News & Media

Two UW teams compete in largest worldwide lean startup competition

Four UW System students travel to Provo, Utah for the International Business Model Competition with WiSys Regional Associate Kristen Ruka

At the International Business Model Competition (IBMC) only 36 teams in the world were given the opportunity to compete, and this year, two of those teams came from the University of Wisconsin System: UW-Green Bay and UW-River Falls. The IBMC is both the first and the largest international lean startup competition in the world. Seeing as 85% of new businesses fail within only a few years, the goal of the IBMC is to inform and galvanize more intelligent entrepreneurs who ultimately take on smarter, more lucrative endeavors. 

About the International Business Model Competition

IBMC is a unique, input-focused startup competition that requires dynamic recognition and validation of imperative business hypotheses rather than the typically static business writing plan. While companies traditionally work within the walls of its business to gather secondary data, IBMC aims to alternatively push these young entrepreneurs to step outside of the business to gather secondary data from customers, exercising customer development instead of product development.

The competition was a two-day event that took place in Provo, Utah at the Utah Valley Convention Center where on the first day, competitors had the opportunity to participate in workshops and attend talks from business leaders David Bland, Aaron Eden, Ash Maurya (creator of Lean Canvas) and Chelsea Carroll. On day two competition commenced, which was followed by a presentation from keynote speaker Ryan Smith (CEO and co-founder of Qualtrics) over dinner and closed with the final round of competition and awards for the event. 

About the UW System Participants

Representing UW-Green Bay at the IBMC was the 2018 Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament winner, Sam Hunt. Sam won the WBIT with his idea, "The Local Food Experiment," which addresses the issues of food-related chronic disease and agricultural water pollution by maximizing the convenience and affordability of nutritious, eco-friendly eating in the Green Bay area. Through taking first place in the WBIT, Sam qualified for the IBMC where he made it to the Semifinals, proceeded to finish in the Top 20 worldwide, and received $3,000 for his startup as a result. 

Additionally, accompanied by their Innovation Challenge mentor Dr. Marina Onken, the team of Forrest Close, Miles Peterson, and Reid Wilson represented UW-River Falls at the IBMC. This trio took first place in the UW-River Falls Innovation Challenge for their idea, "Songen," which is focused on creating a "new and improved" adult brief for aging or incontinent adults that is leak-proof with out the noticeably bulky structure. At the IBMC, team Songen competed in the Quarterfinals as well as the Challenge Round and won $2,500 for their company.

Team Songen, UW-River Falls

Ultimately, those involved had the opportunity to receive one-on-one feedback from international panels of judges with experience in development of a canvas-based business model. This helped to increase their overall capacity as entrepreneurs, providing great promise for a future of meticulously thought out and executed entrepreneurial ventures. 

About WiSys

WiSys is a 501 (c)(3) supporting organization of the University of Wisconsin System. WiSys supports 11 four-year universities, 13 freshman-sophomore UW College campuses and statewide UW-Extension to foster a systemwide culture of innovation, identify innovative technologies and bring them to the marketplace.