Building a Tech Hub in Land of Green Bay Packers, Paper Mills
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the brain drain that goes on here. All the good developers I know, ask any of them why they stick around this area, it’s because they’ve got family here. They work remotely for a startup. In order to … improve the economy and get some startups to stay here, you need more resources. You need to give them a space like 96square [the downtown Milwaukee coworking space run by Startup Milwaukee] to connect with each other and with investors. That being said, it’s going to take a commitment from someone, probably a successful entrepreneur who is willing to put some money and time into the community. [Editor’s note: Schmitz did acknowledge that there is a coworking space in Green Bay and one in Appleton. Read more about them in this list of Wisconsin coworking spaces.]
X: So what are the biggest hurdles for northeastern Wisconsin as it tries to nurture tech startups?
CS: If you’re an entrepreneur in northeastern Wisconsin, you must really be determined because there’s nothing that makes it easier for you up here. There’s way [fewer] resources all around. There’s less of a community, less opportunities. My company, we’re going down to Milwaukee once or twice a week to work with our PR company, talk to investors.
There’s people like Al Zeise who are awesome for the area. Angels on the Water [an Oshkosh, WI-based angel investing group] is doing some good stuff. They invest in every gener8tor company, which is great. Even with that, it’s like unless you can get in the door, it’s just really hard. There’s not a lot of deal flow, not a lot of stuff going on up here. I do think there’s a lot more money up here. There probably could be a lot more angel investors up here, if they could be educated about early-stage investing.
I don’t see a lot of entrepreneurs coming out of any of the colleges around here. Also the curriculum that they teach for computer science degrees is dated. If they updated their curriculum to focus more on more up-to-date Web technology [like Ruby on Rails], I think that would help a lot.