The Blueprint, a startup accelerator run by Milwaukee’s Young Enterprising Society (YES), is adding to the diversity of Wisconsin’s tech ecosystem and showing that the state’s entrepreneurial spirit remains strong even during social distancing.
YES aims to be a hub for information, resources and capital for urban entrepreneurs looking to contribute to the greater good of its members and the larger society. With support from the City of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Institute, Northwestern Mutual and WEDC, YES launched the Blueprint’s fifth cohort in May. It features a diverse group of culturally competent entrepreneurs with high-growth potential startups. They work across a wide range of industries from health tech and advanced manufacturing to social media and human resources solutions.
To qualify for the Blueprint, businesses must have been started less than five years ago and have an annual revenue of less than $1 million. In addition to entrepreneurial and technology training, participating startups are eligible for up to $20,000 in seed funding on completion of the program. The 12-week accelerator culminates in a pitch event to open to community members and potential investors.
Human resources firm Colorful Connections, one of Wisconsin Inno’s 20 Startups to Watch in 2020, and PlutoView, the developer of browser-based software that facilitates remote research and web-based collaboration for students and teachers, are among the 13 Milwaukee-based startups in the Blueprint’s 2020 cohort. Other entrepreneurs participating in this year’s virtual program are based as far away as China and Venezuela.
“Our first virtual cohort is off to an amazing start,” says Khalif . “The founders are all very eager and excited to learn different processes and resources to take their startups to the next level. In these unprecedented times, it is extremely important to be intentional in our approach to cultivate entrepreneurship through technology and innovation. As we all get through this global pandemic together it is inspiring to see founders who are so resilient, determined and passionate about their entrepreneurial journeys.”