‘Sproutr’ aims to streamline volunteer recruitment process

Among 15 teams and 123 participants at Milwaukee’s Startup Weekend, a startup company with a mission to link people and area volunteer experiences finished in first place.

 

The company, dubbed Sproutr, allows individuals to seek out volunteer opportunities of interest and also enables nonprofit organizations to recruit volunteers as needed.

The idea for the company was sprouted by Milwaukee Public Schools Student Community Service Coordinator Kathleen End, who was one of about 10 team members building out the startup’s business model and structure from Friday, Nov. 1, through Sunday, Nov. 3.

“Throughout the weekend, they were definitely the most serious team that I observed,” said Matt Cordio, co-organizer of Startup Weekend and co-founder of Skills Pipeline and Startup Milwaukee.

Thanks to the startup company, the volunteer recruitment process is made more efficient, Cordio said.

“I think that a lot of nonprofits don’t have the right technology to manage the volunteer recruitment process, and if they don’t adopt something like Sproutr they’re going to continue to have a major problem recruiting volunteers because everyone is online or is going to be online in the next few years,” Cordio said.

Second place at the competition was awarded to a company called BadDates, which connects couples to unique experiences and outings.

Bribe.io rounded out the top finishers with third place. The startup company allows individuals to offer monetary “bribes” to developers to fix bugs and add features in software.

In its second year, Startup Weekend brought together developers, designers and entrepreneurs to create technology-based startup companies at UW-Milwaukee’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health. Teams, which were assembled at the beginning of the weekend, fleshed out their companies on Saturday and Sunday in preparation to present their concepts to a panel of judges on Sunday night at Best Place.

Top team Sproutr received incorporation services and other legal services at a reduced cost from premier event sponsor Godfrey & Kahn S.C. as well as access to consulting from UpScalability, a company that assists entrepreneurs in assessing the scalability and risk factors of their startups. The team will also have a chance to pitch their idea to the accelerator program Gener8tor.

While the competition aspect of the event is certainly a critical one, Cordio said the real value of Startup Weekend lies in bringing individuals with different skillsets together in the same space.

“It’s not necessarily the idea that you work on or the company that gets formed over the weekend,” Cordio said. “The value is networking with people at the event because they all share a passion to start companies, and they all have diverse backgrounds. The diverse backgrounds really help form a solid team.”

Startup Weekend plans to hold a follow-up session on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at co-working space 96Square, located at 1101 N. Market St. Ste. 200 in downtown Milwaukee. The session will provide Startup Weekend teams an opportunity to update the startup community on their progress and will also include a brainstorming component focused on how to bridge Milwaukee’s startup community with startups in Madison.

The event will also feature an appearance by Mike Moyer, author of the book Slicing Pie, which gives readers insight into splitting equity and ownership of early stage companies.

The follow-up event is schedule to run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit http://startupmke.org.

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