Digital contest yields big response at Staples

After receiving more than 16,000 entries online and via Facebook, Staples has opened its “Make Your Idea Happen,” contest to the public to determine the $25,000 grand prize winner.

The contest was announced in early January and then entrants had from January 13 through February 3 to submit a 100 word or less overview of their idea. Staples narrowed the submissions down to 10 finalists and now it is up to the public to determine the winners. Those wishing to vote can do so either at Staples Make Your Idea Happen Contest website or Staples Facebook page. Voting is open until April 16 with the winner to be announced on April 22.

"The enormous response shows the creativity, innovation and spirit in the small business community," said Tim Williams, Staples director of social media. "We're thrilled to share these great ideas and look forward to helping the winners make more happen."

The top three winners will receive consulting sessions with small business experts who will offer advice on how winners can "make more happen." In addition to these sessions, a combination of Staples gifts cards and cash will be given to the top finalists at a value of $25,000 for the grand prize, $15,000 for the first prize and $10,000 for the second place prize. Each of the remaining finalists will receive a combination of Staples gift cards and cash in total valued at $5000.

The ten finalists were judged on their creativity and passion by a panel that included Staples representatives, celebrity chef and owner of Roblé & Co., Roblé Ali, small business expert and business columnist Gene Marks, and CEO, entrepreneur and jewelry designer, Kendra Scott.

The "Make Your Idea Happen" Contest finalists are:
•    Little Hat Workshop: Andrea Leiser, Little Hat Workshop - Mystic, Conn.
o    A hat and accessories store that creates hats for people with cancer.
•    Yoga to Go: Barbara Davison - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
o    A yoga teacher who plans to bring classes directly to her students, from corporate offices to private homes.
•    My Travel Tutor: Penny Banner - Boise, Idaho
o    A tutoring company that specializes in connecting children from hospital rooms to their classrooms.
•    A Shelter for Rainbow Rescues: Maria O'Brien - Granville, Mass.
o    A pet rescue organization that aids foster dogs who need emotional care.
•    McClary Bros. Shrub Sodas: Jessica McClary - Detroit, Mich.
o    A beverage producer that handcrafts colonial-era, organic beverages.
•    Lansing Roller Derby Vixens: Ryan Knott - Lansing, Mich.
o    A flat-track, women's roller derby league that's looking to revitalize the city of Lansing.
•    Love Delivered from Home: Molly Ziske - St. Clair Shores, Mich.
o    A mom who creates care packages that can be ordered for college students.
•    H&L Maker Kamp: Sean Hennington, Aric Loomis, Michael Slack - Ruidoso, New M.
o    A company looking to start an afterschool program where high school students can learn the basics of electrical and mechanical engineering.
•    When Pigs Fly: Lisa Hiler - Norwalk, Ohio
o    A retail store that generates donations to help aid struggling families affected by a terminal illness.
•    Bike Shop with Coffee Shop: Carolyn Weber and Tristan Klein - Milwaukee, Wis.
o    A bike store that plans to open a coffee shop to enhance the biking community in downtown Milwaukee. 

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