UW Oshkosh to host business model competition

Megan Behnke, Writer

The Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UW Oshkosh will host the Culver’s Business Model Competition on Nov. 14 for student entrepreneurs, where the top three students will receive a split of over $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Student entrepreneurs will present their business models to an audience of investors, entrepreneurs, students and community members.
Director of the Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Dan Brosman said each contestant will have four minutes to present their business, followed by two minutes of Q&A with the panel of judges, touching on the problem/solution, market strategy, team dynamics, revenue model and competitive advantage(s).

“Along with the cash prize, winners will also receive a spot in the 2019 Titan Accelerator Program, which gives participating teams up to $5,000 in additional funding for their business,” Brosman said. “The overall winner will earn the opportunity to compete in the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament in April 2019.”

Brosman said eight to 10 students of all majors will be competing.
“The competition is open to all students — undergraduate and graduate — enrolled at UW Oshkosh, UW-Fox Valley or UW-Fond du Lac,” Brosman said. “Almost half of the applicants this year were non-business majors.”

Contestant and UWO engineering major Robert Fricke said he entered the competition with his idea of an electric bike to create awareness about current electric transportation technology. He said his electric bike has superior battery design for those that want to travel faster, more conveniently and at an affordable price.

“The technology to ease traffic and travel for less is here today,” Fricke said. “I would like to see it become more available.”

Contestant and UWO supply chain management and information systems major Sara Martin said she entered the competition because she felt she had ideas that could help make a difference in her community.
Martin’s idea is called Swift Cuisine, a plan for food trucks to partner with existing restaurants in need of expansion opportunities and to provide a way for them to test new markets, all while limiting expenses.

“The Culver’s Business Model Competition seemed like a great way to bring my ideas to light and bring a new model to the business world,” Martin said.
Fricke said everyone should launch an independent venture at least once.

“Starting a business is about more than just finding an avenue to monetize a good or service,” Fricke said. “All entrepreneurs will have to learn how to overcome obstacles, especially early on.”
Martin said she always knew she would eventually like to start her own business one day, figuring it would be further down the line after she established herself in a career.

“Being a student here at UW Oshkosh, however, has helped me change my mind because I want to make a difference in this community and create change,” Martin said. “This competition is an added bonus because it helps bring forth an opportunity to put my ideas out there in front of people and get support for my idea.”

Fricke said that his e-bikes are just the beginning, and all profits will be used for charitable causes, research and development of new, green technology.

“Chicago is starting to rely on bicycle couriers to get things where they need to be,” Fricke said. “Some places are beginning to burrow underground to create more room for transportation vehicles. I believe that demand for lightweight, electric vehicles will continue to grow. I hope Wright Bike will continue to grow with it.”

Brosman said students participating gain skills in public speaking, business development and even negotiation tactics.

“We hope to kick-start the entrepreneurial journey for many of the students competing and excite them enough to apply for other programs offered at the CEI,” Brosman said. “Many of our alumni have told us that the reason they are where they are in their career is because of the knowledge and resources gained while participating in the CEI’s programs.”

Martin said she hopes the project will continue to develop and grow over the next several years.

“Compared to past presentations, this is at the beginning of conceptual design and planning/development,” Martin said. “That means there is plenty of steps to look forward to seeing. This particular project is something I would love to see develop because of the impact it could bring to the business world.”

Brosman said the opportunity to enter the competition is one of a kind, and a student’s idea could potentially be the next big thing.
“Expect the stakes to increase,” Brosman said. “Students are getting involved with entrepreneurship at younger and younger ages nowadays.”
Brosman said students interested in business and entrepreneurship should take advantage of the competition and get valuable feedback.
“Even if it’s just an idea, we will work with you to teach the process and build your idea into an actual business,” Brosman said. “The competition allows students to get in front of an audience and present their business, with the potential of winning seed funding to move the business forward.””