MADISON – A social network to help streamline the apartment search process for landlords and renters alike and an emerging at-home test for prostate cancer emerged as winners in the annual Elevator Pitch Olympics at the Wisconsin Early State Symposium.

Registration for the annual symposium, which connects investors, entrepreneurs and others, totaled 630 people for its two-day run. About 90 people attended a related Tuesday night reception.

RentDrop emerged as the top choice of a panel of investors who served as judges for the pitch event – as well as a separate audience vote for the “People’s Choice” award. Gregor Diagnostics was second on both ballots.

Twenty-one companies pitched for 90 seconds each to investors and the crowd at Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison. In addition to scoring on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being highest, each company received feedback from the investor judges.

Participants in the Elevator Pitch Olympics were: 3D Dairy Foods; Alfred; Asto CT; BrightLife Innovations; BuildingBlock; Cellara; Cicerologic Solutions; Farmsense-Farmcents; Forsythe & Storms Technologies; Gregor Diagnostics; LifeMapping; Lumi.Live; Megalodon Insurance Systems; RentDrop; Snugb; The MiniClassy; Third Coast Therapeutics; TimeCenter – Visionary Business Solutions; Updown; Voxello and WeightUpSolutions.

RentDrop was pitched by founder Scott Johanek of Madison. It is a social platform that allows property managers to privately connect with renters. Renters create a profile that allows them to upload their apartment needs criteria, as well as information found on rental applications. Once a renter creates a profile, it is searchable and can be filtered by property managers. A property manager who finds a potential renter can privately message that person to set a showing time and sign a lease.

Gregor Diagnostics was pitched by founder Tobias Zutz of Madison. It is developing a test using biomarkers discovered at the UW-Madison Carbone Cancer Center and a sample source that has direct, non-invasive access to prostate seminal fluid. Gregor’s at-home sample collection and biomarker panel will help to detect prostate cancer early and direct those who need treatment to treatment while sparing those who do not need treatment from the possible negative side effects.

Other highlights of the 2016 conference were:

  • The Tech Council Investor Network tracks on the opening day of the conference, which featured 28 companies making five-minute presentations. Read a short description of each of the 28 companies on the “Presentations” page at
  • The new “Investor Intros” track, which gave about 80 companies a chance to meet briefly with about 30 investors.
  • Remarks by Jack Salzwedel, chief executive officer and president of American Family Insurance and a community innovation leader.
  • A speech by Lynn Allen-Hoffman, founder of Stratatech, during an awards ceremony for 36 Wisconsin companies that won $19.2 million in competitive federal grants in the past year.
  • Remarks at the Wisconsin W·O·M·E·N reception the evening of Nov. 15 by Eve Hall, the president of the African-American Chamber of Commerce.
  • The third Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education award, which went to Jan Eddy of Prairie du Sac.
  • The fifth Investor Hall of Fame award, which went to Carl Gulbrandsen, the retired director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
  • A number of panel discussions and “Office Hours,” which are small-group meetings with subject experts on a mix of topics.
  • The “First Look” forum featuring six campus-based technologies.
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.

The Tech Council produces the conference. Sponsors were: 100State; Aberdean; Adana Holdings; Advanced Materials Industrial Consortium; Alliant Energy; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; AT&T; Aurora Research Institute; Baird Capital; Baker Tilly; BDO; BloodCenter of WI; BMO Harris Bank; Boardman & Clark; Carroll University; City of Fitchburg; Concordia University; Cresa Madison; Dane County Regional Airport; Dedicated Computing; Enbridge; Findorff; First Business Bank; Fluno Center; Functional Biosciences; Godfrey & Kahn; HealthX Ventures; HP Enterprise Services; Husch Blackwell; Innovator Mindset; Madison College; Madison Gas & Electric; Makin HEY! Communications; Marquette University; Marshfield Clinic; Medical College of Wisconsin – OTD; Michael Best; Midwest Prototyping; Morgridge Institute; Murphy Desmond S.C.; N29 Capital Partners; Neider & Boucher; NEW Capital Fund; New Glarus Brewing Company; Perkins Coie;  PreventionGenetics; Promega Corp.; Quarles & Brady; Red Arrow Production; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Skyward; Smith & Gesteland; Square 1 Bank; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Summit Credit Union; University Research Park; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation; Venture Investors; Veritas; Wells Fargo; WERCBench Labs; Whitewater University Technology Park; WIPFLI; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin Health & Educational Facility Authority; WTN Media; Ziegler