Going the distance: UPS X-Port Challenge spurs small businesses to grow globally

In earlier challenges, winning small businesses have increased their understanding of international markets, grown sales in other countries and acquired new customers abroad. (UPS)

Atlanta-based UPS—one of the world’s largest delivery companies and a provider of specialized transportation and logistics services—announced a competition on August 30 designed “to help small businesses grow globally.”

The third annual UPS X-Port Challenge invited qualifying startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses to compete for $10,000 in international UPS shipping credits.

The company said that less than 1% of American companies have begun to export—and 58% currently export to just one nation outside the United States.

“The majority of the world’s commerce [is] outside the United States, yet exporting remains a challenge for most small businesses,” said UPS U.S. International President Bill Seward in an official company release. “Our business solutions help remove some of those barriers, and this contest is another innovative way to help our customers grow in international markets.”

The contest also will help UPS differentiate itself in an increasingly crowded market that comprises such traditional competitors as the United States Postal Service, Federal Express, DHL, Canada Post and Deutsche Post—as well as some fast up-and-comers, including Amazon.

Here’s how the competition works: Interested companies that qualify in participating markets submit an application online, listing their company’s specialty, global appeal and market challenges.

A team of UPS employees will evaluate the applications based on criteria such as uniqueness, presentation, market demand and global readiness. Then, the top ten applicants from each participating global market will pitch their business to a panel of judges from the local business community. The judges will select the top three finalists in their own market as prize winners. The second and third place winners will receive $2,500 and $1,000 in credits respectively in UPS export shipping.

The winner of each market competition will be included in a virtual run-off in which UPS employees will vote on which product is export worthy. The top three contestants will be invited to a national competition held during the first quarter of 2018 for an opportunity to win a grand prize of $25,000, a second-place prize of $15,000 or a third-place prize of $10,000.

Previous winners have increased their understanding of international markets, grown sales in other countries and acquired new customers abroad. For a list of last year’s winners click here.