Ideawake rides a wave of growth

Rev Up

Ideawake co-founders Coby Skonord and Trae Tessmann
Ideawake co-founders Coby Skonord and Trae Tessmann

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:04 pm

Leadership: Coby Skonord and Trae Tessmann

Headquarters: 1245 N. Water St., Milwaukee


What it does: Idea management software

Founded: 2013

Employees: 5

Next goals: Double employment; raise $750,000 funding round

Funding: $1.2 million raised

With several Fortune 500 companies in line for its idea management software, a major health care provider as a client, a spot in award-winning startup accelerator gener8tor’s latest class, and the opportunity to go cash flow positive next year, Ideawake is putting its foot on the gas.

Founded in 2013, and having pivoted its focus a couple of times, Ideawake was recently able to gain traction among large clients like Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care Inc., Sussex-based Sussex IM Inc. and New Berlin-based Rundle-Spence Mfg. Co., said co-founder Coby Skonord.

Coby Skonord and Trae Tessmann
Credit Dan Profio

“We have four … Fortune 500 companies interested in the stuff that we’ve co-developed with (Aurora),” he said. “It’s all of the sudden like the spigot got turned on.”

That traction is why on its seventh application, the company was accepted to gener8tor from among a pool of 600 startups vying for the six spots nationwide, and will receive a $140,000 investment.

Ideawake’s software, targeted to large companies, helps employers collect, evaluate and implement the best ideas from their employees and customers. The company was originally Inventalator, an open innovation platform for inventors, then it was Crowds, targeted to entrepreneur innovation. Skonord said he knew it was time to pivot when companies were approaching him about using the product, and when it became clear the cost of entrepreneur customer acquisition was too high.

It has seven global clients, and expects to add another five this year, Skonord said.

For Aurora, Ideawake developed a platform instance with custom branding and its own database of employee users, Skonord said, working with the health care provider for about a year to build up the functionality.

“The goals that those companies have is, ‘How do we maximize engagement?’” Skonord said. “From there it goes into financial impact.”

To keep up with the rush of business, Ideawake plans to double its workforce to about 10 employees by mid-2018.

And while it could go cash flow positive next year as well, Skonord wants to reinvest in growth.

“If I’ve learned one thing over this whole entire time of being an entrepreneur is when you’re riding the waves, put on the gas,” he said.

Ideawake has raised a total of $1.2 million since its inception, including a $550,000 seed round in its current form, and plans to launch a new $750,000 round in the next two months to continue to scale.

By participating in gener8tor, Ideawake hopes to meet both potential customers and potential investors, Skonord said.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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