Entrepreneurs, investors, business executives and community leaders will promote entrepreneurship and share advice and resources in more than 70 events statewide as part of the first-ever Wisconsin Startup Week from Nov. 6 to 12.
Sponsored in part by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Startup Week will feature free events that will build momentum and celebrate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the state.
The initiative aims to help entrepreneurs discover resources in their communities, highlight the importance of startups to the growth of the state’s economy and showcase innovations developed by Wisconsin startups.
The statewide event is an expansion of last year’s inaugural Milwaukee Startup Week, which attracted nearly 2,600 participants – more than double what organizers had anticipated.
“After the success of the Milwaukee event, we heard from leaders throughout the state that they really liked the energy that was created by Startup Week and they wanted to see if there was a way to expand beyond the Milwaukee region,” said Wisconsin Startup Week founder Matt Cordio, who is spearheading the event along with co-founder Ed Javier. “We have great relationships with entrepreneurial organizations across the state, so when we asked them if they wanted to be involved in a statewide event, they didn’t hesitate.”
“Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial community is incredibly vibrant, and a core part of WEDC’s mission is to support that community and nurture its future health,” said Aaron Hagar, WEDC’s vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation. “This event has broad support from the local members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and we’re looking forward to being part of it.”
Hagar and other WEDC staff members will take participate in Startup Week events throughout the state.
Workshops, “pitch” and “hacker” events, seminars, roundtable discussions, meetups, social activities and other events will take place in 10 Wisconsin cities: Appleton, Beloit, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison,Milwaukee, Oshkosh and Stevens Point. (Click on each link to view a local schedule.) All events are free and open to the public.
Topics include raising startup capital, finding resources to start or grow a business, social media and branding, networking, how to pitch to investors, and marketing. There also will be special programs for veteran and women entrepreneurs.
One of the highlights of the week is the Reverse Pitch MKE event set for Nov. 6 in Milwaukee.
At the event, Northwestern Mutual, a presenting sponsor of Startup Week, will pitch to startup teams and outline potential business challenges and big ideas it is looking to solve. Teams that accept the challenge can earn a seed investment of up to $75,000, access to corporate mentors and networks, and work space at Northwestern Mutual’s downtown Milwaukee headquarters.
Another event held during the week is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) national Conference for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), which be held in Milwaukee from Nov. 7-9. During that conference, entrepreneurs and researchers in the biohealth sector will get expert advice on how to how to tap into the more than $900 million in federal grants available annually under the program.
Other key events include:
- Madison: Doyenne Connect Women's Entrepreneur Networking Event
- Green Bay: Digital Fertilizer Startup Showcase
- Stevens Point: HATCH startup competition finale event hosted by NEWaukee and BrightStar Foundation
- La Crosse: Bunker Labs Happy Hour with Don Weber of Logistics Health
- Appleton: Appleton Startup Week Funding Panel hosted by Fox Valley Technical College, gener8tor and Winnebago Seed Fund
For a complete list of events, visit WIStartupWeek.org.
The Wisconsin Startup Week initiative is supported by Aurora Health Care, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell and Northwestern Mutual. WEDC is a statewide media partner, along with BizTimesMedia and Newsradio 620 WTMJ.