Wanted: Women with great business ideas

women competitors

The Small Business Administration’s 2017 InnovateHER competition is underway with entries being accepted through May 12, 2017.

There’s $70,000 in prize money on the line along with other awards and the competition culminates with national winners being named on July 27, 2017.

The hard work starts earlier, however. Winners from regional InnovateHER events can go on to the national-level competition, so if you’ve been pondering that winning idea here are the fundamentals.

  1. Find a local event. Here’s a map of all the local institutions that hosted an InnovateHER even in 2016.
  2. Win your local event.
  3. Submit your winning plan to the national competition. You need a cover letter that includes a specific list of details; your business plan (20-page maximum length); and a signed statement of support from your host organization.

The competition was conceived to increase the role of women in the venture capital market and it focuses on “innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.” The judging criteria are:

  • Potential for commercialization,
  • Impact on the lives of women and families, and
  • Fills a need in the marketplace.

Announcing this year’s event, outgoing SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said, “Women represent half of the U.S. workforce and control 80 percent of the nation’s purchasing power, but still make up less than five percent of venture capitalists. I decided to launch this annual competition two years ago so that we could begin to address that opportunity gap, because when women have an equal role in the marketplace and are able to chart their own paths, our nation as a whole is stronger and more globally competitive.”

The 2016 InnovateHER national winners were:

There are a few pages on the SBA website where you can get additional details (and perhaps some insights on what it takes to win). The Office of Women’s Business Ownership | Resources page gives an overview and details about some previous winners. You’ll find more specific details about this year’s competition on the 2017 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge page. For the SBA’s press release, go here.

And if this has made your competitive juices flow, check out this long list of startup competitions.