Calling All Mothers of Invention: Whirlpool Brand Searches for Entrepreneurial Moms to Win $20,000 Small-Business Grant

American moms are taking the world by storm -- nearly half of all privately-held businesses (10.6 million) in the United States are owned by women, and more than a third of these women have children under 18 at home(1). Because there are millions more moms worth nurturing, Whirlpool brand is announcing its second annual Mothers of Invention Grant, a search for moms with brilliant ideas.

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The 2006 Whirlpool Brand Mother of Invention Grant helps moms realize their potential by providing necessary business resources including seed money and expert advice. One grand-prize winner will receive a package featuring a $20,000 grant, a new home office and a two-day business boot camp to leverage Whirlpool expertise, including product development and marketing. An additional $24,000 in grants will be distributed to four runners-up.

"Being awarded the Mother of Invention Grant opened many doors to resources I would not have had otherwise," said 2005 grand prize winner, Theresa Riep, who created a product to improve child safety measures. "I appreciate the continued help and support. Although raising a family while starting a business is a challenge, the grant, advice and camaraderie have definitely alleviated some of the growing pains."

The call for entries opens on Mother's Day, May 14 and ends July 30, 2006. Submissions will be judged based on weighted scores of the following: creating a solution to an unmet need; uniqueness in the current marketplace; offering a viable business solution; and the story behind the creation. Whirlpool brand based the grant's judging criteria on its own product/innovation guidelines.

"As a brand, we rely upon the insights of today's busy moms for ideas on how to help ease their very active lives," said Audrey Reed-Granger, director of consumer insight for the Whirlpool brand. "The Mother of Invention Grant was created to acknowledge the inventive ways American mothers create solutions to their own challenges every day. We recognize moms to be the most coveted consumers on the planet, and as such shouldn't they have an opportunity to bring a product or service to market?"

Serving as guest judges for the program are Baby Einstein creator Julie Aigner-Clark, who also judged last year's competition, and Tastefully Simple founder and CEO Jill Blashack. To round out the judging panel, Whirlpool brand experts from product development, business strategy, innovation, technology and marketing will also review entries.

"I was so impressed by the ingenuity of these moms," said Julie Aigner- Clark, Baby Einstein creator. "I never thought it would be as difficult as it was to narrow down the finalists to just five. Ideas varied from 'Why didn't I think of that?' to 'Wow, what an incredible idea!'"

Adding Tastefully Simple founder Jill Blashack to the panel provides additional home-based business expertise.

"Many women, especially moms, have great ideas with mass market potential -- they just don't know where to begin to develop them," said Jill Blashack, guest judge and founder of Tastefully Simple. "The Mother of Invention Grant provides the means to put their dream into action -- from seed money to mentor advice."

In addition to the grant, the winner also will receive Whirlpool brand's most innovative products -- a Duet® or Cabrio™ washer and dryer and a Whirlpool® Fabric Freshener. Runners-up will receive grant money and sponsor-selected laundry and/or dishwasher product.

Moms interested in applying for the 2006 Whirlpool Brand Mother of Invention Grant are encouraged to visit starting May 14, 2006. The deadline for entries is July 30, 2006. Winners will be announced Sept. 8, 2006.

While the 2006 Whirlpool Brand Mother of Invention Grant provides the means to jump start a business, moms will still have complete autonomy over their business venture. The ideas submitted in this contest remain the sole property of the contestant. The judges and the sponsors do not claim ownership of any ideas submitted. Whirlpool will maintain a cloak of confidentiality around submissions, allowing winners time to seek patent protection. Appliance and appliance component submissions will not be accepted and will be disqualified.

About Whirlpool Corporation

Whirlpool Corporation is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of more than $19 billion, more than 80,000 employees, and more than 60 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world. The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Bauknecht and other major brand names to consumers in nearly every country around the world. Additional information about the company can be found at

(1) Center for Women's Business Research survey, "Capital Choices: Volume 1, What Matters and What Works"

Photo: NewsCom:
PRN Photo Desk

SOURCE: Whirlpool Corporation

CONTACT: Audrey Reed-Granger, Director of Public Relations, Whirlpool,
+1-269-923-7557, ; Trish Taylor, Zeno for
Whirlpool, +1-269-923-3351,