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darkaero

Brothers River, left, and Ryley Karl display the wings for the airplane kit that their company, DarkAero, plans to sell. DarkAero is one of 13 startups that competed for prizes at the Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest Tuesday and Wednesday. A Stoughton-based startup won the top prize. 

A Stoughton-based company that provides a hands-free, quick and easy way for child care centers to log information about a child’s day for parents won the grand prize at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference Wednesday.

GrowthChart Records was chosen along with 12 other startups — which are called the “Diligent Dozen”, this year a baker’s dozen — to make a seven-minute pitch for its product to a panel of judges in Milwaukee Tuesday during the final round of the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

GrowthChart’s technology allows child care providers to verbally record information and observations about the children they are watching using “Okay, Google”, according to a video on GrowthChart’s website. The technology creates written records using the voice commands, allowing child care providers to document information for parents in real-time, rather than writing it afterwards.

“GrowthChart has created an innovative platform to save time for certified childcare centers that are often recording data by hand on paper, which ties up professionals who could be caring directly for kids,” Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, said in a statement.

Other local contenders were:

  • Auto-Scope, artificial intelligence to help diagnose ear problems
  • Blexx Technology, hypodermic needle disposal device
  • DarkAero, airplane kit manufacturer
  • SpayVac for Wildlife, animal contraceptive vaccine
  • Voximetry, personalized radiation doses for patients
  • Zero Barrier, 3D metal printing

Madison-based Blexx Technology won first place in the category of business services. Otologic Technologies, also Madison-based, won first in the life services category for its Auto-Scope device for detecting ear infections.

GrowthChart won first in the Information Technology category, and will take home the grand prize, the value of which is still being determined. Still said the technology council, which runs the contest, works to raise money and other prizes right up until the end of the competition.

This year’s prizes — which include cash and services such as free office space, an attorney, or free accounting to help the startups — have a total value of around $160,000, Still said. The prizes will be divides among the top 25 finalists, depending on each company’s needs. GrowthChart will receive the largest prize.

But Still said the contest provides value to companies beyond just the prizes. He stressed that the competition is less about who wins, and more about the connections the startups are given the opportunity to make.

“What’s important is they’re exposed to investors,” Still said.

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Emily Hamer is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She joined the paper in April 2019 and was formerly an investigative reporting intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.