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Contests and programs that will rev up your Innovation engine ...

Welcome to Let’s Talk Tech with @TheTechGyrl

Whether you’re a geek or not, visit JETMag.com every Tuesday to find digital solutions you can use to make life run smoothly. Send me a tweet@TheTechGyrl and your questions just might get featured.

This week: Small Business Competitions

There are no easy roads for entrepreneurs. All victories are won through sweat equity, long nights, and from cutting-edge ideas executed with perfect timing. While this is true, there is help for small businesses who are intent on using technology to innovate within their industry.

Whether you aspire to build a better dry cleaner or a digital dynasty, here are a few contests, accelerators, and programs you can turn to for mentorship, technical assistance, and monetary resources (i.e., they just might give you money).

Intuit Small Business Big Game

In business, if someone gives you an inch, you should run towards the 50-yard line. By entering Intuit’s competition, you can give the world an opportunity to decide if your small business deserves to win a 30-second television advertisement that will air during The Super Bowl on February 2, 2014.

All entrants will receive an exclusive offer of 30-days of FREE QuickBooks Online, as well as a 50 percent discount for a 12-month subscription, including payroll and payments solutions. Don’t sleep on QuickBooks. It can help even the smallest business stay on top of invoices and payroll.

Visit www.SmallBusinessBigGame.com to sign up and tell your company’s story. Entries are accepted from July 31 to September 22, 2013.

Digitalundivided’s Global Mobile Hack 

Hacking historically has a negative connotation. But techies are taking the word back. Now it means, “to solve a problem using computer programing.”

While “Hackathons” are a regular occurrence, the Digital Undivided Hackathon is special because it is: 1) co-founded by Black women and 2) dedicated to creating innovative ways to increase access to data/information on mobile platforms in urban communities. Those interested in attending this 24+ hour, overnight hackathon must register for FOCUS100, the tech conference targeting Black women, and then pass a simple test.

FOCUS100 will also host a Startup Bootcamp, an intensive day-long workshop for tech-based startups interested in positioning their companies for funding and strategic partnerships. Experts from top companies like Microsoft, American Express, Facebook, TaskRabbit and Google will assist company founders in reviewing their corporate structure, technical plans and marketing strategies.

Visit www.digitalundivided.com for more information.

NASE and Fundable Crowdfunding Contest

Who doesn’t need more capital to pay employees, to update your store, and to invest in new technology like laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones? While many people are turning to crowdfunding to raise money for their small businesses and unique projects, not too many people realize the necessary elements to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Well the National Association for the Self-Employed and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council have teamed up with crowdfunding platform Fundable to teach startups and existing companies how to build a winning page.

While it’s too late to participate in this year’s contest, take note of the techniques finalists used so you can gear up your game for next year or launch your own campaign now. Winners will be announced after Labor Day and will receive the money they’ve raised along with $10,000.

Visit www.fundable.com/contest for more information.

Innovation Whiteboard Challenge 2013

A great idea is nothing without a drive to execute it. But even with drive, you can’t go too far without money for gas. If you’re an entrepreneur with a roadmap, bring it to the table … er, Whiteboard and you could win $10,000.

To start, submit a 60-second video explaining your innovative idea by Aug. 15.If you’re chosen you could be one of three Semi-finalists who get to present their ideas at the National Black MBA Association Annual Conference & Exposition on Tuesday, September 10, 2013. There you will have three minutes to pitch your idea to a panel of judges using only a white board and a dry erase marker.

Visit www.nbmbaaconference.org/whiteboard.html for more information.

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