More than 70 entrepreneurs from communities across the state took part in the annual “boot camp” sponsored as a part of the 10th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.


The afternoon exercise consisted of peer-to-peer practice pitches, a look back at the process by a past contest finalist, 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.


The 70 participants included most of the 51 semi-finalists in the contest, as well as others from the original field of 326 first-round entries. The contest is judged by an independent panel of about 70 judges organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council, which is producing the contest in conjunction with its membership subsidiary, the Wisconsin Innovation Network, the Wisconsin Angel Network and other statewide affiliates. 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.


Semi-finalists in this year’s contest reflect the diversity of Wisconsin’s economy and are spread among four broad categories: advanced manufacturing (13), business services (14), information technology (15) and life sciences (9). That proportion roughly reflects the mix of Phase 1 entries in the contest’s four categories.


Software solutions, industrial products and processes, energy management and controls, gaming and mobile apps, health diagnostics and medical devices were sectors that drew a number of entries. The contest also attracted entries focused on products for children and older adults, as well as sports and recreation innovations.


The 51 entries competing in Phase 2 of the contest are writing executive summaries of no more than 1,000 words. 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.


Phase 2 plans will be filed online by 5 p.m. March 18; the next judging period will last about two weeks.


Once Phase 2 judging is complete, the 51 entries may be made available for inspection by accredited investors through the Wisconsin Angel Network, which has more than two-dozen angel networks, private equity funds or corporate strategic partners. About two-dozen plans will move on to Phase 3, in which contestants will write a full business plan.


Total cash and in-kind prizes in the statewide contest exceed $100,000. Prize winners will be announced June 4-5 at the annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, to be held at the Marriott West in Middleton. The top dozen contestants will give live presentations at the conference – with judges scoring those pitches as a part of selecting the winners.


Sponsors of the 2013 contest to date are: 5Nines; Aberdean Consulting; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Company; AT&T; BDO; City of Waterloo; Cleantech Open; Cresa Madison; EarthIT; Flanagan Financial/Functional Biosciences; Grant Thornton; JZB Solutions; Kohner Mann & Kailas; Kollath & Associates; Logistics Health; Madison Gas & Electric; Marshfield Clinic; Michael Best & Friedrich; Midwest Prototyping; Milwaukee Institute; Mortenson Construction; Murphy Desmond; Nelson Schmidt, Inc.; Pieper Properties; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media; Smith & Gesteland; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; University Research Park; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority; and Wisconsin Technical College System.


To become a sponsor, call 608-442-7557 or visit