The mission of the Governor’s Business Plan Contest is to encourage entrepreneurs in the startup stage of tech-enabled businesses in Wisconsin. The contest links up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of community resources, expert advice, high-quality education, management talent and possible sources of capital.
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Since its inception in 2004, about 4,300 entries have been received across four categories – advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences. The contest has led to cash and in-kind prizes (such as legal, accounting, office space and marketing) valued at about $2.5 million. More important: Contest finalists have raised more than $300 million in angel, venture, grants and venture debt over time. Those same finalists have stayed in business much longer than normal when compared to U.S. startup rates – and they are creating jobs. Distribution of submissions by category:
Produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and a growing list of partners, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest engages contestants in a five-month process that includes the opportunity to work with mentors and receive feedback from judges. It also leads to valuable public and media exposure for the top business plans and helps spur economic growth in Wisconsin.
The 2021 Governor’s Business Plan Contest began in late January when about 251 entries were received from about 240 individuals representing 87 communities across the state, including entries from 19 communities that had not previously participated in the contest. To get started, contestants created a simple account through Reviewr, a trusted third-party SaaS provider engaged by the Tech Council. All entries were submitted directly through the website. Contestants use the account to gain access to mentors throughout the process, as well as review the judges’ comments and feedback.
From the initial submissions, 55 semi-finalists were chosen to write and submit 1,000-word executive summaries. That field was narrowed to 23 finalists, who submitted 15- to 20-page business plans. Finalists’ plans covered eight fields: company overview; product or service description; customer definition; market description, size and sales strategy; competition; management team; financials; and capital needs. The final business plans were reviewed by a panel of more than 80 judges in May. They competed for more than $125,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.
The “Diligent Dozen” squared off with live presentations over zoom at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. Category winners, as well as the 2021 Grand Prize Winner, were announced during the BPC Awards Session on June 3.
This statewide contest is an opportunity to compete for cash and prizes, but it’s also a chance to get constructive feedback on your business plan and to help move it from a virtual business to a reality. In 2021, finalists will once again share in upwards of $125,000 in cash and services!