Biz Plan Contest ‘boot camp’ puts 70 ‘treps through startup paces

March 12, 2014

WAUKESHA – More than 70 entrepreneurs from communities across the state took part in the annual “boot camp” sponsored as a part of the 11th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

The afternoon exercise consisted of peer-to-peer practice pitches, tips on how to win the contest, a blueprint for best practices in writing a business plan and a review of what investors look for in emerging companies. The boot camp was hosted at the Waukesha offices of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.

Speakers included Dan Cooper, shareholder in Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s business law practice; Dan Einhorn, general partner of Capital Midwest Fund; Jonathan Fritz, general counsel of Vilas Capital Management; and Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

The 70 participants included most of the 52 semi-finalists in the contest, as well as others from the original field of 292 first-round entries. The contest is judged by an independent panel of more than 80 judges organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council and its programs, the Wisconsin Innovation Network and the Wisconsin Angel Network. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is a major sponsor.

“The boot camp is a valuable experience for contestants. They meet other entrepreneurs like themselves, compare notes on common challenges, hear what investors look for in a young company and generally learn why a business plan makes sense for most businesses – even if that plan evolves next month or next year,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.

The semi-finalists reflect the diversity of Wisconsin’s economy and are spread among four broad categories: advanced manufacturing (14), business services (10), information technology (14) and life sciences (14).

Water technologies, health information technologies, software solutions, agriculture, products and processes for manufacturing, and medical devices, imaging and treatments were sectors that drew a number of entries. The contest also attracted entries focused on sports and recreation innovations – including the state’s brewing industry.

The 52 entries competing in Phase 2 of the contest will write executive summaries of no more than 1,000 words. Each summary describes the core product or service, defines the customer base, estimates the size of the market, identifies competition, lists members of the management team and provides key financial data.

Once Phase 2 judging is complete in early April, the 52 entries may be made available for inspection by accredited investors through the Wisconsin Angel Network, which has more than two-dozen angel networks, private equity funds or corporate strategic partners. About two-dozen plans will move on to Phase 3, in which contestants will write a full 15- to 20-page business plan.

The top dozen contestants will give live presentations at the annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference on June 3 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Category winners, as well as the 2014 Grand Prize Winner, will be announced during the BPC Awards Luncheon on June 4.

Sponsors are contributing cash, office space, legal assistance, accounting, information technology consulting, marketing and more. About $1.7 million in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded since the inception of the contest.

Additional sponsors of the 2014 contest thus far include: 5Nines; 100state; Aberdean Consulting; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Company; AT&T; BDO; Cleantech Open; Cresa Madison; Exact Sciences; Kollath & Associates; Madison Gas & Electric; Makin’ HEY Communications; Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences; Michael Best & Friedrich; Midwest Prototyping; Mortenson Construction; Murphy Desmond; Pieper Properties; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media; Smith & Gesteland; Tweedee Productions; University Research Park; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

To become a sponsor, call 608-442-7557 or visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.

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