A seminal example of economic development programming, the annual competition attracts new businesses and acts as a catalyst to spark interest and development in the commercial corridors of the Near West Side. At the same time, the competition includes elements of community and resident engagement by encouraging residents to vote for the business models they want to see in their neighborhoods.

As part of the competition, finalists will receive hands-on business training from Marquette University in preparation for the live pitch event.  The winner – who will be announced after the live pitches on September 10 – will receive significant resources to support their new venture, which will be located in a Near West Side storefront.

The Near West Side is open for business!

Save the Date: 

Rev-Up MKE Small Business Competition
Live Pitch Event

September 10, 2024
The Rave/Eagles Ballroom

On Wednesday, September 10, 2024 the community will hear from finalists, cast votes for the audience choice winner and enjoy a taste of the Near West Side by sampling food from neighborhood restaurants. Explore this page to learn more about the Rev-Up MKE 2023, CeLani Skin & Wellness.

More information about Rev-Up MKE 2024, including about the application process, will be available soon.

About the Competition

Grand Prizes

  • 1st place will receive $10,000 start up business funding from Town Bank
    • Plus, over $25,000 in-kind services (architectural renderings, small business consulting, free legal audit and possible representation, communication support)
    • Advertising and recognition from Near West Side Partners
  • 2nd place winner will receive $4,000 cash and other in-kind services as needed
  • Audience choice winner will receive $1,000 cash prize

Judging Criteria

Clearly defined solution, fulfills a customer need, has a resonance and desirability, changes or significantly improves an existing process or fills a gap in current Near West Side offerings.
Clearly identified customer, size of customer base, scalability in both geography and reach, in-depth competitive analysis.
Relative domain and industry experience, business track record, education, etc.
Clearly defined vision and objectives, roadmap for implementation, and perceived strategic advantage. Business will be viable.
Clearly demonstrates what effect will the award funding have, how will it be used to help develop the neighborhood, and a desire to locate and operate in the Near West Side.


If you have any questions, contact Kelsey Otero at or 414-288-4990.

Rev-Up Sponsors

2023 Rev-Up MKE Winner

CeLani Skin & Wellness

2023 Rev-Up MKE Photos

Past Winners Include


Vertical Essence Dance Company


A Goodman’s Desserts


KalyANa Organics


Lisa Kaye Catering


Pete’s Pops

All past Rev-Up MKE participants are detailed below.

2023 Finalists

2022 Finalists

2019 Finalists

2018 Finalists

2017 Finalists

2016 Finalists

Questions? Feedback? Ideas?

We’re here to answer your questions.