Frequently Asked Questions

Submit your idea!

Deadline: January 31

Why should I enter the competition?

  • BPC judges, mentors and other resources will help you gain the basic skills necessary to create a business plan.
  • The BPC is tailored to and targeted at entrepreneurs with limited independent business experience. Judges look for important factors such as innovation, relevant expertise, competitive advantage and market opportunity.
  • It doesn’t cost you anything. It is free to enter.
  • Contestants will meet some interesting people: mentors, potential investors, successful entrepreneurs and others with startup experience.
  • The 50 semi-finalists will be invited to attend a half-day “boot camp” in late February or early March.
  • There is a lot of exposure that comes with doing well in the contest. News media, investors and others pay attention to those who do well in the BPC.

Am I eligible to participate?

Individuals, teams or companies are eligible if they:

  • Are Wisconsin residents 18 years old or older, and who have a business plan that employs or leverages technology. Examples of technology include an eCommerce platform for a traditional business, a mobile application, a life sciences innovation or an advanced manufacturing process or system.
  • Are based in Wisconsin and/or plan to locate a business in Wisconsin.
  • Have not received more than $50,000 in private equity funding as of Jan. 31 for an idea in its current form. For the purposes of this contest, private equity funding is generally angel or venture funding but also includes equity investments by accelerators. It does not include SBIR/STTR, bank loans, non-dilutive accelerator program grants or funding from friends or family. Questions? Email our contest administrator,”

Can I use Intellectual Property in my business?

All intellectual property used in business ideas and/or plans must be owned, controlled or licensed by the BPC entrant. For BPC purposes, examples of intellectual property include but are not limited to trademarks, copyrights, patent-pending status or an issued patent.

Can I enter more than one idea?

There is no upper limit to the number of unique ideas or plans a contestant may submit. For example, one contestant may submit an idea for a new paper pulping process to the Advanced Manufacturing category and an idea for new paper-making software to the Information Technology category. The same contestant may have more than one idea advance though the competition in one or more categories. Be careful, however: Multiple entries also mean divided time.


Contestants need to create a new account for each entry. Each account will require a different email address. If you do not have more than one email address and would like to submit multiple entries, please contact the contest administrator at

Can I enter this year’s contest if I competed last year?

Past BPC participants are eligible to enter the contest again. Please note:


  • Previous category winners are NOT eligible to compete with the same plan.
  • Second and third place winners are eligible to compete with the same plan if they still meet the equity requirement.

Do I need a full business plan to enter?

No, you can walk before you run. The first phase entry is about 250 words  spread among four criteria – product or service description; customer definition; market description, size and sales strategy; and competition. There’s no need to submit financials right away.

How do I know which contest category is the best fit for my idea?

The four contest categories are deliberately broad – advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences. It’s rare that an entry cannot find a logical home. Contest administrators and judges will move entries between categories if necessary, but it seldom is.

How do I submit my entry?

All entries are accepted through the online portal – which you can access by clicking “MY ACCOUNT” above. The second and third stages of the contest also take place through that website, culminating in a 15-minute narrated pitch deck.  Up to 12 finalists will present at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. That’s our “Diligent Dozen” phase.

Geez, sounds like a longshot to survive three online phases. What are my chances on getting to the Diligent Dozen?

Your chances of winning are a lot better than Powerball! If past contests are any indicator, roughly one in 14 entrants will reach the top 25. About 4,660 entries have been received over time and $2.8 million in cash and service prizes awarded.

Who are the judges and mentors?

The judges and mentors offer years of valuable experience. About 70 judges drawn from the finance, sales, marketing, research and technology sectors across Wisconsin will score the entries and provide feedback. Many of those judges are investors. The mentoring corps will include members of SCORE and the Center for Technology Commercialization.

QNBV information and a sample term sheet

As you continue to grow your start-up you will inevitably start thinking about the future and next steps. One important question you may ask yourself: how do I continue to fund this company?


If you plan to raise capital from investors there are two important next steps:

  1. QNBV Program – As a Wisconsin based company you may be eligible for our state’s Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) tax credit program through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The goal of Wisconsin’s Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) program is to incent equity investment in technology-based businesses in the state of Wisconsin.The program provides tax credits to eligible angel and venture fund investors who make cash equity investments in qualified early-stage businesses. If all eligibility requirements are met, investors receive a Wisconsin income tax credit equal to 25 percent of the value of the investment made in the certified company.The investments incented by this program provide the capital necessary for emerging growth companies to develop new products and technologies, move products to market and provide high-quality jobs in Wisconsin. You can find more information on their website.WEDC contact number: 608-210-6700: Ask for Joey Frayne or Chris Schiffner. PLEASE NOTE: WEDC experts on QNBV will be available at our March 18 Wisconsin Tech Summit. See our website for information.
  2. Term sheets – when you talk investment, you talk term sheets. A good place to start is the “model term sheet” for early stage deals. Understand and know what pre-money valuation, liquidation preference, anti-dilution provision, and others mean. The National Venture Capital Association as a lot of other sample legal documents available here.