Startup Weekend aims to bring more startups to Milwaukee

Milwaukee could be the birthplace of a handful of new startup companies this November when the second annual Startup Weekend Milwaukee takes over UW-Milwaukee’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health.


The weekend, running from Friday, Nov. 1, through Sunday, Nov. 3, will provide the time, space, resources and mentoring opportunities needed for entrepreneurs to come together and begin building momentum around their technology-related startup ideas.

“The ultimate goal is to see startup companies come out of the event,” said Matt Cordio, co-organizer of the event, which is part of a global Startup Weekend movement focused on helping entrepreneurs create viable companies out of their ideas.

Startup companies that evolve throughout the weekend will rely on the combined talents of entrepreneurs, designers and software developers – all essential components of any sustainable startup venture.

“It’s critical to have diversity in the skillsets of the individuals who are attending the event and that includes development talent (and) design talent as well as entrepreneurial talent,” said Cordio, who is also co-founder of Skills Pipeline and Startup Milwaukee.

Following a kick-off speech on Friday night by Bobby Kraft, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based First Edge Solutions, individual participants will begin pitching their ideas, connecting with other participants and formalizing teams for the weekend.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, established teams will continue hammering out the logistics of their companies with opportunities for one-on-one mentoring and coaching from industry professionals such as Dr. McGee Young, associate professor and entrepreneur faculty fellow at Marquette University and founder of H20 Score, and Heather Johnston, founder and chief executive officer of Find My Spot.

The weekend, which will also provide networking opportunities among attendees and startup executives, will culminate in a presentation and award ceremony on Sunday night when a panel of judges will select three startup companies exhibiting the best ideas.

The three companies will receive prizes to help them continue fleshing out their ideas into sustainable operations, with the top team getting the opportunity to pitch their idea to the accelerator program Gener8tor. The designated team will also receive 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 analyzing the scalability and risk factors of their startups.

Milwaukee’s startup community is a significant driver in the development of the region, Cordio said.

“In order to create more jobs in Milwaukee, which I think is a major issue that everyone faces in the Milwaukee area, we need more startup companies,” he said.

Last year’s Startup Weekend Milwaukee, which was held in Marquette University’s Engineering Hall, led to the emergence of about five startups, including MobCraft Beer and Dine in Time.

Cordio anticipates the same kind of collaboration, teambuilding and networking at this November’s event.

“I’m excited to hopefully see that again this year,” Cordio said.

Event organizers expect about 130 participants onsite during the weekend, including members of the general public, college students and high school students.

About 40 designer tickets are currently available along with 30 student tickets, 37 developer tickets, 26 student developer tickets, seven non-technical tickets, 11 student non-technical tickets, and 51 tickets for Sunday night’s final presentation. Prices vary among ticket options.

For more information on Startup Weekend Milwaukee and a complete weekend schedule or to register, click here.

UW-Milwaukee’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, where all Startup Weekend events will run, is located at 1240 N. 10th St. in Milwaukee.

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