Following a successful statewide expansion in 2017, Startup Wisconsin Week is back and bigger than before, offering events in cities around the state to catalyze and build the tech and startup ecosystems statewide.
“Startup Wisconsin Week is your opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs and discover community resources through events around the state,” says Ed Javier, formerly an organizer of the event and now entrepreneurship director at WEDC. “Covering 12 communities throughout Wisconsin, the week’s programming will showcase each community’s emerging companies while also highlighting the resources and organizations available to assist entrepreneurs on their journey.”
Amy Pietsch, director of the Fox Valley Technical College Venture Center and an organizer of Appleton’s Startup Week events, adds that there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in Wisconsin.
“I have been helping startups for 20 years and there have never been more resources, experts who can help and momentum in this space. There’s energy, capital and a lot of people with big ideas. That’s what Startup Wisconsin Week is about.”
The weeklong event, which runs Nov. 5-11, is organized by Startup Wisconsin, a new organization committed to advancing and developing Wisconsin’s tech and startup ecosystems through unique programming, collaborative partnerships and networking. The organization is driven by entrepreneurs and leaders throughout Wisconsin who are passionate about making a difference and creating a positive and lasting impact that will advance the state’s economy.
“Wisconsin was built on know-how and an entrepreneurial spirit, and we have seen firsthand how successful our state can be when we invest in and develop our technology ecosystem,” says Matt Cordio, founder and president of Startup Wisconsin. “Because we are at a pivot point to compete for talent and capital, we must come together to create a statewide movement and build a more robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Startup Wisconsin Week is just one way to do that.”
Cities participating in the Startup Wisconsin initiative and Startup Wisconsin Week 2018 include Appleton, Beloit, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan and Stevens Point. As of mid-October, more than 150 events were planned in participating communities.
Racine and Kenosha partnered up for Startup Week last year, but for 2018, Racine is venturing out on its own, says Marie Watkins, owner of Polaris Talent and one of Racine’s Startup Week organizers.
“This is our first year to do it ourselves, as we felt it was important to have our own identity with the spotlight Foxconn is putting on our county,” says Watkins. “Our events are focused on connecting, celebrating and education; we’ve created events for new businesses as well as events to give existing businesses better tools, while breaking down silos and celebrating entrepreneurship.”
Watkins sees the connection and community-building as the strongest reasons for people to attend Startup Wisconsin Week events, both in Racine and around the state.
“The value add for people is becoming aware of resources, networking, meeting people and seeing what’s out there,” she says. “We hope to get people out of their homes to start working together to create that connection and build our entrepreneurship community.”
Startup Wisconsin and Startup Wisconsin Week grew out of Startup Milwaukee Week, which debuted in 2016. Any city in Wisconsin that is interested in building momentum and creating opportunity for its startup ecosystem is welcome to join the movement.
Startup Wisconsin Week is supported by Advocate Aurora Health, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, Northwestern Mutual, Accelity Marketing, Headway, WWEDC, Wisconsin Inno and Newsradio 620 WTMJ.
Learn more about Startup Wisconsin and find events in the 12 participating Startup Wisconsin Week communities at www.startupwi.org.