Main Content
Small Biz Challenge logo

Small Biz Challenge

Congratulations Lacey Benard!

Lacy Benard of Bitty Bao is this year's Small Biz Challenge winner! Lacey was awarded the ultimate prize of $25,000, and will be featured in an upcoming issue of 
Inc. Magazine. Congratulations Lacey!

Finalists Leslie Myers of Hot Girls Pearls and Maxine Williams of We Met IRL were each awarded $5,000, to continue to be unstoppable small business owners! 

Thank you to our host Cassey Ho, our mentors, and everyone who participated in the 2024 Small Biz Challenge.

Watch the 2024 Small Biz Challenge Recap:

Meet the Small Biz Challenge Host and Mentors

We’re excited to introduce this year’s host, Cassey Ho!

Cassey Ho is an entrepreneur, designer and inventor whose mission is to inspire joy and solve problems through innovative product design. With over 17 million followers and nearly 4 billion views, Cassey has nurtured a community who has watched her build her two brands from scratch: POPFLEX, which highlights her obsession with performance-based functional fashion, and Blogilates, her approachable-luxury fitness line which can be found exclusively at Target stores nationwide.

Our semi-finalists will get the chance to work with our esteemed mentors: 

Chris Do 

Chris Do is an Emmy award-winning designer, director, CEO and Chief Strategist of Blind and the founder of The Futur, an online education platform with the mission of teaching 1 billion people how to make a living doing what they love. He currently serves as the chairman of the board for the SPJA, and as an advisor to Saleshood. He has also served as: advisory board member for AIGA/LA, Emmys Motion Title Design Peer Group, Otis Board of Governors, Santa Monica College and Woodbury University.

Julissa Prado 

Julissa Prado is the Founder & CEO of Rizos Curls, a self-funded clean hair care line aimed at embracing and celebrating the beauty of curls, coils, and waves! As a first-generation Mexican-American, Julissa’s community and humble upbringing inspired her entrepreneurial pursuit. After years of making her own curly cocktail and helping her community embrace their curls, Julissa decided to use her life savings to launch her own hair care line Rizos Curls. Today, Rizos Curls is sold at Target, Ulta Beauty and Sally Beauty Mexico.

Jasmine Star

Jasmine Star empowers entrepreneurs to market their business on social media, build a brand, and create a life they love. After dropping out of law school, she became an internationally recognized creative entrepreneur before the age of 30 and later founded Social Curator, a social media marketing company in which she has helped over 35,000 business owners. Her top-rated podcast, The Jasmine Star Show, has amassed millions of downloads since its inception in October 2019, where Jasmine educates entrepreneurs on how to turn their passion into profits.

Read about the 2023 winner, LaDonna Welch! 

2023 Small Biz Challenge Winner, LaDonna Welch

LaDonna’s entrepreneurial ambitions were inspired by her mission to uplift the Black community and their mental health. She saw a need for accessible and inclusive resources, and as a result, her mobile app, Ebony Notes, was born. LaDonna believes that positive affirmations provide a dose of motivation and encouragement, helping individuals overcome barriers and unlock their full potential. Through the course of the competition, LaDonna was mentored by Julissa Prado, founder and CEO of Rizos Curls, who provided invaluable guidance and expertise as LaDonna took on different challenges to become a finalist, and ultimately, the 2023 winner. 

LaDonna and her fellow finalists, Randy Bezdek of The Hungry Robot and Rachel Garcia of Dry Goods Refillery, were surrounded by other accomplished professionals. Nastia Liukin, a five-time Olympic medalist and now sports commentator, entrepreneur and small business owner inspired the contestants and audience as the event host. Chris Do, CEO and Founder of Futur, and Jasmine Star, Founder & CEO of Social Curator, expertly guided their finalist mentees, while Scott Omelianuk, Inc. Editor in Chief, and Kimberly McGlonn, owner of Grant BLVD and 2021 Small Biz Challenge winner, served as esteemed judges during the competition. 

Watch the final Small Biz Challenge event here and follow our Instagram to catch highlights and other small business advice and inspiration from the competition.