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WBDC’s $100,000 Technology Makeover Winner Announced

Have you ever won $100,000 in business boosting prizes? Jennifer Bias, winner of the WBDC’s Third Annual Technology Makeover Competition, knows just how it feels to win this level of products and services to invest in her business.
Jennifer, president of Ficek Electric & Communication Systems, Inc., was awarded the technology prize package in a ceremony hosted at the Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago last week after pitching her company’s needs and vision for the materials.

Jennifer Bias, Winner of the Third Annual Technology Makeover

“The judges were moved by Jennifer’s passion for her company’s mission, as well as her incredible entrepreneurial spirit,” said Hedy M. Ratner, co-president with Carol Dougal of the WBDC.
Click here to read the full article from the Chicago Sun-Times to learn more about the prize package and how Jennifer plans to use the materials.
Take a look at these great ceremony pictures from the event showcasing the finalists and judging panel.

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Could Your Business Use a Makeover?

If your business could do with a good technology makeover, there’s still time to submit an application for the WBDC’s Third Annual Small Business Technology Makeover Competition. You could win more than $100,000 in free technology products and business services. The deadline to apply is December 15 at 5 p.m.

Trust us, the two previous winners are thrilled to have entered and won. Julie Savitt, owner of AMS Earth Movers, will tell you that the earth moved the day in early January 2010 when she learned she championed over 100 women entrepreneurs to win $35,000 in services and equipment. Last year, Linda Toops won $60,000 in products and services for her company, Clerestory Consulting.

The WBDC sponsors the competition in a collaborative partnership with such wonderful corporate and small business sponsors as CDW, Constant Contact, COSi, Directions Training Center, Etchasoft, Falkor, MarketM, Microsoft and Microsoft Store.

Julie’s company, AMS Earth Movers, with six employees and four company-owned trucks, is a construction materials hauling company, whose primary service is the hauling of aggregate, brick, broken asphalt, soil and contaminated soil to and from job sites in the greater Chicago area. Its antiquated technology was dragging it down – but all that changed when Julie won the top prize.

Today, she has a new website, an upgraded computer server and network, computer hosting and maintenance, high-speed internet bundled with nationwide long distance and email hosting, a color printer and supplies and a Sharepoint portal set up for team collaboration. Plus, she received the training to use it all.

Winning the competition gave Julie the courage to do something she never anticipated: resigning 25 percent of her residential customers who were slow-paying. Instead, she concentrated on winning federal government “stimulus” projects and began working directly with general contractors to win business. Some 95 percent of her clients now pay within 30-45 days, she says. She is now generating an average of two new customers each month.

Clerestory Consulting is a change-management consulting firm that focuses on helping clients receive measurable business results that lead to decreased costs and increased profitability. They work in a variety of industries including manufacturing, financial services, education, not-for-profit and city government.

In her awards application, Linda wrote that the majority of their laptops, printers and servers were eight years old, and many were used when originally purchased. Laptops are essential to their business because each consultant takes them to a job site and spends between 40 to 50 hours a week using them to gather data, create and analyze spread sheets, and to cost-justify their recommendations to their clients. The economic downturn prevented the firm from purchasing new equipment; the prize package enabled them to improve operations and become profitable once again.

This year’s prize package includes a small business server; 1 networked printer; 1 projector; 2 headsets; 7 laptop computers; $30,000 scholarship to Executive Business Training; website development, including brand design and content; installation and configuration hardware, labor and support; 5 licenses of Microsoft Small Business Server Premium 2008, Microsoft Office Professional 2010 and Windows 7 Ultimate; full suite of email marketing products, and much more.

Click here for more information and to submit your application today!

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Filed under Business, Established Business, Special Events, Technology, Uncategorized, WBDC, WBDC News, Women in Business