The Brewed Ideas Challenge is the annual Shark Tank-style pitch competition hosted by Marquette University’s Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Initiative in partnership with Brady Corporation now in it’s 8th year of operation. The goal of Brewed Ideas is to “brew” innovative ideas, recognizing and rewarding budding entrepreneurs by offering seed money to help them advance their ideas. This program focuses on the innovation happening right here on campus and is open to all Marquette students.


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Brewed Ideas Challenge

Over the course of Brewed Ideas, you will have the opportunity to build meaningful mentor relationships with Brady employees, go behind the scenes at Brady, and attend 4 workshops geared to help you develop your ideas, build rapport with your mentors, and further explore the world of innovation.

Brewed Ideas offers participants from each track, traditional business and social innovation tracks, the opportunity to receive generous seed money and awards recognizing their innovation and initiative. First-place winners receive $7,500 in seed money. Second-place winners receive $2,000 in seed money. Winners of the Audience Choice and Brady Innovation awards receive $1,000 in seed money.

If you’re in need of some inspiration or want to learn more about past challenges, check out some of the ideas from last year's finalists!

Key Dates for 2020 Competiton 

  • February 12 – Applications are due
  • February 27 – Brewed workshop: Customer Discovery: 707 Hub from 4:30-6:00
  • March 20 – Brewed workshop: Business Model Canvas: 707 Hub from 12:00-1:30
  • March 27 – Behind the scenes tour of the Brady Corporation and mentor mixer Brady Corporation from 1:00-3:00 (transportation is provided)
  • April 3 – Brewed workshop: Pitching: 707 Hub from 12:00-1:30
  • April 17 – Brewed Pitch Practice
  • May 1 –Brewed Ideas Challenge: 707 Hub 1:00-5:30

Judging Criteria 

Judges will evaluate project proposals, submissions and final pitches. Review judging criteria.

Brewed Ideas 2020 Finalists

Best Face Forward Retractable Badge Reel: Badge Reel always turns badge the right way

53206 Apparel: 53206 is a trendsetting luxury streetwear brand

The Color of English: Teaching students how to build great sentences

NABI: Sneaker consignment store

Jamr: An app to connect musicians for jam sessions

Remarq Clothes: An upscale resale clothing business

JD BNB LLC - Short Term Rentals: We provide short term lodging to the Milwaukee area

Minority Scholars Mentoring Program (MSMP): MSMP aims to improve minority student retention

JBV Piston: The JBV Piston distributes oil throughout engines 

4.0 Certification by Kratos: Up-skilling for the 4th Industrial Revolution

SlyBox: SlyBox is an affordable IoT smart appliance

Brewed Ideas 2019 Winners 

Social Innovation Track 

  • 1st place: OLUOMO - A a custom, tailored fit, made-to-order, Nigerian women's fashion. No longer do customers especially in the Marquette community have to spend hours searching for unique prints and custom fashion!  
  • 2nd place: REVIVE - This is a work space where students can create upcycled products from campus-collected plastics and educate others about the realities of plastic use.  

Traditional Business Track  

  • 1st place: Liv a Little Vegan Ice Cream - This is a homemade vegan-friendly ice cream made from coconut-based products that bring a unique creaminess often missing in other vegan frozen desserts.  
  • 2nd place: ConfIdence - ConfIdence is a curated box service that delivers tools that enable self-motivation and stress relief.   

Both the Social Innovation Track and Traditional Business Track are eligible for the Audience Choice Award and/or Brady Innovation Award. 

  • Audience Choice: ConfIdence ConfIdence is a curated box service that delivers tools that enable self-motivation and stress relief.  
  • Brady Innovation Award: The Hub MKE - A bike shop in the Near West Side neighborhood that sells used bikes and fixes them to be rideable and safe. In addition, bike rentals are available and can be sold to The Hub MKE.   

2019 Judges 

Thomas Felmer

President, Workplace Safety at Brady Corporation

Katie Milbeck

Senior Manager, Innovation Incubator at Brady Corporation  

Asim Khan

Co-founder of ZYN Holistic Wellness 

Marianne Szymanski

Founder and President at Toy Tips Inc.

See what The Brewed Ideas Challenge looks like

(click to enlarge)

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Brewed Ideas Bootcamp

Are you a current Marquette University student working on a new idea for a product or service but need help moving your idea forward? Look no further than the Brewed Ideas Bootcamp! In four weeks, students will validate the market need for their idea, refine their business model and value proposition. In addition, students will receive legal advice, one-on-one business coaching and access to free marketing tools.