Every day, small businesses across America struggle to get their products in front of a company or business leader who can propel them forward, into the hands of the masses – and entrepreneurs from under-represented communities face even tougher obstacles. Lowe’s and Daymond John, star of ABC’s “Shark Tank” and a New York Times best-selling author, are creating opportunities for diverse small businesses to pitch their products to a Fortune 50 company, providing the platform and letting the entrepreneur do the rest.
Making it… With Lowe’s invites hundreds of entrepreneurs to break through traditional processes and pitch their products directly to Lowe’s for a chance to be sold on Lowes.com and in Lowe’s physical stores, providing customers access to innovative home improvement products they may never have found otherwise.
From Sept. 15, through Sept. 25, diverse small business owners can apply on Lowes.com/MakingItWithLowes. After Lowe’s identifies an initial 375 small businesses, the pool will narrow to 75 who will be invited to submit more in-depth stories via video. Along the way, it also provides a shot at gleaning mentoring, advice and support from a FORTUNE 50 retailer committed to boosting the very backbone of America’s economy.
The search will culminate in a one-day virtual pitch challenge hosted by Daymond John where five diverse small business owners will pitch their product live to Lowe’s CEO and other executives for the chance to become a Making It… With Lowe’s small business partner. Leading up to the pitch, Daymond John will mentor the group as they prepare for their biggest pitch ever.
“Making It With Lowe’s is giving these minority-owned businesses a much-deserved chance to shine while uncovering unique, smart products that will make Lowe’s shelves even more appealing to customers,” says Daymond John of ABC’s “Shark Tank”. “The pandemic has created a situation where business owners are constantly pivoting and deepening their creativity and problem-solving abilities, especially minority-owned businesses who have more at stake, more to lose. I can’t wait to get started.”
This announcement builds on Lowe’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. In July, the home improvement retailer more than doubled its small business grant program to $55 million, providing financial relief to minority-, women-owned and rural small businesses. The donation has fueled emergency grants in historically underserved communities to help small business owners navigate challenges during the pandemic.
“When Lowe’s introduced our grant program for minority-, women- and rural-owned small businesses impacted by the pandemic earlier this year, we were humbled by the overwhelming response for the grants and we were impressed by the creativity, passion and vision from hundreds of thousands of applicants – and we instantly knew we wanted to do more,” says Lowe’s President and CEO Marvin R. Ellison. “Offering our customers greater access to products being created by diverse small business owners allows Lowe’s digital and physical shelves nationwide to better reflect the diverse communities we serve and ensures our customers have access to the most innovative and valued home improvement products in the marketplace.”
Lowe’s is encouraging startup suppliers who offer retail products in both home improvement and non-traditional home improvement product categories to apply. Categories being considered include farm and ranch equipment, microban or antimicrobial products, accessible home, touchless products, home gardening, home décor products and more.
The finalists will be announced and featured on Lowes.com later this year, and the Making It … With Lowe’s results will be revealed on Lowe’s social channels in early 2021.