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23 August 2023

The UPS Store, Inc. Celebrates 2023 Small Biz Challenge Winner

LaDonna Welch of Ebony Notes, the mobile app, takes home $25,000 grand prize 

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 23, 2023 - After several rounds of competition between some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs nationwide, The UPS Store, Inc. and Inc. magazine have named the winner of the 2023 The UPS Store® Small Biz Challenge. LaDonna Welch, founder of Ebony Notes, the mobile app, in Bossier City, Louisiana, was awarded the grand prize during the final competition at the One World Observatory in New York City. Out of thousands of applicants, the top three finalists were selected to compete in a series of challenges for a chance to win $25,000 and a feature in Inc. magazine. 

Olympic medalist and entrepreneur Nastia Liukin served as the host for the competition, providing her advice to small business owners on their path to success. From business-ownership skills to financial strategy, interpersonal communication and more, this final round of the challenge showcased the three entrepreneur contestants’ passion, strengths and commitment to their business and their customers. The finalists used their confidence, clever thinking, and determination to wow the audience and shared a few of their own personal experiences as they navigated each question. In addition to learning from the finalists’ business skills firsthand, attendees of the Small Biz Challenge were treated to breathtaking views of the New York City skyline and the Hudson River from ASPIRE at One World Observatory in One World Trade Center. 

“It was such an honor to compete with some of the best entrepreneurs in the country yet alone win the Small Biz Challenge. I feel like I won so much more than just the grand prize,” said LaDonna Welch, founder of Ebony Notes. “The Small Biz Challenge helped me put my business skills to the test. I learned so much from my mentor and the other finalists and will use this experience as I grow Ebony Notes and work to uplift more members of the Black community.” 

At the event, LaDonna competed against the other Small Biz Challenge finalists: Randy Bezdek, owner of The Hungry Robot in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Rachel Garcia, owner and founder of Dry Goods Refillery in Montclair, New Jersey. Ultimately, LaDonna was crowned the winner for showcasing her creative ideas to attract new customers, solving customer issues, and creating a compelling brand positioning statement.  LaDonna’s company, Ebony Notes, the mobile app, is a company that uplifts the Black community by providing wellness items and educational resources on everything from increasing financial wealth to prioritizing mental health. 

“This year’s Small Biz Challenge kept me in suspense. I enjoyed watching such unstoppable small business owners bring their A-game to the competition,” said Michelle Van Slyke, senior vice president of marketing and sales at The UPS Store, Inc. “It is inspiring to be part of a competition that provides opportunities for entrepreneurs to grow and learn new skills, while also challenging them in diverse and dynamic ways.”

Congratulations to LaDonna and the other two finalists, Rachel and Randy! Watch the Small Biz Challenge competition here.  

About The UPS Store

With more than 5,100 locations across North America, The UPS Store® network comprises the nation's largest franchise system of retail shipping, postal, print and business service centers. The UPS Store locations in the U.S. are independently owned and operated by licensed franchisees of The UPS Store, Inc. (although one or more may be company owned), a subsidiary of UPS (NYSE: UPS). Services, products, pricing and hours of operation may vary by location. For additional information on The UPS Store, visit

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