Company Sponsored Essay Contest

  • Contest Period: The Working Forward Small Business Awards (the “Contest”) begins at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time (“ET”) on September 25, 2017 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on October 30, 2017 (the “Contest Period”).

  • Eligibility: The Contest is open to small businesses whose principal place of business is in the 50 United States, D.C., Puerto Rico or US Territories, and that are enrolled as dealers in a Synchrony Financial credit card or installment sale financing program (each, a “Dealer”) as of September 24, 2017 with thirty (30) or fewer full-time, year-round employees (“Eligible Small Business Dealer”). The Dealer’s account with Synchrony Bank must be in good standing at the time of Entry (defined below) and prize award for the Dealer to be eligible. The following individuals are not eligible to enter or win: Officers, directors, independent contractors and employees of Synchrony Bank ("Sponsor") and Don Jagoda Associates, Inc. ("Administrator") and each of their respective subsidiaries and affiliated companies; their distributors, contractors, web design, advertising, fulfillment, and promotional agencies and other individuals or entities involved in the administration, development, fulfillment and execution of the Contest (collectively, "Contest Entities"), and all of their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling and/or the household members of each). Previous Working Forward Small Business Award winners are not eligible to enter or win. Void where prohibited by law and subject to all federal, state and local laws.
  • How To Enter the Contest: Eligible Small Business Dealers (each, an “Entrant”) may visit the website synchronybusiness. com/awards (“Website”) and complete the required information, which includes a 200 word (or fewer) essay for each of the four (4) essay questions listed below (collectively, an “Entry”):

    1. Tell us about your business — specifically describe what makes your business unique and why you believe your customers choose to do business with you.
    2. Tell us about the greatest challenge(s) facing your business today and what barriers are keeping you from taking your business to the next level.
    3. Specifically describe how you would use $10,000 to grow your business. Describe and give examples of the impact this award could have on your business, your employees and/or your customers.
    4. Your community has been a big supporter of your business – and now you have the opportunity to give back. Please describe in detail how you would use $10,000 to make a big impact in your community. Tell us how this award will help make your neighborhood a better place to live, work or play.
    Limit one (1) Entry per Eligible Small Business Dealer during the Contest Period. If more than one entry is submitted, the first Entry will be considered the eligible Entry. All subsequent entries from the same Eligible Small Business will be void. Entries must be in English to be eligible. By entering, you understand that your Entry, in its entirety may be posted online (on a Sponsor affiliated website) if your Entry is deemed eligible and appropriate, in Sponsor’s sole discretion. Normal Internet access and usage charges imposed by Entrants’ online service will apply and are Entrants’ sole responsibility. Entries become the property of Sponsor upon receipt and will not be acknowledged or returned. Sponsor is not responsible for late, misdirected, corrupted or incomplete Entries. Proof of submission is not proof of receipt by Sponsor. Entries must be received by 11:59 p. m. ET on October 30, 2017 in order to be entered into the Contest. If there is a dispute as to the identity of an Entrant, it will be determined that the Entry will be declared to be made by the owner of the Small Business associated with the Entry. If entering via mobile, data/usage rates may apply.
  • Contest Requirements: Content of Entries/essays must be in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. In the event the Sponsor, in its sole discretion, determines that Entry/essays contain content that does not comply with these Official Rules or does not otherwise comply with regulatory guidelines, or financing regulations Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify and remove the Entry or, if Sponsor determines, edit the content of the Entry/essays.  Each essay must be no more than 200 words in length and an Entry consists of all four essays. All Entries/essays must comply with these Official Rules and the registration instructions in order to be eligible. All Entries/essays must be non-professional and the sole, original work of the Entrants. Entries/essays must not include any complete customer names or any personal identifiers. Entrants may not copy or otherwise plagiarize any portion of the Entries/essays from any other source. Entries may not have been published previously or have been submitted in any other competition/promotion.  Entrants must own all rights in and to the Entries/essays. Entries/essays must be in keeping with Sponsor’s image, or desired image, or they will be disqualified. Entries/essays may not contain obscene, profane, lewd, defamatory or inappropriate text; and may not describe nudity, acts of violence, acts that could cause injury or harm, or acts that are illegal or dangerous, as determined in Sponsor’s sole discretion.  Entries may not contain any third party materials (other than Sponsor owned), and may not contain any materials that, violate or infringe (or may be at risk of infringing) any third party rights, including without limitation copyright, trademark rights, privacy rights (including portrayal in a false light), publicity rights, or other intellectual property rights. Sponsor has the sole discretion to determine whether Entries/essays are eligible. Entries/essays that violate this section or are otherwise objectionable (as determined solely by Sponsor), will not be considered and will be disqualified. Automated, script, macro or robotic Entries will be disqualified.

  • Transfer of Rights: By submitting an Entry/essay, Entrant hereby irrevocably grants the Contest Entities the non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide rights to use, reproduce, publish, edit, market, store, adapt, assign, sell, dispose of, distribute, have distributed, publicly and privately display, communicate, publicly and privately perform, transmit, have transmitted, create derivative works based upon, and promote the Entry/essay or excerpts of the Entry and submitted essay (as such may be edited and modified by the Sponsor in its discretion) in perpetuity, for editorial, commercial, promotional and all other purposes (including posting on Sponsor-affiliated websites, the Website, and/or other Sponsor-selected media).

  • Additional Representations and Warranties/Indemnification:  Each Entrant represents and warrants as follows: (i) Entrant's Entry/essay is non-professional and the sole, original work of the Entrant, which has not been copied or otherwise plagiarized, in whole or in part, from any other source and, as of the date of Entry/essays submission, is not the subject of any actual or threatened litigation or claim; (ii) Entrant's Entry/essay has not been published previously or submitted in any other competition; (iii) Entrant owns all rights in and to the Entry/essay; (iv) Entrant's Entry/essay does not and should not violate or infringe upon (nor is they at risk of infringing) any third party rights, including without limitation copyright, trademark rights, privacy rights (including portrayal in a false light), publicity rights, or other intellectual property rights; and (v) Entrant's Entry/essay does not and will not violate any applicable laws, and is not and will not be considered defamatory or libelous.  Each Entrant hereby agrees to indemnify and hold the Contest Entities harmless from and against any and all third party claims, actions or proceedings of any kind and from any and all damages, liabilities, costs and expenses relating to or arising out of any breach or alleged breach of any of the warranties, representations or agreements of Entrant under these Official Rules.

  • Judging to Determine the Winners: From October 31, 2017 through December 4, 2017 (the “Judging Period”), all eligible Entries will be judged by a panel of expert judges based on the following criteria:

    1. Clarity/Thoroughness (30%):How well did you communicate your businesses value proposition, your current business challenges, the details of your business plan and community investment/charitable donation plans? How sound are your business and community investment/charitable donation plans?
    2. Business Impact (30%):Level of impact your business plan could have on the growth of your business.
    3. Community Impact (30%):Level of impact your charitable donation/community investment plan could have on the community and aligns with Sponsor values and mission of the Award Program. Synchrony Financial believes in helping Small Businesses meet their goals, especially when those goals include helping others. We channel our passion for innovation and creativity into improving the quality of life of the customers we serve and our leaders and employees strive to operate with integrity, in the workplace and marketplace, every day. The Working Forward Small Business Awards is an opportunity to not only facilitate the growth of Small Businesses, but to reward those who boldly take the initiative to help and give back to the communities that support them.
    4. Passion (10%):How does your passion for your business and/or industry influence your employees, customers and community?
    The ten (10) highest scoring Entries will be determined potential Grand Prize winners. Being declared a winner is subject to validation and verification of eligibility and compliance with all terms and conditions set forth in these Official Rules. In the event of a tie, the Entries involved in the tie will be reviewed by an additional judge who will serve as a tiebreaker and who will evaluate Entries according to the criteria listed above. Decision of judges is final and binding on all matters relating to this Contest.
  • Prizes: 
    Grand Prizes (10):$10,000 awarded as a check to the winning Small Business allotted for growing the business (“Business Growth Award”), and $10,000 awarded as a check to the winning Small Business to be used to better the surrounding community (“Charitable Donation Award”). The actual retail value of each Grand Prize is $20,000. The Business Growth Award and Charitable Donation Award are collectively “Awards”.  Awards must be used as described below. In no event will more than the stated number of prizes listed in these Official Rules be awarded. In total, there is a potential for $200,000 in prizes to be awarded in the Contest. Prizes will be awarded directly to the Small Businesses cited in the applicable winning Entries. Entries. 

    Limit one (1) prize per Entrant/Small Business. All prizes will be awarded provided at least ten (10) eligible Entries are received. Prizes are not transferable. No substitution or transfer of prize permitted except at the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Taxes related to the prizes are the sole responsibility of the individual winners/Small Businesses. The winners will be issued an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 with respect to the Grand Prize amount; all taxes with respect to such Grand Prize are the sole responsibility of each winner. Winners will have two (2) months to provide the Sponsor a list of community recipients to whom they plan to gift all or part of their Charitable Donation Award, along with the timing and principal of the receiving entity (where necessary). Winners must use Awards as outlined in Entry. Winners must begin executing plans to use Awards (as outlined in Entry) within three (3) months and complete these plans within twelve (12) months. By accepting a prize, winners agree to provide quarterly updates on the use of Awards for a period of one (1) year. There is no limit to the number of recipients who may receive (all or a portion of) the Charitable Donation Award as outlined in winners’ Entries and plans (as applicable). Winners may also be required to participate in a Sponsor-specified video shoot, photo shoot, and/or interview to be used for a feature in Succeed magazine (“Feature”) or other Sponsor-specified media (and in Sponsor’s sole discretion).  Sponsor will retain rights of all video/photo shoot footage (“Footage”) and may use that Footage in any way they see fit. Details will be provided by Sponsor and the video/photo shoot will be local to winners.

  • General Rules: Potential Grand Prize winners will be contacted via phone and/or email on or about the week of December 4, 2017 and will be required to complete and return via email/mail, an Affidavit of Eligibility, liability/publicity release, where permitted by law and assignment of rights within seven (7) days of notification attempt or prize will be forfeited. If prize or prize notification is returned as non-deliverable, or if the potential winner fails to return the prize notification within the required period, an alternate potential winner will be determined and contacted (in accordance with these Official Rules). If a winner does not comply with the Official Rules, then the potential winner may be disqualified and an alternate potential winner will be determined and contacted (in accordance with these Official Rules). By participating, Entrants agree to these Official Rules and the decisions of the Judges, Administrator and Sponsor, which shall be final and binding in all respects. Winners and Entrants agree to release and hold harmless the Contest Entities from and against any and all liability, claims or actions of any kind whatsoever for injuries, damages, or losses to persons or property which may be sustained in connection with creation of or submitting an Entry or otherwise participating in or preparing for any aspect of the Contest, the receipt, ownership, possession and/or use or misuse of prize awarded or any typographical or other error in these Official Rules or the announcement or offering of the prizes or for any claims or causes of action based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission to the Contest Entities to use winning Entrants’ Entries, names, Small Business name, likenesses, quarterly updates, any interviews, and any Footage, for promotional purposes (including any possible public relations opportunities) and in any/ all media; including, SUCCEED Magazine, press releases, social media, websites and any promotional or collateral materials without further compensation, notice, review or approval, except where prohibited by law. The Sponsor and its agencies are not responsible for technical, hardware, software or telephone malfunctions of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the user or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest or by any human error which may occur in the processing of the Entries in the Contest or for any liability for damage to any computer system resulting from participation in, accessing or downloading information in connection with the Contest. Sponsor not responsible for typographical or other error in printing of or otherwise promoting the offer or administration of the Contest or announcement of the prizes/Awards. If there are any discrepancies between printed or other promotional materials and the Official Rules, these Official rules will govern and control. The Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that tampers or attempts to tamper with the Entry process or the operation of the Contest or Website; violates the Official Rules; or acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. Any attempt by any person to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of the Contest may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. Sponsor's failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. Sponsor reserves the right to cancel or modify the Contest for any reason, including (but not limited to) if, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Contest. If such cancelation occurs, Sponsor reserves the right to determine the winners from among all eligible Entries submitted prior to cancellation, based on the same criteria listed above.  By entering, Entrants agree to be contacted by Sponsor at a later date (unrelated to Contest) and may be asked to participate in future Features in the magazine, in their sole discretion.

  • Disputes: EACH ENTRANT AGREES THAT: (1) ANY AND ALL DISPUTES, CLAIMS AND CAUSES OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF OR CONNECTED WITH THIS CONTEST OR ANY PRIZES AWARDED SHALL BE RESOLVED INDIVIDUALLY, WITHOUT RESORT TO ANY FORM OF CLASS ACTION, AND EXCLUSIVELY BY THE APPROPRIATE STATE OR FEDERAL COURT LOCATED IN UTAH; (2) ANY AND ALL CLAIMS, JUDGMENTS AND AWARDS SHALL BE LIMITED TO ACTUAL OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS INCURRED, INCLUDING COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH ENTERING THIS CONTEST BUT IN NO EVENT ATTORNEYS’ FEES; AND (3) UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL ENTRANT BE PERMITTED TO OBTAIN AWARDS FOR, AND ENTRANT HEREBY WAIVES ALL RIGHTS TO CLAIM, PUNITIVE, INCIDENTAL AND CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES AND ANY OTHER DAMAGES, OTHER THAN FOR ACTUAL OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES, AND ANY AND ALL RIGHTS TO HAVE DAMAGES MULTIPLIED OR OTHERWISE INCREASED. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THE ABOVE MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. EACH ENTRANT HEREBY WAIVES HIS/HER RIGHT TO CONTEST JURISDICTION FOR ANY SUCH DISPUTE OR CLAIM.  All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of the Entrant and Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of Utah, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of Utah or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of Utah.

  • Data Collection: Any personally identifiable information collected during your participation in this Contest will be collected by Sponsor and used by it and its agents for purposes of the proper administration and fulfillment of the Contest as described in these Official Rules, for any additional opt-in information you agreed to upon participation, and in accordance with Sponsor's Privacy Policy, posted at https://www.mysynchrony.com/privacy-policy.html and as allowed by law.

  • Winners List: For the names of the winners, visit synchronybusiness.com/awards on or about December 18, 2017 through January 18, 2018.

  • Sponsor/Administrator: This Contest is sponsored by Synchrony Bank, 777 Long Ridge Road, Stamford, CT. The Administrator of the Contest is Don Jagoda Associates, Inc., 100 Marcus Dr., Melville, NY 11747.

  • In 1974, Bil and Susie Mosca bought a Georgian-era farmhouse. They had their work cut out for them. Of the 57 windows, 54 were cracked. There was no insulation, no electricity, and no septic system.

    By the next year, they had the place in good enough shape to start renting rooms on their 12-acre property. Eventually, the Moscas' Center Lovell Inn became a Maine institution. So in the early '90s, when the Moscas were ready to retire, saying goodbye to their baby proved very hard. Finding the right buyer for the inn was a major financial and emotional challenge. For instance, there was a car salesman who wanted to jazz up the entrance with a flashing light that wouldn't fit the business' character. "We really couldn't see that which we built up with our blood and sweat and tears turned over to somebody who was going to spoil it," Bil Mosca said.

    There were certainly some appealing prospective buyers who expressed interest. But they didn't have enough cash to take the property. So the Moscas did something quite novel: They held an essay content for the rights to their beloved inn.

    In 1993, the couple slogged through more than 7,000 essays from potential buyers. Each had paid just $100 and 200 words for rights to the inn, with the sum of the fees (more than $700,000) serving as the Moscas' compensation for giving up the property. At the time, this strategy was largely unheard of. No one knew how it would pan out.

    "If you're not willing to risk, you're not willing to gain, are you?" Mosca said. "We were really willing to put our necks out there and maybe we were going to be proven fools."

    But the idea wasn't foolish. The contest, featured on the Phil Donahue Show, went viral in a pre-viral era. Other homeowners and business owners took note, to the point that the concept feels familiar, or even cliché, in 2015.

    Nowadays, a heartfelt essay can get you a goat farm in Alabama, a bakery in Vermont, or a movie theater in Massachusetts. In a particularly special sale, Janice Sage, who along with her then-husband had won the inn from the Moscas in the 1990s, passed on the very same inn in an essay contest earlier this year, reportedly netting $906,875.

    If this method sounds overly simplified to small business owners contemplating sales, that's because it is. There are a lot of contests out there. Only the wildly successful ones make national headlines.

    And there are potential complications. The Boston Globe reports that dozens of losing applicants from Sage's contest banded together and prompted a police investigation of the inn's sale. The winning entry, selected by two judges — not Sage — came from Prince and Rose Adams, a couple with extensive experience in hospitality. The contest entry information had explicitly promised restaurant and inn owners wouldn't be at an advantage. Eventually, Sage was cleared of wrongdoing. The Moscas were also investigated for rule-breaking way back when. Bil chalks up the complaints to sour grapes. The premise behind any essay contest is that to apply and justify the fee, every entrant must genuinely believe his or her essay is the best. Hurt feelings afterward are to be expected.

    Nonetheless, there are many very real legal issues to iron out before attempting a feat like this. The specifics of whether owners can even run such contests vary by state. And if there is a potential sale going through, buyers — sometimes not even allowed to tour the property prior to the sale — would be wise to stay on top of all the details, including any property liens, transfer taxes, and title fees.

    Bil, 71, still lives in Maine and finds work as an essay contest consultant. He and Susie even recently published a book with lessons from their experience called Passing Along A Dream.

    For Mosca, selling the inn in a zany, legally fraught manner was worth it. The self-described optimist saw it as a way of giving the contestants hope. Here was a new path for big dreamers stuck in a rut — maybe saddled with a dull job, a bad relationship, or grief. Poring over thousands of essays, many several times over, the Moscas were touched by the emotional hardships and desire for change people conveyed. Bil cried when his favorite of the finalists didn't get the nod from his judges. It was a woman who saw running the inn as a way to honor the sacrifices her late parents, both Holocaust survivors, made in getting to the U.S.

    "That's who's going to enter our contest," Mosca said. "So many of those people who needed to get away and needed hope. We were their bartenders, their rabbis, their ministers, their priests. We served those functions with respect because people poured their hearts out onto paper to us, and that's a great responsibility not to diminish what they said and did."

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