of such individual; and
- Private entities, such as corporations or other organizations, that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. Individuals submitting on behalf of corporations, nonprofits, or groups of individuals (such as an academic class or other team) must meet the eligibility requirements for individual contestants, see #1
- An individual may belong to more than one team submitting an entry in this Challenge.
- SBA employees are not eligible, nor are federal entities or Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment.
- Individuals or organizations that are currently suspended or disbarred by the federal government are not eligible for this Challenge.
Special Note: Both females and males are eligible to participate as long as criteria are met.
There are two separate divisions in the St. Louis competition: Illinois and Missouri. The on-line entry form requires a choice of one of the divisions described below:
- Illinois -- Eligible counties include: Bond, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Clinton, Greene, Jefferson, Jersey, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Menard, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Randolph, Sangamon, Scott, Shelby, St. Clair and Washington. (This category is hosted by the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center.)
- Missouri -- eligible counties include: St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles, St. Peter, Franklin, Jefferson, and Warrenton. (This category is hosted by the Missouri Small Business Development Center - St. Louis.)
Structure and Schedule
Sign up Deadline: Open enrollment until May 16, 2017. Contestants submit a summary of why and how their business meets the 3 goals of the Challenge:
1. Showcase products and services that have a measurable impact on the lives of woman and families (30%)
2. Have the potential for commercialization (40%)
3. Fill a need in the Marketplace (30%)
Decision on Advancement to Business Plan Phase
Applicants will be immediately reviewed for competition eligibility and ability to meet the Challenge goals. Those applicants that satisfy this criteria will be advanced to the business plan phase of the competition.
Business Plan Submission Deadline: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 11:59pm
Evaluation Start Date: Thursdayday, May 25, 2017 (Competition evaluators start reviewing Executive Summaries and Business Plans)
Evaluation Deadline: Friday, May 26, 2017 (Evaluators and host organizations make final selection of Contestants who advance to the live pitch and panel interview.)
Announcement of the finalists: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 5:00pm (Qualifying contestants informed of their advancement to final phase and begin preparing pitch for final event.)
Final Pitch Event Date: Thursday, June 1, 2017 starting at 1:30pm (Selected contestants participate in live pitch and panel interview. Contestants must address the connection between their business and the goals of InnovateHER.)
St. Louis Competition
St. Louis SBDC is having an information on 5-22-2017 at 2 pm at the TREX 911 Washington 5th floor St. Louis MO 63101
- Business Plan Submission Deadline: May 30th at 11:59 pm
- The St. Louis SBDC judges will review business plans on June 2
- The St. Louis winner will be notified on 6-30-2017