The 10th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest is accepting entries online for the 2013 competition through Jan. 31, 2013. 

The contest is designed to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into business plans, to prepare them to launch a company, to get feedback from mentors and to interact with investors and other professionals. Finalists will share in more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.


For their initial entries, contestants will submit 250-word idea abstracts online at That’s where contestants will also find business plan templates and other information, such as the Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit. The toolkit provides business startup information and assistance, networking contacts and technical resources.


Contestants who advance to subsequent contest rounds will expand their plan in stages. More than 60 judges drawn from the finance, sales, marketing, research and technology sectors across Wisconsin will score the entries and provide feedback on submissions.


Since its inception in 2004, more than 2,300 entries have been received and about $1.5 million in cash and services (such as legal, accounting, office space and marketing) have been awarded. Contest categories are Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences.


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 raised less than $25,000 in private equity for their plans in a current form are eligible to enter. Generally speaking, private equity refers to angel and venture capital.


As with past contests, the 2013 competition will take place in stages:


  • In the “Business Concepts” phase, which is open until 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 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 ideas, plus ties, will advance to the Executive Summary stage.


  • In the “Executive Summary” phase, which runs from Feb. 22 to 5 p.m. March 18, 2013, 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 Business Plan” phase, which runs from April 8 to 5 p.m. April 29, 2013, the top 20 Executive Summary presenters, plus ties, prepare plans of 15-20 pages 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 orally and compete in front of live judging for the contest’s grand prize at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, to be held June 4-5 in Middleton.


Past finalists have launched companies that have attracted tens of millions of dollars in grants, loans and private equity financing – all while creating jobs and economic value for Wisconsin. The contest’s major sponsors include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.


The Governor’s Business Plan Contest will also provide opportunities for selected top entries from other collegiate and regional contests and “pitch” events to join in the competition at the Executive Summary or Final Business Plan phase.


The 2012 grand prize winner was Rowheels, which won the Advanced Manufacturing category with its geared wheeling system that allows a wheelchair to be pulled forward by its user rather than the traditional pushing motion. The technology requires less effort by users while reducing strain on shoulders, joints and muscles. Category winners in 2012 were Style Shuffler (Business Services), Strategic Fishing Systems (Information Technology) and Reza-Band (Life Sciences).


To enter, become a judge or a sponsor, visit