MADISON – Wisconsin start-up companies from Appleton, DePere and Madison won awards in the third annual “Elevator Pitch Olympics,” held during last week’s Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison.

The three companies were among 15 that competed in the event, which involved contestants to make a 90-second “pitch” to a panel of eight angel and venture capital investors. All 15 were scored by judges on two criteria:

1.      Would you take a meeting with this business person to discuss the plan in detail?

2.      Would you read beyond the first page of the business plan if it arrived the next day in your office?

The judges also discussed each pitch, giving contestants tips on how to improve their presentation or their business plan summary. Winners were:

-    C.J. Schmidt, founder of Bayland, LLC, who impressed the judges with his DePere-based company that plans to use recycled fiber from paper sludge to make green building products.  The judges awarded Schmidt the “most likely to schedule a meeting” trophy.

-    Mike Miller, co-founder of NxtMile, LLC, appealed to the judges with his Madison-based company, which develops shoes and orthotics for runners over 40.  The judges also stayed on the elevator after his pitch, awarding him the “most likely to read the business plan” trophy.

-    Brian Hans, an entrepreneur from Appleton, was awarded the People’s Choice Award by the 100-member audience. He pitched EarthMimic, a company that turns biomass, such as cow dung, into a coal product that can be converted for a wide range of uses from soil augmentation to energy production.

More than 400 people attended various portions of the Early Stage Symposium, which also featured nationally known speakers, panel discussions and more extensive presentation opportunities for Wisconsin companies seeking between $500,000 and $5 million from investors. The Elevator Pitch Olympics was sponsored by American Transmission Co.

To learn more about the symposium, scheduled for next year on Nov. 5-6, 2008, go to