Entrepreneurs earn rewards at WITC conference

August 19, 2013

From ashlandwi.com: “Innovative business ideas reward at tech conference” — The recent 2013 Lake Superior Business and Technology Conference – Growing Superior Ideas in the North held at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland, provided an opportunity for the area’s budding entrepreneurs and want-to-be entrepreneurs to share their business ideas. Several creative and innovative business ideas were pitched. These included: a musical production light system, financial information app for investors, modular product design service, superior artesian water business, passive house certified windows and doors, process to reduce paper drying energy use, multifunctional observation tower and a veteran’s radio news brief.

Molly Lahr, Director of the Wisconsin Innovation Network of the Wisconsin Technology Council based in Madison, moderated the presentations. A panel of seven judges with expertise in business and economic development listened to the timed, two-minute business idea presentations from the contestants and then provided their critiques.

Following their critiques, the judges rated each business idea presentation on a scale from one to five. Eight business idea contest finalists were competing for $5,500 in prize money to be used to help advance their business idea. The first place prize was $2,500, second place prize was $1,500 and third place received $1,000.

In addition, a $250 prize was available to the business idea judged to be the “greenest” by a representative of the local Alliance for Sustainability. The conference attendees also had a chance to vote for their favorite business idea, with the top vote getter receiving a $250 prize.

The conference and business idea contest were sponsored and planned by the Lake Superior Region Wisconsin Innovation Network Chapter. The chapter’s goal was to help foster and encourage the development of entrepreneurial activity in an area of the state that has lagged behind economically as compared to many other areas.

The business idea contest and its prize money was intended to serve as a catalyst and incentive for persons to come up with business ideas, and provide some seed money to help them move their ideas forward.

Winning the contest’s first place $2,500 prize was the Passive House Certified Windows and Doors idea presented by Dane Gleeson from H Windows in Ashland. His company hopes to become the first such firm in the United States to manufacture these super energy efficient products. The second place $1,500 prize was awarded for The Veteran’s Radio News Brief that was presented by Mark Snow of Superior. Mark had been one of the finalists in the inaugural 2012 Business Idea Contest.

Due to a tie vote from the judges, the $1,000 third place prize was split $500 each for EKCO LLC Technology’s paper drying energy saving process presented by John Klungness and the Multifunctional Observation Tower idea developed by Mirka Nelson.

The $250 “green” business idea award was presented by Ted May from the Alliance for Sustainability to the first place winner Dane Gleeson for his Passive House Certified Windows and Doors. The audience choice $250 prize winner for the best idea was awarded to Bruce Bowers for his Musical Production Light System.

Dave Vedder, President of the Lake Superior Region Wisconsin Innovation Network Chapter, thanked the attendees and said he looked forward to next year’s conference and Business Idea Contest.



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