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29 May 2024

Unstoppable Small Business Owners Push Boundaries at The UPS Store Small Biz Challenge as Lacey Benard of Bitty Bao Takes Top Prize

Six-week competition empowered entrepreneurs to collaborate and learn from each other  

SAN DIEGO, May 29, 2024 – The 2024 The UPS Store® Small Biz Challenge became a powerful learning experience for nine unstoppable entrepreneurs as they were paired with mentors and took on several challenges over the past six weeks to test their skills in marketing, staffing, operations and company culture. The competition hosted by The UPS Store, Inc., and Inc. Business Media showcased talent and determination and named Lacey Benard, co-owner of Bitty Bao, creator of bilingual Chinese books for children, the winner during the final competition among three finalists at The Temple House in Miami.

“I am thrilled to be named the winner of the Small Biz Challenge. It was such an incredible experience to compete against other passionate entrepreneurs and showcase the small business that Lulu and I have built,” said Benard, who co-owns Bitty Bao with her friend Lulu Cheng. “This competition pushed me outside of my comfort zone many times and for that I am grateful. This experience will make me a better small business owner. Thank you to my mentor, Chris Do, and congratulations to the other finalists.”  

Out of nearly 6,000 applications from small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country, nine semifinalists were chosen to compete in a series of challenges to uncover the next generation of unstoppable entrepreneurs. The three semifinalists with the most online votes moved on to the final phase in Miami to strut their smarts in front of a live audience to compete to win $25,000 and a feature in an upcoming issue of Inc. magazine.

Trailblazing entrepreneur, designer and influencer Cassey Ho served as the celebrity host of the final phase of the Small Biz Challenge. Attendees learned about the finalists’ small businesses and the personal experiences that molded them into tenacious entrepreneurs, while being treated to stunning 360-degree digital artwork at The Temple House that was created just for the event.

"I leave this competition each year feeling inspired by the energy and business-prowess our finalists bring to the stage," said Michelle Van Slyke, senior vice president of marketing and sales at The UPS Store, Inc. “It is equally inspiring to see numerous women-owned businesses participate this year. Congratulations to Lacey for taking home the win, and to Leslie and Maxine for being unstoppable entrepreneurs!”

Bitty Bao, based in Los Angeles, California, makes bilingual Chinese books for children, teaching them about a variety of topics – from counting, to food, to cultural moments like Lunar New Year. In the short three years since founding Bitty Bao, over 90,000 Chinese bilingual books have been sold to bookstores, libraries, and families worldwide.  Benard went toe-to-toe with the two other impressive finalists who each went home with a $5,000 cash prize: Leslie Myers, owner of Manhattan-based Hot Girls Pearls,  fashionable pearl jewelry that can also be stored in the freezer to be worn to stay cool and stylish, and Maxine Williams, owner of Brooklyn-based We Met IRL, a relationship service offering speed dating events, mixers and more, with an emphasis on reaching people from diverse backgrounds and creating the right environment for romance.

About The UPS Store

With more than 5,200 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 centers are independently owned and operated by licensed franchisees of The UPS Store, Inc., an indirect subsidiary of United Parcel Service, Inc., a Delaware corporation (although one or more may be company-owned). Services, prices, and hours of operation are subject to change and may vary by location. For additional information about The UPS Store, visit Follow The UPS Store on social media at @TheUPSStore,, and

About Inc. Business Media

The world’s most trusted business-media brand, Inc. offers entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools, connections, and community to build great companies. Its award-winning multiplatform content reaches more than 50 million people each month across a variety of channels including websites, newsletters, social media, podcasts, and print. Its prestigious Inc. 5000 list, produced every year since 1982, analyzes company data to recognize the fastest-growing privately held businesses in the United States. The global recognition that comes with inclusion in the 5000 gives the founders of the best businesses an opportunity to engage with an exclusive community of their peers, and the credibility that helps them drive sales and recruit talent. The associated Inc. 5000 Conference is part of a highly acclaimed portfolio of bespoke events produced by Inc. For more information, visit

 The UPS Store Small Biz Challenge sage with panel of host andf guest judges in front of a crowd.

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