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InnovateHER Business Competition Seeks Local Inventors Impacting the Lives of Women, Families

Four local organizations throughout Washington will host the SBA competition; entrants will compete for a national $40,000 prize
Release Date: 
Monday, November 2, 2015
Release Number: 
Matthew Williams (206) 553-7315

SEATTLE – Four local organizations will host the first round of competition for the 2016 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) InnovateHER business competition. The national competition aims to unearth products and services that impact and empower the lives of women and families through local business competitions that culminate in a live-pitch final round with three top cash prizes totaling $70,000. 

The SBA is seeking entrepreneurs who are at least 18 years old and are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  Entrants must have created a product or service that will have a measurable impact on women and their families, fills a need in the marketplace, and has the potential for commercialization.

“Business competitions through SBA are few and far between and we are fortunate to have four local hosts in our state for this one, making entering easier for those interested,” said SBA Seattle District Director Nancy Porzio. “This is a way for local inventors and innovators to be front and center, turning their ideas into reality.”

To enter, entrepreneurs must submit their business plan and application to the closest host organization for review; those selected by local judges will make it to the semi-final round. Event dates vary by organization. An executive committee comprised of SBA officials will review the semi-final nomination packages and select no more than 10 national finalists. The finalists will compete for a total of $70,000 in prize money provided by Microsoft.

Play Works Studio, from the greater Seattle area, was one of the 10 finalists in 2015 with a product that met the competition goals precisely; combining education, robotics, gaming and mobile technology aimed at children in the six- to 10-year-old age range.

“We hope to see more of our local competitors make it to the final round in D.C. again this year,” Porzio said. “More importantly than the competition titles are the amazing products and services we get to see from local entrepreneurs.”

The national InnovateHER finals will be held March 16-17, 2016 in the Washington, D.C. metro area as part of a larger Women’s Summit.  

For more information or to register for the local competitions, please contact one of the four host organizations before their listed contest submission deadlines:

Meylah Corporation

Contact: Chaitra Vedullapalli  (, 510-579-4945,!about1/c1vm8 )

Deadlines to know:

  • Nov. 3 -  apply to pitch at the Business Competition
  • Nov. 11 - Pitch and Business Planning Clinic, Microsoft Store in Bellevue
  • Nov. 18 - InnovateHer 2016 Business Competition, Bellevue College

Eastern Washington:
Washington State University Small Business Development Center

Contact: Cindy Doyle (, 509.358.7890,

Deadlines to know:

  • Nov. 8 - Apply to pitch at the Business Competition
  • Dec. 3 - Winner of the state competition is selected
  • Participants must reside east of the Cascades in the following counties: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanagan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, Yakima
  •  Entries are limited to the first 50 qualified applicants submitting their completed application and business plan. Incomplete or late entries will be rejected.

South Sound:
Thurston County Economic Development Council Business Resource Center

Contact: Liz Jamieson, (; 360-464-6049,

Deadlines to know:

  • Nov. 9 - Apply to pitch at the Business Competition
  • Nov. 16, 23 - Coaching clinics (subject to change)
  • Nov. 30 - Winner is selected

Kennedy Ventures, LLC

Contact: Cat (Catherine) Kennedy,eMBA, , 206-963-9866,

Deadlines to know:

  • Nov. 17 - Business competition - first round
  • Dec. 1 - Business competition - final round
  • Additional $10,000 in prize money available from local sponsors

For details on contest rules and a list of local competitions, visit

About the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Seattle District Office:  The SBA Seattle District serves Washington state and northern Idaho with office locations in Seattle and Spokane. Today’s SBA stands for more than Small Business Administration; it stands for Smart, Bold and Accessible. SBA staff provides resources and services in three areas referred to as “the three C’s” – Counseling, Capital and Contracting. Visit for localized information including resource partners, lenders, events and workshops, success stories, news and updates, and other information aimed to help business start, grow and succeed.

Cosponsorship authorization No. 15-6050-91.  SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products, or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.