2017 Govs Biz Plan Contest open for entries

The 14th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest is accepting entries online for the 2017 competition until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.

The contest is designed to encourage entrepreneurs in the startup stage of tech-based businesses in Wisconsin. The contest links up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of community resources, expert advice and mentoring, management talent and possible sources of capital.

Over time, the contest has led to valuable public and media exposure for the top business plans and spurred economic growth in Wisconsin. Finalists will share in more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

For their initial entries, contestants will submit a 250-word (about 2,000 characters) idea abstract online at www.govsbizplancontest.com. 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 70 judges drawn from the finance, sales, marketing, research and technology sectors across Wisconsin will score the entries and provide feedback on submissions.

To get started, contestants must create a simple account at www.govsbizplancontest.comAll entries are submitted through the website. Contestants use their account to gain access to mentors throughout the process, as well as review the judges’ comments and feedback.

Since its inception in 2004, more than 3,350 entries have been received and about $2.2 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 2017 competition will take place in stages:

  • In Phase 1, which is open until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, the contest will accept idea abstracts on the website. Entries should be roughly 250 words (or no more than 2,000 characters, including spaces) and will be graded by the pool of BPC judges. The top 50 idea abstracts will advance to Phase 2.
  • In Phase 2, which runs from Feb. 20 to 5 p.m. March 13, 2017, the top 50 idea abstracts will submit an executive summary. The top 20 executive summaries will advance to Phase 3. A mentored “boot camp” for contestants will be held in early March.
  • In Phase 3, which runs from April 3 to 5 p.m. April 24, 2017, the top 20 executive summaries will prepare full business plans. Judges will review the plans and pick three finalists from each of the four categories to advance to the final presentation round. Mentored practice sessions will be offered to the top 12 in late May.
  • The top 12, or “Diligent Dozen,” will square off with oral presentations during the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference on June 6 at Union South in Madison. 

Past finalists have launched companies that have raised more than $200 million in angel, venture, grants and venture debt over time – all while creating jobs and economic value for Wisconsin. The contest’s major sponsors include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

The 2016 grand prize winner was Hyde, a Madison startup company whose device is a life jacket that offers increased functionality while reducing bulk. Category winners in 2016 were Hyde (Advanced Manufacturing), Compete Phytochemical Solutions (Business Services), POLCO (Information Technology), and Lynx Biosciences (Life Sciences).

To enter, become a judge or learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit www.govsbizplancontest.com.

Innovative life-vest startup from Elm Grove wins 2016 Governor’s Business Plan Contest

A Milwaukee-area startup whose flagship product aims to revolutionize water safety took home the grand prize in the 13th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

Hyde, an outdoor sporting goods firm founded by Pat Hughes and Mike Fox in 2013, has patented “The Wingman,” a sleeker, technology-enhanced life vest that will be released this summer. The thin life jacket, which Hughes wore under his suit while presenting Tuesday at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, is designed so that users pull a ripcord to puncture a CO2 canister, causing the gas to inflate a built-in bladder that make the life jacket buoyant.

Hyde has a partnership with a leading watersports manufacturer for an order that will be available for sale this summer. Hyde has also accumulated more than $75,000 in pre-orders and was named the Best Action Sports Safety Product at ISPO Munich, Europe’s largest tradeshow, in 2015.

Hughes presented along with 12 other finalists; winners were announced Wednesday. Hyde won the contest’s Advanced Manufacturing category. Other category winners were:

Business Services: Complete Phytochemical Solutions, Cambridge, provides intellectual and technical expertise in phytochemistry (plant chemistry) that enables clients to develop, manufacture and market high quality and efficacious nutritional supplements and food products for human and animal nutrition. Clients include natural product ingredient suppliers, dietary supplement manufactures and retailers. Presenter: Christian Krueger, Cambridge.

Information Technology: POLCO, Madison, delivers policy polling platform, analytics and engagement services to city, county and school board governments. POLCO also facilitates citizen-to-citizen policy interactions, promotes civic educational youth participation through classroom experiences and provides a mechanism for readers to take action in an easy and effective way. Presenter: Nick Mastronardi, Madison.

Life Sciences: Lynx Biosciences, Madison, is developing assay technologies enabling the prediction of clinical treatment response for multiple myeloma and other blood cancer patients. Currently, it is impossible to predict which cancer therapies will be successful for individual patients. LynxBio’s vision is individualized therapy tailored to treat patients’ unique cancer. Presenter: Chorom Pak, Madison.

Thirteen contestants emerged from three rounds of judging in the contest organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council, which produces the contest in conjunction with its partners and sponsors. The contest began in late January with more than 200 entries; more than 3,350 entries have been received since the contest began in 2004.

This year’s finalists delivered seven-minute pitches on their business ideas during the 14th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, which was held at Madison’s Alliant Energy Center. Second- and third-place category winners were:

Advanced Manufacturing: Linectra, Brandon Walker, Madison; and Xemex Static Mixer, Eric Ronning, Madison (tie); Mikroflot Technologies, Jose Ramirez, Milwaukee.

Business Services: Compost Crusader, Melissa Tashjian, Milwaukee; Iconac, Harrison Richarz, Milwaukee.

Information Technology: WeightUp Solutions, Daniel Litvak, Madison; Classmunity, Alana Platt, Whitefish Bay.

Life Sciences: Essential Biotechnology, Michael James, Big Bend; Asto CT, David Ergun, Madison.

Finalists submitted full business plans for review by a panel of more than 100 judges established by the Tech Council, which is the non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the governor and the Legislature. Each plan described the core product or service, defined the customer base, estimated the size of the market, identified competition, described the management team and provided key financial data.

Sponsors are contributing cash, office space, legal assistance, accounting, information technology consulting, marketing, prototyping, web design, event space and more. About $2.2 million in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded since the inception of the contest in 2004.

Lead sponsors of the 2016 contest thus far include 3Rhino Media; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; Ascendancy Advisors; AT&T; BizTimes; Madworks Co-working; Michael Best & Friedrich; Pieper Properties; Quarles & Brady; Racine Metal-Fab; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren; SCORE Wisconsin; University Research Park; Vertz Marketing; Ward4; Whitewater University Technology Park; and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Associate sponsors include 100state; Cresa Madison; Keane Consultants; Kinetic Compliance Solutions; Kollath CPA; Makin’ HEY Communications; Midwest Prototyping; Murphy Desmond; Neider & Boucher; Smith & Gesteland; and Wisconsin Public Radio. Additional sponsors are Aberdean Consulting; BizStarts; Bublrbikes; Evolution; EZ Office Supplies; Fine Point Consulting; Madison BCycle; Madison Gas & Electric; PowerBuy 4 You; Red Arrow Production; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Summit Credit Union; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; and the Wisconsin Technical College System.

To learn more about the contest, visit govsbizplancontest.com.

JSOnline: Company with new type of life jacket wins Governor’s Business Plan Contest

Hyde Expedition LLC, an Elm Grove start-up company that is developing a sleek, patented life jacket, took the top prize in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest on Wednesday.

As the largest such contest in the state, the competition is key to identifying high-potential start-ups that might help boostWisconsin’s lackluster performance in forming new businesses.

Hyde, which raised more than $67,000 in a Kickstarter campaign last year, isplanning to release its first product this summer. The thin life jacket — which Hyde co-founder Pat Hughes wore under his suit jacket while presenting his plan at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference — is designed so that users pull a ripcord to puncture a CO2 canister, causing the gas to inflate a built-in bladder that makes the life jacket buoyant. Read the full Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here.

State Journal: Wingman, a skinny flotation jacket, wins business plan contest

When a man drowned during a triathlon that Pat Hughes was also competing in several years ago, it was a life-changing moment for the shaken Hughes.

“It seemed like a very preventable tragedy,” Hughes said.

So Hughes and suburban Milwaukee high school classmate Mike Fox set out to develop what they envision as “the world’s thinnest, most versatile life jacket.”

Their product, the Wingman, won the top award Wednesday for their startup company, Hyde, at the 2016 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan contest. Read the full State Journal story here.

WisBusiness: Hyde’s slim life jackets win Governor’s Business Plan Contest

The idea behind Pat Hughes’ slimmer life jacket came when someone drowned at his first triathlon.

Hughes, whose company, Hyde, won the Governor’s Business Plan Contest yesterday, decided to make a thinner life jacket that people can inflate during emergencies.

“I was incredibly saddened by how tragic it was and how preventable it all seemed,” Hughes said.

The life jacket is called the Wingman; it has a CO2 cartridge that people can pull with a cord, which inflates the vest and gets someone’s head above the water. The reusable jacket will cost around $225, Hughes said.

It looks to replace the bulkier life jackets or the “awkward-fitting” inflatable ones that “no one likes” when doing any other water sports.

Read the full WisBusiness.com story here.