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Build-a-Business Contest Awards Retail Newbies with Big Bucks


A business contest for online entrepreneurs kicks off May 1 that promises a $100,000 payday for the winner. Companies that don't score the grand prize have a shot at six industry prizes worth $20,000 each in categories such as food and health and sports and hobbies.

There's also a separate $5,000 north-of-the-border prize for a Canadian online entrepreneur.

The Build-a-Business contest, now in its second year, is sponsored by Shopify, providers on an online shopping system platform. All you have to do to enter the contest is create your own online store using the Shopify service and keep it running for at least two months. The store with the highest-grossing two months (which can be nonconsecutive) wins the grand prize.

The contest runs through Dec. 31, 2011.

The concept is simple, according to the sponsor -- think of something to sell, create an online store and then build your business.

A special contest website will offer tips and knowledge from business authorities Seth Godin (“Poke the Box”), Gary Vaynerchuk (“The Thank You Economy) and Tim Ferriss (“The 4-Hour Workweek”).

Sweetening the $100,000 in cash, the winner gets a trip to New York City for lunch with Godin, a one-hour power session with Vaynerchuk and dinner with Ferriss. Winners of the industry prizes and the contest’s top Canadian online seller will also receive trips to New York.

“This competition is intended as a benevolent and encouraging kick in the ass,” Ferriss said in a statement. “This stuff isn’t rocket science, but it does require stepping outside your comfort zone for a bit to realize: this isn’t hard. It’s just unfamiliar. If you do it now, a lot of people will be in the same boat and you’ll take the trip together.”

Last year’s contest spawned nearly 1,400 businesses and generated over $3.5 million in combined revenue. The winner was DODOcase, a San Francisco company that makes iPad cases using traditional book-binding techniques. Today, the company has projected annual earnings of $4 million to $5 million.