2018 Timeline

June 20: Application Launches

July 25: Application Closes

August 8: Finalists Announced

August 8 - September 25: Mentoring with Anchor Institutions 

September 25: Live Pitch Event 

Save the Date

Rev-Up MKE Small Business Competition
Live Pitch Event

September 25, 2018
The Rave/Eagles Ballroom

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.

2018 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, finalists will receive hands-on business training at Marquette University's 707 Hub in preparation for the live pitch event.  The winner – who will be announced after the live pitches on September 25 – 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 back for round 3. This year’s program updates include:

  • The 707 Hub at Marquette will provide 1:1 mentorship for all finalists

  • Anchors will have the opportunity to sign up to participate in the pitch practice session with the finalists before the big day

  • “Media day” will be part of the annual summer celebration with all 2018 finalists.  During this time, we will film all of videos and take headshots, etc. 

The Near West Side is open for business!

On Tuesday, September 25, 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
5:45 pm – Pitches Start
7:45 pm – Reception and Celebration
8:15 (approximately) – Winner Announced


Award for the Grand Prize Winner

  • 1ST place will receive $10,000 start up business funding from WaterStone Bank

  • Plus 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 Partners

  • 2nd place winner will receive $4,000 cash and other in-kind services as needed

  • Audience choice winner will receive $1,000 cash prize

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 by the first week of August. 


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.

2018 Finalists


2017 Finalists

2016 Finalists