Microsoft Corporation is conducting a nationwide contest looking for creative small business ideas. The contest, the Ultimate Challenge, is designed to ignite the spirit inherent in small business. It was announced in conjunction with the introduction of Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007.
"We know there are lots of great ideas out there from people just waiting to start their own business, and we want to make their dream come true," said Rajat Taneja, Microsoft general manager of Small Business Applications and Services. "The Ultimate challenge is all about getting entrepreneurs to take steps toward living their dream and pursuing the spirit of Americana."
The contest is live at www.ideawins.com. The winner who submits what is judged the most innovative business idea will receive the prize which consists of $100,000 in business startup money, a Manhattan-area storefront for a year, rent free and infrastructure and software to help in running the business.
"The idea behind this contest is to galvanize entrepreneurs into action and make sure they have the right tools, such as Office Accounting Express, to translate their vision into reality," adds Taneja.
Ideas can either be submitted on the website or in person at any upcoming Ultimate Challenge event. On November 28 the Ultimate Challenge van will begin a nationwide RV search that will begin in Times Square. Stops include Las Vegas, Chicago, Denver and Atlanta. Idea reviews will continue until the deadline, January 31, 2007. At the van stops, applicants will be able to meet with Microsoft representatives and local business leaders to help in the finalization of their website applications.
The highest scoring applications will be reviewed by a panel of three judges who will determine four finalists. The four finalists will be announced in February and the winner will be chosen and announced in March.
The criteria the judges will use consists of marketing approach, originality, financial and logistic feasibility and public interest. Twenty-five points will be assigned to each category and the total number will determine the final score. The judges will then review the applicants with the highest total scores and then an additional section will be added- a vote from the public- also worth 25 points. In February, the public can log on to the website and vote to decide who receives the prize award.
Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 consists of desktop software and seven integrated online services that were designed with the collaborative input of leaders in the industry. The software and services together will allow businesses to use the internet to sell products online, send invoices and receive electronic payments, process payroll, consult with their accountant, run credit reports and other functions, all from within their accounting application. The software is available free* and the premium services carry a charge. All are available at www.ideawins.com.