Timmerman Auditorium in the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Timothy J. Hyland Hall hummed with nervous energy during the Midwest High School Pitch and Warhawk Business Plan competitions on April 4, 2018.
For the second year, the evening led off with the high school pitch competition—the only event of its kind in the Midwest where aspiring young entrepreneurs receive feedback from judges and vie for cash prizes. The competition was developed to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in high school students while advancing their business model development and professional presentation skills.
Each student or team had six minutes to present their business idea to the panel of judges, who asked follow up questions, provided feedback, and evaluated the presentations for content and delivery.
Claire Darmstadter from Sun Prairie High School, Mike Henry from Parker High School, and Mathew Hall from the Elkhorn Area High School earned first, second, and third places, respectively. Madeline Eggert and the team of Margaret Mroch and Diamond Orin, all from the Elkhorn Area High School, also presented their plans.
The high school pitch event was followed by the collegiate Warhawk Business Plan competition, which was started in 2007 to help UW-Whitewater student entrepreneurs transform their ideas into startup businesses. The finalists ranked in the top three split $2,250 in prize money to help advance their start-ups.
Entrepreneurship major Sam Lepak and business partner Evan Laird were awarded first place for their start-up Pintful, entrepreneurship major Ben Breitenbucher was awarded second place for Breit Innovations, and communication major Daniel Kry came in third with his pitch for SpecClips.
Sharing the judges’ regard for the aspiring entrepreneurs, Kevin Kaufman, Director of the Small Business Development Center at UW-Whitewater, said, “I was thoroughly impressed with the preparation, presentation skills, and innovation shown by all of the competitors in the pitch competitions.”
Fellow judge Jim Lindenberg of Lindy Enterprises added, “These young adults are already seasoned veterans, and they are going to be very successful people in the future. I can’t wait to read about their success in years to come.”
First launched by the UW-Whitewater CEO student organization in 2007 and originally modeled after the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, the annual Warhawk Business Plan competition supports student entrepreneurs by not only awarding cash prizes, but ensuring they have a fundamentally solid business plan and are prepared to explain their startup idea to prospective employees, investors, and customers.
UW-Whitewater CEO’s mission is to inform, support, and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and to 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.