Some 35,000 small businesses nationwide submitted applications for consideration for a $250,000 grant from Chase and a trip to Google headquarters. Businesses that received 250 votes or more moved to the judging phase; 12 judges then selected the final 12 businesses. More than 1.7 million people voted for their favorite business and here are the winners:
- Curious Jane of Brooklyn offers after-school and summer camp science, engineering, and design programs for girls. Owner Samantha Razook Murphy suggests, “Be resourceful and don’t give up on your idea.” She adds, “We’re running very basic programs in six other states. The grant will help our camp directors to develop those programs more fully.”
- Overnight Success of Miami, creates jobs for Miami’s African American community. Understand the tax system, says owner, Samuel Lee Gilmore, Jr., “If you lose track, it’s a rude awakening.” He plans on buying equipment to better compete for contracts.
- The Robot Garage, Birmingham, offers children a place to learn and create with Legos and robotics. Co-founder Jonathan Jacobs says, “I thought I’d be building robots all day, but … I spend a lot of my day running the business.” Jacobs will update the website, open a second location, and “set up a mobile unit.”
- ABL Denim, Los Angeles, California creates jeans for people with disabilities. Stephanie Alves says, “Know every part of your business. That way, when you delegate, you can find the right people,” The grant will enable Alves to hire the right people.
- Detroit caterer, Edibles Rex, is owned by Tammy Tedesco who says, “It took me a long time to understand the importance of networking and getting connected…. The connections are what get you to the next level. It’s what got me to this grant.” The grant will enable renovations and kitchen expansion.
- California’s, Chemo Beanies, created by Angelle Albright during her treatment, provides headwear for people undergoing treatment. “Having enough money to make enough product to meet the need,” says Albright, is her key challenge. Her grant will enable her “to be able to reach women everywhere.”
- Buzzy4shots.com, of Atlanta, provides pediatric pain products. Owner, Dr. Amy Baxter suggests, “Don’t be secretive with your ideas…. Put your product on Craigslist, on eBay. See if the interest is there from people other than your close family and friends.” Her grant will go toward her marketing plan.
- Milagros de Mexico’s five San Francisco area shops sell health and wellness products. “Access to capital is always difficult,” says CEO Mauricio Simbeck, who suggests, “Once you find a passion, just go for it…. you won’t give up if you’re passionate about.” The grant money will go toward location expansion.
- Rolling in Dough Pizza, New York, was founded by Matthew Michel who said “Getting funding” was his biggest hurdle.” His advice? “Offer the highest-quality product from the start.”
- Shaktea Kombucha of Iowa, makes a fermented tea and soda beverage. “It’s been a challenge to meet the demand,” says co-owner Meghan Dowd, who suggests, “Start small and test the waters.”
- Living Design Studios of Colorado creates commercial and residential custom metalwork. Owner Jessica Adams says her biggest challenge is competing with “really large national companies for large commercial projects.” Her advice: “If you love it, go for it.”
- Axelo, of Texas, uses 3-D motion-sensing technology in sports and senior injury prevention. CEO Pierre A. Touma’s biggest challenge was, “The weak state of the economy.”
CNN; America’s Favorite Businesses; January 21, 2014.