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Technology improvements in the real estate industry topped pitches from 12 teams that competed in the recent University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Wisconsin High School Business Model Competition.

Students made the most of the opportunity to advance their business and their educational futures.

Benjamin Busha of Oshkosh West High School won with Neway REI, a startup designed to give real estate investors a competitive edge.

“The event was a very special day for me, and am glad UWO hosted it,” Busha said.

The 12 teams were invited May 22 to the UWO campus to compete for $15,000 in UWO scholarship awards and cash prizes.

Busha, the Oshkosh graduating senior who won the competition, took home an $8,000 scholarship toward his education at UW Oshkosh. Busha will begin studies in entrepreneurship in the fall.

Second place went to a team promoting Commah―an alternative product from the common chemical air fresheners sold by competitors. The team created an all-natural air freshener with just five ingredients that are found in nature.

Third place was awarded to American Maker―creator of customizable signs and card stands.

Busha said he developed an interested in real estate late last year and he started to realize that the industry was not keeping up with the latest technology. In addition, he found services offered had “little to no ROI (return on investment).”

Busha’s first attempt to remedy the situation was not successful. He said he then reached out to a couple of successful businesses in different industries. He paid them hourly to learn systems and processes on how to implement a sustainable business model. It was expensive, he said, but well worth it.

Based on what he learned, he put together a system that was well-received and was a hit with realtors.

Busha continues to explore avenues to create more of a SaaS (Software as a service) model and how to raise capital.

Inaugural event

“This was the first year we hosted the competition and the plan is to host it again in spring 2022,” said Dan Brosman, executive director of UWO’s Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He added that submissions came from high schools across Wisconsin with sophomores, juniors and seniors competing for scholarship prizes to UW Oshkosh.

Dan Brosman

Submissions, Brosman said, ranged from new ideas to existing businesses already generating small amounts of revenue. Business types covered many industries, from restaurants to high-tech solutions.

“I was impressed with the creativity and maturity of the students engaged this year,” Brosman said.

The competition gives high school students an opportunity to learn valuable presentation and communication skills outside of the classroom while competing in a collegiate-level competition and honing entrepreneurial skills.

Participants

Twelve student teams:

American Maker; Authentitoken; AxHosh; Bonefide Tailwaggers; C&C Business Consulting; Chrome Dome; Commah; Neway REI; Plastic Bound; Plexi Microphones; Tailor-Made; and Unity.

Austin Phillips, founder of Ardent Fitness and Education, was keynote speaker during a lunch break.

Event judges were Patti Purcell, founder of Writing by Design; Brittany Lutz, founder of The Sweet Lair; Jessica Meidl, manager of Oshkosh Business Improvement District; Jolene Heuchert, small business banker at VERVE; Nikki Hessel, executive director of Future Neenah; Kim Mischler, founder of Sticky Fingers; Tricia Rathermel, director of economic development with GO EDC.

Featured image: Samantha Osorio, Ayden Fowler and Lillian Goeckerman (Commah) of Horace Mann High School, North Fond du Lac, at left, second place; Ben Busha (Neway REI), Oshkosh West High School, winner; and Carter VanHaren (American Maker) of Brookfield Central High School, third place.

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