Written by Dana Krems
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization hosted the virtual Warhawk Business Plan Competition on May 5. Six finalists pitched their business plan ideas to the judges, and at the end of the exciting “Shark Tank”-style event, three student teams were awarded $2,250 in tuition credit at UW-Whitewater.
Bailey Wichert, an entrepreneurship major, won first place and $1,000 in tuition credit with his pitch for Secure Ski — an innovative product he designed to prevent skis from being stolen.
The team of Arianna Plaster and Braden Bunnow, both entrepreneurship majors, earned second place for Prodigy Contracting. Plaster and Bunnow have already launched their general construction company, which specializes in government projects. Dan Gauerke, an entrepreneurship major, took third place with an exotic car parts company named Lead Pedal Parts.
The other business plan finalists included Jasmine Haag with Golden Hour Patisserie, a creative bakery and subscription box delivery, Hannah Kalis with Preference, a Greek life dating app, and the team of George Soucek and Jason Tamras with PortaPlug, a portable smartphone charger.
Dave Gee, lecturer, entrepreneurship program coordinator, UW-Whitewater Launch Pad co-director, and CEO chapter advisor, was proud of the dedication and perseverance demonstrated by the competitors and CEO chapter members.
“We had an outstanding group of finalists this year, and in fact, we have never had such a breadth of competitors,” he said. “Our CEO chapter has done an amazing job of adapting to our virtual world, and the Warhawk Business Plan Competition was no exception.”
All participating students dedicated significant time and effort to complete the two-stage competition, which begins with a business plan and two-minute video, and culminates with the pitch at the live event. The structure provides a framework for students to develop a sound business plan and prepare to explain their ideas to prospective investors and customers.
The event judges, including Brian Jensen of FLIR Systems, Jim Caldwell of First Citizens State Bank, and Joe Donovan of the Donovan Group and ProPRcopy, asked the students insightful questions regarding their ideas and plan development. They also shared their extensive expertise as entrepreneurs and investors.
The Warhawk Business Plan Competition was started by the UW-Whitewater Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization in 2007 to encourage student entrepreneurs to turn their inspiration into startup businesses. Each year, the event depends on the judges, CEO chapter members, faculty mentors and event sponsors for its success.
UW-Whitewater CEO’s mission is to inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation. This successful student organization offers access to invaluable resources, such as the UW-Whitewater Launch Pad and UW-Whitewater Incubation Program, as well as exceptional education and networking experiences. Learn more about the UW-Whitewater entrepreneurship program and resources available to students.