WAUKESHA – About 70 entrepreneurs from communities across the state took part in the annual “boot camp” sponsored as a part of the 13th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.
The afternoon exercise consisted of peer-to-peer practice pitches, tips on how to win the contest, a blueprint for best practices in writing a business plan and a review of what investors look for in emerging companies. The boot camp was hosted at the Waukesha offices of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.
Speakers included Dan Cooper, shareholder in Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s business law practice; Tim Philosophos, investor with PhiloFive Angel Investments; Katie Brenner, co-founder of bluDiagnostics and 2015 grand prize winner of the contest; and Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.
The 70 participants included most of the 53 semi-finalists in the contest, as well as others from the original field of 206 first-round entries. The contest is judged by an independent panel of about 100 judges organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council and its programs, the Wisconsin Innovation Network and the Wisconsin Angel Network. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is a major sponsor.
“The boot camp is a valuable experience for contestants. They meet other entrepreneurs like themselves, compare notes on common challenges, hear what investors look for in a young company and generally learn why a business plan makes sense for most businesses – even if that plan evolves next month or next year,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.
The semi-finalists reflect the diversity of Wisconsin’s economy and are spread among four broad categories: advanced manufacturing (14), business services (12), information technology (13) and life sciences (14).
Water technologies, health information technologies, software solutions, agriculture, products and processes for manufacturing, and medical devices and treatments were sectors that drew a number of entries. The contest also attracted entries focused on innovations in fishing, fitness and music.
The 53 entries competing in Phase 2 of the contest will write 1,000-word executive summaries. Each summary describes the core product or service, defines the customer base, estimates the size of the market, identifies competition, lists members of the management team and provides key financial data.
Once Phase 2 judging is complete in early April, the 53 entries may be made available for inspection by accredited investors through the Wisconsin Angel Network, which has about two-dozen angel networks, early stage funds or corporate strategic partners. About two-dozen plans will move on to Phase 3, in which contestants will write a full 15- to 20-page business plan.
The top dozen contestants will give live presentations at the annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference on June 7 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Category winners, as well as the 2016 Grand Prize Winner, will be announced during the BPC Awards Luncheon on June 8.
Sponsors are contributing cash, office space, legal assistance, accounting, marketing, web development, prototyping and more. About $2 million in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded since the inception of the contest. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is a major sponsor.
Additional lead sponsors of the 2016 contest thus far include American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; Ascendancy Advisors; AT&T; Pieper Properties; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren; SCORE Wisconsin; University Research Park; and Whitewater University Technology Park. Associate sponsors include 100state; Cresa Madison; Kollath CPA; Makin’ HEY Communications; Midwest Prototyping; Murphy Desmond; Neider & Boucher; and Smith & Gesteland. Additional sponsors are Aberdean Consulting; BizStarts; Bublrbikes; EZ Office Supplies; Fine Point Consulting; Madison BCycle; Madison Gas & Electric; PowerBuy 4 You; Red Arrow Production; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
To become a sponsor, call 608-442-7557 or visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.