InnovateHER Challenge, West Michigan

The SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership invites all entrepreneurs in the U.S. to compete for $70,000 in cash prizes*, and we’re bringing it to West Michigan!

innovater her 2017


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InnovateHER provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs throughout the United States to showcase products and services. The challenge is focused on providing a platform to fulfill the need for a product that can have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families and have the potential for commercialization. It must also fill a need in the marketplace, as any new business pitch would.

What is the Challenge Criteria?

This challenge was to allow Entrepreneurs from West Michigan who have a business plan with innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families pitch at this local challenge. Our workforce looks very different from 50 years ago. Women now make up nearly half of the labor force and play a critical role in our nation’s economic prosperity. Most children live in households where all parents work. And as our population ages, families are increasingly caring for aging parents while balancing the needs of work and home. As the demands on women and families grow, the need for products and services that address these unique challenges increases. This Challenge will provide a platform to fulfill that need. Contestants

Contestants must develop a product or service that meets the following three Challenge criteria. The InnovateHER Challenge provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase products and services that:

  • Have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families (30%)
  • Have the potential for commercialization (40%), and
  • Fill a need in the marketplace (30%).

Participants must be at least 18 years of age, U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and meet other eligibility requirements as defined in the Challenge Rules (Link to page) or Download Rules PDF. A list of Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) is also available.

*Local winner will receive a Business Resource Package worth over $5,500.00

How can I participate?

We invite local entrepreneurs to submit their applications (by completing the form below) by May 22, 2017. Six applicants will be chosen to pitch their product or service locally, and one of those six will be submitted to the National Semi-Final round. In addition, the local winner will receive a business resource package.

Interested in supporting local entrepreneurs? Register here to attend this event and hear about great products and services in your community.



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Previous West Michigan Pitch Participants

The local participants that competed in the InnovateHER Challenge West Michigan Challenge included:

  • Sara Grey, Owner of RebelEats
  • Kristian Grant, Owner of Mini Mogul Group
  • Deborah Tacoma, Owner of Freedom Creators, Inc.
  • Melissa Birnie, Owner of MKB13

Read more about their business ideas on our blog article here.

Innovate Her Team Photo

InnovateHer pitch participants, SBDC & GROW Staff

Innovate Her Sara Grey Rebel Eats

Sara Grey, Owner of RebelEats

Innovate Her Kristian Grant Mini Mogul Group

Kristian Grant of Mini Mogul Group

Innovate Her Deb Tacoma

Deb Tacoma of Freedom Creators, Inc.

Local Winner

Congratulations to Deborah Tacoma and her product, the FreedomWand, on winning the InnovateHer Challenge West Michigan competition. Deborah’s business plan has now been submitted to the national pitch competition for review. Best of luck, Deborah!