MADISON – Don’t miss the Sunday, Jan. 31, 5 p.m. deadline to enter the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. It’s the nation’s first statewide, tech-based business plan competition and the Grand Prize is worth $50,000 in cash and services.

Last year’s winner, Bonnie Reinke of Eso-Technologies, has since raised $1 million in private equity for her company. Since 2004, winners and finalists have collectively raised tens of millions of dollars from angel and venture capitalists.

Need more nudging? Here are seven lucky reasons to enter:

1. You don’t have to be Tolstoy. The first phase entry is no more than 250 words, so there are no stresses about writing “War and Peace.”

2. It’s free. There is no cost to enter, other than your time.

3. No stamps? No worries. All entries are accepted through

4. Your chances of winning something are pretty good. If past contests are any indicator, roughly one in 14 entrants will reach the finalist round. That’s better odds than a Super Bowl bet.

5. You’ll meet some interesting people. The 50 semi-finalists may attend a half-day “boot camp,” where they’ll meet potential investors, successful entrepreneurs and others with start-up experience. Mentors and judges, who include investors and seasoned entrepreneurs, provide valuable feedback to contestants.

6. Your idea will get some valuable exposure. Semi-finalists may post their executive summaries on the Wisconsin Angel Network web site for secured review by accredited investors. Also, leaders in Wisconsin’s business press may see news value in your story.

7. Past winners have been successful. Most finalists from past years report they’re still in business and attracting investors, partners and clients to their ideas.

Here are some testimonials from recent finalists:

“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.”

“I strongly endorse the Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Not only was it a great exercise, it was fun and insightful as well,” said Jim Martin of Green 3, winner of the 2009 Business Services category. “In addition, the publicity that we received from the contest resulted in us adding several new key customers.”

Enter now at and take part in the nation’s only statewide, tech-based business plan contest!

Sponsors of the 2009 contest and 2010 sponsors to date include: 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; The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Journal Interactive; Kollath & Associates, CPAs; Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service; The Luminis Group, Ltd.; Madison Gas & Electric Co.; McAllen TECH Campus; Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Midwest Airlines; Murphy Desmond; Perkins Coie; Quarles & Brady LLP; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Smith & Gesteland LLP; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; TDS Telecom; University Research Park; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, S.C.; Wisconsin Department of Commerce;; Wisconsin Angel Network; Wisconsin Technology Council; WTN Media; and Xcel Energy.