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Square looks to reel in businesses with new “Brassys” competition

Square is launching a new competition called “The Brassys,” which will reward five participating sellers with $10,000 and a chance to rub elbows with notable business owners. 

The program, which launches today, is Square’s latest attempt to lure sellers onto its ecosystem with a financial incentive. Two years ago, the company started offering cash advances to its sellers. Advances gave way to formal loans and the service has since opened up to all merchants—not just Square sellers. Now it’s giving money away for free. But theses offerings are not just about the money, they’re about framing Square as a resource-rich community.

The contest and its winnings have a distinctly accelerator-ish flavor. Voters will rate a business owner based on his or her “vision” and business backstory. Its designed in partnership with flashy Bay area players like Google AdWords and Twitter in addition to Vistaprint, Magisto, Indeed, and Avvo—all of which are donating prizes worth $2,500 to the winning sellers. The panel of judges and mentors, includes the CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani; former CFO for Goldman Sachs, David Viniar; restaurant founder and chef Roy Choi; and Todd Carmichael, cofounder and CEO of La Colombe coffee shop. But winners will only get one-day to form lasting relations with these chieftains; there won’t be the on-going mentorship a true incubator provides. Submissions close on October 9, 2016.RR