Finalists in the 2012 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest pose for a photo on the steps of the Executive Residence in Maple Bluff.
Their businesses plans are among the most promising in Wisconsin, poised to help drive the state's economy.
Joe Scanlin and Ryan Rist, both University of Wisconsin-Whitewater alumni, were honored Aug. 1 at the Executive Residence in Maple Bluff, along with 50 other finalists from the Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest.
The contest, held in June, recognizes business plans with the potential to reap economic benefits for the state. About 250 entrepreneurs entered the contest. Rist won first place in the information technology category. His company, Strategic Fishing Systems, uses GIS data and mapping software to help anglers find fishing hot spots. Rist earned his MBA at UW-Whitewater in 2007.
"We've reinvented the technology to the point where it analyzes a shopper's experience more intimately," Scanlin said.
The technology could give small businesses and traditional stores a crucial advantage at a time when retailers are losing customers to the Internet.
It's all about engaging customers while shopping, Scanlin said, and "we can make the retail world smarter than e-commerce."
Scanlin graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in marketing and management. His company headquarters are located at the Innovation Center at Whitewater University Technology Park. It was there that he conceived and developed the idea as a student in the Launch Pad program.
"It's cool to see the speed at which this is happening," Scanlin said. "Six months ago, this was just an idea. We've built prototypes and now we're getting patents. Soon we'll have a product that can change the way an industry operates."
The Wisconsin Technology Council, which advises the governor and state legislature on science and technology matters, sponsored the event. It is independent, non-profit and non-partisan with members from tech companies, venture capital firms, education and research institutions, government and law.
Photo (right) Ryan Rist '07, William Dougan, Irvin L. Young Professor of Entrepreneurship and Joe Scanlin '12 at the governor's mansion.