Courage and conviction defined the 2018 Wisconsin School of Business Business Plan Competition. Entrepreneurial students from majors across the campus proposed creative solutions to both common problems in everyday life and more intractable challenges facing high-technology industries. With conviction strengthened from their research findings, customer signups, and careful business planning, teams pitched judging panels in a new 2-day competition format at Grainger Hall for a chance at a $4,000 grand prize.
Atrility Medical, a runner-up in the 2017 contest, exhibited notable passion and perseverance by continuing to improve their AtriAmp cardiac arrhythmia technology and refining their business model to target a more promising customer segment. Their patented device promises better detection of atrial arrhythmias that could lower medical treatment costs and save lives.
Judges included entrepreneurs, business and nonprofit leaders, and professionals who lead accelerators, law firms, and other institutions that support entrepreneurs in the Madison area. Among the 16 judges were two competition alumni, Matt Howard of Eat Street and Daniel Litvak of Fishidy, who provided not only feedback to entrants but served as an inspiration to students. Judges deliberated at length both days of the event because they felt many teams had tremendous potential with their scalable solutions to proven problems.
Among the finalists, students pitched non-invasive instruments to improve insulin injections (Safe Rotations), innovative heat exchangers (G0 Thermal), human resource software (Moonshot Learning), greener chemicals for plastics manufacture (Pyran), and non-alcoholic, carbonated drinks (Rebel Kombucha).
More than 700 students have competed in the business plan competition since 2005 with some students raising millions of dollars for their startup ventures.
Helping to strengthen students’ skills and mindsets are many programs provided by campus partners, including: (1) business model/business plan office hours with advisors at the Small Business Development Center, (2) one-on-one pitch clinics offered by the Professional Communications team at the WSB, and (3) and an intellectual property assessment to safeguard students conducted by WARF, the technology transfer agent for UW-Madison.
Alumni and corporate partners, including Anil Rathi (BBA, ’97), founder of Skild, and American Family Insurance, provided important services and funding for the contest.
The competition is organized by INSITE which supports entrepreneurship research and experiential programming at UW-Madison with further support from the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship.