Student Voice


June 22, 2024

Conference provides learning sessions with leading business entrepreneurs

March 1, 2007

Students from all over Wisconsin will be competing in the Young Entrepreneur's Conference April 13-14 in the University Center.

The conference will consist of a variety of speakers, workshops and presentations that will challenge students in every aspect of marketing, from their finances to the advertising of their business.

"Entrepreneurs have to know everything about running a business and finding their niche to start companies with people," Steven E. DeWald, director of Small Business Development Center, said.

According to a flyer announcing the conference, "Students will be able to experience sessions with leading business entrepreneurs, which will lead to networking opportunities ... they will gain awareness into what it takes to create and sustain a profitable business while sharing their ideas with leading business executives."

This is a chance for students to "interact with other business-minded individuals in Wisconsin."

UW-River Falls alumnus Edward O'Keefe said he found that the competition was beneficial to him in his present career and future graduate school plans.

"I wanted to participate because I enjoyed what I was learning in classes and wanted a way to apply it all into one project," O'Keefe said. "For the competition we had to use everything that we learned over our years of schooling, not just a particular class."

Starting April 13, the students will be conducting a poster competition, which will be judged on how well the team advertises their service to the public.

After the competition, the participants will submit a written business plan to be judged, followed by a presentation of the proposed company the next morning.

The plan can be something they had produced during their coursework or on their own time, DeWald said.

The judges consist of business people from the surrounding areas of River Falls and the Twin Cities, he said.

They will be looking for probability of the business succeeding and make the determination whether the projected financials are sensible.

It is important to understand what the customer base is or who they are trying to market their sales toward, DeWald said.

Last year, two UWRF alumni won the competition with a retirement plan.

Matt Baumgarter and Elijah Wayne walked away with a total of $750 and a traveling trophy to commemorate the event.

"It gave me a feel for the types of things we need to look for to create and run successful businesses," Baumgarter said. "I have continued with research towards starting my business from the competition."

This is the third year UWRF will hold the Entrepreneur's Conference, which hosts students from the entire UW System.

"We want more teams from the various schools," DeWald said. "Last year we had seven business plans and even more the year before. The students come from everywhere in Wisconsin such as Green Bay, Whitewater and Stout."

The competition will be held in the University Center, and the presentations will take place in South Hall.

Everyone is welcome to attend the presentations.

"The thing that I really took away from the whole thing was the amount of research that went into it all," O'Keefe said. "I am currently applying to grad schools, and I know that there is going to be a lot of research involved."

Any student currently enrolled in the UW System can register to compete and the size of the team is not restricted.

The deadline to register is March 30 and the cost is $15.

"This has to be an original idea, no mergers or joint ventures," DeWald said. "They should make it a stand-alone business, something good to start up."

For more information visit the College of Business and Economics Web site at