New Venture Business Plan Competition rewards student entrepreneurs

A total of $16,000 in prize money was awarded to four top teams of UWM students and alumni in the recent 2019 New Venture Business Plan Competition, hosted by the Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. An additional four teams won honorable mentions, splitting another $2,000.

The 12-year-old annual competition, which is open to students in any discipline, is made possible by support from La Macchia Enterprises, the parent company of Mark Travel and Trisept Solutions.

A man and woman look at a dress in a store.
Alums Andrew Roznowski (BA, 2018) and Simbiat La’Aro (BA, 2015) took the grand prize in this year’s New Venture Business Plan Competition. (UWM Photo)

First prize, $8,000: Usman La’Aro

Andrew Roznowski (Africology/Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latin@ Studies) and Simbiat La’Aro (Political Science/Economics) operate Usman La’Aro, a fashion boutique that sells African-inspired clothing and fabrics that are manufactured in Nigeria and tailored and sold in Milwaukee.

Second prize, $4,000: Triciclo Peru

The company, founded by Amy Narr (Sustainable Peacebuilding) and Mario Diaz Herrera, sells authentic Peruvian empanadas.

Third prize (tie), $2,000: Shelter Pawz and Tach

Through Shelter Pawz, Paige Fix (Social Work) aims to call attention to the “adopt – don’t shop” pet movement by selling shelter-dog-inspired plush toys.

Tach is a fully customizable business card exchange platform for iOS and Android devices. Founders include Victor Cain (Supply Chain Operations/Marketing), Severin Brandl (Marketing), Ken Stock (Accounting), Matthew Shannon (Computer Science), Michael Turner (Economics/Philosophy) and Arhanm Akba (Computer Science).

The judges awarded four honorable mentions to:

  • Victor Williamson (Computer Science) for MoAnimate, a mobile, cloud-based, 2D animation software platform
  • Cheyenne McGlaston (Kinesiology) and Michael Brown-Johnson for Positive Vibes Fit and Wellness, which provides services for athletes
  • Brianne Jarrett (Social Work) for H.E.I.R.S. (Her Emotions and Integrity Represent Significances) blog and podcast
  • Justin Wermske (Information Technology Management/Supply Chain Operations) and Katherine Walker (Finance/Supply Chain Operations) for WermTech, which provides software that prevents cybersecurity threats

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