Are you looking to turn your business idea into reality? Are you curious about exploring new business ideas and how to start a business?

The La Macchia New Venture Competition will assist you with joining a team, – or creating one of your own, arranging for collaboration with mentors to develop your business idea, AND pitch results to a panel of expert judges for cash prizes up to $10,000! You will also have the opportunity to attend workshops on issues including marketing essentials, financial fundamentals, and presentation skills.

The competition kicks off every October with a pizza party and competition overview.

  1. Register to attend the competition overview and pizza party!

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

  2. Submit Your Idea Abstract

    In the first phase of the competition, you’ll submit a 500-word Idea Abstract following the Idea Abstract Guidelines (see Submission Guidelines tab). You’ll be provided with constructive written feedback on your abstract from seasoned entrepreneurs and faculty.

  3. Attend New Venture Workshops

    Let our experts help you learn more about marketing, finance, operations and other details you’ll need to understand to be successful in your venture. Workshops will be held early in the competition to give you the tools you need to develop your venture. 

  4. Write and Submit Your Business Plan

    Entrants will submit a business plan (5 page maximum), following the Business Plan Guidelines (see Submission Guidelines tab), and a financial summary. We’ll match you with a mentor to help you as you develop your plan and presentation. We also encourage you to find other professionals who can provide you with feedback. Each project will be reviewed thoroughly and we’ll provide you with useful written feedback.

  5. Final Competition and Presentations

    Those who are chosen to advance to the Final Competition will present their finished business venture to a panel of judges who have meaningful experience in or exposure to early-stage businesses.

Monday, October 2, 2023 – Registration opens!

Monday, October 16, 2023
New Venture Business Plan Competition Overview and Pizza Party!

6:00pm – 7:00pm, Lubar Entrepreneurship Center (LEC, Nicolas Innovation Commons #105)

Friday, October 27, 2023 – Deadline to Submit Intent to Compete Form

Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Workshop: Making an Effective  Pitch Presentation (Melanie Michael, Presenter)
6:00pm – 7:15pm – Lubar Hall N140

Monday, November 13, 2023
Workshop: Marketing Essentials (Melanie Manuel – Small Business Development Center, Presenter)
2:00pm – 3:30pm – Lubar Hall N110
Registration Required – Register Now!

Thursday, November 30, 2023 – Deadline to Submit Idea Abstract

Beginning in December – One-on-one meetings with Competition Mentors. INITIAL meetings will be scheduled through Marna Riordan.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Financial Fundamental (Greg Martin – Small Business Development Center, Presenter)

2:00pm – 3:30pm – Lubar Hall N140
Registration Required – Register Now!

Monday, February 17, 2024 – Deadline to submit documents for Mentor’s final review.

Monday, February 24, 2024 – Documents returned to entrants with comments.

Saturday, March 1, 2024 – Deadline for final submission of documents.
All materials must be submitted by midnight on March 1st to Marna Riordan.

Saturday, March 1, 2024 – Optional Practice Presentation to Competition Advisors
9:00am – 12:00pm, Lubar Hall N440

Saturday, March 9, 2024 – Final Competition
8:00am – 1:00pm
In-Person, Lubar Hall, N333

How do I Enter?

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

Am I Eligible?

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 2017.

“Current Student” is defined as an individual who is enrolled in the current academic year and is in good academic standing. Each student entrant must agree to allow the competition staff to verify their academic standing.

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 venture 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.

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

Idea Abstract Guidelines

The abstract should be a maximum of 500 words providing a brief, focused overview of the business you would like to develop. It should include:

  • Entrant’s name and contact information
  • An overall description of the company
  • An explanation of the products or services the company provides, why the products/services are needed, and how they differ from what already exists
  • A definition of what your market is, who your customers are, and who your competition is
  • A description of the market potential of the business
  • A concise description of the idea, and how this related to the team members’ backgrounds and experiences.

Idea abstracts must be submitted by email to Marna Riordan.

Business Plan Guidelines

Business Plans must be submitted by semi-finalists in the following format:

  • Cover page including business name and entrant name(s).
  • Word Document, maximum length of 5 pages (not including cover page) to include two paragraphs of executive summary.
  • Page Margins: 1” on all sides
  • Font: Times Roman 12 pt or equivalent
  • Line Spacing: Single spaced
  • Footer at bottom of each page must include business name and page number.

Suggested Format for the Business Plan and Pitch

  1. What is the need for your products or services? How large is your market?
  2. What is the product or service you suggest to meet this need?
  3. How is this need met today? What makes your idea standout?
    1. What evidence supports your clain that your venture will meet the need? Insert market surveys, curtomer experiences, video demos and the like.
  4. How will you market your product/service? Please elaborate on pricing, promotion, distribution, and web presence.
  5. How will you deliver or build the product / service?
  6. How do your unique skills and knowledge contribute to this venture?
  7. How and when will the venture make money? Include summary and highlights of financial statements.
  8. Do you need financing? How much? What will you do with the funds?
    1. Biographical information on key members of the management team
    2. Board of Advisors (including name, title, and company affiliation)
  9. Financial Appendix (not counted in the 5-page plan maximum), with detailed financial projections through at least year 3, including:
    • income statement (a.k.a. profit & loss statement) by month and by year through year 3
    • balance sheet (including Day One balance sheet) by month and by year through year 3
    • pro forma cash flow by month and by year through year 3
      budget analysis.

How Are Ventures Judged?

The 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.

The commercial merits of each entry will be based on the professional opinions of the judges related to factors including:

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

Unique Benefits
The company provides something novel, unique, or special that differentiates it in the marketplace.

Competitive Advantage
The competitive position is fully described and the competitive advantage can be sustained.

Management Capability
The management or management team can effectively develop the company and deal with the risks associated with the venture.

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