2017 Timeline

May 1: Application Launches

May 24 - June 28: Free Business Training 

July 10: Application Closes

July 26 - September: Mentoring with Anchor Institutions 

September TBD: Live Pitch Event 


The Rev-Up MKE small business competition will provide an opportunity for start-up entrepreneurs to expand or start a business and get the support needed to make it successful.

2017 Overview

The Rev-Up MKE small business competition provides an opportunity for start-up entrepreneurs to expand or start a business and get the support needed to make it successful in the Near West Side. 

As part of the competition, six finalists will receive hands-on business training from the five local Near West Side anchor institutions, plus event sponsor WaterStone Bank, in preparation for the live pitch event.  The final winner – who will be announced after the pitches– will receive significant resources to support their new venture, which will be located in a Near West Side storefront.

We are pleased to announce that the Rev-Up MKE small business competition is coming back for round 2. Updates to this year’s program include:

  • A free, pre-training business boot camp that will be offered prior to the Rev-Up MKE application due date.  Training is available to Near West Side residents and will last for six weeks.
  • Unparalleled mentorship and support from Near West Side anchor institutions.  Each finalist will be matched with one corporate partner for deep 1:1 mentorship and resource support. 

The Near West Side is open for business!

2016 Finalists

Save the Date

Rev-Up MKE Small Business Competition
Live Pitch Event

September TBD
The Rave/Eagles Ballroom


Hear from the finalists, cast your vote for the audience choice winner and enjoy a taste of the Near West Side by sampling food from neighborhood restaurants. 

The winner will be announced that evening.

Doors Open at 4:30 PM

Event Begins at 5:00 PM

Reception & Celebration at 7:15 PM

Winner Announcement at 8:00 PM

About the Finalists

Bucks Burgerdogs & BBQ | Valerie Kennedy
A food truck looking to bring food cooked over a wood-fired open flame grill to the Near West Side.

Funky Fresh Spring Rolls | Trueman McGee
A mobile food vendor/manufacturer offering unique spring rolls in non-traditional flavored rolls, made with fresh local ingredients.

Green Source Juice Bar and Café | Marshall Harley
A juice bar and café focused on supplying fresh and organic healthy food choices to the community. 

MilWaz Collective | Leilani Lopez-Blasini, Milagros Cuevas, Ruben Lopez, Erika Martinez and Rachaad Howard
A cooperative that will connect local artists and screen printers by providing a space to work and sell their products.

Sew Alive Pamela Graham
A retail business that specializes in leather products, specifically for personal and home decor. Part of the business consists of offering workshops and teaching young people creative skills. 

Pete's Pops | Pete Cooney
A local, Milwaukee company, that offers fresh fruit and cream popsicles (otherwise known as paletas) in unique flavor combinations.

That Salsa Lady (TSL) | Angela Moragne
A family-owned, full-functioning incubator kitchen with a shared restaurant and retail space. TSL is dedicated to the elimination of food deserts. Through reconnecting people to healthy, affordable nutrition, salsa becomes the difference in how people relate to food.

WasteCap Resource Solutions/Milwaukee Community Service Corps. | Kevin Fogle and Mike Consiglio (MCSC)
Two local nonprofits combining to build custom furniture from salvaged materials in foreclosed homes throughout Milwaukee.

Award for the Grand Prize Winner

  • $10,000 start up business funding from WaterStone Bank
  • Over $25,000 in-kind services (architectural renderings, support on rent payments, small business consulting, free legal audit and possible representation, communication support)
  • One-year of computer power, storage space and internet bandwidth to house mission-critical applications on a private server, courtesy of Potawatomi Business Development Corporation, Stack41 and Data Holdings
  • Advertising and recognition from Near West Side

Judging Criteria

  • Product/Service: clearly defined solution, fulfills a customer need, has a resonance and desirability, changes or significantly improves an existing process or fills a gap in current Near West Side offerings.
  • Markets & Competition: clearly identified customer, size of customer base, scalability in both geography and reach, in-depth competitive analysis. 

  • Management Team: relative domain and industry experience, business track record, education, etc. 

  • Implementation: clearly defined vision and objectives, roadmap for implementation, and perceived strategic advantage.

  • Need and Impact: what effect will the award funding have, how will it be used to help develop the neighborhood, and a desire to locate and operate in the Near West Side.

Selection Process

The Near West Side will review applications and select finalists for the competition and supplemental training program by July 21, 2016.


Finalists will participate in training, support and mentoring program leading up to the live event. This is intended to help finalists get the business support necessary to be successful and prepare for the pitch.


  • Prizes will only be awarded to the business that moves in the proposed building.
  • Business must be ready to move into the space within two months of the conclusion of the contest or the completion of renovations, whichever comes first.
  • All selected finalists must attend workshops held by Marquette University and business training partner(s).
  • Finalists must be present and present at the live pitch date.

Eligible Participants

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Participants must be actively involved in the business that is being proposed
  • The business owner must also be responsible for creating the business plan
  • Must be willing to sign a minimum of a 2 year lease
  • Participants must be Southeastern Wisconsin residents and start their business in the Near West Side
  • Business must be a start-up or expanding business
  • Business must be contributing to the well-being of the neighborhood; No alcohol or tobacco businesses
  • Business must be approved for operation

Ineligible Participants

  • Businesses such as Cash for Gold, Liquor Stores, Pay Day Loans, Pawn Shops, tobacco, and gun stores.
  • Entries must contribute to the development and growth of a healthier Near West Side neighborhood.




If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kelsey Otero at or 414-288-4990.