University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

The competition is generously sponsored through private funding from La Macchia Enterprises, parent company of:


About the Competition

The goal of the New Venture Business Plan Competition is to foster entrepreneurial spirit among UWM students and alumni, promote practical business skills, and encourage the creation of new, for-profit ventures.

A key step to translating a great idea into a profitable business is the creation of a solid business plan. Good business plans address the variables surrounding the many decisions entrepreneurs must make in developing and launching their businesses.

The competition’s structure – with successive phases of plan development – will help entrants fine-tune their ideas and polish their presentations. Entrants will also have the opportunity to attend workshops on writing a business plan, forming a company, and commercializing an idea.

The UWM Foundation will host the Final Competition and will award significant cash prizes that can be used to further the successful commercialization of the winners’ ideas. If entering as a team, prize money will be divided equally among all team members. The following prizes have been generously provided by La Macchia Enterprises to the UWM Foundation for use in the Final Competition:

  • First Prize: $8,000
  • Second Prize: $4,000
  • Third Prize: $2,000
Phases of the Competition

The competition is structured in successive phases that allow entrants to focus their ideas, fine-tune their plans, and finesse their presentations:

All entrants or entrant teams must register for the competition by completing an Intent to Compete form.

Workshops will be held during the competition period to help guide entrants in the structure, content, and presentation of a business plan. The workshop schedule can be found at Workshop Schedule.

Phase I: Idea AbstractAll entrants or entrant teams must submit an Idea Abstract (500 word maximum), following the Idea Abstract Guidelines. All entrants or entrant teams will be provided with written feedback on their Executive Summaries. 

Phase II: Business Plans Entrants or entrant teams must submit a Business Plan (30 page maximum), following the Business Plan Guidelines. All entrants or entrant teams will be provided with written feedback on their Business Plans. 

Phase III: Final Competition and PresentationsThe UWM Foundation will host the Final Competition at which time entrants or entrant teams will present their business plans to a panel of judges at the final competition.

Eligibility Criteria
The competition is open to all current full-time or part-time UWM undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral students, as well as all UWM alumni who have graduated since January 2009.  

“Current Student” is defined as individuals who are enrolled in the academic year 2014-15 and are in good standing with the university (minimum 2.0 undergraduate grade point average or minimum 3.0 graduate grade point average). Each student entrant must agree to release a copy of their official academic transcript to the New Venture Business Plan Competition staff.  

Entrants may enter the competition as individuals or as teams. If entering as a team, at least half of the team members must meet the eligibility criteria, as must the team leader. Entrants may only submit one business plan for consideration.  

All entrants must confirm that the business plan they submit is their original work and has not won a prize in any previous business plan competition.  

It is recommended, but not required, that each entrant or entrant team has a mentor with extensive business experience to help guide them through the process. 

Submitting an Intent to Compete form and/or a Business Plan indicates an acceptance of the competition terms and conditions.

Judging ProcessThe competition is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges function as venture capital investors deciding on which business venture they would most likely fund.

Judges will be selected from several different functional and industry areas to evaluate the entries. Judges will have meaningful experience in or exposure to early-stage businesses.

The commercial merits of each entry will be based on the professional opinions of the judges. Entries will be judged based upon:

Market Opportunity
There is a clear market need presented, as well as a way to take advantage of that need.

Unique BenefitsThe company provides something novel/unique/special that differentiates it in the market.

Competitive AdvantageThe major competitors are described. The competitive advantage is sustainable.

Management CapabilityManagement can effectively develop the company or understands the additions to management that are required. Management can handle the risks associated with the venture.

Financial UnderstandingThe financial projections are realistic. The key assumptions are explained and are reasonable.

Investment OpportunityThe business represents a real investment opportunity in which you would hypothetically consider investing.

Entrants agree to abide by the decision of the competition judges.