Entrepreneurial Contests and Grants for Makers + Product Designers (Part 2)

Lela Barker

Entrepreneurial Contests and Grants for Makers + Product Designers


I recently launched a multi-part blog series aimed at helping you identify opportunities to infuse your business with cash, mingle with business titans, and score access to free training. I hope you’ll throw your hat into the ring for a few of these… Lucky Break clients have found themselves in the winner’s circle for several of them in the past and you could be next!


Missed part one of this series? Click here to access the first installment of my series of business contents for makers and designers. And the series continues with part three


Sephora’s “Accelerate” program

Sephora is looking for female founders of early-stage beauty businesses to become a part of their annual cohort of Sephora Accelerate fellows. They’re looking for the following criteria:

  • Vision: Do you have the passion needed to make your business successful?


  • Innovation: Are you solving a specific need that is not yet served by an existing company?


  • Product: Do you have a working prototype or product sample that has been iterated on at least once to incorporate user feedback?


  • Plan: Do you have a business model or a strategy to grow your company?


  • Social Impact: Are you eager to incorporate social impact into your business mission (if you haven’t already)?


Applications: Usually close in the fall and winners are announced in early spring.


Prize: Cohort members receive one-on-one mentoring from beauty industry leaders and Sephora leaders. In addition to two all-expense paid trips to San Francisco for program events, winners receive a monetary grant and may be eligible for additional funding.




Lilla Rodgers Global Talent Search

Each year, agent Lilla Rogers looks for the freshest talent in the art industry. She runs a respected illustration agency representing some of the very best artists internationally. Lilia and her team license and sell work for surface design, and they accept commissions for editorial, graphic design, corporate and advertising clients.


Applications: After a hiatus in 2017, the search is poised to return in 2018.  During the last run, registration opened in July.


Prize: International representation by Lilla Rogers Studio and dozens of licensing and publishing contracts.




Entrepreneurial Contests and Grants for Makers + Product Designers (Part 2)


Shopify’s “Build a Business” competition

Come up with a product, open a Shopify store, enter the competition – then start selling. At the end of the competition, the five stores that sell the most over a two-month period will win “the trip of a lifetime.”


Applications: Previous years saw registration run September through March. The competition typically runs in April and May.


Prizes: Previous winners received…

  • A private jet to Necker Island, where you’ll spend five days alongside your fellow winners and mentors.


  • Complimentary meals, drinks, water sports, tennis, pools and a jacuzzi for your enjoyment at Necker Island.


  • The opportunity to gain mentorship and insight from each of our renowned mentors.


  • An intimate group seminar led by acclaimed entrepreneur Seth Godin.


  • Mentorship by Richard Branson, Marie Forleo, Daymond John




StreetShares Foundation grant program

StreetShares goal is to create more opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses is central to providing an awards program for those extraordinary business owners. Apply by writing a 300-word summary of your business and submitting a short video about your product, company or telling us why you should win.


  • Applicant must be a veteran, reserve or active duty member of any of the United States Armed Forces, OR a spouse of a military member or veteran.


  • Applicant must be a U.S. person and at least 21 years old.


  • Applicant’s business must be a legal entity (sole proprietorship or legally incorporated LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp or formal partnership) under the laws of any U.S. jurisdiction or a legal 501(c)(3) nonprofit.


  • Applicant must own at least 50 percent of the business.


Applications: In years past, the application deadline was in September and the voting occurred in the month of October.


Prizes: 1st Place: $5,000

2nd Place: $3,000

3rd Place: $2,000




Entrepreneurial Contests and Grants for Makers + Product Designers (Part 2)


The Workshop at Macy’s

The Workshop at Macy’s is an unparalleled and unprecedented opportunity to learn how to scale your business sustainably and effectively for working long-term with a major retailer. This free program for highly qualified and carefully chosen participants provides a world-class toolkit for business growth and development.


Applications: Applications for the 2018 run were due at the end of January. Keep an eye on this contest very early in the year!


Prizes: Top participants in The Workshop at Macy’s will receive additional coaching and support from the Macy’s team, as we collaborate with you on the opportunity to scale your business to the point where you could become a sustainable, successful vendor with a major retailer like Macy’s.





Do you know of a great competition for makers and product designers? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Please drop a comment below!


About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

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