InsideWis: Business plan contest is sampling of Wisconsin’s diverse startups

Inside Wisconsin with Tom Still, logoBy Tom Still

MADISON, Wis. – I sat down the other day next to a familiar-looking fellow who, like me, was attending a real-estate seminar produced by business magazine InBusiness. I quickly figured out that table-mate Joe Carpenter, an accountant in his full-time life, was among the “Diligent Dozen” finalists in our 2015 edition of the Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

His young company, built around a personal finance app called CountAbout, is not only alive and well – but recently paid back an angel investor he met through the contest.

Encounters such as that are a constant reminder that startups in Wisconsin come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and sectors, and while everyone wishes there were more young companies, there are processes and programs to help steer them in a strong direction.

Launched in 2004 by the Wisconsin Technology Council with help from sponsors such as what is today the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., finalists in the 2024 contest ranged from potentially life-saving devices and apps to agricultural equipment to a software-based creative writing program for children to innovations in the food and beverage world.

Independent judges recruited by the Tech Council heard June 5 pitches from finalists in four categories – Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information Technology and Life Sciences – and winners were announced the next day based on judges’ scores and other contest background.

CranioSure, a Madison-based company that has designed a mobile app to screen infant head shapes to detect risk of craniosyntosis – accurately and early enough to help avoid surgeries – won the Life Sciences category and the grand prize.

Read More