UWO hosts Culver’s Business Model Competition

Lexi Wojcik-Kretchmer, News Reporter

The Culver’s Business Model Competition was held Monday Nov. 4 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Sage 1210 in which the three winners of this competition split $50,000 in cash prizes and other prizes.

First and second place received a spot in the 2020 Titan Accelerator Program. First place will also be able to compete in the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament and the Pitch this coming April. There will also be a People’s Choice award voted on by the spectators.

In order to qualify, competitors had to be a graduate or undergraduate student at UWO, UWO-Fox Cities, or UWO-Fond du Lac.

Colleen Merill, Director of Small Business Development Center and Executive Director for Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said applicants represented every college.

Dan Brosman, Director of Alta Resources CEI, said that 60% of applicants were outside of the College of Business and about 47% of applicants were women.

Brosman said finalists are decided by “multiple people who take the time to review each application and mark their scores on a rubric.”

He added that applicants are scored based on the problem they are solving, market opportunity, revenue model, traction so far, and overall quality of the application.

This year’s finalists are: Hannah Beyer & Evan Meyers with N-Fit Company, Becca Dailey with Divine Beauty LLC, Dakota Swank with Tap Trap, Bakary Ceesay with Smart Rental Vehicles, Abbie Merrill and Ian McDonald with Prexo, Noah Bauer with GiftHawk, Austin Phillips with Ardent Fitness and Education, Stephanie Perez with Steph’s Wholesale Liquidation, Travi Huss with ProtectYouPrivacy.com, and Kaila Vander Wielen with Grace Farms LLC.

Now that they have been chosen and accepted, these students will go through different Presentation Workshops until Nov. 12 and prepare for the competition on Nov. 14.

During the competition, the 10 finalists will have four minutes to present their company and then lead a two-minute question and answer session.

The judges will then decide the top three winners. The judges this year are Executive Director of New North Barb LaMue, Director of Innovation of J.J. Keller and Associates Inc. Ethan Bagley, Founding Investor and Fund Manager of Atlene Zack Pawlosky, Alta Resources Vice President John Beré and Manager of Innovative Venture for WiSys Adhira Sunkara.

John Muraski, assistant professor in the department of information systems, was formerly a judge and said this is a very difficult process because of how hard students have worked on their pitches.

He said, “judges look for the importance of the problem, target market, solution, team and advisors, actual presentation, and likeliness of success,” adding that each is then scored and ranked after judges discuss and analyze each pitch.

The Business Model Competition was first started in 2013. The new re-established Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization, or CEO, club, started up again by Muraski and the Alta Resource CEI who got together to form this competition.

Muraski said that the students of the newly reformed club were very excited to share their different ideas. That is when Jordan Rhodes, the first student president of the club and later the first director of the Alta Resources CEI, brought the idea up to Muraski about starting this competition.

In the first year of their competition, Rhodes’ mother, an entrepreneur herself, wrote the first prize check of $250.

In the second year, Craig Culver was asked to join as a judge and became very invested in this competition that was renamed the Culver’s Business Model Competition and continues to grow every year it happens.

Merrill said the purpose of providing an entrepreneurial platform for our students.

“Our goal is to teach the lean business method, let students research and explore the feasibility of their business idea, connect to mentors and hopefully launch their own business,” Merrill said,

It is also beneficial to students who come to spectate because it’s a great way to be inspired and show that anyone can be an entrepreneur.

Merrill said, “being entrepreneurial is a mindset ⁠— we are on a mission to reach every student on campus and help them discover how to be innovative thinkers while providing resources that support their growth.”