The Wisconsin Technology Council yesterday assembled a panel of past contest winners in Wauwatosa to share their experiences with the competition and entrepreneurship. The conversation highlighted disparities in the world of raising venture capital, which is largely dominated by men.

Tech Council Investor Networks Director Joe Kremer noted just 17% of companies that raised capital in Wisconsin last year were led or co-founded by women, and women-led startups only raised 10% of the total dollar figure for the year.

“Which sounds bad, because it is,” he said. “And we have to improve it, but it is better than it is nationally.”

Laura King, who won the 2014 BPC, echoed his concern, calling it a “significant and substantial and monumental issue” in the business community. She said companies founded by women in the United States earn less than 2% of venture capital dollars each year.

“I personally became a [limited partner,] meaning the person that invests into a venture fund, in a fund because they only fund women-led or founded companies,” she said. “Because if we don’t make different choices, we’re going to end up with the same result for our daughters or our granddaughters.”

She discussed a previous venture called NeuWave Medical, which was built around a technology for killing cancerous tumors in the liver, kidney, lungs and bone. After launching in 2008, the company grew to $30 million in revenue and was sold to Johnson & Johnson Medtech for $300 million. She also touched on another venture, Elucent Medical, which has a surgical navigation product.

More recently, she founded another business called Accure Medical, focused on eliminating nail fungus and associated health issues.

“It’s not about your toes looking good for your vacation in Florida; this affects diabetic patients, it affects walking and mobility,” she said.

Another past winner, Vector Surgical founder Janet Phillips, discussed the Waukesha-based company’s tissue orientation systems for improving cancer surgery. It was launched in 2005 and won the 2007 contest for its product, which helps pathologists better understand the precise location of cancer cells.

“All of the goals of conserving healthy tissue are met more effectively, the cosmetic result is better and the cancer outcome is better,” she said. “We also reduce the number of re-excisions.”

The company has seen steady growth since its contest win, and currently serves 1,400 hospitals across the country, Phillips said.

The winner of this year’s Governor’s Business Plan Contest will be announced in early June at the Tech Council’s annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee.

See coverage of last year’s contest, which was won by another woman-led business, Madison-based Sixline Semiconductor.