Governor’s Business Plan Contest opens for 2007 entries

MADISON – The Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest – the nation’s first statewide, tech-based business plan competition – is accepting entries online for the 2007 competition.  Entries will be accepted now through 5 p.m.Jan. 31, 2007.  The contest’s Grand Prize is worth at least $50,000 in cash and services.

For their initial entry, contestants will submit 250-word idea abstracts online at  Contestants who advance to subsequent contest rounds will have the opportunity to expand their plan or idea.   More than 40 judges drawn from the finance, sales, marketing, research and specific technology sectors will score the entries and provide feedback.

Managed by the Wisconsin Technology Council, the contest sprang out of conversations with Gov. Jim Doyle shortly after he was first elected in 2002.  Doyle had talked about the value of a statewide business plan contest during his campaign, and it meshed with similar plans underway within the Tech Council.   The mission of the contest is to encourage entrepreneurs in the creation, start-up and early-growth stages of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin. 

According to new data released by the Tech Council, the BPC has been successful in achieving its stated mission.  Highlights from the 2004, 2005 and 2006 contests:

More than 700 entries were received across the contest’s four categories – Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences – from more than 100 Wisconsin communities.

  • More than $450,000 in cash and services were awarded.
  • More than 60 percent of the contest’s finalists received financing totaling more than $7.5 million since participating in the contest.
  • 80 percent of finalists reported the contest led to an increase in public exposure, including contact from potential investors, for their company or idea.
  • 34 percent of finalists said the contest led to new customers or business partners.

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 so long as they plan to base their business in Wisconsin.  Entrepreneurs may enter multiple ideas, so long as each idea is separate and distinct.

Teams and individuals alike who have participated in the contest have found the process to be a rewarding one. (See our web site for information on past winners.)

“The exposure given our small company as a direct result of our participation and success in the contest has and will continue to add credibility to our organization,” said Eric Antonson of U.S. Trailmaps Inc., a Wausau firm that finished second in the 2006 contest’s information technology category. 

As with past contests, the 2007 competition will take place in three stages:

In the “Business Concepts” phase, which runs to Jan. 31, 2007, 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. 1 to March 15, 2007, 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 March 16 to
May 1, 2007, 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.
he four category winners will present at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, June 12-13 in Milwaukee; all prize winners will be announced there.

To enter, become a judge or sponsor, visit

Sponsors of the 2006 contest were: Aberdean Consulting LLC, American Transmission Co., Associated Bank; Axley Brynelson LLP, Career Momentum Inc., Fintel, Foley & Lardner LLP, J.P. Cullen & Sons, Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service, Madison Gas & Electric Co., Makin’ HEY! Communications, Mason Wells Private Equity, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Quarles & Brady LLP, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, s.c., Smith & Gesteland LLP, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, The Boldt Company, University Research Park, Wisconsin Department of Commerce,, Wisconsin Angel Network and the Tech Council.