Riding what appears to be a growing groundswell of federal government innovation competitions, the Small Business Administration has awarded a first-place prize of $5,000 to a Silicon Valley software developer for a smartphone or tablet application that lets users quickly find loans, grants, permits and other useful resources for small businesses.
The winner of SBA’s “Apps for Entrepreneurs Challenge,” Somesh Kumar, is the founder of Mobispectra Technologies LLC, a Fremont, Calif., firm that creates applications for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. The company’s aim is “to embrace innovation and take challenges to solve human problems with simplest technology,” according to its Web site. (The winning SBA app can be downloaded at “SBA Gems” at entrepreneurs.challenge.gov/submissions/5458.
In all, the SBA challenge resulted in seven new Web tools intended to support entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses and create new jobs. In addition to Kumar, three developers earned $3,000 each for second-place awards for their apps; three others collected $2,000 apiece in the third-place category.
In an interview with Breaking Gov, Kumar, 34, said entering the SBA competition was “a very easy choice” because of his expertise in writing mobile apps and his previous experience with other challenge.gov contests.
Earlier this year, he received an honorable mention in the Labor Department’s DOL informACTION app challenge for an Android smartphone app that he named DOL Connect. DOL Connect is an interactive mobile tool that lets users search and browse Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Wage and Hour Division compliance investigations.
Kumar started Mobispectra two years ago after working for several large technology companies, including Motorola for nine years. Entering and performing well in challenges such as SBA’s go a long way toward gaining exposure for his fledgling company, he said.
The new mobile apps from the challenge complement SBA’s mobile application created for iPhone in partnership with Palo Alto Software. Users can employ the SBA app to find local SBA-affiliated advisers and get free, personal, one-on-one help with starting and growing their businesses.
“Smart phones and tablets are increasingly the vehicles through which Americans access information,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “This is certainly true of many entrepreneurs and small business owners. Greater mobility fits with SBA’s new focus and is among the steps we are taking to do a better job of connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners with the tools to help them start or grow their businesses and create jobs.”
Through Challenge.gov, a turnkey system that lets agencies manage their own innovation competitions, SBA and some three dozen other federal agencies have staged more than 130 challenges in the past year, awarding about $38 million dollars in prizes. The system is run by the General Services Administration, where officials say the Web site has attracted about a million unique visitors from 194 countries since it was launched in 2010.