FAQs for Northwestern Mutual's Reverse Pitch MKE

Who will be judging reverse pitch?

The judges will include senior executives, individuals responsible for Venture Capital sources and the innovation team at Northwestern Mutual.

What criteria will be used for reverse pitch?

Judges will rate low, medium, high in the following categories. Proposed Product / Solution, Business & Revenue Model, Competitive Positioning, Strength of Management, Consideration of Risks and Use of Investment.

Does the pitching company have to be a startup or can an existing business pitch?

No.  Growing businesses in SE Wisconsin will be preferred whether they are new or existing.  Northwestern Mutual is looking to invest in a business for mutual value.

What details are available on the SAFE round?

  • Northwestern Mutual will provide $10,000 to create a legal entity eligible for investment
  • Northwestern Mutual will invest up to $75,000 in three (3) tranches based on agreed upon Milestones
  • Last look right – Right to match the terms of any subsequent qualified financing offer
  • Right of first refusal - Right to the first commercial application of any product or solution created by the Company on mutually agreeable commercial terms

What kind of mentorship and guidance is available to pitching companies?

By collocating with the innovation team at Northwestern Mutual, access to mentors, SMEs and business advisors will be available.  Additional options are also available based upon need from 3rd party organizations.

Will we have to sign an NDA to get access to more information?

Potentially.  For example, to access Northwestern Mutual proprietary data, appropriate steps must be completed.

What are the key dates and timeframes for us?

snippet.PNG

How much of a demo / MVP does a team need to pitch back?

The judges are business people who will need to see something to understand your solution.  The closer to the future working product, the better.  Visual click through demos are a minimum requirement.

What if my startup is pursuing other funding models?  Can we propose other funding models?

Absolutely.  Northwestern Mutual may or may not be able to flex to some models.

Is there an option for more investment beyond $85,000?

Yes, based upon growth and milestone achievements.

What if I am interested in pitching, but can’t make it on January 8th?

Since the group of judges have busy schedules, it would be difficult to judge a pitchback outside of that event.  If this is a significant constraint, please talk with David Rice. 

What should I include in my pitch-back application?

Please include all materials you would like to be considered in your application, including a rough draft of your pitch deck (business plan, business model canvas, wireframes, etc).  Materials will not be considered final, but will be used to determine which applicants can pitch on January 8th. 

How long do I have to pitch at the January 8th event?

If your application is accepted to pitch back to Northwestern Mutual judges, you will have 20 minutes to present the idea and all related materials.

Materials needed for the event:

Any material you will need to present your idea.  If you are using technology as part of your presentation, don’t forget your power cord.  We will provide you the connectors to our Wi-Fi and displays.  Please note, you will not be able to print or use a thumb drive to present your idea.

If we are selected to pitch on January 8th, will we be able to see other teams pitch?  Will other teams hear ours? 

No. We will consider each team’s business plan/solution to be proprietary to them.  Only a team from Northwestern Mutual will sit in on the pitches.

Will the leading idea be selected by the panel on January 8th? If not, when will we know if we will be offered an investment? 

Investment decisions will not be made on January 8th. Northwestern Mutual will follow up with teams by the end of the month.

Can existing startups that have solutions to Northwestern Mutual problem statements apply?

Absolutely.  We welcome existing startups that can solve these problems.  Companies who already have a determined valuation should include that information in their pitch.

Ward 4 Offering Free Coworking During Milwaukee Startup Week

Do you love Milwaukee as much as I do?

Before I began my career, I thought I had to leave Milwaukee in order to be successful. My friends were graduating school and heading to places like New York and San Francisco. In my head, I had to get out of here if I wanted a career in the tech or the startup industry.

And then I found Ward4. Or, rather, Ward4 found me. And thankfully it did, or I wouldn’t be in Milwaukee today.

In June 2015, I did an "intern match" and was connected with Bright Cellars, the company that made me fall in love with startups. I was introduced to a completely new lifestyle. A lifestyle filled with late nights, passionate individuals, and more bottles of wine than I would get hours of sleep that night.

I was immersed in a community that I never imagined would exist in Milwaukee. And the craziest thing? My dream job was being built around me. And I don’t just say that metaphorically. Ward4 housed Bright Cellars, and its walls were literally being built around me as I sat in my desk. How's that for a metaphor?

After some incredible months at Bright Cellars, I was given the opportunity to manage Ward4 under CSA Partners LLC, a group of individuals that I soon realized had the same passion, drive, and excitement about Wisconsin's startup community that I had. So we got to work.

In just over two years, we've turned a cold, empty building into a vibrant, industrial workspace that houses over 50 business entities with over 130 members to date. We've partnered with organizations like the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and aim to give entrepreneurs the tools necessary to be successful in Milwaukee's community. And we've been lucky to aid, alongside other incredible companies, in building one heck of an incredible community.

Ward4 introduced me to a vibrant, growing startup ecosystem that I never imagined would exist in Milwaukee. It is a lighthouse for innovation in a city with incredible potential. So it’s time for us to open it up and share it with the community.

That’s why we’ll be offering free coworking to all entrepreneurs during Milwaukee Startup Week. November 6th-10th from 9am-5pm, entrepreneurs can take advantage of access to a desk space, wifi, space amenities and community events.

I’m here to stay, because Milwaukee is a destination. Stop by to see why Ward4 going to keep it that way.

RSVP: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ward4-open-coworking-tickets-39411349407

 

Educating Southeast Wisconsin's Entrepreneurs

A major theme of Milwaukee Startup Week is providing free educational resources to entrepreneurs launching their ventures in Southeast Wisconsin. Here are some of the key educational events that are free and open to the public during Milwaukee Startup Week: 

Startup Milwaukee Launch Conference
November 9th | 8:30am-4:30pm | Ward 4
333 North Plankinton Ave., #250, Milwaukee 53203

While launching a startup is tough, it is easier if you know where to turn for advice. Join us for our Launch Conference to make it a bit easier by connecting you to resources you need to launch your company.

Concordia University: Veteran Entrepreneurship, Resources Available & Community Importance
November 8th | 11:30am-1:00pm
We will be holding a panel discussion about Veteran Entrepreneurship. The panel will discuss the successes and hurdles of starting a business or project as a veteran. They will also discuss resources available to veterans and have open dialogue including questions and answer. 

Practical Advice on Building a Business With Software
November 10th | 6:00pm-7:30pm
Are you a programmer who has been thinking about turning one of your side projects into a business? Come chat with Nick Gartmann from RokkinCat to learn how to make that happen. At this event, we'll talk about the essential activities of building a tech startup, why software developers are in a uniquely advantageous position to do well at those activities and much more. 

UWM Business Model Canvas Mixer
November 11th | 9:00am-11:00am
Join the UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Center as we kick off the Student Startup Challenge at the Second Annual Business Model Canvas Mixer. We are asking you (the community) to join us as we brainstorm aspects of the student’s businesses as well as innovative models. 

Disrupt Milwaukee 1.0
November 9th | 5:00pm-9:00pm
Experience a night of thought-provoking talks from experts and professionals who want to share their ideas on how we can move our talent thinking forward. It's a fast-paced event experience with a unique format: each speaker has 5 minutes, 20 slides rotating at 15 seconds each to blow your mind! Part entertainment, part education it's a not-to-be-missed event. 

The Summit
November 11th | 10:00am-5:00pm | Ward 4
333 North Plankinton Ave., #205, Milwaukee 53203

The greatest driving force of change has always been through the collaboration of great minds. During The Summit, we will bring together individuals that created the seemingly impossible. This panel will discuss everything from ideation, funding, growth, management and when to exit.

Connecting startups to Established companies a Key Theme of Milwaukee Startup Week!

Connecting high-growth startups to local corporations can be a catalyst for Milwaukee's startup community. We encourage startup founders and corporate executives to engage in these Milwaukee Startup Week events!

Northwestern Mutual's Reverse Pitch MKE
November 6th | 4:00pm-6:00pm
At this event, Northwestern Mutual will pitch to entrepreneurs, outlining potential business challenges and big ideas Northwestern Mutual is looking to explore and solve. Teams can earn a seed investment of up to $85,000 and more. 

Startup Milwaukee IGNITION presented by Aurora Health Care
November 9th | 6:00pm-8:00pm
Join us for the first-ever Startup Milwaukee IGNITION event during Milwaukee Startup Week. This IGNITION event will focus on the story behind how Aurora Health Care's innovation team has played a critical role in the development of EmOpti, a Milwaukee startup focused on optimizing acute care.

Innovation in Retail—the Sendik's Story presented by Concordia University Wisconsin
November 7th | 12:00pm-1:30pm
Listen to Ted Balistreri, co-owner of Sendik's Food Markets—the ones with the red bags—discuss the ideas behind Sendik's recent innovations. Have you heard about their Online Grocery Service, Grind2Energy and Fresh2Go initiatives? 

Startup Co-Lab by Ideawake
November 10th | 8:30am-11:30am
Startup Co-Lab is helping bridge the gap between startups and access to mid-size and large companies. The goal of Co-Lab is to provide a forum for startups to connect with corporations to receive feedback, market validation and the opportunity to acquire them as customers. Apply today as a startup or corporation. 

gener8tor: Best Practices for Corporate-Startup Partnerships
November 6th | 11:30am-1:30pm
Hear from startups, investors and corporate leaders on best practices for fostering collaboration. If partnerships are successful, startups and corporations alike can generate deeper insight into specific technologies and reap mutually beneficial rewards of new vendor relationships. 

Innovators Guide to Design Thinking
November 9th | 5:00pm-7:30pm
Join UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and Marquette Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship for an introductory workshop to learn about the design thinking process and how it can help solve complex challenges. You will learn the methodology of design thinking and get the chance to apply your knowledge in a guided group exercise to analyze user needs and generate ideas.

Building Milwaukee's Tech Community a key part of Milwaukee Startup Week!

If you travel to startup hotspots around the globe you'll quickly learn that having a vibrant, local technology community is an essential part of having a growing, vibrant high-growth startup community.

This year we wanted to add a track of events to Milwaukee Startup Week, focused on building the local Technology community. We partnered with RokkinCat to to curate these six events that showcase what is happening around Southeast Wisconsin's technology scene: 

Monetizing Data & Analytics for Your Startup
November 6th | 5:15pm-8pm | MKE Big Data Meetup

November's MKE Big Data meetup will feature Hamilton Faris Head of Enterprise Data & Analytics, Hamilton Faris is responsible for Northwestern Mutual’s overall data and analytics strategy. Hamilton joined the Northwestern Mutual and LearnVest companies in 2016 prior to joining Northwestern Mutual Hamilton worked at Metlife.

Deep Learning Recommender Systems
November 7th | 5:30pm-8:30pm | RokkinCat
Artificial Neural Networks and Deep Learning have generated a lot of excitement in Machine Learning research and industry. Come and explore a movie recommender system based on deep learning and neural networks. We'll also talk about how it compares to more traditional recommender algorithms like Bayesian networks and Nearest Neighbor.

Milwaukee Blockchain Conference
November 9th | 8:00am-12:00pm | Weasler Auditorium
Blockchain. It’s a word that can be seen everywhere from business magazines to large company websites. What began as the technical undergirding of the anonymous cryptocurrency bitcoin is now poised to revolutionize life as we know it. Join us as we bring together the area’s blockchain thought leaders for a morning of exploration on this fascinating disruptive technology.

Milwaukee's FinTech Startup Week Edition
November 8th | 5:30pm-7:30pm | The Box
Join us as we take FInTech in Milwaukee to the next level as a part of Milwaukee Startup Week's Fintech Edition. We have assembled an expert panel of industry leaders to deepen our understanding of the latest trends and provide insights into what it will take to build a vibrant FinTech community in Milwaukee.

Express.js Workshop #MKESW
November 9th | 6:00pm-9:00pm | RokkinCat
Have you ever wanted to create a new website or set of APIs for your new startup idea but you just didn't know where to get started? You're in luck! In this workshop, we will go through the basics of how to get started with node.js and Express.js.

Practical Advice on Building a Business With Software
November 10th | 6:00pm-7:30pm | RokkinCat
Are you a programmer who has been thinking about turning one of your side projects into a business? Come chat with Nick Gartmann from RokkinCat to learn how to make that happen. He and RokkinCat have helped many startups get off the ground as well as launched a few products of their own.

Milwaukee Code Camp
November 11th | 8:00am-5:00pm | UWM-Kenwood Interdiscipliary Research Complex
Milwaukee Code Camp is a free software development conference put on by local developers for the Milwaukee community. We run it entirely as volunteers and just want to see our community grow! 

We hope to see you at Milwaukee Startup Week, November 6th through 12th, see all 40+ events by clicking here

Milwaukee Startup Week presented by Northwestern Mutual aims to connect, educate and celebrate entrepreneurs around Southeast Wisconsin. The week will be packed with over 40 networking events, workshops, hackathons and pitch competitions. Milwaukee Startup Week is supported by Aurora Health Care, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, BizTimes Media and Newsradio 620 WTMJ. 

Wisconsin Startup Week is a statewide initiative to connect, educate and celebrate entrepreneurs in 10 cities around the state of Wisconsin. The week will be packed with over 200 networking events, workshops, hackathons and pitch competitions. Wisconsin Startup Week is supported by Aurora Health Care, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell and Northwestern Mutual. To learn more about all the events happening around the state visit WIStartupWeek.org. 

HealthTech a key part of Milwaukee Startup Week 2017

As we reported earlier this year, Southeast Wisconsin has a growing HealthTech community. This year we wanted to add a track of events to Milwaukee Startup Week, focused on building the local Healthcare Technology startup scene. We partnered with Bioforward and HealthTech MKE to curate these six events that showcase all of the healthcare technology innovation happening around Southeast Wisconsin: 

IGNITION: Aurora Health Care + EmOpti
November 9th | 6:00pm-8:00pm | PKWARE
Join us for the first-ever Startup Milwaukee IGNITION event that will focus on the story behind how Aurora Health Care's innovation team played a critical role in the development of EmOpti, a Milwaukee startup focused on optimizing acute care.

Healthtech MKE Launch Event
November 7th | 5:00pm-7:00pm | Zimmerman Studio
PICO's Southeast Wisconsin Bionet Event Series returns for an evening of networking, discussion and refreshments as we officially launch Milwaukee's first organization dedicated to supporting the healthcare technology industry, Healthtech MKE

Healthtech Startup Showcase
November 8th | 4:00pm-5:00pm | Hilton MKE City Center
This is Healthtech MKE's first Startup Showcase! At HealthtechMKE we want to support and highlight Milwaukee's growing healthcare technology scene. The best way to do that is to bring together a dozen of the best healthtech companies to show off their ideas and products.

Healthcare Innovation Pitch (HIP) Event
November 8th | 5:00pm-9:00pm | Hilton MKE City Center
The Healthcare Innovation Pitch (HIP) is the highly publicized Bridge to Cures biannual event. It is designed as a “toned down” version of the ABC show “Shark Tank”, where healthcare entrepreneurs get the rare opportunity to pitch to a panel of venture capitalists and serial entrepreneurs.

Trials, Tribulations & Lessons Learned in Growing Healthcare/Tech Startups
November 7th | 12:00pm-1:30pm | Concordia Waukesha
Join Loren Peterson, owner of EAS-MKE, LLC, and Dr. Steven Visuri, CEO and co-founder of FloraSeq, as they discuss their experiences within healthcare/technology startups here in Wisconsin.

2017 HHS SBIR/STTR Conference
November 7-9th | 5:00pm-9:00pm | Hilton MKE City Center
This three-day national HHS SBIR/STTR Conference educates attendees about America’s Largest Seed Fund and how to apply for it. With over $920 million dollars of annual HHS funding, this is one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the US.

We hope to see you at Milwaukee Startup Week, November 6th through 12th, see all 40+ events by clicking here

Milwaukee Startup Week presented by Northwestern Mutual aims to connect, educate and celebrate entrepreneurs around Southeast Wisconsin. The week will be packed with over 40 networking events, workshops, hackathons and pitch competitions. Milwaukee Startup Week is supported by Aurora Health Care, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, BizTimes Media and Newsradio 620 WTMJ. 

Wisconsin Startup Week is a statewide initiative to connect, educate and celebrate entrepreneurs in 10 cities around the state of Wisconsin. The week will be packed with over 200 networking events, workshops, hackathons and pitch competitions. Wisconsin Startup Week is supported by Aurora Health Care, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell and Northwestern Mutual. To learn more about all the events happening around the state visit WIStartupWeek.org. 

Reverse Pitch MKE: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Reverse Pitch MKE program: 

Do I have to register for the November 6th event as a team?
No. Feel free to find your team after the event. If you have a team, please register as individuals so we have a final count.

Do I have to register for the event?
Yes.  If you would like to attend the event on November 6th, you must register using the form on the Milwaukee Startup Week website.

What is the dress code for the event? Casual

If registration for the event fills up, can I view Northwestern Mutual pitch their business problems?
If the event sells out, we will consider making the Reverse Pitches available via video.  Decision to be made close to the event.

What will happen at the Madison and Chicago Kickoff events?
Those events will be used to promote the November 6th event in the local market, answer questions, and facilitate networking.

Where should I park for the November 6th event?
Free parking is available behind the Northwestern Mutual building at 611 E. Wisconsin Ave.  Lot located between Van Buren Street and Jackson Street; lot entrance located on Van Buren Street.

Directions to the visitor lot: Take I-794 east from the freeway interchange where I-94 and I-43 meet.  Exit I-794 at Plankinton Street and travel north one block to Michigan Avenue, take a right and head east to Van Buren Street. Take a left onto Van Buren, the 611 visitor lot is the second driveway on the left.

Which Northwestern Mutual entrance should I use on November 6th? 
Please use the entrance at 720 East Wisconsin Avenue—NM’s South Building entrance.  Check in at the registration table and someone will direct you to the Commons where the event will take place.

What time does the November 6th event take place?
The event will begin promptly at 4pm and last until 6pm.  Please arrive early enough prior to the event to register and find a seat.  Following the Reverse Pitch, a networking happy hour will take place until 8pm.

Who from Northwestern Mutual will be in attendance on November 6th?
Northwestern Mutual’s Digital Innovation and Research team, key subject matter experts on the business problems being pitched, several executives.

Traveling and overnight accommodations:
You are responsible for your travel costs. Preferred hotels are listed below.  We do not have a reserved block of rooms at any of the hotels.  Mention you are staying for a Northwestern Mutual Event to get the company discount.

The Westin Milwaukee: 550 N Van Buren Street, Milwaukee, WI, 53202, 800.675.2671
The Pfister Hotel: 424 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202, 855.213.0582
Hotel Metro: 411 East Mason Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202, 414.272.1937

Will I have access to a representative at Northwestern Mutual to ask questions to after the Reverse Pitch MKE event?
Yes; How to access this resource will be announced at the event.

How do I register to pitch my idea back to Northwestern Mutual executives?
Following the November 6th event, there will be an application form available shortly after the event on the https://www.startupmke.org/revpitch website.  Registration to pitch back to Northwestern Mutual will close on December 10th.

What should I include in my pitch-back application?
Please include all materials you would like to be considered in your application, including a rough draft of your pitch deck (business plan, business model canvas, wireframes, etc).  Materials will not be considered final, but will be used to determine which applicants can pitch on January 8th. 

How long do I have to pitch at the January 8th event?
If your application is accepted to pitch back to Northwestern Mutual judges, you will have 20 minutes to present the idea and all related materials.

Materials needed for the event:
Any material you will need to present your idea.  If you are using technology as part of your presentation, don’t forget your power cord.  We will provide you the connectors to our Wi-Fi and displays.  Please note, you will not be able to print or use a thumb drive to present your idea.

If we are selected to pitch on January 8th, will we be able to see other teams pitch?  Will other teams hear ours? 
No. We will consider each team’s business plan/solution to be proprietary to them.  Only a team from Northwestern Mutual will sit in on the pitches.

Will the leading idea be selected by the panel on January 8th? If not, when will we know if we will be offered an investment? 
Investment decisions will not be made on January 8th. Northwestern Mutual will follow up with teams by the end of the month.

Can existing startups that have solutions to Northwestern Mutual problem statements apply?Absolutely.  We welcome existing startups that can solve these problems.  Companies who already have a determined valuation should include that information in their pitch.

Startup Milwaukee, Skills Pipeline Launch a New Event Series Focused on Building The Region's Tech Community!

Code + Craft Brews will provide a forum for the region's technology leaders and talent to exchange ideas on how to build the region's tech economy. 

Milwaukee, WI - Startup Milwaukee hopes to help build and strengthen the local tech community with their Code + Craft Brews quarterly event series. 

Code + Craft Brews will highlight local technology leaders who are having a significant impact in their organization as well as the broader the tech community in Southeast Wisconsin. Code + Craft Brews will provide a forum for executives and technologists to share best practices on attracting, retaining and managing tech talent. 

"Milwaukee already has several amazing events that focus on helping the tech community share best practices around specific technologies" said Matt Cordio, Founder & President of Startup Milwaukee & Skills Pipeline. "Our goal with Code + Craft Brews is to convene technologists, tech executives and community leaders to discuss how to attract and retain technology talent in the region." 

The first Code + Craft Brews event will be hosted at Good City Brewing's new "Good City Hall" event space. The event will feature a fireside chat with Emilia Sherifova, Vice President of Enterprise Architecture & Engineering at Northwestern Mutual. Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual Sherifova was CTO of LearnVest a financial planning startup acquired by Northwestern Mutual in 2015. 

Sherifova will discuss her role in Northwestern Mutual's digital transformation and her experiences building and leading technology teams at startups and large enterprises.

Code + Craft Brews events are free and open to the public. Software Engineers, Technology Company Executives and community leaders are encouraged to attend.

Register now, space is limited.

ABOUT OUR HOSTS

Startup Milwaukee is building and networking Southeast Wisconsin's high-growth startup community. Learn more about our Startup Milwaukee at StartupMKE.org.

Skills Pipeline helps companies grow through helping them access the top digital talent in the Midwest. We help technology professionals grow by helping them find meaningful work opportunities. To learn more about Skills Pipeline visit, SkillsPipeline.com.

Startup Spotlight: HiveCast

Paul Lemley invited me to Stone Creek Coffee in Walkers Point, his remote office of choice especially on a hot summer day. Paul marked out his passion for storytelling in Dubuque, Iowa, setting up Dubuque’s first TEDx event and working alongside a non-profit first to augment their marketing capabilities. Paul began pitching Hivecast in the summer of 2016 to old employers, friends and family, and found a forward momentum that has led him to a four person partnership and the upcoming launch of his first app.

About Hivecast

Hivecast’s inspiration came from the Lumiere Brother’s cinemagraph, the first recording and projecting, production and distribution film technology. Paul believed if he could take their spirit of innovation and apply it to social video sharing, online storytelling would greatly improve.

“We want to enhance live streaming to get people to show their point of view and contribute to performances and events.”

With Hivecast, one person can host 3 people to livesteam at an event. That host acts as the producer between those livestreams, transitioning perspectives and selecting a single audio stream. Since there’s a broad spectrum of live video, Paul wanted to bring crowd sourced livestreaming toa  video production company standard of quality and storytelling.

On Challenges:

“In the midwest you need to see a return in a short period of time,” Paul explains that there’s a small number of potential investors in the Midwest. As a result, developing an idea into a viable product and business model was necessary to gain traction for Hivecast.

Paul also had to learn that finding talent was all about perfecting a pitch for both the business and for himself.

On Staying in Milwaukee:

Paul puts it simply as why he’s staying in MKE: its home, its cheaper, and building in the Midwest has all the same tech and resources as the coasts. Since his team already works remotely- with a designer in Minneapolis, MN, and a developer in Grand Rapids, MI, Paul believes working separately prevents a groupthink mentality and keeps the team’s incoming ideas fresh.

Simply put, Hivecast has no desire to set up anywhere else.

On Advice for Startups:

As a firm believer that ideas shouldn’t be developed in secret, Paul advises entrepreneurs to put their idea on blast. “Tell as many people around you, shoot holes in your idea, generate buzz around it, and get your connections to introduce you to all the right people… It takes a lot of grit and investment to get going, but being candid with yourself [and your skills] is what gets you closer to your goals. All the rest is bullshiMany thanks to Paul and the rest of the team at Hivecast for this opportunity to learn more about their mission and help inspire the rest of the Milwaukee Startup community with their story. You can sign up for as a beta tester or learn more about Hivecast at their website Hivecast.co.

Startup Spotlight is a summer series and collaboration between Pomelo Productions and Startup Milwaukee.

Author Alycia Griesi is the Lead Graphic Designer and Content Creator for Pomelo Productions. Alycia works remotely in Salem, Wisconsin, and spends most of her free time baking, biking, and playing with her dog Vinnie. For article inquiries, email alycia@pomeloproductions.com.

Startup Spotlight: Buzzi

Manoj Nair, CSO of BUZZI and Swarming, welcomes me into the offices of Swarming Technologies, next door to Milwaukee’s Oriental theatre on the East Side. Walking past walls in vibrant orange and blue, development teams hard at work, Manoj gives me a rundown of Swarming before we discuss the company’s new product BUZZI. 

About Swarming Technologies:

Swarming started out in 2011 as an e-commerce development agency providing online retail solutions for midsize to large companies. They expanded their services through a partnership with IBM, the successful deployment of a learning management software RISE, and other developments that can be found on their website. After some unsatisfactory experiences with e-commerce, the team at Swarming was able to develop a new technology that they were excited to share with me.

About BUZZI:

Buzzi emerged from a need to improve online shopping experiences and help retailers understand the best methods to engage with their customers. The partners Ian Baxter, CEO of both of BUZZI and Swarming, and Manoj had learned from creating e-commerce websites that caches of user interactions were going under utilized, stagnating data could be easily repurposed and personalized.

Enter Buzzi, an open source platform that provides in-house developers meaningful uses for re-engaging online users. Buzzi’s team can then handle all the unmentionables that come with managing huge aggregates of data: this includes managing access to data, organizing data flow to specified users,  and providing real-time error handling.

On Challenges:

The team at Buzzi found aligning resources and getting organized to be their greatest challenge. “It’s like the saying, ‘Building an airplane when you’re already in the air,’ you have to be quick to prototype, test, and then get on board ASAP,” Manoj recalls laughing about trying to get Buzzi off the ground. 

On Staying in Milwaukee:

Ian and the team have many connections in Milwaukee, so setting up Buzzi here was a no brainer. “If you plant your business in a garden of connections, you’ll see successful growth,” Ian noted.

The team is adamant about supporting Milwaukee’s community through long-term engagement and hopes that by bringing success stories they can encourage other businesses to have a bigger vision for their city.

For Buzzi, stationing in the Midwest was ideal when hard work and tenacity is the foundation of it’s culture. “Hard work is really important to what we’re trying to accomplish, we always need to be in the startup mode to be nimble… This culture of giving back has helped me sustain this,” Ian admits, attributing much of his success to the work ethic and community of Milwaukeeans.

On Advice for Startups:

Ian and Manoj  agree that becoming an entrepreneur isn’t for the lighthearted and you got to be a little crazy to take risks. “I never had a formal job after high school, I’ve always been in startups, always loved where the problems were,” recalls Ian on asking him what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

Ian notes that Swarming was a 7 day a week, 12 plus hour a day job and at times he felt like a mad scientist. “You really got to have a level of tenacity and perseverance where you’re 100% in it.”

Many thanks to Manoj, Ian, and the rest of the team at Buzzi for this opportunity to learn more about their mission and help inspire the rest of the Milwaukee Startup community with their story. Check out their website at Buzzi.io.

Startup Spotlight is a summer series and collaboration between Pomelo Productions and Startup Milwaukee.

Author Alycia Griesi is the Lead Graphic Designer and Content Creator for Pomelo Productions. Alycia works remotely in Salem, Wisconsin, and spends most of her free time baking, biking, and playing with her dog Vinnie. For article inquiries, email alycia@pomeloproductions.com.

Startup Spotlight: Project Foundry

Project Foundry Team At the northernmost edge of Walker’s Point, Project Foundry is tucked away in a timeless Cream City brick office overlooking the Milwaukee River. Ellen Jennings, the Director of Operations at Project Foundry, answers the door and leads me to an open concept office reminiscent of an academic study. Among the M.C. Escher prints, model sailboats, and fern-lined bay windows, a team of six welcomes me as they work at desks spread throughout the space.

I sit down with Bill and Camille Mortimore, the CEO and the Chief Learning Officer of Project Foundry who inform me that while Project Foundry is not a startup, the company is young, emerging, and is committed to student success from Milwaukee and around the US.

About Project Foundry:

Project Foundry sprouted from the non-profit Homeboyz Interactive, a program designed to get kids off the street, teach them to code, and provide meaningful job placement. The launch of Project Foundry in 2006 was the result of years of cultivated research based on the success of those students in a project based learning environment.

“Project Foundry emerged to assist teaching new educational models as a means to adapt to the needs of a 21st century student,” Bill compares current education models to that of factory line workers, where the methods are the same year after year to produce mass amounts of product. “We meet students where they are [in their education], line out what to do next, track their progress and then repeat.”

Project Foundry helps implement project based learning systems and provide coordinating tracking software. Bill cites that students gain autonomy from this methodology and teachers gain the appropriate oversight so they can ask the right questions at the right time.

On Challenges:

“When you design a product like this, you need to line up the resources and make sure you’re in the right place at the right time,” Camille describes that changes in the market and needs of the student/teacher necessitates flexibility and ease of accessibility.

“By designing a highly customizable platform, you can adapt the language and the system… we don’t force our schools to use a particular model.”

Project Foundry works with stakeholders in an industry that doesn’t make changes very quickly, so searching out the right clientele was paramount in testing and improving their product. Alternative education programs from public schools were first to lean into project based learning and became the first users of Project Foundry.

On Staying in MKE:

“Being in Milwaukee was crucial… the reality is this movement (charter schools and PBL) has been predominant in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We have students on each coast, [but] Milwaukee prototyped the project.” Project Foundry has served over 250 schools across the country and maintains 10,000 active users. While many startups look to gain traction from investors in Silicon Valley, Project Foundry’s roots are strongly planted in the Midwest. Bill goes on to clarify, “There’s no reason for us to be anywhere else. To do something transformational, you can’t always go to the coast.”

On Advice for Startups:

The team at Project Foundry believe strongly in the power of community. Camille points out that more than half of their client base comes from referrals and that being an emerging business is consistent hard work for everyone in network. Camille recommends, “Find the others, find your kin, find your like minded. Invest your time in building your network. Find help and give help, [and] all those relationships will attract others.”

Many thanks to Bill, Camille, Ellen, and the rest of the team at Project Foundry for this opportunity to learn more about their mission and help inspire the rest of the Milwaukee Startup community with their story. Check out their website at ProjectFoundry.com.

Startup Spotlight is a summer series and collaboration between Pomelo Productions and Startup MKE.

Author Alycia Griesi is the Lead Graphic Designer and Content Creator for Pomelo Productions. Alycia works remotely in Salem, Wisconsin, and spends most of her free time baking, biking, and playing with her dog Vinnie. For article inquiries, email alycia@pomeloproductions.com.

Recapping Milwaukee Startup Week

We would like to thank the nearly 2,600 people who attended the inaugural Milwaukee Startup Week events last week. Attendance numbers at this inaugural event doubled our expectations. My co-organizer Ed Javier and I are humbled by the support we have received from  the community. We have no doubt in our minds that Milwaukee Startup Week will return in 2017 bigger and better.

As economic development experts from around the Midwest urged, the moment for a Midwestern city like Milwaukee to build momentum around a high-growth, technology-enabled startup community is now. The future of economic growth in Southeast Wisconsin in our minds is dependent upon continuing to launch programs that attract entrepreneurs (locally and) from around the world to start-up and grow their companies in Southeast Wisconsin.

We would like to thank the 30+ community partners who organized the dozens of events last week and our sponsors Meissner Tierney Fisher Nichols S.C., WEDC, WHEDA, Accelity Marketing, Brilliant DPI, Newsradio 620 WTMJ & Radio Milwaukee. In addition to the strong attendance at last week's events we are thankful for the attention Milwaukee Startup Week received from the local media, here are some of the stories that showed Milwaukee's startup community is alive and well.

Southeast Wisconsin is a region built by iconic entrepreneurs: Harley Davidson, Miller, Pabst, Allen Bradley, Johnson Controls, etc. we can and must return to our roots. Stay tuned for more from Startup Milwaukee. Let's venture forth and continue to build momentum in our region's high-growth startup scene.

Venture forth! Matt Cordio & Ed Javier Co-organizers, Milwaukee Startup Week

Inaugural Milwaukee Startup Week Calendar Released!

Startup Milwaukee today announced the official calendar for first-ever Milwaukee Startup Week will be held November 1-6 at various locations around Southeast Wisconsin.

The entrepreneur-led week will feature over 20 events that bring entrepreneurs, investors, local leaders and startup enthusiasts together to build momentum and celebrate Southeast Wisconsin’s unique entrepreneurial identity. All events are free as a way to give back to the entrepreneurial community and are intended to educate and engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.

“Building a stronger startup community in Southeast Wisconsin is critical for the long-term economic health of the region, research shows that startup companies create nearly 100% of net new jobs.” said Matt Cordio, Co-founder of Startup Milwaukee and a Co-organizer of Milwaukee Startup Week.

“We’ve all heard the negative news regarding startup growth for our region, instead of complaining about it , we decided to do something about it.” Said Ed Javier, Co-organizer of Milwaukee Startup Week.  “We believe that by hosting this event we can highlight the organizations out there who are helping entrepreneurs in Southeast Wisconsin and help foster the long-term growth of the community.”

Milwaukee Startup Week is sponsored by Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C., Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Find more information on the Milwaukee Startup Week website.

Startup Milwaukee Announces Milwaukee Startup Week

Startup Milwaukee is excited to announce the first-ever Milwaukee Startup Week, an entrepreneur-led event that brings entrepreneurs, investors, local leaders and startup enthusiasts together to build momentum and celebrate Southeast Wisconsin’s unique entrepreneurial identity. The event is tentatively scheduled to take place November 1 - 6 at various locations around the region.

Startup Milwaukee has partnered  with several organizations to produce events during Milwaukee Startup Week 2016, including CrafterSpacegener8torNewaukeeMilwaukee Tech EngineBizStartsWard 4Granular MarketingIdeaWakeThe Commons and more.

[gravityform id="24" name="Get Updates on Milwaukee Startup Week" description="false"]

LEARN MORE ABOUT MILWAUKEE STARTUP WEEK HERE

Media Contact: Matt Cordio, matt@startupke.org

Escaping the Startup Silo

By: Ed Javier, EMJ Consulting In the few months of living in the Milwaukee area, I have been networking, attending events and observing the startup scene. There is a lot happening here, and it’s interesting for me to see how it all works. But one potential roadblock that I have heard repeated in conversations is the perception that groups within the system are working in “silos.”

When key players and organizations are not sharing information and resources, essentially doing their own thing, startup growth is stunted. According to Brad Feld, author of Startup Communities, one of the crucial components to a healthy startup ecosystem is Network Density. This concept is based on the existence of a well-connected community of startups, groups, events and individuals that work together to benefit the whole.

Last week I witnessed first hand that the silo perception in Milwaukee may soon be an old school mentality. The Milwaukee Quick Pitch event at Miller Park was hosted by Jessica Silvaggi and Brian Thompson from the UWM Research Foundation, along with Kalpa Vithalani from The Medical College of Wisconsin, and Laura Savatski from The BloodCenter of Wisconsin. This pitch event showcased teams from their respective incubators. By working together, inviting new faces like myself and other industry folks from outside their own institutions, it was obvious that these three groups were doing their part to foster Network Density.

This is not the first time I have met groups and individuals that are sharing and connecting within the startup community here in Milwaukee. I would love to hear from you about other examples of groups, individuals and events building Network Density. If you are still stuck in with the “siloed” opinion, I’d like to hear from you as well. With leaders like Jessica, Brian, Kalpa and Laura showing us the way, we can all learn to work together and advance the Milwaukee startup ecosystem.

Ed Javier has been working in the tech space for more than 15 years. He is an experienced executive that helped build and scale start-up companies such as Cars.com and HomeFinder.com; lead technology SaaS product launches into new industries; and most recently, as the General Manager, pivoted and sold the leading real estate website in the Philippines to Rocket Internet. Ed and his family recently moved to the Milwaukee area. Connect with Ed on LinkedIn

 

Join us for Happy Hour!

Happy 2016! It has been a while since Startup Milwaukee has hosted a happy hour. Join us for happy hour at 6pm on February 4 at NOVO. Meet dozens of fellow digital entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts. Local startups featured at this event will include:

  • Bright Cellars is the monthly wine club that matches you with wine that you’ll love.
  • NightStir is a nightlife logistics app that let's Milwaukeeans keep friends in the loop on their nightlife whereabouts.
  • Okanjo's Native Commerce Platform drives new revenue for online publishers, advertisers and SMBs.
  • Seiva Technologies manufactures smart fitness apparel that provides athletes with real-time analysis on their muscle activity and joint angles, resulting in better performance than ever before.

This is a free event with a cash bar, register here.

Rebooted Milwaukee startup, Nightstir, wants to be the ‘AIM Buddy List’ for your nightlife shenanigans

guest blog post

AimvsNow.png

After dissolving the company three years ago, nightlife mobile app Nightstir recently relaunched at Milwaukee and Chicago area universities. The app, available currently only in the App Store with an Android version in the works, claims to take the guesswork out of the pivotal question facing most 20-somethings come the weekend: “who’s doing what, tonight?”

At it’s core, Nightstir wants to solve the logistical problems of nightlife planning between close friends and new acquaintances. This platform offers a unique way to express your nightlife intentions and plans. The app tells you when and where your friends are “pregaming,” “going out,” or “nightcapping” (going to a party after bar close) -- all in real-time. If a user doesn’t want to be bothered because they’re staying in for the night, they can indicate that using the app, too.

SituationAdFB.png

The startup aims to give students a taste of the time when social platforms like pre-public Facebook and AIM were primarily used to exchange plans and availability for the night (without being judged by the prying eyes of parents, coworkers, and prospective employers) -- as opposed to the more political, media-centric Facebook of today.

“When I was in college in 2009, we utilized a combination of the then college-dominated Facebook, with AIM to figure out who, what, when and where it was going down that night,” says LeMarc Johnson, Nightstir cofounder. “Those days are long gone, but the need for a discreet, social, nightlife logistics platform is still alive and well. That’s what we’ve built. It’s like an AIM Buddy List for your nightlife. Nobody likes group texts”

Back in July 2013, Startup Milwaukee featured Johnson as Startup Milwaukeean of the Week. He and his team graduated from Vetransfer’s inaugural business accelerator program with a $20,000 seed investment.

“To put it bluntly, we failed. But we failed forward. It was my first venture and due to a couple of bad decisions, we ran out of funds when it came time to execute our user acquisition strategy. I was a novice entrepreneur, making novice business decisions,” says Johnson. “But it didn’t fail because there was no need for it -- it failed because of poor execution. This time, we know exactly what needs to happen. We’re going to be the world’s first major nightlife logistics app.”

This time around, they’re currently bootstrapping while they continue to grow their user base in Milwaukee and Chicago. There are significant changes to the core team behind the venture, which is still lead by CEO Johnson.

You can follow Nightstir at @nightstirapp.

OnRamp Madison: Pitch Your Startup to Corporations

Startup application now live for OnRamp Madison 2015https://www.f6s.com/onrampmadison2015/apply
In an effort to increase connections between startups and established corporations, the UW Athletic Department, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and gener8tor have created OnRamp – an event that gives young companies the opportunity to pitch their products and services, one-on-one, to established corporations. This is event is completely free for startups and entrepreneurs.
OnRamp Madison, hosted by the UW Athletic Department
Date: August 27th
Time: selected startups will be notified of their time slot
Location: Camp Randall Stadium
Apply now for your chance to pitch to one of the participating corporations:
* American Family Insurance
* Harley-Davidson
* Kohl's
* Northwestern Mutual
* UW Athletics
Startup application (deadline Sunday, August 23): https://www.f6s.com/onrampmadison2015/apply
Following each OnRamp event, participating corporations will select at least one startup to either purchase from, mentor (at least two lunches/coffees) or invest in.
OnRamp takes place three times per year, rotating between Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison. Startups must apply during each event's respective application window.

 

Announcing gener8tor's OpenBETA Lunch Series in Madison

Interested in learning more about startups? Looking for team members, a team to join or a chance to network with other entrepreneurs? Love free food?
Join the gener8tor team for OpenBETA, a new summer lunch series in Madison. From July 2 - August 6, gener8tor will host a lunch and speaker from the Madison startup community on Thursdays from 12 - 1 pm at 30 W. Mifflin Street, 5th Floor, Madison, WI 53703. Speakers will cover a range of topics including pitching, fundraising and more.
 
OpenBETA kicks off on July 2 with guest speaker Melissa Turczyn and her talk, Legal Mistakes New Startups Should Avoid. Melissa Turczyn is a partner and member of the Transactional Practice Group, as well as Co-chair of the Venture Best ™ Team. Her practice focuses on all aspects of corporate law, with an emphasis on venture capital.

To sign up to attend OpenBETA, join gener8tor's Meetup Group and register here.

Upcoming OpenBETA Topics: July 9, 2015: The Lean Startup July 16, 2015: People July 23, 2015: Pitching July 30, 2015: Fundraising August 6, 2015: How to Get into an Accelerator

 
Questions about the program? Interested in bringing OpenBETA to Milwaukee? Feel free to reach out to Maggie Brickerman (Maggie@gener8tor.com) and Sara Woldt (Sara@gener8tor.com).
 

gener8tor Office Hours in Milwaukee

Tuesday, June 2, 11am-3pmWard4: 333 N Plankinton Ave, Suite 211

We're looking to invest in Milwaukee startups!
Meet with the gener8tor team in Milwaukee on Tuesday, June 2 to learn more about our Milwaukee 2015 program!
gener8tor invests its community, capital, expertise, mentorship and network in capable, early-stage entrepreneurs with innovative business models. gener8tor works with the startups in its portfolio to create successful, scalable companies.
gener8tor is seeking to invest in high-growth businesses, including software, IT, web, SaaS, e-commerce and hardware. Accepted companies receive up to $120,000 and 12 weeks of mentorship-driven programming. gener8tor is a proud member of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) and is sponsored by American Family Insurance.
gener8tor is a Top 15 accelerator in the US as ranked by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project: http://www.seedrankings.com
Applications are currently being accepted: http://www.f6s.com/gener8tormilwaukee2015/apply
Deal Terms & Perks:
- $20,000 cash investment in exchange for 6-9% common stock equity
- $50,000 of guaranteed follow-on capital from gener8tor, Angels on the Water and Wisconsin Investment Partners (convertible note)
- Additional $50,000 of guaranteed follow-on capital for Wisconsin-based companies from the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation (convertible note)
- Access to staff designer and interns (development, marketing, social media, journalism, business development, sales, and more)
- $500,000+ in deals and perks from vendors like SoftLayer, Rackspace, Amazon, PayPal and Microsoft
- Support from the gener8tor team and network of alumni & mentors