The Dell and NFIB Small Biz Contest Goes Global

By Lauren Simonds | Posted January 10, 2008

For the past four years, Dell and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) have co-sponsored a contest aimed at recognizing – and rewarding – small companies that use technology in innovative ways to improve the customer experience.

In this its fifth consecutive year, the Small Business Excellence Award program is expanding to include other nations around the world. Each country will produce nine finalists and one winner. One global winner will be chosen from the group of international winners.

According to Jennifer Davis, a Dell spokeswoman, Canada and Mexico will participate as they have over the past three years. Davis said that the full list of participating countries will be available in the next two weeks.

Given the contest's global scope, Dell and the NFIB have partnered with the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), which advances entrepreneurship through global knowledge sharing and networking and Endeavor, a global nonprofit agency that supports emerging market entrepreneurs.

What's At Stake
According to Dell, each national winner will receive $25,000 in Dell products and services, a day of best-practice advice with Dell executives, including Michael Dell, and partner benefits that will vary by country. The U.S. winner will also receive a lifetime membership to the NFIB.

The nine finalists in the various countries will each receive a Dell business-class notebook and partner benefits that will vary by country. The finalists in the U.S. receive a one-year NFIB membership.

The global winner, chosen from the top choices from the various nations will receive $50,000 in technology and services from Dell and be featured in a summit hosted by Chairman and CEO Michael Dell. He or she will also win a lifetime membership to ICSB and engage with Endeavor’s network of high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets worldwide.

How to Enter
Qualified entrants must be small businesses with fewer than 100 employees and, according to Dell's rules, "each must show how it represents the spirit of innovation in applying information technology in its business practices to improve the customer experience."

You can access the application on Dell's Web site and submit it online. The applications must be received on or before 11:59 p.m. (EST) February 29, 2008.

Dell will announce the U.S. finalists in May, and the national winner on June 9 at the NFIB National Small-Business Summit in Washington, D.C. The finalists and winners from other nations will be chosen by August 2008, and the world champion will be announced in the fall.

Past Winners
If you're wondering what it takes to win this contest, take a look at past performers.

Donald A. Gardner Architects of Greenville, S.C., was the inaugural winner n 2004. At that time, the prize was $20,000. Rob Davis, the company's IT manager, talked about the plans for that windfall.

"Our current server is co-located," he said. "That is, a third-party gives us server space off-site. We'd like to bring the server in-house so we have better integration with our ordering system software."

Dr. Timothy Kriss, a rural Kentucky neurosurgeon, earned the title in 2005. He created a mobile medical clinic, which meant that his patients no longer had to travel long distances to receive medical care.

Megan Duckett brought home the prize in 2006. Her company, Sew What, makes custom theatrical drapes. Duckett said she planned to use the winnings to add a bar code system to track the manufacturing process at the company's warehouse.

The 2007 winner, Medkinetics, automates the process of physician credentialing, hospital privileging and peer review. Jim Cox, the company's founder and president told Dell that, "Since winning the Dell/NFIB award in July 2007, we have seen renewed energy, focus and especially new business opportunities."

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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