MADISON – The Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest – the nation’s first statewide, tech-based business plan competition – is accepting entries online for the 2010 competition.  Entries will be accepted now through 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010.  The contest’s grand prize is worth $50,000 in cash and services. Click here to read a related Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story.

For their initial entries, 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 70 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.  The mission of the contest is to encourage entrepreneurs in the creation, start-up and early-growth stages of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin. 

Since its inception in 2004, more than 1,500 entries have been received and $1 million in cash and in-kind prizes has been awarded. A record 326 entries were received in 2009.

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 Governor’s Business Plan Contest is an outstanding opportunity for early stage organizations to showcase their innovative ideas in a highly competitive environment,” said Bonnie Reinke of Eso-Technologies Inc., the 2009 grand prize winner. “Becoming a finalist is an attention-grabber enterprise for the new organizations in the eyes of potential investors, potentially resulting in a lucrative and positive partnership.”

“Participating in the BPC and conference was fun and very educational for our team,” said Ophir Ben-Yitschak of Scopia, winner of the 2009 Information Technology category. “We all feel strongly that it has helped move our company many steps forward and hope to encourage every entrepreneur in Wisconsin to do so as part of their strategy.”
Hear more from Ben-Yitshak and others associated with past contests by attending the Dec. 10 luncheon meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network in Brookfield.
As with past contests, the 2010 competition will take place in three stages:

•      In the “Business Concepts” phase, which is open until Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 at 5 p.m., 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 an Executive Summary.
•      In the “Executive Summary” phase, which runs from Feb. 22 to March 12, 2010, 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.

•      In the “Final Writing Business Plan” phase, which runs from April 2 to April 26, 2009, the top 20 Executive Summary presenters, plus ties, prepare 20-page plans for judging. Limited comments and mentoring continues. Judges will review the plans and pick three place winners in each category to advance as the “Diligent Dozen.”

•      The “Diligent Dozen” will present and compete in front of live judging for the grand prize at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference to be held June 8-9 in Milwaukee.

To enter, become a judge or a sponsor, visit
Sponsors of the 2009 contest were: Aberdean Consulting LLC; American Transmission Co.; Associated Bank; The Boldt Company; CG Schmidt Co.; Earth Information Technologies; Fitchburg Technology Campus; Foley & Lardner LLP; The Gialamas Company; Johnson Block CPAs; Journal Interactive; Kollath & Associates, CPAs; Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service; Madison Gas & Electric Co.; McAllen TECH Campus; Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Midwest Airlines; Murphy Desmond; Quarles & Brady LLP; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Smith & Gesteland LLP; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; SuperGroup Outdoor Corp.; TDS Telecom; University Research Park; Wisconsin Department of Commerce;; Wisconsin Angel Network; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, S.C.; Wisconsin Technology Council; WTN Media; and Xcel Energy.