Staples, Inc. has announced the 10 finalists for its "Make Your Idea Happen" Contest, a competition where entrepreneurs shared their big ideas for a chance to receive all the products they need to bring their business to life.
Norwalk's When Pigs Fly is one of the 10 finalists.
Staples received more than 16,000 entries from entrepreneurs looking to "make more happen." Entries covered an enormous range of creative ideas for businesses and community-service organizations.
Consumer voting will help determine the top three winners: Grand Prize, first place prize and second place prize. Voting is open to the public from through April 16 on the Staples Make Your Idea Happen Contest website or Facebook tab. Consumers can cast one vote per day and all voters will be entered to win one of three $100 Staples gift cards.
The "Make Your Idea Happen" Contest finalists are:
Little Hat Workshop: Andrea Leiser, Little Hat Workshop, Mystic, Conn.
A hat and accessories store that creates hats for people with cancer.
Yoga to Go: Barbara Davison, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A yoga teacher who plans to bring classes directly to her students, from corporate offices to private homes.
My Travel Tutor: Penny Banner, Boise, Idaho.
A tutoring company that specializes in connecting children from hospital rooms to their classrooms.
A Shelter for Rainbow Rescues: Maria O'Brien, Granville, Mass.
A pet rescue organization that aids foster dogs who need emotional care.
McClary Bros. Shrub Sodas: Jessica McClary, Detroit, Mich.
A beverage producer that handcrafts colonial-era, organic beverages.
Lansing Roller Derby Vixens: Ryan Knott, Lansing, Mich.
A flat-track, women's roller derby league that's looking to revitalize the city of Lansing.
Love Delivered from Home: Molly Ziske, St. Clair Shores, Mich.
A mom who creates care packages that can be ordered for college students.
H&L Maker Kamp: Sean Hennington, Aric Loomis, Michael Slack, Ruidoso, New Mexico.
A company looking to start an afterschool program where high school students can learn the basics of electrical and mechanical engineering.
When Pigs Fly: Lisa Hiler, Norwalk, Ohio.
A retail store that generates donations to help aid struggling families affected by a terminal illness.
Bike Shop with Coffee Shop: Carolyn Weber and Tristan Klein, Milwaukee, Wis.
A bike store that plans to open a coffee shop to enhance the biking community in downtown Milwaukee.
"The enormous response shows the creativity, innovation and spirit in the small business community," said Tim Williams, director, social media, Staples. "We're thrilled to share these great ideas and look forward to helping the winners make more happen."
The top three winners will receive consulting sessions with small business experts who will offer advice on how winners can "make more happen." In addition to these sessions, a combination of Staples gifts cards and cash will be given to the top finalists at a value of $25,000 (Grand Prize), $15,000 (first place prize), and $10,000 (2nd Place Prize) to help the winners purchase the products they need to help their businesses succeed. Each of the remaining finalists will receive a combination of Staples gift cards and cash in total valued at $5,000.
The 10 finalists were judged on their creativity and passion -- all selected by Staples and the contest's panel of judges: celebrity chef and owner of Roblé & Co., Roblé Ali, small business expert and business columnist Gene Marks, and CEO, entrepreneur and jewelry designer, Kendra Scott.