BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation has helped create 205 jobs

Tom Shannon, CEO of BrightStar Wisconsin.

Milwaukee-based venture philanthropy investor BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc. has helped Wisconsin companies create 205 jobs since it started investing in 2014.

Tom Shannon, CEO of BrightStar Wisconsin.
Tom Shannon, CEO of BrightStar Wisconsin.

The information was revealed in the nonprofit’s 2016 annual report, released last week. Of BrightStar’s 32 portfolio companies, seven have lost jobs since BrightStar invested in them, but the rest have held steady or added jobs.

BrightStar’s goal is to spur economic development in Wisconsin by funding early stage companies. It uses donations from state residents to invest in equity stakes in rapid-growth startups.

Of the southeastern Wisconsin companies in the portfolio, some fared better than others.

Milwaukee-based Access HealthNet, in which BrightStar invested $200,000 in December, has created eight jobs and now has 17 full-time employees, with plans to add 33 more.

Milwaukee-based Bright Cellars, which received a $60,000 investment in 2015, has added 23 jobs and now has 30 employees.

Milwaukee-based Onkol, in which BrightStar invested $200,000 in December, planned to add another three or four employees in the near future at the time of that investment. However, Onkol has reduced its employee count by 7.5 full-time equivalents, and now has 5.5 employees.

Milwaukee-based Rent College Pads, in which BrightStar invested $150,000 in December, has created 11 new jobs and now has 15 employees.

Milwaukee-based Medical Companion LLC, now known as mPirik, which received a $250,000 investment in 2014, has created seven new jobs and now has 14 employees.

Milwaukee-based Keystone Insights, Inc., now known as Project Foundry, has created five new jobs since its $50,000 2014 investment, and now has 11 employees.

Milwaukee-based The Good Jobs Inc., which received an investment in 2014, has lost 1.5 jobs and now has just 0.5 employees.

Brightstar invested $150,000 in Brookfield-based EmOpti Inc. in 2015. The company has created six new jobs, for a total of 10 employees.

Milwaukee-based GoHitList Corp. retained its three jobs, but has not added any since BrightStar invested an undisclosed amount in 2015. The company planned to create 98 jobs over the next three years at the time of that investment.

Milwaukee-based 425 Inc., now known as Archangel Device, which received a $66,000 investment from BrightStar in 2014, has lost two jobs and now has zero employees.

Waukesha-based FloraSeq lost two jobs and now has zero employees.

Milwaukee-based MCT of Wisconsin Inc., which received a 2015 investment, has added 4.5 jobs and now has 23.5 employees.

Milwaukee-based Okanjo, which received a 2015 investment, added one employee and now has 11 employees.

BrightStar said none of the companies in its portfolio have failed.

“Through the end of 2016, we are happy with our portfolio, proud of their technical, market and employment advancements, and eagerly await even grander results from each of them. We anticipate 2017 to show continued and even stronger evidence of our mission to effectuate positive economic change throughout the state,” the report says.

Over the next two years, BrightStar expects a few of its portfolio companies to make successful exits, which will help it become financially self-sustaining.

The annual report also listed BrightStar’s donors, which give a suggested minimum donation of $100,000. They are: Judd S. Alexander Foundation, Mark Bakken, Brad Binkowski, Andrew Burish, Mark Burish, Sean Cleary, Dwight & Linda Davis Foundation, Michael Drescher, Dudley Foundation, Susan Shannon Engeleiter, William Haack, Jeffery Harris, Jay Jensen, Kelben Foundation, Robert Keller, Ted Kellner, David Lenz, Mancheski Foundation, George Mosher, Albert Nicholas, Michelle Picard, Carl Ruedebusch, Jeff Rusinow, Ruud Family Foundation, Paul Shain, Michael Shannon, Thomas Shannon, Weinert Family Foundation, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Zilber Ltd.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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