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 4,660 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 $2.8 million. More important: Contest finalists have raised more than $320 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 2023 Governor’s Business Plan Contest began in late January with entries received from more than half of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. To get started, contestants created a simple account through our website and continued to use that account throughout the contest to gain access to mentors and to review judges’ comments and feedback.
From the initial submissions, 50 semi-finalists were chosen to write and submit 1,000-word executive summaries. That field was narrowed to 26 finalists, who submitted 15-minute pitch decks that 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 70 judges in late May.
The “Diligent Baker’s Dozen” squared off with live presentations at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee. Category winners, as well as the 2023 Grand Prize Winner, were announced during the BPC Awards Session on June 1.
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 2023, finalists shared in about $119,000 in cash and service prizes!