News & Media

UW-Milwaukee team seeking to grow empanada business wins Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament

MILWAUKEE—UW-Milwaukee’s Amy Narr and her husband Mario Diaz Herrera won the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament, presented by WiSys, on Saturday, April 13.

Their business plan to grow their authentic Peruvian empanada business Triciclo Peru LLC beat out teams from across the state to win a $2,500 cash prize and an expense-paid trip to compete at the 2019 International Business Model Competition in Provo, Utah on May 9-10.

In addition to the prize from WiSys, the couple will automatically qualify for funding from the Ideavance Seed Fund operated by the UW Extension. The team could receive up to $25,000 from Ideavance.

At the International Business Model Competition, the pair could win up to an additional $40,000 to launch and grow the business.


The couple and business partners met while Narr was serving in the Peace Corps in Peru. Mario Diaz Herrera is originally from Lima, Peru. They moved to Milwaukee in 2017 and started Triciclo Peru LLC, operating as a food truck selling empanadas using traditional recipes and high-quality ingredients from both Wisconsin and Peru.

Triciclo Peru has operated at farmers’ markets, street festivals and catering events and the owners are seeking to expand into a brick and mortar "Empanada Bar.”


Caleb Dykema’s 1Swipe business idea took second place at the tournament, earning the UW-Platteville student a $1,500 prize.

1Swipe is a full white or blackboard eraser that can be pushed across to erase everything in its path saving time and solving the issue of inefficiency in the classroom for STEM professors.


The third place team OmniSpeakers from UW-Whitewater, won a $750 prize. The team included Hunter Driscoll, Sam Struebing, Brendon Kranz and Dan Pomeroy (not pictured).

OmniSpeakers is a 4-in-1 portable, Bluetooth speaker system that can act as one powerful speaker or be broken apart into four separate units to create a surround sound experience.

“We would like to congratulate the award winners. Their work in testing an idea based on customer input and pivoting to meet the needs of that customer is the essence of the competition specifically and entrepreneurship generally,” said WiSys President Arjun Sanga. “I would also like to thank all the participants. Each won their own local feeder competition and has an idea worthy of becoming a business. I’m excited to see the businesses that will be created by these young entrepreneurs.”

The Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament is designed to grow the next generation of entrepreneurs with the business development tools and business mentorship needed to launch and grow the future businesses created by young entrepreneurs.

This year’s competition, held at Northwestern Mutual’s Cream City Labs on the company’s downtown Milwaukee campus, featured 13 teams of undergraduate and graduate students from nine campuses in the UW System.

The tournament was sponsored by the UW System, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Boyle Fredrickson.

WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.