Three Milwaukee-area start-ups won prizes totaling $24,000 at the annual James D. Scheinfeld Entrepreneurial Awards Competition at UWM’s Lubar School of Business:
First Prize: MIZI
The $10,000 first prize winner is MIZI, which plans to introduce makeup tools that are easier to clean than standard products used today. According to the creators, the MIZI tools will benefit everyone from personal consumers to professional make-up artists. MIZI is applying for a patent on their process of applying a plastic-type coating to the tools so that can be cleaned easily and quickly with only plain water. The MIZI products would reduce the time, effort, and money users spend to replace the tools, and fewer of these pre-used tools would end up in landfills. Although large brands dominate the market, such as Sephora, Tom Ford and Ulta, MIZI owners said that they are unaware of efforts from other brands to improve the “cleaning time” of make-up brush and sponge products. MIZI owners plan to market their products through an upcoming Kickstarter campaign, and then establishing an e-commerce website in partnership with social media influencers. The products’ successful introduction to professional stylists, consumers, and theater production/cosmetology students via e-commerce would be supplemented by rolling out the product to beauty salons and other places where beauty products are sold.
The award was presented to Michael Kirsanov (MBA, ‘21), (MS, IT Management, ’21) and Izabelle Villafuerte (BS, Environmental Science, ’20).
Second Prize: McCune’s
The competition’s $8,000 second prize winner is McCune’s, which plans to start a veggie burger and fries food cart in the Milwaukee area late this summer. The idea was prompted by the failure of other big-name competitors (such as McDonald’s) to successfully introduce and maintain a veggie burger as part of its regular offerings. According to McCune’s owners, this presents a dilemma for vegans who wish to grab a fast-food veggie burger. A growing number of Millennials are seeking vegan alternatives, according to an article in The Economist that reported that a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old Americans say they are vegans or vegetarians. If the McCune’s food cart is a success (which will operate under the name Sookie’s Veggie Burgers), the business eventually will be moved to a food truck, which will offer an expanded menu of shakes and daily specials. There also are long-term goals to open a storefront facility.
Accepting the prize were John McCune (Marketing, ’19), who is vegan; and Elle Borden (Political Science and Spanish, ’19).
Third Prize: Shelter Pawz
Shelter Pawz received a $6,000 prize for its business, which was created to bring attention to the “adopt, don’t shop” movement through the sale of shelter dog-inspired plush toys. According to winners Paige Fix (BSW, Social Work, ‘20) and Kayla Babiak (BBA, Finance,’20), the plush toys represent mixed-breed dogs, the kind most often found in animal shelters. The dogs are a departure from the purebred dogs most often found through online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
The toys, to be sold online via animal society websites and at the shelters themselves, come with a “certificate of adoption” and may resemble the real pet people are adopting. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to animal shelters that sell the toy dogs.
About the Competition
The Scheinfeld Entrepreneurial Awards Competition began in 2012, and is funded through an endowment from the late entrepreneur James D. Scheinfeld. The initiative is directed by V. Kanti Prasad, Bostrom Professor of Entrepreneurship, and is open to Lubar School of Business students (and others who they may partner with).
This year’s selection committee included the following judges:
Andy Matter, Founder and President, Colordyne Technologies, a product of industrial, mid-range and production class color label printers and digital label printers, ink and accessories;
Bruce Paler, Founder and CEO (Retired), several health care companies, including: Total Rehab Services; Total Pharmacy Services and Total Ancillary Services;
Paul Stewart, Principal, PS Capital Partners, LLC; and Bostrom Entrepreneur-in-Residence, UWM Lubar School of Business;
Brian Thompson, President, UWM Research Foundation; Director, Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, and Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Lubar School of Business and College of Engineering and Applied Science;
Dan Wilhelms, Founder, Symmetry Corp., and current President, Above View, a custom-designed tile company.