Small businesses and entrepreneurs that are struggling to bring their ingenious products to market may be able to get help from office-supply store, Staples. The store has teamed with Fundable, a business crowdfunding company, to create the Crowd2Shelf Contest.
Through the contest, Staples hopes to use crowdfunding and online voting to narrow down entries in the contest to the top 25 innovative products. Those top products will then be judged by a panel of experts in innovation and business to find the top entry or entries that will then become a product that is sold on the shelves of Staples stores everywhere.
Entrants must sign up on the Fundable Crowd2Shelf webpage. Once entered, the businesses will need to turn to social media to drum up responses. The public will be asked to vote for the best products online, so using social media to share their products’ profile pages will be integral to winning the contest.
The contest began on August 1, and will run until August 31. After the voting has closed, the top 25 entries will be announced by Staples on October 5. The final winner(s) will be revealed on December 10.
Though many smaller businesses have turned to crowdfunding to get a financial boost, the Staples contest will certainly get the word out about crowdfunding to those who hadn’t yet considered the value of the technology. In a release, Wil Schroter, CEO of Fundable, explained:
“We’re thrilled to work with Staples to help small businesses tap into the power of crowdfunding as well as Staples’ world-class retail capabilities. Staples shares Fundable’s mission of empowering entrepreneurs to do great things, and we’re looking forward to helping great businesses launch through the Crowd2Shelf Contest.”
As a long-time proponent of small businesses, Staples sees the contest as a way to give something back to the SMBs that have helped the office-supply store become a household name. In the same release, Staples’ Senior Vice President Scott Young added:
“The Staples Brands Group is always looking for new ways to help our small business customers make more happen for their business. We’re thrilled to team up with Fundable as the sponsor of the first-ever Crowd2Shelf Contest and to help emerging businesses by bringing their innovative products to our customers.”
The contest will certainly help some small businesses cut through the time it takes to go from development of an idea to selling on the shelf. In a Biz Journals article, Schroter said that it can often take years for a useful product to even get in front of a retailer, and thenthey may still get rejected. Not to mention, stores like Staples also have a difficult time finding unique products to sell. Schroter says, “Sourcing products is really hard for them, by the time a product gets to them, it’s gone to everyone else.“
Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ at google.com/+KimberlyMays6 or Twitter @blumoonky.