NovoMoto wins Governor’s Business Plan Contest

Rural clean electricity startup selected from among 12 finalists

Mehrdad Arjmand of NovoMoto wins the Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Awards.

Madison-based NovoMoto secured the top prize in the 2018 Governor’s Business Plan Contest today.

As the winner, NovoMoto will have first dibs on a cash, office space and business services prize package totaling $190,000, which will be split among the top 25 finalists.

The contest, which began with 200 entries in January, includes four categories: Advanced Manufacturing; Business Services; Information Technology; and Life Sciences. Applicants submitted their business plans to a panel of more than 110 judges, describing their core product or service, defining their customer base, estimating market size, identifying competition, describing the management team and offering key financial data.

On Tuesday, 30 judges evaluated the 12 finalists’ pitches at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, hosted by the Wisconsin Technology Council at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The finalists were judged on whether their decks told the judges everything they needed to know about the company, said Tom Still, president of the WTC.

NovoMoto is a for-profit social enterprise that implements clean electricity systems in villages in sub-Saharan Africa, with plans to expand its reach into other remote locales.

Mehrdad Arjmand of NovoMoto wins the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

The villages NovoMoto has targeted traditionally use kerosene for electricity, which can be expensive and hazardous. So the company has created small solar-powered home and business electricity systems, as well as fee-based charging stations for 75 villages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Mehrdad Arjmand during his pitch Tuesday.

Arjmand said the company has raised $200,000 to date, but would like to raise another $300,000 to expand its reach. NovoMoto plans to have 1,000 customers by the end of the year, and reach breakeven by 2020 and reach millions long-term, he said.

The other 11 “Diligent Dozen” who pitched Tuesday made the following investor asks:

  • AmebaGone, Amy Jancewicz, Madison (Life Sciences): Seeking $3 million seed funding round for a natural antimicrobial strain it developed to combat crop disease.
  • AquaMetals, Bruce Bathurst, Wauwatosa (Advanced Manufacturing): Seeking $500,000 for wastewater heavy metals monitoring device.
  • DataChat, Jignesh Patel, Madison (Information Technology): Seeking about $500,000 for its real-time data insights chatbot.
  • Fast Forward Forensics, Randy Nagy, Madison (Life Sciences): Seeking $500,000 to produce and market the latest version of its SwabSaver biological sample collection kit.
  • Impact Sports, Joshua Cleveland, River Falls (Business Services): Planning production run for football helmets with elastomer faults that flex on impact.
  • Pyran, Kevin Barnett, Madison (Advanced Manufacturing): Raising $50,000 to scale production of environmentally-friendly paint and plastic chemical production.
  • Pyxsee, Dayne Rusch, Oshkosh (Information Technology): Seeking $210,000 for its social media usage limiting platform.
  • ReNeuroGen, Stephen Naylor, Elm Grove (Life Sciences): Plans four capital raises totaling $59 million for its therapy to prevent stroke damage.
  • Replace-A-Lace, Nancy Brekke-Jones, Rhinelander (Business Services): Seeking $125,000 for production of a Velcro shoe strap that replaces shoelaces.
  • Shockray Self Defense, Lorne Forsythe, Oak Creek (Advanced Manufacturing): Proposing $1 million investment in return for 25 percent equity in combo pepper spray/stun gun weapon.
  • Swirl Insurance Services, Terry Wakefield, Mequon (Information Technology): Seeking to raise $1.5 million convertible note round for artificial intelligence-powered insurance quote generator.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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