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BizStarts’ 4th annual Collegiate Business Plan Competition

3D Printing startup takes top prize at BizStarts Collegiate Business Plan Competition; four other finalists combine to split $15,000 in prize money, bragging rights

BizStarts’ 4th annual Collegiate Business Plan Competition, sponsored by Mason Wells,


took place Wednesday, April 24th at the Todd Wehr Conference Center on the MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering) campus.Collegiate Business Plan Competition 2013 - 1st Place - Digifii


After discovering the computing resources available to both startups and establishedcompanies offered by the Milwaukee Institute, BizStarts proceeded to name five finalists for its coveted Collegiate Business Plan Competition. They were:
  • 5th place: Bowl Appetit, a fast-casual restaurant, from Gateway Technical College, $1,000.
  • 4th place: Life Works, a tarot card reader an advising service, from Alverno College, $2,000.
  • 3rd place:, an online soccer community site, from UW-Whitewater, $3,000.
  • 2nd place: Ferret Boards, a skateboard motor kit company, from MSOE, $4,000.
  • 1st place: Digifii, a 3-D printing and design company, from UW-Milwaukee, $5,000. Digifii also secured an entry into the Governor’s Business Plan Contest!
Congrats to the finalists and thanks to all who submitted!  Thanks again to Mason Wells Mason Wells  for once again sponsoring the Collegiate Business Plan Competition and to MSOE for hosting.
WIN’s “Entrepreneurs Edge: Perfecting your business pitch” coming to Milwaukee Thursday

win_logo WIN (WI Innovation Network) presents “Entrepreneurs’ Edge“, a series of sessions and events happening statewide. Entrepreneurs Edge comes to Milwaukee Thursday with their “Perfecting your business pitch” series. Question such as “What do investors need to hear from entrepreneurs in an executive summary or an “elevator pitch?” or “Who should consider joining an angel group – and why?” will be answered.Investors and other business startup experts will share best practices, with some entrepreneurs getting the chance to practice their pitches in front of those mentors.The meeting will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 10499 Innovation Drive, Wauwatosa. Registration and networking begins at 1:30 p.m., program begins at 2 p.m., with a reception to follow, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails included. The cost is $10 for students, $25 for WIN members, Governor’s Business Plan Contest participants and Milwaukee County Research Park tenants, $35 for non-members, and free for those with WIN corporate memberships. WIN-Milwaukee meetings are held in cooperation with BizStarts.


BizStarts announces new Board members 

BizStarts has announced thirteen new Board members, boosting its already solid lineup of entrepreneurs and business leaders who support entrepreneurship in the Milwaukee region. These new Board members represent everything from investor groups to academia and, most important, entrepreneurial start-ups. Their experience will help bolster BizStarts’ current service offerings for entrepreneurs, which range from Lean Startup Methodology training to Investor Forum meetings for select start-up companies.

And congratulations to Board member Karen Ellenbecker, named a 2013 “Woman of Influence” by the Business Journal!

Click HERE for the new Board roster!


“Flying Car” showcases innovation June 1-10; BizStarts among presenting organizations


Flying Car (the event formerly known as “Innovation Week”) runs June 1-10 with events across the region, even extending to the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference over in Middleton this year.  Events include Hackathons, Innovation Factory Tours, the Kohl’s Startup Challenge, the Flying Car Gala, the Midwest Social Innovation Start-up Challenge, and more. Get details and schedules HERE!


Road Trip! Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference in Middleton this year, goes “Back to Basics” 



The 11th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference carries the theme “Back to Basics” and goes to the wild, wild west this year, holding the June 4-5 conference at the Marriott West in Middleton. Enjoy national speakers, the Governor’s Business Plan Competition, and Launch, Succeed, and Grow educational tracks – plus, an innovation kitchen, plenty of networking, optional tours of EPIC Systems, breweries and distilleries, and more!

BizStarts’ own Eric Paulsen will moderate the track “Killer Mistakes and How To Avoid Them”, which will feature panelists Kelly Fitzsimmons of HarQen, Kip Pendleton of The Pendleton Group, and Tom VanDenBogart of Heartfelt Celebrations. Eric knows how to make killer mistakes; the panelists can show you how to avoid them.


BizStarts expands entrepreneur outreach, Mentor/Advisor program

Venture Track Director Todd Sobotka runs through the Business Model Canvas.

More entrepreneurs are coming to BizStarts than ever!  We’ve expanded our services to provide all who come to us with the opportunity to attend our new “Intake Sessions” (yes, we may rename them) as part of our “Basic Training”.

These sessions give all entrepreneurs, no matter what kind of business they’re starting:

  • Networking with other entrepreneurs
  • Opportunties to meet and hear from representatives from important service fields, including law, accounting, banking, insurance, and more
  • Education on the Lean Startup Methodology, complete with a Business Model Canvas to complete as they assess their model and validate customers.
  • Follow-up from BizStarts staff to determine if they would be best served by the Venture Track program, or if another organization (WWBIC, VETransfer, SCORE, Gener8tor, local SBAs or SBDCs, for example) would better fit their needs. In that case, we make the direct referral.

To find out more or attend the next Intake Session (they are held monthly), please go to and click on the “Begin BizStarts” button. Fill out the information, and you’ll be all set!

Additionally, BizStarts has added to its Mentor & Advisor roster and will host a Mentor & Advisor Networking Event & Program Update Session on Thursday, May 16th. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor and attending, please contact Todd Sobotka, Director of the Venture Track program.


BizStarts welcomes new sponsor Northern Trust 


Northern Trust Logo_large BizStarts welcomes new IPO Level sponsor Northern Trust. All of our new and continuing sponsors are long the right side of this Catalyst, be sure to thank them for their support of BizStarts and entrepreneurship!

Want to support a non-profit organization that’s truly making a direct economic and social impact through its work with entrepreneurs? Contact Eric Paulsen and find out all the options! 


Other good, topical reads on entrepreneurship

Have you seen the Journal Sentinel’s pieces on innovation and entrepreneurship these last few weeks?  If you missed any, check these out!

Why entrepreneurs are key to jump-starting the Milwaukee area’s economic rebirth

Moving Milwaukee forward

Entrepreneurs one key to region’s long-term health

Also, Tom Still of the Wisconsin Technology Council had a great piece over the weekend on support for early investment in startups:

Wisconsin entrepreneurs back bill for early investment


Somna Therapeutics raises $1.2M; Brenner Brewing brews up $750Klogo Congrats to Somna Therapeutics, makers of the Reza Band, a new device that helps people combat acid reflux as they sleep, for raising an additional $1.2 million from area angel investors. Read more here!
Meanwhile, the brewer formerly known as Hotcakes Gallery owner Mike Brenner has raised $750,000 for his startup Brenner Brewing Company, looking to make and export not only great Wisconsin-brewed beer, but Wisconsin artists’ works, which will be included on his bottles. Read more here!    


FastPitch returning to Racine & Kenosha this summer

fastpitch_logo The Second Annual Racine/Kenosha FastPitch Competition is your chance to prove the potential of your business idea….meet people who can help you succeed…maybe even win a cash prize!  Competitors will have three minutes max to hit it out of the park before a panel of judges from the business and investment community.  Verbal Presentations only – no PowerPoint.


Mark Your Calendars

May 7, 6:00-8:00pm: Introduction to the SBIR/STTR Federal Grants Program, Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison, WI 53706 Register

May 9, 1:30-5:30pm: Entrepreneurs’ Edge: Perfecting your business pitch (WIN-Milwaukee meeting), Crowne Plaza, 10499 Innovation Drive (Hwy 100 & Watertown Plank Rd.), Wauwatosa,

May 9, 6:00-8:00pm: Preparing to Write an SBIR/STTR Federal Research Grant, Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison, WI 53706 Register


May 10, 3:00-5:00pm: BizStarts Basic Training Intake Session. Open to all entrepreneurs. For location and details, contact Todd Sobotka or fill out the “Begin BizStarts” button on

June 4-5: Entrepreneur’s Conference, Middleton, WI More Info

June 1-10: “Flying Car”, Milwaukee’s Innovation Week  Details

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