Small business owner: Are you up for the $10,000 UPS 2017 X-Port Challenge?

As important to the world economy as the United States is, most consumers don’t live within our borders, and their buying power is increasing all the time.

However, less than 1 percent of U.S. companies export and of those who do, 58 percent export to just one country.

Those figures come from UPS, a company that knows quite a lot about international shipping and commerce. And, UPS has a tantalizing challenge for any small business that would like to start exporting: The UPS X-Port Challenge where qualifying start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses will compete for $10,000 in international shipping credits with UPS.

It’s an interesting competition because it’s very decentralized in its initial stages. Here’s the outline of how it works:

Interested companies that qualify in participating markets submit an application online via the UPS website contest page listing their specialty, global appeal, and market challenges. A team of UPS employees will evaluate the applications based on criteria such as uniqueness, presentation, market demand and global readiness. Application deadlines vary by geographic market.

The top 10 applicants from each participating market will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges from the local international business community. The judges will then select the top three finalists as prize winners. The second and third place winners will receive $2,500 and $1,000 in credits respectively in UPS export shipping.

The winner of each market competition will be included in a virtual run-off where UPS employees will vote on which product is export worthy. The top three contestants with the most votes will be invited to a national competition held the first quarter of 2018 for an opportunity to win a cash grand prize of $25,000. Second place wins $15,000 and third place walks away with $10,000.

In 2016, there were 33 different first through third place winners spread over 11 UPS regions – that fact should give you a good level of confidence that you have a decent chance to win at some level.

Finally, if you’re in a competitive mood, check out the list we maintain of various small business and startup competitions around the country.

You can’t win if you don’t enter!

Image: By Flickr User qnr (Flickr: provenance url image url) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons