Sir Richard Branson Named Mentor in Shopify's Entrepreneurship Competition

Sir Richard Branson is opening up his private island to five intrepid entrepreneurs as part of the Build A Business Competition.

The annual competition is hosted by Shopify, a commerce company based in Ottawa, Canada.

Five winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Necker Island, the home of Virgin Group's Sir Richard Branson, where Branson will offer them business advice.

"When I started off 50 years ago, the term entrepreneur didn't exist," Branson said in the competition's launch video. "The idea of rolling up your sleeves and creating things was seen as a slightly dirty word. The truth is what entrepreneurs are doing is making the world a better place."

Each winner of the competition will be flown in a private jet to spend five days with Branson along with other mentors including FUBU founder Daymond John, The 4-Hour Work Week author Tim Ferriss, and MarieTV's Marie Forleo. Seth Godin, best known for Seth's Blog, will make an appearance to teach a seminar on the island.

Ferriss said it's important to support entrepreneurship as a way to add value to the economy.

"Entrepreneurs are creators," he said. "They create something from nothing; they are value-creators."

But it takes a special kind of entrepreneur to really make an impact, according to Branson.

"You're only going to succeed as an entrepreneur if you create something that makes people's lives better," he said. "I'm biased, but I think being an entrepreneur is a pretty damn good thing."

The eight-month competition rewards the entrepreneurs that bring in the most sales during a two-month period.

Competitions have long inspired entrepreneurship and innovation. From the Latitude Prize in 1714, which awarded £20,000 to whomever could pinpoint a ship's location at sea, to the Daily Mail's £10,000 prize announced in 1913 to the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean by plane.

Last year's Build A Business competition included 21,000 contestants who brought in more than $120 million in revenues. The winners received a cash prize and a trip to NYC to meet industry experts, including Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington.

Amy Crouse, the founder of Colorado-based Bolder Bands, is one of last year's winners.

"It's a risk to step out there and share your product, but at the same time, the rewards far outweigh that risk, and I'm so glad that my husband and I took that step," she said.

Bolder Bands, which sells athletic headbands, says it's on track to be in 1,000 retailers by the end of this year.

Necker Island, located in the British Virgin Islands, is home to wildlife including a flock of 200 flamingos.

To enter, contestants need to launch a store and sell a product on Shopify. Businesses must not have had any sales prior to June 1, 2014. The shop's best two months of sales will be calculated to determine the winners when the competition closes on May 31, 2015.

To learn more or to enter the competition, visit the Shopify Build A Business website.