By Cassie Mescher
MILWAUKEE– In our rapidly changing global economy, intelliMENTOR is providing e-services that allow new entrepreneurs and innovators to compete in a more complex and competitive business environment.
intelliMENTOR is a Wisconsin startup founded in 2003 by Thomas Olscheske, the company’s chief executive officer, and John Solakian, its chief operating officer. It builds software embedded with knowledge and intelligence that helps businesses work smarter and faster through the Internet.
“Everything’s changing so fast,” Olscheske said. “Whether you’re a one-person startup company or a 300-person company, you usually have to respond quickly to something you’ve never done before.”
Olscheske said his role is to consult with people and make specific solutions for companies by bringing in Internet technologies and intelligent information technologies, as well as organization processes to help new business run their operations online.
He described intelliMENTOR as a team of professionals that bring in all the necessary skills to constantly challenge each other and, in the end, come up with an effective solution.
“My clients are other entrepreneurs and innovators that are at the leading edge of technology,” Olscheske said. “I’m the entrepreneur that serves other entrepreneurs.”
In 2004, intelliMENTOR won the business services category of the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest for its online intelligent Organizational Change Management(OCM) system. Olscheske said the company is unique because it is trying to build business solutions for the way the world will be in five years.
“If I told you in 1995 that I could sell books online and make a fortune, you never would have believed it,” Olscheske said. “Now, Amazon.com is making a fortune selling all kinds of things.”
Olscheske said he comes in to a new business as a partner to help build it, but at a certain point he will leave. Through use of intelligent technologies, one person can act as if he is 10 people on a company’s team.
“The key word here is empowerment,” Olscheske said. “Our solutions empower people to do more, to get smarter. Those people can be a consumer or a business person.”
The actual intelliMENTOR product is an online agent that helps you manage change in your company. There is also an online sales agent that helps clients figure out what they want to buy.
“They will interact with you,” says Olscheske, “and help you with sales as if they’re a real person.” Currently, Olscheske says he is working on a project with an entrepreneur, located in Asia, who is developing an online music e-business.
A key challenge is to find, develop and manage artistic talent so the company can create music content. A second issue is how to identify and track market trends and consumer preferences.
“The people who buy music are the same people who make music,” Olscheske said.
“We want to develop people to be artists and producers, which we can then turn around and sell. By imbedding the knowledge, young kids buy music and learn how to make their own music and we provide a place for them to sell it.”
intelliMentor’s intelligent software applications were a perfect match for the Asian entrepreneur to build the required knowledge management technology and intelligent software. This allowed the firm to automate the development of artistic talent and provide systematic management expertise to studios, producers and distributors.
Also, clients have access to a virtual consult to assist them in developing and managing their music business activities.
“I like to think of this music business model as My Space and You Tube on Steroids,” says Olscheske. “And intelliMentor provides the virtual steroids.”
This partnership, Olscheske says, has allowed intelliMentor to continue developing and marketing its original change management offering without the stress of approaching venture capitalists. It has also provided a new business opportunity – that of providing its technology to other companies. intelliMentor now finds itself in several different business relationships, he says, each creating promising revenue streams.
Olscheske says the main goal is not about the technology, but rather is about development and delivering the knowledge people need.
“The future,” Olscheske said, “is to embed the knowledge and learning in automated pages, which help people do their jobs or help people buy what they want.”
Mescher is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.