Connectivity is the most important factor for building a startup hub in the Milwaukee area, says a co-organizer of the inaugural Milwaukee Startup Week.
Startup Week runs until Nov. 6, with over 20 events hosted across southeastern Wisconsin.
“We started the event with the hope of networking and building the startup community,” Matt Cordio, CEO of Startup Milwaukee, tells WisBusiness.com. “Milwaukee has room to improve, but we’ve always thought there was potential for a startup community in the area.”
He says that potential is being tapped right now, as many events in the first two days have been swamped with visitors.
“It’s been amazing,” said Cordio. “Our goal was to get 50 people at one event; we got 175. We expected 50 at a lunch event; we got around 100.”
While this greater-than-expected turnout makes Cordio optimistic about the future of Milwaukee small business, it didn’t happen automatically.
Said Cordio: “I’m not going to say it’s going to solve the world’s problems, but we are confident in the idea that, when you build a Silicon Valley or a startup hub, there’s a lot of connectivity between the people on the scene.”
To Cordio, connecting entrepreneurs to each other and to important resources is crucial for improving things not only for the economy, but also the community.
“The more connectivity there is, the stronger the community can be,” said Cordio, adding that through improved connection to resources and information, Milwaukee Startup Week can start to “break down the different silos of business communities.”
The divisions that exist in Milwaukee’s business world are already dissolving through the various networking events that he and his team are putting on.
“That’s really rewarding,” said Cordio, who is the founder and general manager of Skills Pipeline, an IT consulting firm, as well as co-founder of The Commons, a program for entrepreneurial education.
He attributed much of the event’s success to gener8tor, a startup accelerator with offices in Madison, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Cordio said that gener8tor is a huge part of the event week, pointing to its session on building corporate partnerships as a valuable asset to entrepreneurs.
Cordio also said that through the events, he has had the chance to connect with small business leaders in the community and witness their passion.
“I learned about a lot of different startups I didn’t even know were in my backyard,” said Cordio. “There’s a hunger there for more knowledge on how to grow their companies.”
Looking ahead, he sees this week’s initial success as a learning experience that will allow Startup Milwaukee to improve for the next time around.
“We’re definitely going to do it again next year, and it will definitely take a different shape. Milwaukee Startup Week will be bigger and better than before.”
See the schedule of events here: http://startupmke.org/mswcalendar/
–By Alex Moe,