BizTimes Bubbler Executive of the Week: Matt Bartel

Matt Bartel, chief executive officer and founder of Digital Measures
Address: 301 N. Broadway, Floor 4, Milwaukee
Industry: Web-based software for higher education
Employees: About 50

What inspired you to launch your own data management software company?

“The idea came to me 15 years ago while sitting in class as a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater filling out evaluations of my courses using paper and pencil. We went on to help many universities across the country digitize those evaluations using the web, which was a neat concept when we started. There were elements at my core that drove me to launch the company, including curiosity, pursuit of opportunity and a sense of accomplishment, and a desire to take on a substantial project and to put myself up to a large challenge.”

What do your software offerings look like?

“Several years ago, we discontinued selling the course evaluation software that we used to launch Digital Measures. We now focus exclusively on tracking and reporting on the work done by university faculty. Prior to us, universities had good databases for tracking the courses their faculty teach and the grants they receive – but not information about the many other types of faculty work, such as books written, presentations given, conferences chaired, consulting performed, and more. Consequently, they were asking their faculty for this information eight to 12 times per year. Our software simplifies this process greatly.”

How competitive is the niche market you belong to? What distinguishes your software from that of competitors?

“Our software is used by more than 60 percent of the largest 500 universities in the country, including Harvard, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, most of the University of Wisconsin System, Marquette, and many other large research universities. Since essentially creating the market for this software more than 13 years ago, our experience and our software’s robust data management and reporting capabilities set us apart, for which we have to thank our Milwaukee-based team.”

What’s new at your company?

“Digital Measures added quite a few team members over the past year. We also held our first user group meeting, where we invited our clients to join us in Milwaukee last October to share best practices, provide feedback on desired new features and network. You can imagine our pleasant surprise when 150 people made the trek to our city.”

Why are you based in Milwaukee? What advantages does the city offer your company?

“After growing up on the north side of the city, I moved back after undergrad because Milwaukee felt like home. Milwaukee is big enough to offer a rich mix of experiences and people without some of the issues of larger cities. As far as the city’s impact on Digital Measures, we’re based in the Third Ward. It’s hard to beat the Third Ward’s accessibility from all sides of town, its options for lunch, including the Public Market, and our unique office space.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?

“Our biggest challenge will be in finding the right people to add to our team, as we have a number of positions open and will have more open soon.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“Create a great work culture, fill it with great people, give them challenging and fun work, and the rest will sort itself out.”

What was the best advice you ever received?

“From my grandma: ‘If you can physically do it and you can afford to do it, do it today and don’t wait.’ She and my grandpa waited to travel until he retired…he passed away before that happened.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“My passions include theater, traveling to countries where I haven’t yet been, photography and exercising.”

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