161276 Rev-Up MKE Logo Color.jpg

2017 Timeline

June 7: Application Launches

May 24 - June 28: Free Business Training 

July 10: Application Closes

July 26 - September: Mentoring with Anchor Institutions 

September 20: 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 Near West Side anchor institutions 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!

Save the Date

Rev-Up MKE Small Business Competition
Live Pitch Event

September 20
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.

5:00 pm – Doors Open
5:30 pm – Pitches Start
7:30 pm – Reception and Celebration
8:00 (approximately) – Winner Announced


Award for the Grand Prize Winner

  • $10,000 start up business funding from WaterStone Bank
  • Over $25,000 in-kind services (architectural renderings, 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 & Financials: clearly defined vision and objectives, roadmap for implementation, and perceived strategic advantage. Business will be viable.

  • 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 26, 2017.


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 kelsey.otero@marquette.edu or 414-288-4990.

2017 Finalists

2016 Finalists