MENONOMEE FALLS – AquaSensors LLC, a company whose products measure liquids used in industrial processes, has closed a deal with the Silicon Pastures angel network for $360,000 in financing.

AquaSensors, a three-year-old firm located in Menomonee Falls, just northwest of Milwaukee, won the Advanced Manufacturing category in the 2005 Governor’s Business Plan Contest and finished second overall in the competition. The company secured $20,000 in financing through the contest.

To enter the 2006 contest, go to First-round entries of no more than 250 words are due by 5 p.m. Jan. 31.

“We’re thrilled that AquaSensors LLC has landed angel financing, but we’re not surprised,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Tech Council produces the business plan contest. “It was clear to our judges that AquaSensors had a great business plan and a high-tech product that met today’s market needs.”

More than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes have been pledged for the 2006 contest so far; first prize in the statewide contest will be worth at least $50,000 in cash and services.

The mission of the contest is to encourage entrepreneurs in the creation, start-up and early-growth stages of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin. Participants have the chance to win seed capital and valuable services that will help them launch their businesses, as well as enhance the state’s economic development. Highlights from the 2004 and 2005 contests include:

  • More than 530 entries were received across four categories – advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences. Those categories will continue in 2006.

  • Nearly $300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes were awarded.

  • 100 percent of the 2004-2005 finalists responding to a recent Tech Council survey are still in business; they average seven employees each.

  • Nearly 60 percent of the finalists received financing since participating in the contest.

  • Of those who received financing, 54 percent were funded by angel  investors; 15 percent by family and friends; and 31 percent from other sources, such as banks and SBIR grants.

  • 69 percent of the finalists reported that the contest led to an increase in public exposure for their company or idea.

  • 26 percent of the companies reported that the contest led to new customers and business partners.

Here’s how the 2006 contest will work:

  • In the “Business Concepts” phase, which runs to Jan. 31, 2006, the contest will accept IDEA Abstracts on the web site. IDEA abstracts are 250-word business concepts that will be graded on a scale of 1-10 (10 highest) by our judges. The top 50 IDEA Abstract presenters will be asked to write a Summary Business Plan. All 50 receive a congratulatory letter from the governor and the Tech Council.

  • In the “Summary Business Plan” phase, which runs from Feb. 15 to March 15, 2006, the top 50 IDEA Abstract presenters, plus ties, post their 1,000-word summaries online for comments by the judges. Contestants may be encouraged to revise their plans based on judges’ comments. The top 20 plan summaries are selected for the final round. All 20 receive a congratulatory certificate.

  • In the “Final Business Plan” phase, which runs from April 3 to May 1, 2006, the top 20 Summary Plan presenters, plus ties, prepare final plans for judging. Limited comments and mentoring continues. Judges will review the plans and pick three place winners in each category.

  • The four category winners will present at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, early June in Milwaukee; all prize winners will be announced there.

Sponsors so far for 2006 are: Aberdean, American Transmission Co., the law firm of Axley-Brynelson, The Boldt Company, Loughrin Accounting & Tax Services, S.C., Madison Gas & Electric Co., Makin’ Hey! Communications, Mason Wells, the law firm of Reinhart, Boerner Van Deuren, the accounting firm of Smith & Gesteland; the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, University Research Park,, and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

The contest is seeking contestants, judges and sponsors. To learn more, go to and find out how you can move that business plan off the shelf and into the marketplace.