Knapp Venture Competition

Since 1982, the Knapp Venture Competition has evolved into one of the premier academic business plan competitions in Southern California. It encourages UCLA Anderson students to showcase their talents and learn from insights of successful entrepreneurs and business executives. The Knapp Competition has given more than 1,800 UCLA Anderson students a unique venture creation experience that has been instrumental in launching numerous businesses.

Over the course of the academic year, UCLA Anderson students refine business concepts, build management teams, and develop business plans to submit to the Knapp Venture Competition. A select group of business plans are chosen for competition in the semifinals, with the top submissions advancing to the finals in May. The judging panels, which are comprised of entrepreneurs, venture capital investors and senior executives, play a critical role in shaping the outcome and educational experience of the competition. Our judges ask questions to evaluate each entry's viability, and also provide students with constructive feedback and suggestions for going forward with their ventures. After a closed deliberation, the Knapp finalists are announced at a reception.


2019 Winners

1st Place, $50,000

Elenita is America's first mezcal ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail in a can, giving consumers an accessible retail entry point into the world of mezcal. Made with artisanal mezcal made from 100% agave, natural flavors & juices, and carbonated water.

Team: Jordan Dil ('19), Mikel Noriega ('19)
2nd Place, $25,000

EvalueMe is an enterprise SaaS plug-in for employee performance reviews that utilizes behavioral science and artificial intelligence to coach employees to provide a more meaningful, actionable, and unbiased review. 

Team: Shirin Nikaein (EMBA '19), Eli Selkin (Cal Poly Pomona M.S. '19), 
Nathan Cox (J.D. '19), Barbara Wong (J.D. '20), 
Hunter Carlisle (B.A. '19) 
3rd Place, $15,000

Neighborhood Works is an affordable housing real estate development company targeted at ending chronic homelessness in Los Angeles by utilizing innovative construction techniques, financing strategies and new zoning policies.  

Team: Greg Comanor ('19), Sonya Falcone ('19), Daniel Fine ('19), Aaron Sassounian ('19), Molly Tarrant ('19)
4th Place, $10,000:

Eliqs is an online platform that brings together designers and local craft breweries, enabling personalized beers for any occasion.   

Team: Max Berg ('19), Dave Goldman ('19), Chris Pelch ('19), Joe Schwappach ('19), Ashley Wright ('19) 
5th Place, $5,000:

Indarra is serving consumer appetite through the fusion of culinary art and robotic automation technology.   

Team: Sai Ravi Behara (EMBA '19), Savitur Badhwar (EMBA '19), Farzad Massoudi (EMBA '19), Vineet Sharma (EMBA '19), 
Robin Schroder (EMBA '19)

Fast Pitch

1st Place, $1000:

Veloscite is a science-first sports nutrition company with a mission to unlock your active potential.     

Team: Nima Alamdari (EMBA '19), Tanya Kaprealian (EMBA '19), Bryan Miller (EMBA '19), James Ouyang (EMBA '19), Jayson Wickenkamp (EMBA '19)



The Knapp Venture Competition


Competition activities begin each January and culminate with the final round of competition held at Anderson in late May. All dates and deadlines are communicated to students through the Entrepreneur Association email listserv.


Starts in March

Final Round

Late May

Five Finalists


  • Registration

    Students will receive e-mail notification regarding submission dates one month prior to the first deadline.

  • Qualifying Review

    Qualified student judges will review the written plans and select up to 25 teams to continue to the Semi-Finals.

  • Venture Review Night

    Selected teams will present to student judges who will provide feedback. Teams will then be permitted to submit revised plans in advance of the Semi-Finals.

  • Semi-Finals

    The semi-finalist teams will present to a panel of judges drawn from LA-based VCs, angel investors, professional service providers, business executives, and entrepreneurs. Five teams will be selected to continue to the finals and will be permitted to submit revised business plans in advance of judging. Please note that semi-final presentations are 15 minutes followed by an additional 10 minutes of Q & A. They are open to the public.

  • Finals

    The five finalist teams will present to a live audience and a new panel of judges. Awards reception to follow.

We strongly advise all team members to review the rules and guidelines before submitting a plan, as there are no exceptions to deadlines.


Funding Innovation Since 1982.


Learn, Create, and Succeed at the Knapp Venture Competition

Since 1982, the student-run Knapp Venture Competition, hosted at UCLA Anderson School of Management by the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Entrepreneur Association, is designed to provide UCLA Anderson students with an intensive learning experience in the venture initiation process. The competition is named for Cleon T. (Bud) and Betsy Wood Knapp, who in 1997 made an endowment gift to support this annual event, along with other entrepreneurial initiatives.

Virtually all UCLA Anderson students will start, work in, advise, or finance growing businesses at some point in their careers. Participating in the Knapp Venture Competition prepares students - whether they will be founders, financiers, consultants, marketers, or general managers - for these experiences by simulating the process of starting and evaluating an entrepreneurial enterprise.

While a business plan is the tangible outcome of each team's efforts, generating the document in and of itself is not the Knapp Venture Competition's primary objective. Rather, the Knapp Venture Competition encourages a rigorous and cross-disciplinary application of the tools that students have learned in the MBA program. It requires them to integrate concepts from the core curriculum - economics, finance, operations, marketing, accounting, strategy, and organizational development - into a total plan for starting and operating a business.

By refining a concept, researching its feasibility, building a management team, and preparing and presenting a plan, students test the full range of analytical and communications skills that they have developed while at Anderson. Moreover, they learn about their ability to work as a team and manage group dynamics. Finally, the screening and evaluative portions of the Knapp Venture Competition provide a solid feedback mechanism to the student teams. Dozens of entrepreneurs, alumni, and professional investors serve on the judging panels that evaluate each team's efforts. Year in and year out, students report that this feedback is one of the most valuable aspects of the competition.

Two other groups of students benefit from the Knapp Venture Competition. The student organizers are presented with an opportunity to develop their leadership skills, as well as with valuable access to the extensive entrepreneurial networks and resources of the Anderson community. The entire UCLA community is encouraged to view the competition's final presentations in order to support their classmates, prepare for their own participation in future competitions, and to learn the standards that professional investors and entrepreneurs apply in evaluating businesses.