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 2,500 UCLA Anderson students a unique venture creation experience that has been instrumental in launching numerous businesses.

Knapp Finals, May 19, 2021 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time

Watch the five finalist teams present to the judges, and participate in the audience vote for the $1,000 People’s Choice Award. Held live via Zoom; winners and prizes will be announced shortly after the competition.


2020 Winners


1st Place, $40,000
hiyo For millennial consumers who want health over hurt, quality over status quo, and a more meaningful social experience, HIYO is a mood-enhancing social tonic that is a refreshing, fun, and functional alternative to alcohol. 

Team: Evan Quinn ('20), George Youmans

2nd Place (Tie), $20,000

Wire is a cleantech mobility startup making freedom accessible through affordable personal electric. vehicles. We are the nation's first scooter subscription company focusing on service and maintenance.

Team: Lawrence Ham (FEMBA '22), Jay Tsao (EE '12), Nick Drombosky

2nd Place (Tie), $20,000
VHomes Building the future of affordable homes. VHomes targets distressed, unwanted real estate and turns the properties into short term rental beauties. VHomes improves properties with smart home technology and vibrant designs to provide low-income and budget housing options on a nightly, weekly, and monthly basis. The flexible, technology driven furnished rentals have served over 800 guests in 2020 thus far. 

Team: Michael Vilardo ('21), Brennan Ross ('21), Daniel Xo (JD '21), Victor Zhou (BS - CS UCLA '22), Hollie Sterling (FSU '17)

Third Place (Tie), $10,000
realAppeal For property owners who want to reduce their property taxes, realAppeal uses localized data and machine learning to file property tax appeals on your behalf, reducing your liability and in turn saving you money.

Team: Colton Pace ('21), Frank DiZenzo ('21), Maura Liebendorfer ('21)
Gen Beauty

Third Place (Tie), $10,000
Gen Beauty, LLC Gen is an eastern inspired CPG startup focused on holistic beauty. Partnering with traditional chinese medicine doctors and pharmacists, we offer health and beauty hair, skin, and nails gummy supplements with both eastern and western ingredients.

Team: Chi Shing Tsui (FEMBA '20), Bethy Poluikis (FEMBA '20), Alan Tran (FEMBA '20), Kevin Wu (FEMBA '20), Rita Cheng (FEMBA '20)

Rooo We are a digital wellness app delivering physical therapy exercises in a fun and relevant way. We help people build healthy movement habits to improve posture, get better at a sport, or prevent pain.

Team: Jessica Cheng ('20), Ava Kavelle ('20), Brandon Brooks ('20), Jonathan Helman ('20), Jeremy Queenin ('20)

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.




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


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.