In April 2015, student entrepreneurs will compete in the annual Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament (WBIT), which is open to undergraduates attending any two or four year University of Wisconsin school across the state (except UW-Madison). The contest teaches cutting-edge Lean Startup business development tools, provides business mentorship, and allows participants to compete for paid internships and a chance to win $25,000 at the International Business Model Competition.

WBIT spurs students to use the Lean Startup approach by finding a customer problem worth solving and testing hypotheses about the business model to resolve the issue. Lean Startup encourages students to interview customers face-to-face to understand the problem, as well as develop a minimum viable product prototype and to test their vision of the solution.

Accelerators, universities and other entrepreneurial resources throughout Wisconsin are teaching the Lean Startup approach. As a result, a growing number of innovators in Wisconsin are using the principles to more efficiently bring products to market.

Overall, WBIT rewards students for:

  • breaking down ideas into key business model assumptions
  • testing assumptions with customers
  • applying customer development and lean startup practices to nail the pain and solution
  • learning to pivot (make changes) until arrival at a customer-validated business model

For the competition, students must explain the process they went through, revealing the dead ends and surprises they discovered along the way. Even if students fail, but have a compelling story they are encouraged to submit anyway. The deadline for entries is Sunday, Feb. 15. To register, visit: