Experienced mentors from across Wisconsin will be available to offer advice to contestants during the annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.
Initial entries of 250 words are due by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. There is no cost to enter. Visit govsbizplancontest.com for more information and to get started.
At any point during the competition, contestants may submit their questions to veteran business mentors who have volunteered their time and expertise to assist entrepreneurs who enter by Jan. 31. Mentors will respond directly to contestants to offer one-on-one consultation.
SCORE offers free business consulting, business mentoring and business resources, plus low-cost business trainings. The CTC provides support and resources as companies bring their innovations to market, particularly with applications for grants from the federal Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer programs.
As another resource, SCORE will offer free access to many fee-based training classes around the state to all 2024 contestants.
In addition to access to mentors, contestants will receive feedback from scores of judges as the contest progresses.
Since its inception in 2004, more than 4,660 entries have been received and about $2.8 million in cash and in-kind services have been awarded. Contest categories are Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences. About 78% of the finalists from 2012-2021 are still in business.
Wisconsin residents 18 years old and older are eligible, as are teams from Wisconsin-based businesses and organizations. Businesses or teams from outside the state are also eligible to compete if they demonstrate intent to base their business in Wisconsin. Entrepreneurs may also enter multiple ideas, though each idea must be separate and distinct.
Companies or individuals that have not received more than $50,000 in private equity funding as of Jan. 31 for an idea in its current form. For the purposes of this contest, private equity funding is generally angel or venture funding but also includes equity investments by accelerators. It does not include SBIR/STTR, bank loans, non-dilutive accelerator program grants or funding from friends or family.
As with past contests, the 2024 competition will take place in stages ending at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in June.
Past finalists have launched companies that have raised more than $323 million in angel, venture, grants and venture debt over time – all while creating jobs and economic value for Wisconsin.
The contest’s major sponsors include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
The 2023 grand prize winner was SixLine Semiconductor, a Middleton-based firm working with tiny but powerful conductive materials for wireless devices and computing. Category winners in 2023 were SixLine (Advanced Manufacturing), WorkShift (Business Services), IQDecide (Information Technology) and Soul Mobility (Life Sciences).
To enter, become a judge or learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit govsbizplancontest.com.