Manufacturing Odds & Ends

Project to help Milwaukee startups
BizStarts Milwaukee, a nonprofit entity dedicated to fostering and promoting entrepreneurship in southeastern Wisconsin, officially launched last week.

The organization wants to help launch or accelerate 50 new businesses by the end of 2010, an effort that is needed because of the relatively low numbers of new businesses created in the Milwaukee area, said Dan Steininger, vice president of BizStarts.

"The brutal fact that confronts us is that Milwaukee is 45th in the nation in getting new businesses started and 47th in the nation in getting venture capital raised," he said. "Most new jobs are created by new companies."

As a nonprofit entity, BizStarts Milwaukee will focus on connecting entrepreneurs with the resources to launch and grow their companies. The organization will assist with business planning, connecting with early-stage investing and other issues that face startup companies.

The project has four major initiatives:

  • BizStarts Connect – An online network, featured at www.bizstartsmilwaukee.com, to connect entrepreneurs with resources such as investors or financing, attorneys, marketing and more. The site will soon expand to include a social media platform, so members can post questions and ideas, said John Torinus, president of BizStarts.
  • BizStarts Venture Track – A fast-track program for high-potential companies, which will include mentoring and intensive coaching.
  • BizStarts Learn – An educational outreach program, where entrepreneurs will speak with K-12 and college students about starting companies.
  • BizStarts Buzz – A program that will celebrate funding deals, new business startups and successful exits.

"It’s not easy to start a company, but we can make it less difficult," Torinus said. "All of the big companies we have here (in the Milwaukee area) were started here. It’s obvious that we can and must grow our own companies."

BizStarts has already connected with several successful entrepreneurs such as George Dalton, chief executive officer of NOVO 1, Tina Chang, CEO of Syslogic, and Randy Spaulding, owner of Spaulding Clinical Research, who will serve as mentors for new companies and leaders.

"This city ranks low in entrepreneurs and BizStarts is the first organization dedicated to that purpose," Dalton said. "We have venture capitalists, dedicated to finding entrepreneurs to create wealth for their investors. Our job is to develop entrepreneurs for those venture capitalists."

As an entrepreneur, Chang said BizStarts Milwaukee will meet many needs that startup companies in the region have.

"I can attest to the need for a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs," she said. "The need to connect with each other, with the community and with investors is crucial to move forward, and BizStarts Milwaukee will give us access to everything we need. If an entity like BizStarts existed with I started Syslogic, I am confident that we would be even farther along than we are now."

UWM Research Foundation tabs new leadership team
The Research Foundation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has named Jacquelyn Fredrick of the BloodCenter of Wisconsin and Daniel Bader of the Helen Bader Foundation as the new chair and vice chair of its board of directors, respectively.

Fredrick and Bader will take over for John Torinus, chairman of Serigraph Inc., who served as the Research Foundation’s founding chairman. Torinus remains on the board.

The nonprofit UWM Research Foundation provides the mechanism for coupling the university’s research enterprise with the private sector in order to promote marketable ideas, increase UWM intellectual property and offer solutions for area business and industry.

"The Research Foundation is very fortunate to have assembled a group of leaders with expertise in research, technology, early-stage ventures and nonprofit management," said Brian Thompson, president of the Research Foundation. "They play a vital role in UWM’s strategy to increase research and the university’s impact on the regional economy."

Fredrick is president and chief executive officer of the BloodCenter of Wisconsin. Bader is president of the Helen Bader Foundation, which has awarded grants in support of a host of innovative programs in Wisconsin and Israel since 1992.

Meanwhile, Gregg Tushaus, owner and CEO of Tushaus Computer Services Inc. in Milwaukee, has been elected to the UWM Foundation board of directors. Tushaus is a UWM alumnus.

"As a UWM graduate, I’m proud to serve on the UWM Foundation Board. UWM has so much potential, and the UWM Foundation is a catalyst for UWM development. This really is an honor, and I look forward to serving," Tushaus said.

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