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

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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.


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.

Take Action: Protect Ridesharing in Milwaukee

Startup Milwaukee rarely takes positions on political issues, but tomorrow morning, the Milwaukee Common Council will vote on a measure that would negatively impact ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft in the city of Milwaukee.  This measure has been written to protect special interests (the taxi lobby) and limit your access to safe, affordable and friendly ridesharing services.

Ridesharing services are creating jobs and making the city more accessible for citizens, tourists and business travelers.  Research also shows ridesharing services may even be leading to a decrease in drunk driving in other cities.

The folks at Uber have made it extremely simple to email your alderman. You may also visit the official contact directory for The Common Council here. Remind them, a vote for this measure is a vote against job creation, innovation, public safety and keeping Milwaukee competitive with other cities in the 21st century economy.

Let’s keep moving Milwaukee forward, The Startup Milwaukee Team

Pitch your startup to corporations at OnRamp!

In an effort to increase connections between Wisconsin’s start-ups and established corporations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and gener8tor are launching an event (OnRamp) that will give young companies the opportunity to pitch their products and services to established corporations. Startups wishing to participate in the event are encouraged to apply through the program's f6s portal.

The inaugural OnRamp event will be held Friday, December 6, 2013 at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headquarters. The event is intended to help startups in the critical effort to find sales channels and to provide a way for established companies to engage with the entrepreneurial community. It highlights the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and gener8tor’s commitment to helping Wisconsin’s emerging entrepreneurs succeed.

Participating corporations include the Milwaukee Bucks, American Family Insurance, Assurant Health, Granite Microsystems, Menasha Corporation, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Nordic Consulting.

Startups wishing to apply are encouraged to research each of the participating corporations to better understand which corporations they would like to pitch. Each participating corporation will receive those startup applications that requested to pitch to them and those whose applications indicate a potential customer opportunity. Participating corporations will then choose 4-6 startups to pitch them at the event.

Those startups selected to pitch at the event will be notified on 12/4 and 12/5 and offered a time slot to pitch at the 12/6 event. Because of the short turn-around time, we ask that each startup be prepared to pitch any of the participating corporations on 24-48 hours notice. Selected startups are requested to arrive at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headquarters at 333 W. State St. at least 30 minutes before their scheduled pitch.  No technology will be available at the event. Startups are encouraged to bring brief handouts of powerpoint presentations or sales collateral to aid in their presentation. Startup pitches will last 15 minutes with 10 minutes available for Q&A. 

To prepare for the event, gener8tor and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are hosting a Meetup at the Milwaukee Ale House at 5:30 pm on 12/5. The Meetup will feature the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Marty Kaiser (editor-in-chief), Betsy Brenner (president and publisher), and George Stanley (managing editor) in addition to the gener8tor founding team. Startups wishing to learn more about the OnRamp Wisconsin event are encouraged to attend and ask any questions. 

At the conclusion of the OnRamp Wisconsin event, participating corporations will select one startup to either purchase from or mentor (at least two lunches/coffees). Organizers will notify each selected startup with appropriate follow-up steps.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and gener8tor are grateful to each of the participating corporations, volunteers and supporting partners including StartupMKE, Digital Fertilizer, and Capital Entrepreneurs. 

Anyone with additional questions or follow-up is encouraged to contact

gener8tor Winter 2014 Application Deadline

The application deadline for gener8tor's Winter 2014 accelerator program in Madison is Monday, December 1st.
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 technology-enabled businesses, including software, IT, web, SaaS and hardware. Accepted companies receive $70,000 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.

If you or anyone you know is interested in applying gener8tor, check out gener8tor's website and application page on f6s by December 1, 2013.
Please email with any questions.

Strengthening Wisconsin's Entrepreneurial Community

Tuesday night Startup Milwaukee has partnered with fellow entrepreneur-led organizations 100stateCapital EntrepreneursDigital Fertilizer and gener8tor to brainstorm solutions that strengthen Wisconsin's entrepreneurial community. Wisconsin continues to lag the country in many of the key measures of entrepreneurial activity, but entrepreneurs from around the state are determined to reverse these trends.

So Tuesday night at 96square join 150+ entrepreneurs from Madison, Milwaukee and Northeast Wisconsin as we brainstorm practical ideas to strengthen and support Wisconsin's entrepreneurial community, RSVP here.

Create Your Winning Press Kit


So you want to see your name in lights. Media coverage is one of the best and least expensive ways to let the world know about you and your company (or rock band for that matter). The trouble with media coverage is that you can’t buy it or send a regular email to get it. With a couple of simple tools you can create a press kit that will help you attract the attention of local media outlets.  (This is part 3 of a 3 part series. If haven’t already, start with Part 1: The Media List and Part 2: The Press Release.)

The press kit provides additional support for your media campaign. Typically you send a press kit to follow up if a journalist is interested in your story. Every press kit is a bit different. However, there are a number of standard documents you should include. You can be creative with the press kit and include more than what is listed here.

FAQ:  People are likely to have additional questions about you and your product. Provide answers to those questions here. Include relevant details that were not critical to your press release.

Bios: Provide background information about your core team in this document. This is similar to a resume--however, it is written out. Start with most recent items and work your way backwards. This should be fairly straight forward.

Fact Sheet: The fact sheet is a bulleted list of all the important information contained in your press release and press kit. Think of this as an outline of your press release and press kit.

Company Background: Write about your company's background and history. You can talk about previous accomplishments and important events.

Picture: Include a picture of you or your product. Make sure it is relevant to the story.

Now that you have a great media list, a compelling press release and an awesome press kit, it's time to find your business some exposure. Send your press release to the people listed on your media list, then follow up with your press kit when reporters and journalists contact you!

About the Author: Steve Anderson is an entrepreneur who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently he is the COO of LessonLogs and the Founder of Laylines Consulting. He has helped numerous companies obtain seed stage funding and is a previous winner of Startup Weekend Madison. In addition, Steve has a Masters Degree from the Wisconsin School of Business. Find him on Twitter: @LaylinesSteve


96square has launched.

Dear friends, The Startup Milwaukee team is excited to announce the launch of 96square, a co-working space for high-growth startup companies in Southeastern Wisconsin. Located in the historic Blatz Wash House, 96square provides entrepreneurs with access to affordable  scalable office space; mentorship; potential investors; talent and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

96square is a game changer for Milwaukee's community of innovative entrepreneurs. As research shows, the startups are responsible for all net new job creation--and we all know Milwaukee and Wisconsin desperately need more jobs. At Startup Milwaukee we are happy to step forward and provide a place where entrepreneurs, talent and capital can collide and accelerate the growth of Milwaukee's top startup companies.

We are excited to have great companies such as Alithias, Find My Spot, Onkol, Rent College Pads, SAR32 Technologies, UCAP, LLC, Voxelmetric, Wisconsin Super Angel Fund and more already located at 96square.

The meaning of 96square goes beyond having a "cool name." The city of Milwaukee is approximately 96 square miles, and 96square will be the epicenter of entrepreneurship and innovation in our great city.

Are you a startup, designer, developer or engineer looking for affordable dedicated desk or private office space for your team? Learn more and apply for 96square membership at Memberships start at just $110/month.

Your first chance to check out 96square is this Thursday, October 24 at our Capital Connections event featuring CSA Partners and Scanalytics. RSVP to reserve your free tickets:

Thanks to the many people who have made this endeavor possible: Ronnie Reum of SAR32 Technologies, Heather Johnston of Find My Spot, Marvin Bynum of Godfrey & Kahn and many more.

See you at 96square!

Matthew J. Cordio, Executive Chairman Alicia Boknevitz, President Tim Grove, Corporate Secretary Joe Poeschl, Treasurer Michael Anderson, Community Outreach Director

Five Easy Steps to Unlock Media Coverage

png_base64ba751f0bc4484f2f-300x125So you want to see your name in lights. Media coverage is one of the best and least expensive ways to let the world know about you and your company (or rock band, for that matter). The trouble with media coverage is that you can’t buy it or send a regular email to get it. With a couple of simple tools, you can create a press kit that viagra shop usa will help you attract the attention of local media outlets.

This is the first part of a three part series. Let’s get started!

The first part of your press kit is your media list. The media list is a collection of names and email addresses for local reporters and journalists. Pick reporters and journalists who are likely to cover you and your business. The best way to get ignored is to send a press release about a new product to a reporter who covers music and arts (don’t be this person). If you don’t have a good media list even the world's best press release will fall flat. This is the leg work that will make your media campaign successful.

Here are five easy ways to make a targeted media list:

1) Define your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Who are your customers?

2) Identify the publications that your audience reads.

3) Look at each of these publications and get to know the type of content they publish.

4) Find the journalist who has previously covered topics similar to yours.

5) Find that journalist’s contact information and add it to your media contact list.

Follow these five easy steps to find a handful of reporters and you will be well on your way to a successful media campaign!

Part 2: The Press Release

Part 3: Create Your Winning Press Kit

About the Author:
Steve Anderson is an entrepreneur who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently he is the COO of LessonLogs and the Founder of Laylines Consulting. He has helped numerous companies obtain seed stage funding and is a previous winner of Startup Weekend Madison. In addition, Steve has a Masters Degree from the Wisconsin School of Business. Find him on Twitter: @LaylinesSteve.

Intern with Startup Milwaukee

College students, this is your chance to be in the center of Milwaukee’s tech startup scene. Startup Milwaukee is seeking an intern with an interest in startup companies/entrepreneurship, nonprofits, marketing, writing, technology and/or event planning. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from and network with startup founders, emerging tech companies and nonprofit leaders in the community. Positions available for Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters. Duties & requirements include:

  • Assist in planning, promoting and managing Startup Milwaukee events
  • Provide support to the Startup Milwaukee team on special projects and initiatives
  • Help manage Startup Milwaukee’s social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Writing and researching content for the Startup Milwaukee blog
  • Attend community events related to entrepreneurship and technology


  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Student must be pursuing a degree in business administration, communications, entrepreneurship, management, marketing, writing/public relations or other related field

This is a for-credit internship and requires a time commitment of 10 hours per week. Please contact us with any questions.

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Startup of the Week: ubumm

by Karen Oliva ubummfounders

Maryann and Emily are avid travelers and co-founders of ubumm, an advising service dedicated to enhance, simplify and unify the study abroad experience for students.

While studying abroad for nearly eight years combined, ubumm was brought to life through their passion for creating a networking tool that provided insightful information on how to budget, improve and simplify experiences abroad.

Both Maryann and Emily continue to journey as they move and headquarter into Milwaukee.

ubumm was accepted into the inaugural class of the Startup Milwaukee Mentorship Program. I asked Maryann about her experiences in the Mentorship Program, travels abroad and the path that lead to ubumm.

How did ubumm come about?

One night while we were living on Lake Como in Italy, over a bottle of Italian red, we were discussing how difficult it was to meet fellow student travelers abroad. There was no platform for students to connect and help each other while they were abroad to save them money and time. 

For example, we recalled how different my initial study abroad experience was compared to Emily’s, who spoke the language and had been to Italy before. Emily was able to travel to Capri on 150 Euros while I paid 300 Euros through the university, and Emily was able to explore more of the island then I was. The reality is, when you first arrive in a new country, universities handle most of your necessities which can be costly. But if I had known students that were traveling at the same time, students who had been to Capri before, or students that were staying in Capri, I would have saved a lot of frustration and money.

From this, ubumm was born. We decided there was a necessity for students to connect while abroad and we want to facilitate those interactions.

Where did you start and why did you choose to move ubumm to Milwaukee?

Emily and I started in Lake Como and moved back stateside in 2011. Emily is from Wisconsin and I am from Florida. Initially, we have been working apart for two years, putting all of our waitress money and off hours into the business. A few months ago, Emily applied for Startup Milwaukee’s Mentorship Program and we have been pursuing Milwaukee ever since our acceptance into the program. Moving to Milwaukee just makes sense. Our mentors and programmers all reside in Milwaukee, which makes it a win-win! Not to mention the Milwaukee tech scene is very welcoming.

What are your upcoming goals and how does Milwaukee play a role in them?

We will be launching our mobile applications by the end of October. We hope this launch will allow students to connect around the world. Sasquatch Studios, our programmers based in Milwaukee, are an essential part of this project. In addition, our mentors are helping us reach our goal with their advice and support.

In fact, on November 16 we’re having a study abroad workshop at the Translator offices in Milwaukee to assist students and showcase our application. Our mentors have been essential in helping us create this event.

What do you think about the Milwaukee startup scene?

The startup scene in Milwaukee seems to be a very tight-nit community, but an open one. Everyone we have met in the Milwaukee startup scene has been very friendly and welcomingmaking it easier for us to make connections, grow our business and develop our entrepreneurial skills.

What are you looking forward to as you continue participating in the Startup Milwaukee Mentorship Program?

So far our mentors have been the most valuable part of the program. Our mentors have offered invaluable advice and are always willing to lend a hand. We hope to keep growing these relationships and Startup Milwaukee has been the key in fostering these relationships with their events and networking opportunities. We are excited to continue learning and growing from the program.


ubumm1Connect with ubumm:

Startup Milwaukee Stories: Digital Measures

by Karen Oliva image

Join us Thursday, October 3 from 6-8:00 p.m. for an event you won’t want to miss. 

Startup Milwaukee is excited to highlight Digital Measures, a Milwaukee tech startup success story. Digital Measures was founded in 1999 by Matt Bartel while he was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Digital Measures faculty activity reporting software is now used by 60% of the 500 largest universities in the United States.

Digital Measures is bootstrapped and believes that not having outside investors enables them to solely focus on their clients’ needs. They are able to translate everyone’s data management needs into customized system requirements that fits their needs.

Startup Milwaukee is excited to have Matt Bartel share his startup story at Digital Measures’ hip office in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward.

RSVP via Facebook or Meetup.

Digital Measures is located at 301 N Broadway, Floor Four, Milwaukee, WI 53202. (The entrance is on Buffalo, behind Anthropologie. Look for the silver overhang and then take the elevator to the fourth floor.)

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Space for startups for rent at Thirsty Boy

Third Ward, Riverwalk office sublet: 1,000 sq. ft. beam and brick with hardwood floors. Multiple workstations (no cubes), enclosed office, conference room, bathroom. Access to full kitchen and additional conference room overlooking Water Street. Utilities, high-speed internet and furnishing included. $2,250/mo, minimum 6 mos. commitment. Contact





Startup Milwaukeean of the Week: Scott Schmidt

scotts At what point did you become interested in entrepreneurship?

In late 2010, I started to understand and appreciate Entrepreneurship. Cover5 dates back to 2001, when I created Cover5 but never thought about actually forming a business around it. It was meant for friends and family to stay connected and enjoy a fun game. I was running my Cover5 game on Microsoft Excel and through email blasts which provided a nice group of friends and family playing Cover5 and having a unique experience around sports. With the advancements in high-speed internet, the overall Fantasy Sports industry started to boom so I thought if the little group of people that are playing Cover5 now are this passionate, this is a game that millions more could enjoy.

What has been the biggest difficulty you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?

The largest difficulty I’ve faced has been that our game to date has been primarily a seasonal game focused on football. In a world that changes so quickly, it’s hard to build momentum when you’re not in front of people 24/7/365. Moving forward, we’re putting a big focus on creating additional games and offerings around other sports that can be played throughout the year.

What makes Milwaukee a unique place to start a company?

I think there is a growing group of business leaders in this town that are looking to help put Milwaukee on the map with regards to tech innovation. In my opinion, people from Milwaukee and Wisconsin are very loyal and supportive; if you have the top business leaders coaching, supporting and cultivating new leaders in this town, it’s good for the community as a whole. 

What piece of advice do you have for new startup companies?

Be yourself. I’ve found that people appreciate honesty and sincerity — whether it’s investors, partners or customers. Never get too high or low. You’re the leader of your company and need to be steady through the highs and lows of the business cycle.

What is the biggest challenge Cover5 faces?

I read an article that recapped fantasy sports players behavior specifically related to their behavior on mobile vs. computer. Despite over 70% of people’s online activity being conducted via mobile, the fantasy sports players still prefers their interaction done via the computer. Since we cater to both the fantasy and casual fan, we’ve taken that data and are prioritizing our builds based on how critical each need is for each demographic. Where other companies may have the luxury of focusing on one platform or the other based on their customers’ behavior, Cover5 relishes the challenge to build a great experience on both fronts.

Quick Facts:

Title: Founder of Cover5, Inc. Cover5 HQ: New Berlin, WI Contact Scott: LinkedIn Profile

Startup Milwaukeean of the Week: Heather Johnston

hjohnstAs an engineer, Heather Johnston relocated with a major Milwaukee corporation three times in five years and quickly realized relocation focuses on home owners—leaving both the employer (who pays for the service) and the renter very frustrated. Driving through unfamiliar neighborhoods and talking to strangers at Starbucks isn’t the optimal way to find a new living space. Johnston is now the Founder & CEO of Find My Spot, a startup that uses technology to simplify relocation for renters. It’s an innovative online relocation service, matching renters with a perfect place to call home. Using a proprietary algorithm, Find My Spot targets apartments based on a renter’s preferences and offers custom relocation packages to employers in Milwaukee and direct-to-renter services.

At what point did you become interested in entrepreneurship? I’ve always been interested in creating new things and bringing ideas to life (hence the engineering background). I became extremely interested in entrepreneurship within the last five years.

What has been the biggest difficulty you’ve faced as an entrepreneur? A strong network is key to success. Finding supporters, advocates and mentors that you can help and who can help you has been critical.

What makes Milwaukee a unique place to start a company? Milwaukee is a small but very internally connected city. There is a strong support network of helpful and genuinely caring people who want startups to succeed. Everyone seems to be one connection away from someone who truly wants to see the economy benefit from young companies with new ideas.

What piece of advice do you have for new startup companies? Prepare, set difficult but achievable goals and then EXECUTE. A startup is a hobby until you make revenue, then it becomes a business. Reaching this milestone is hard work and the level of commitment, reading, networking and education needed to accomplish your goals should not be underestimated. You can do it!

If given the opportunity to take a monthlong vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go any why? Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. Vacation destinations that expand/change one’s view of the world are remarkable.

Quick Facts:

Recent News:


EatStreet gives back

Recently, our friends from EatStreet, a Madison-based startup company, shared an inspiring blog post about their Give Back Program. Here’s an excerpt from “101 Ways to Give Back,” originally posted by Danny Mulligan of Dishin’ it Out ( on July 2, 2013:

It may come as a surprise to you that the minds behind EatStreet are preoccupied with more than just the quick alleviation of your hunger pangs. While providing you with the simplest route to local takeout and delivery may be our bread and butter, we also like to dish out a more common, less edible form of currency – charitable checks.

When our three co-founders forged a fledgling website in 2010 called “BadgerBites,” they also formed our Give Back Program, wherein EatStreet promised to donate 5% of its profits to local non-profit and student organizations. We let you decide where the donation goes. Every time you place an order on our website, you are presented with a list of our partnering organizations. You then choose who receives the 5% of profits from your order.

With the help of our locally-based Brand Managers and Brand Ambassadors, we’ve also sponsored countless community events and hosted special fundraisers where we’ve donated 100% of our weekly profits.

The Give Back Program supports over 100 nonprofits and organizations across America. These include the American Red Cross, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, Autism Speaks, ReMIND and many more.

To learn more about this wonderful program and how to become a partner, please continue reading the full blog post on Dishin’ it Out: 101 Ways to Give Back.

Startup Milwaukeean of the Week: McGee Young

McGee Young is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Marquette University. His company, MPSP, LLC, markets H2Oscore, a water conservation program for cities that uses online water use dashboards and a rewards program to motivate residents to conserve. H2Oscore dashboards are currently being used in four cities in Wisconsin—Whitewater, Milwaukee, Grafton and Waukesha. mcgeemilwaukeean

At what point did you become interested in entrepreneurship?

My family has a long history of entrepreneurship, so it’s been part of my life since I was a child. However, my first big idea came to me in college when I wanted to start an airport internet service. This was in 1994, right after our campus was wired and we all started using the Mosaic browser. My roommate and I were going to take out student loans, buy computers and get them hooked up to the internet at the airport and make a fortune, even if we didn’t really understand how to hook computers up to the internet. We were talked out of it by people who “knew better,” who said that nobody would ever want to browse the internet at the airport.

What has been the biggest difficulty you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?

Ha! To single out one particular difficulty would be insulting to all of the other difficulties that are faced on a daily basis. That being said, time management is probably the biggest challenge. With another job, a family and a desire to have a life, figuring out how to allocate time among competing responsibilities is always tough.

As a non-technical founder of a software company, managing the technical development of the site can also be challenging. We don’t have a technical co-founder or CTO, so we haven’t had the ability to “solve” our business problems by simply writing more code. However, we’ve actually built a better business model because of those challenges.

What makes Milwaukee a unique place to start a company?

Milwaukee is still organized around its industrial past. The civic and business community is hierarchical and tends to close ranks around incremental approaches to change. Companies that fit the traditional mold tend to do better here. As a startup, it’s a fine line to walk between disrupting existing markets and finding a safe business model that is easily understood by investors.

What piece of advice do you have for new startup companies?

Our company gained a lot of traction when we talked to potential customers; and we wasted a lot of time when we acted on ideas that had only been discussed within the office. Because technology has made starting a company so much easier, the real challenge for startup companies today is finding a sustainable business model. Focus on the business model early and use tools like LaunchRock and Optimizely to understand your value proposition to your customers.

Which books are on your reading list right now?

I mainly read “The Lean Startup" over and over again! Aside from that, a friend just recommended "Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage" as a way to put the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship in the proper perspective. My daughter and I are currently working our way through the "Magic Treehouse" series.

Quick Facts:

Startup Milwaukeean of the Week: Jon Hainstock

Jon Hainstock is the co-founder of Milwaukee startups ZoomShift and Tailwind Creative. ZoomShift helps supervisors create, manage and share work schedules easily online. Employees can access their schedule from anywhere, trade shifts and request time off. With Zoomshift, communication is streamlined via email and text message notifications so everyone stays in the loop. Tailwind Creative assists brands increase leads and design their web presence. Jon is also a devoted husband and father.


At what point did you become interested in entrepreneurship?

There is a consistent pattern in my life of turning hobbies and interests into business, which began in my teens. In high school, I turned my love of music into a business that helped pay my way through college. Curiosity in photography and design helped develop my artistic eye which I later turned into a profitable photography and web design business.

The amount of legwork required in a startup has never been a major obstacle because my businesses have always come from my passion and interests. Even the tough beginnings don’t feel so much like work because I’m fueled by the excitement and challenge of learning something new.

After working with startups, as the director of marketing for 94labsthe tech seed accelerator that preceded Gener8torI saw value and a gap in the market for responsive web design and search engine optimization (SEO) services. My business partner, Ben Bartling, and I started Tailwind Creative, our digital marketing agency, to help fill that gap and fund our startup ideas.

Our current startup, ZoomShift, helps businesses schedule employees online and has always been intriguing to me because it solves a practical need for so many organizations.

What has been the largest difficulty you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?

The hardest part is learning to say no. I want to say yes to every opportunity, every event and every project; but experience has taught me that over-committing will cost me and my business in the long run. So over the years I’ve gotten better at saying no to the things that are not in-line with the overarching goals of my life.

Now that I have a young family, the challenge works both ways. On one hand, it’s easier to say no because of my commitment to carving out quality time with my wife and daughter. On the other hand, knowing that I have a family depending on me to support them can create a struggle to balance the hard work and hours that are required in a startup.

What makes Milwaukee a unique place to start a company?

Milwaukee offers a friendly, close-knit community. Startups, agencies and local organizations are very accessible, making it easy to connect with other entrepreneurs. Building relationships in the business community can make a significant difference for your company. What I love about Milwaukee (besides Alterra) is that people are so willing to meet up, and they genuinely care about the success of your business.

What metformin 500 mg piece of advice do you have for new startup companies?

Connect with peoplenot just online, but also face-to-face. The best opportunities I’ve encountered have come from informal meetings with good folk. You can learn something from everyone, from their successes and their failures. So be sure to take time each week to connect with someone new. For the cost of a cup of coffee or a beer and a half-hour of your time, a wealth of knowledge and expertise can be attained through casual dialog and asking the right questions.

What was the most interesting article your read this week?

I love articles that elicit a response. Check out An App Store Experiment by Stuart Hall. You’ll want to get into iOS development after you read his story.

Quick facts:

Startup Milwaukee Launches a Founders' Club

Startup Milwaukee is excited to launch the Founders’ Club, an exclusive group of technology entrepreneurs, executives, angel and institutional investors. Anyone can apply to join the Founders’ Club, but only a limited number of individuals will be admitted. Members must meet one of three criteria: 1) Technology Entrepreneur: You must be able to show us your working product. Whether it be hardware, software, web or a mobile app, we must be able to verify it exists.


2) Technology Executive: You’re a founder, VP or C-level executive at a technology company in Wisconsin or northern Illinois.


3) Institutional or Angel Investor: You must have a track record or interest in investing in technology companies in Wisconsin.

To join the Startup Milwaukee Founders’ Club, apply today.