On February 7, Intuit QuickBooks will sponsor a 30-second commercial during the CBS telecast of Super Bowl 50. The commercial will feature the small business that wins a contest QuickBooks calls Small Business, Big Game. Ten finalists were announced in September and the top three finalists will be announced on November 3. You can vote one time per day.

Chapter 1: How I woke up and smelled the coffee about this year’s Small Business, Big Game contest.

While we’ve written about a previous Small Business, Big Game competition, I was reminded that QuickBooks had revived the promotion when I received an email from Teah Teriele, the manager of marketing and shipping at a small business in upstate New York called Death Wish Coffee Company (slogan: “World’s Strongest Coffee”). In it,  I learned Death Wish was one of ten finalists and Teah wanted us to encourage SmallBusiness.com readers to vote for them to get into the final round (of three) of the contest. “We would be the smallest small business ever to have a Super Bowl ad,” Teah told me.

The stakes are high for Death Wish Coffee and the nine other finalists—the grand prize winner gets a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl. And since the price of a Super Bowl ad can be as high as $5 million, this might be the most lucrative small business contest in history (that didn’t include an acquisition).

“I can’t take sides,” I replied to Teah, but I’m a fan of strong coffee and, well, I might like to do some further research on their product. In a couple of days, I had a pound of coffee to test.

Chapter 2: Testing Death Wish Coffee

I brewed my first cup of Death Wish before my daily 6 a.m. walk with my two dogs. By 15 minutes into the walk, the dogs were begging me to slow down. Imagine brewing coffee with Red Bull to wash down a NoDoz tablet and you’ll begin to understand the magical powers of Death Wish Coffee.

But surprisingly, the coffee has a smooth,  gentle taste; the opposite of what I was expecting from a product that has a skull and crossbones as its logo.

Within a few days, I became addicted to Death Wish Coffee and had to email Teah to ask, “Are people as surprised as I am that a coffee called Death Wish tastes pleasant? What do people think it’s going to taste like?”

“Most probably, they expect something similar to tar. We make it our mission to shock people with how good it is,” she replied.

Teah’s answer reminded me why I love small businesses.

Chapter 3: Meet the 10 Small Business, Big Game Finalists

On November 3, 2015, Death Wish Coffee and the nine other Small Business, Big Game finalists, will be whittled down to three finalists. Each of these businesses has a great story. And since this is a popularity contest, each small business would like your votes. (You can vote once a day.) Here are all ten finalists, including Chubbies Shorts, a company we’ve previously profiled on SmallBusiness.com.

(Listed reverse alphabetically. The “About” sections of each finalist are from the Small Business Big Game website.)

These companies are great examples of the innovation, inspiration and fun found  in the powerhouse of creativity called small business.


Swansea, MA | WiggleKids.org


About WiggleKids

WiggleKids is a unique inclusive fitness studio that offers opportunities for those of all ages and all abilities to keep their brain and body active and healthy. We work with individuals at our studio as well as travel to other communities to offer our programs to schools, adult facilities, recreation departments and local parks. Our dream is to change the way people feel about inclusion and show everyone that fun and fitness go hand in hand, no matter how athletic and/or coordinated you are. We count smiles, not points. From what we see, everyone speaks the universal language of fun!

Why should other small businesses vote for you to win?
(Asked by SmallBusiness.com)

“Small businesses should vote for WiggleKids Inc. because our inclusive approach to exercise and movement responds to the idea that all humans live on the same spectrum and is changing lives every day as a result.”

( Vote for WiggleKids)

Vidler’s 5 & 10

East Aurora, NY | Vidlers5and10.com


About Vidler’s 5 & 10

Historic and nostalgic, one might think after 85 years with the same family, in the same town and at the same location we could lose our passion. But our business has always been and will always be an active part of our community, and our customers aren’t just numbers to us, but are our friends, neighbors and classmates. We might be an “old fashion” business, but embracing social media and having fun at work is attracting a new audience that is delighted by an entertaining shopping experience that can’t be duplicated on-line and doesn’t exist at the ‘big box’ stores.

( Vote for Vidler’s 5 & 10)


Boston, MA | UnShrinkIt.com


About Unshrinkit

The idea for Unshrinkit was born right in the laundry room. One of us accidentally shrunk a sweater that we received as a gift. Our patent-pending solution saves shrunken wool clothing that fell victim to a washer or dryer mistake. Unshrinkit rescues wool garments back up to their original size. We believe Unshrinkit can be a game-changer in the laundry room. It allows people to dress better—and feel better—knowing they can truly rescue prized wool garments. Now let’s get a bottle in every laundry room—our sweaters, jackets, socks and more deserve nothing less.

( Vote for Unshrinkit)

 Sword & Plough

Denver, CO | SwordAndPlough.com


About Sword & Plough:

Sword & Plough is fashion company founded by two sisters raised at West Point, NY. Emily, one of the founders, is now an officer in the U.S. Army. “We have repurposed more than 30,000 pounds of military surplus into rugged yet refined bags, packs and accessories. We employ veterans directly and through our suppliers; all products made in USA. We donate 10 percent of profits to veteran support organizations. And we bridge the civil-military gap by communicating veteran-related issues through our marketing, branding, public speaking and social media. We are Repurposed For A Purpose.”

Why should other small businesses vote for you to win?
(Asked by SmallBusiness.com)

Sword & Plough is an inspiring veteran-owned small business committed to empowering veteran employment through the creation of beautiful bags and accessories from repurposed military surplus material, made right here in the USA.

( Vote for Sword & Plough)

G Mommas

Selma, AL | gmommas.com


About G Mommas:

A small town cookie company on a mission to transform our hometown. We’ve grown from 35 local stores to more than 2000 nationwide. Our cookies are made in small batches using real butter and real ingredients. The recipe and inspiration behind the cookies is my grandmother, Anice “Gammy Momma” Armstrong. A true woman of the Deep South, G Momma knew that family, lots of love and real ‘butta’ could do as much for your soul as it could your stomach. Gammy (‘Gah Mee’) Momma would bake these little cookies for all our family ‘get-togethers,’ and we would crawl all over each other to get a few.

Why should other small businesses vote for you to win?
(Asked by SmallBusiness.com)

Other small businesses should vote for G Mommas because we are about more than just cookies. Our mission is to make an impact on our local economy by creating jobs and opportunity from our successes.

( Vote for G Mommas)


Washington, DC | Fenugreen.com


About FreshPaper:

A social enterprise taking on food waste with a simple innovation, made in the USA, that naturally keeps food fresh 2–4 times longer. We started at our local farmer’s market with only $300 and a vision for a better food system, and an unlikely grassroots movement took us global!

Why should other small businesses vote for you to win?
(Asked by SmallBusiness.com)

A FreshPaper Super Bowl Ad would bring food waste to the national consciousness in an instant and make healthy eating more affordable and accessible for all—demonstrating how powerful a simple idea can be.

( Vote for FreshPaper)


Parker, CO | ezpzfun.com


About ezpz:
ezpz is a family run business that invented the Happy Mat, which is an all-in-one placemat and plate that SUCTIONS to the table. The mat captures your kids messes and the suction function means no more tipped bowls or plates. Genius! All products are made from high quality, 100 percent  silicone that is BPA, PVC, lead and phthalate free and mats are dishwasher and microwave safe. ezpz’s products are revolutionizing the feeding industry, and have proven to be a game changer for mainstream kiddos as well as children with Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy, just to name a few!

Why should other small businesses vote for you to win?
(Asked by SmallBusiness.com)

ezpz is a family-run business that invented the Happy Mat, an all-in-one placemat + plate that is revolutionizing the feeding industry and taking the mess and stress out of mealtime!

( Vote for ezpz)

Death Wish Coffee Company

Round Lake, NY | DeathWishCoffee.com


About Death Wish Coffee Company

Home of the World’s Strongest Coffee! Two years ago, you could find me in the basement of my coffee shop, testing and tasting to create a coffee stronger than the rest. Today, we are a tight-knit team of nine, roasting and packing the world’s strongest coffee. We work tirelessly to share our passion of not only strong coffee, but the motivation and productivity that come along with it. Some may say coffee this strong is irresponsible. We like to think of it as revolutionary.

Why should other small businesses vote for you to win?
(Asked by SmallBusiness.com)

In addition to helping us be the smallest business ever to have a Super Bowl ad,  a vote for us is a vote for “shopping local,” as our success hinges on the local vendors we depend on to get the job done.

( Vote for Death Wish Coffee Company)

Chubbies Shorts

San Francisco, CA | ChubbiesShorts.com


About Chubbies Shorts

Sky’s Out, Thighs Out. That’s been the mantra ever since the Summer of 2011. Basically a jetpack time-machine disguised as a clothing company, we built Chubbies Shorts to propel men out of the age of capris & shants, and back to the boldly-radical shorts-era epitomized in the 80s by guys like Larry Bird, Tom Selleck, John McEnroe, and everyone’s Dad. Differentiated by our commitment to American manufacturing, support of our Armed Forces, and devotion to/from our ever growing 1.75M member Chubster Nation, we believe this Shorts-Breathing Dragon (dba: Chubbies Shorts) is just beginning to stir.

( Vote for Chubbies Shorts)


Philadelphia, PA | AnaOno.comg

About AnaOno

We create intimates and lifestyle collections that make women who’ve undergone breast surgery feel beautiful, confident and proud. As a breast cancer survivor, Dana Donofree knows what it’s like to feel like there is nothing out there that fits just right. That’s why she designs every piece with the client in mind. Not everyone fits what is currently available in the traditional market, be it because of a mastectomy, breast reconstruction, augmentation, lift or reduction. That’s where we come in. Comfort and fit can be sexy. And, ​AnaOno donates 5 percent of all sales to breast cancer foundations.

Why should other small businesses vote for you to win?
(Asked by SmallBusiness.com)

For us, this isn’t an opportunity to push more product, this is an opportunity to open up the dialogue and talk about beauty after breast cancer and what it takes as a small business to disrupt a billion dollar industry.

( Vote for AnaOno)

The 150-Year History of the Term ‘Small Business’

Until the end of the 19th century, there were few big businesses so the history of the term “small business” is less than 150 years. Today, no other phrase comes close to describing companies up to 500 employees.