Milwaukee’s Lack of Jobs in Startups

Out of curiosity yesterday, I went to the AngelList job board to see what funded startups (either Angel or VC) in Milwaukee were hiring. I saw that Madison had 14 positions in 6 companies. I saw that Chicago had a ton; way more than I was willing to count. Without going to look, take a guess as to how many positions were posted in Milwaukee.

50? 20? 5?

How about zero.

Ok, well what about other sites? StartupMKE? StartupHire?


I’d be interested to know if anyone has done research to know exactly how many people are currently employed by angel or VC-backed companies in Milwaukee. I’d like to see two stats; one including founders and one without.

A recent survey by Mattermark showed the following to be true about founders:

  • 38% of venture-backed founders are over 40 years old

  • Only 15% of venture-backed founders have a Computer Science degree

  • Management consultants are more than 2x more likely to be venture-backed founders than engineers

  • 43% of venture backed founders worked at a venture-backed company immediately before founding

  • Two thirds of venture-backed founders were not in a senior leadership position prior to founding

  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, being “stuck” in the same company or position for a long time (even a decade) does not diminish your likelihood of becoming a founder

If 43% of venture-backed founders previously worked at venture-backed companies, and Milwaukee maintains a meager supply of venture-backed companies that are hiring, then where do we expect the next generation of companies to come from?

What is the cause of this phenomena?

How is it resolved?

UWM can be catalyst for entrepreneurship

by John Torinus via BizTimes

The accelerated pace of startup activity in the M7 region provides a golden opportunity for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to rebrand itself as an E-University – E for Entrepreneur.

Unlike UW-Madison, a major player in an academic R&D in the world, UWM has the major advantage of being in the middle of Wisconsin’s powerful business community. Much of the state’s horsepower in business resides in the M7 region. That is an enormous resource.

The M7 reservoir of business acumen shows up in many ways:

• The deal flow for startups is robust, often from entrepreneurs jumping out of major corporations in the region.

• Their business plans are close to fully baked, as opposed to those ginned up by researchers. The M7 entrepreneurs, often middle age, know what business is all about.

• Mentors for the new ventures are readily available from the ranks of experienced business leaders.

• A growing cadre of angel investors is stepping into the startup game. An example is the recent creation of a $10 million early stage fund by a prominent local Milwaukeean.

Read the rest at BizTimes: Milwaukee.

StartupMKE Launches New Coworking Space – 96Square

BlatzWashHouseGoogleBeginning as a wash house for the original Blatz Brewery, the historic Blatz Wash House, the recent home of VETransfer, is now 96Square, a coworking space for Milwaukee’s next generation of tech startups. By providing entrepreneurs access to affordable, scalable office space, mentorship, potential investors, talent, and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, 96square is a game changer for Milwaukee’s community of innovative entrepreneurs. Similar spaces around the country include 1871 in Chicago, 1776 in DC and Rocket Space in SF.

Companies such as AlithiasFind My SpotOnkolRent College Pads, SAR32 Technologies, UCAP, LLC, Voxelmetric, and the Wisconsin Super Angel Fund are among the early adopters taking advantage of this new opportunity. Memberships for entrepreneurs, startups, and technical/creative talent are available starting at $110/month.

For more details visit

96Square is located at 1101 N Market St, Milwaukee, WI 53202, right behind Bar Louie, a happy coincidence, I’m sure….

5 Questions With Andy Nunemaker, CEO of Dynamis

Andy_NunemakerWith a Harvard MBA and a role as CEO of GE Healthcare in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, Andy Nunemaker easily could never have returned to Milwaukee.

But he did, choosing entrepreneurship in his hometown over far-flung executive employment. He first helped develop EMSystems, which developed communication solutions among hospitals and EMS agencies. That company was sold to Intermedix, and then Nunemaker co-founded and serves as CEO of Dynamis Corporation, a provider of sales software in the healthcare insurance industry.

Nunemaker is also heavily involved in civic causes, serving on boards of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, and is an avid art collector. In the Dynamis offices in West Allis, Nunemaker answered 5 Questions from Build MKE:

What was the best advice you got about being an entrepreneur?

Understanding yourself. The reason I say that is entrepreneurship sounds fun, and it sounds great to be your own boss, and it sounds exciting. But you’ve got to an an extremely high risk tolerance, and you’ve got to understand that coming into it. Besides all the fun parts of entrepreneurship, there is a high, high level of risk with any startup and that equates to a very high level of stress, especially if you don’t have a high risk tolerance. And so there were a lot of sleepless nights for me early on … and I didn’t have a complete understanding of my risk tolerance when I went into it.

You’re a worldly guy. What is the best distinguishing characteristic of the MKE entrepreneurial community?

It’s a tight knit group of people. Milwaukee has created an ecosystem with investors, mentors, seasoned entrepreneurs and new entrepreneurs and we’ve created forums where all of these people can get together, and great things are happening.

What responsibility does a successful entrepreneur have to that community?

I believe strongly that any successful entrepreneur was given help among the way. Either through mentorship, through someone who believed in them, invested in them. Nobody got there on their own, so therefore anyone who would be classified as a successful entrepreneur owes it to start giving back.

With Milwaukee, we have stronger sense of place and of loyalty, and I think it comes more naturally in a place like Milwaukee. I see people giving back, I see it happening all the time.

How do you identify a need in a marketplace?

First off, you find a need by talking to people. We interviewed dozens and dozens of employers who buy health insurance for their companies, and they told us time and time again that there’s a big disconnect between the way they want to buy, and the way brokers sell them insurance.

The ultimate validation is that strangers will pay list price. Anyone can give it away, and anyone can get their friends and family to buy, but when strangers will pay list price, that’s the ultimate validation of the concept.

What single work of art would you like to own that you don’t?

That’s easy. Andy Warhol, in the 1960s, did an acrylic on canvas. It’s about 6 feet by 6 feet, and it’s of a Schlitz six-pack. It’s privately owned and on loan in the Tel Aviv Art Museum right now, and I would love to get my hands on that some day.

Milwaukee-based game company seeking to raise funds

by Kathleen Gallagher

Cleverhouse Games and Toys LLC, a Milwaukee company founded by an ex-convict to make products that entertain and teach, said Monday it has launched a campaign to raise $7,000 on Kickstarter.

Cleverhouse is trying to raise the money to fund manufacturing for its Chess King board game. A new twist on an age-old game, Chess King is a fast-paced puzzle game that uses a board with just nine squares that combines strategy and tactics from chess with the creativity and memory skills of puzzles.

Chess King is being used in the Milwaukee Public School System, Milwaukee Community Learning Centers, suburban high schools, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, the company said.

Read the rest at distribution center to employ 1,100 in Kenosha Inc.’s distribution center planned for Kenosha, and its 1,100 full-time jobs, will carry an impact that resonates well beyond that city, local officials said Monday.

The facility, with just over 1 million square feet, will likely draw employees, including hundreds of seasonal workers, from other communities in southeastern Wisconsin, said Mayor Keith Bosman.

“It’s very accessible,” Bosman said about the center’s location, north of 38th St./Highway N and east of 108th Ave. That site is just east of I-94, about 30 miles south of downtown Milwaukee.

Bosman said the full-time job count will likely be more than 1,100 employees. The average wage will be just over $13 an hour for around 850 employees who fulfill orders for Amazon customers, he said.

Read the rest at

5 Questions With Matt Lautz of Corvisa Cloud

Matt Lautz is president and CIO of Corvisa Cloud.

Matt Lautz is president and CIO of Corvisa Cloud.

At the tender age of 31, Matt Lautz has been an entrepreneur half his life. Brevient Technologies was his first software company, founded when he was 16. Among his greatest successes was Corvisa, which developed a mortgage appraisal management software in 2009. In 2010, the company was acquired by StreetLinks Lender Solutions, and now Matt is president and CIO of CorvisaCloud, which develops cloud-based voice software.

How did you identify the need for the appraisal management software?

One of our other minority owners was in the mortgage origination space, and had been frustrated by the products on the market. They had a lot of (hidden) fees, a lack of transparency. He really wanted a product that gave him what he needed and was easy. You understood the pricing, you understood the functionality, there wasn’t any hidden agenda.

Describe your “I knew we made it” moment.

[Laughing] I don’t think you ever make it .… Being able to sell a majority position to at the time StreetLinks, which is now our largest sister company, was definitely the first step toward that. There’s always the next step you want to get to. As an entrepreneur at heart, you always want to do the next thing or take it to the next level. I hope I never say I have made it, because I might as well not be doing something.

What was the greatest challenge in starting so young?

In the last 15 years (he’s now 31), I think my answer has definitely morphed. I think the answer I’d give today is, I think I made it my own issue. Nobody cares what your age is if you deliver and you have the best product. So have the best product, have the best service, deliver on what you say you’ll deliver, people don’t care if you’re 18, 30, 50 or 90. I think I made it a perceived issue, and it didn’t have to be.

Do I think that when you’re younger, getting access to capital can be a little more challenging? Yes, but I think that’s more because you don’t necessarily have as many business contacts.

What’s the best idea you had that didn’t work?

We had one in the past that was a mass-SMS-and-voice social media product. Before there were 700 of them out there. Before Four Square existed, before a lot of those. It was a hybrid of Four Square, group SMS, three or four products we know today. We had an opportunity to take it and get some funding for it, and there ended up being a disagreement on the right approach with some of the different owners of the group. It ended up falling by the wayside, and I think that could have ended up being very successful.

I still have a few of our t-shirts we made up with it, and that was one, every time I see the T-shirt, I think when I’m 80, I’m going to say … that could have been a huge success.

What primary trait separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest?

Utter optimism about everything that you do. It’s a persistent optimism that what you’re going to do is going to succeed. Most entrepreneurs, at least in your first or second venture, you’re putting everything on the line. You will have setbacks, and if there isn’t persistent optimism that it’s going to work, you would never keep doing it.

5 Questions is a series highlighting Milwaukee entrepreneurs. To be considered for an interview, please send a brief email request to connect at

General Solicitation Law Changes Next Week – What you need to know.

An 80-year-old ban that has prevented private companies from publicly advertising their efforts to raise funds will lift on Monday.

If you are an entrepreneur struggling to find investors, that may be very good news. But hold the champagne for now.

What this historic change in general solicitation law really means is that if you are an entrepreneur looking to raise money from investors, you might want to spend some quality time with a lawyer before you go shouting it from the rooftops.

Read the rest  >> What Entrepreneurs Need to Know About the Historic Change in General Solicitation Law That Goes Into Effect September 23 |

From auto repair to head cheese: MKE Scalerator Firms Revealed

Scale Up Milwaukee has announced 11 participating businesses in its pilot sales accelerator program that begins Sept. 19.

The two-month “Scalerator” program is part of the Scale Up Milwaukee initiative led by Dan Isenberg, entrepreneurship professor at Babson College in Massachusetts. Scale Up Milwaukee is working with a broad coalition to develop a blueprint for the city to increase the formation of startups and grow existing ventures.

Scalerator is focused on helping small local companies that are generating revenue enhance their sales tactics and significantly ramp up their business.

Read the rest at  The Business Journal.