Debates, Tours, & Beer: New Milwaukee Startup Week Unveils Schedule

What do yoga, a happy hour office crawl, an all-day hackathon, and a 70-mile bus ride have in common?

All are part of the recently released schedule for Milwaukee Startup Week. More than 20 events will take place Nov. 1-6 at various sites in southeastern Wisconsin, says Matt Cordio, a co-organizer of Milwaukee Startup Week.

Cordio is also co-founder of Startup Milwaukee, a networking and support organization for entrepreneurs and early-stage companies in the area. He says that the idea for a concentrated series of entrepreneurship-focused events stemmed from a discussion he took part in earlier this year with Startup Milwaukee’s book club.

“We’re aware of the reality that metro Milwaukee doesn’t rank well when it comes to entrepreneurial activity,” Cordio says. “But there actually are quite a few resources available to entrepreneurs. We wondered if there was a way for entrepreneurs to access those resources and know what’s out there.”

Indeed, the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis region finished second-to-last in a recent ranking of metropolitan areas by startup activity. The list was compiled by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which also ranked Wisconsin as the worst state for startup activity.

Cordio says one event on Milwaukee Startup Week’s calendar will feature a discussion co-led by Colin Tomkins-Bergh, a research analyst at Kauffman who is based in Madison, WI.

“[Tomkins-Bergh] is going to talk about southeastern Wisconsin and Wisconsin as a whole,” Cordio says. “Kauffman has done some research on areas similar to Milwaukee in terms of size that have higher entrepreneurship rates, like St. Louis.”

Others speakers at that session, which is entitled “Building a Stronger Startup Community in Milwaukee,” include Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, and Bram Daelemans, director of the Wisconsin Angel Network.

The week will also offer opportunities for people to try out coworking spaces around the Milwaukee area. They include well-known places such as Ward 4, which is near the city’s downtown, and newer ones like Workspace at Bishops Woods. That facility is located west of Milwaukee, in Brookfield, WI, and opened earlier this year.

Another coworking space that will be in the spotlight is Irontek, in Beloit, WI. Startup Milwaukee is co-sponsoring an evening bus trip to that city, which Cordio has described as an “emerging tech hub.”

“If you’re looking for a job, you could possibly find it down there,” Cordio says of Beloit. “Or, if you’re looking for free beer, you could also find that there, too.”

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