2014 UWM New Venture Business Plan Competition winners announced

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) engineering student Alex Francis was awarded the $7,500 grand prize in the 2014 New Venture Business Plan Competition at UWM’s Lubar School of Business. Francis presented the Isopoint Technologies plan for the E-Trap product to a panel of independent judges, besting 12 other plans in the final competition.

The electrostatic particle trap (E-Trap) is a technology that uses electrostatic charge to isolate micro-and nanoscale particles for researchers, providing cost and time savings, as well as better sample preservation over current technologies. Francis has incorporated and is exploring a link with the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The New Venture competition is designed to foster entrepreneurial spirit among UWM students and alumni, promote practical business skills and encourage the creation of new, for-profit ventures. It is made possible by private support from La Macchia Enterprises, the parent company of Mark Travel and Trisept Solutions.

Judges included Alan Katz, president, Katz Consulting; Joe Kirgues, co-founder, gener8tor; Bruce Paler, retired CEO of several health care companies (Total Rehab Services, Total Pharmacy Services and Total Ancillary Services); V. Kanti Prasad, Bostrom Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Lubar School; and Paul Stewart, principal at PS Capital Partners, LLC.

All four top winning teams (first, second and two teams tied for third place) also were chosen for UWM’s Student Startup Challenge (SSC). Through SSC, students and recent alums compete for financial backing and mentoring to launch a business on the strength of an original product idea.

Earning the New Venture second-place award was Abakus: Education Adventure. Abakus is a Common Core-aligned, educational video game that engages and compels elementary school children to learn in and out of school. It reinforces core principles while substantially improving both parents’ and instructors’ ability to monitor and assist every child’s learning process. Hunter Ruth (’13 BFA Design & Visual Communications) and Josh Kirk presented the plan.

Two plans tied for third place. Mechanical engineering student Kyle Ilenda and Spencer Johnson were recognized for their plan for LEVEL Camera Products. The company provides efficiently designed products that are created by videographers for videographers. LEVEL’s initial product is a purpose-built camera slider, a lightweight, minimalist solution for high-production shots.

MajorWeb’s product, Mesmer, is an interactive degree planner, class scheduler and progress tracker for university students. Mesmer has an intuitive format that facilitates the generation of potential class schedules based on personally set parameters. It can also cross-reference program requirements, helping students obtain an additional minor or certificate in a cost- and time-effective way.

William Barlas, mechanical engineering major; Kyle Forsbert, global studies major; Maximilian Felgenhauer, computer science major; and Andrew McConville (’13 Design & Visual Communications and Computer Science/Web Development) presented for MajorWeb.

Earning honorable mentions ($500 each) were Beacon Health Monitoring and Knights Monitor – Sleep Safe Baby Monitor.

Beacon Health Monitoring aims to help people live healthy and active lives. Weijia Chen (’13 MS Marketing) and MBA students Lisa Wright and Thien Le said the company will create products that continuously monitor and evaluate health data, beginning with the Beacon BioBand.

Knights Monitor designs and produces wireless products for parents with infants and young children. Presented by Scott Forbes (’13 MBA), the Sleep Safe Baby Monitor (first product) incorporates secure Bluetooth technology to stream live video and audio to a device (smartphone or tablet), and includes many innovative features not available in products today.


(NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos are available through Beth Stafford)