FRI AM News: Fetch Rewards CEO says rapid growth driven organically; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Grady Buchanan, CEO and co-founder of OmniValley

— Fetch Rewards founder and CEO Wes Schroll says the company’s rapid growth last year was driven organically through referrals and social engagement. 

The Madison-based software startup with a shopping rewards program was ranked 68th in the nation for revenue growth last year on the Inc. 5000 list, the second-highest of any Wisconsin company. Fetch boasted 4,323 percent revenue growth, reaching $9 million in 2018. 

But Schroll’s not resting on his laurels, noting in a recent interview the ranking just shows him there’s more room to grow. 

“So we’ve still got our work cut out for us,” he told 

In 2017, he says company leaders were still trying to determine if their platform would be useful to customers, and if the brands they represent would find value in the rewards program. Coming out of that year, he says “it was a resounding yes on both fronts.” 

Starting last year, he said the company truly began to “hit its stride” in the market, with the majority of users on the platform still coming from organic channels with little cost of acquisition. 

“That leads to very quick growth,” he said. 

Users of the Fetch app can scan their receipts whenever they shop for groceries, earning points by purchasing products from specific brands. They can then redeem their points for gift cards from a broad range of retailers and other businesses. 

The app currently has about 1.2 million active users, and continues to add brands on a monthly basis, Schroll said. About 240 brands are on the app, and he expects that to reach 300 by the end of the year. 

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Grady Buchanan, an investment analyst at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the CEO and co-founder of OmniValley. 

Buchanan discusses the growth of the platform, which connects investors and others in the venture capital space across the country. When he first came on the podcast in summer 2018, the platform had about 100 members. That’s now risen to 450. 

“It’s funny to think about just what’s happened in a year,” he said. “We’re still targeting about a third accelerators, a third venture firms and a third what we call limited partners or institutional investors that are investing in venture funds.” 

He says the platform was recently relaunched and rebranded in June with an ecosystem map and updated member list. 

“We’re pretty agnostic to where they are location-wise,” he said, but admitted he has an “inherent bias” toward members in the Midwest. He says about seven international entities have joined the platform, but he said it’s mainly aimed at U.S.-based firms and accelerators. 

“We’re pretty heavy in San Francisco, New York, Boston as you can imagine, but we’re also very heavy in the Midwest in some of those alternative, more peripheral markets,” he said. “We’re pretty happy with the dispersion that we have.” 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— The latest episode of “ The Show” features an interview with Dana Guthrie of Alchemy Angel Investors of Milwaukee, who outlines the group’s investment targets and its larger role in the Milwaukee area.

Also, Liz Schrum presents Tech Metrics, which chart key indicators and events in the Wisconsin economy.

In a separate commentary, Tech Council President Tom Still talks about the upcoming Early Stage Symposium on Nov. 6-7 at Madison’s Monona Terrace. Companies that apply by Sept. 20 will be considered for chances to meet and pitch to investors from Wisconsin and beyond.

Watch the show here: 

— Most of the Wisconsinites who recently developed severe lung diseases after vaping say they used e-cigarettes or other vaping devices containing THC — the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. 

That’s according to the state Department of Health Services, which is tracking 32 confirmed or probable cases of respiratory issues linked to vaping THC products, including 11 cases that “need further investigation.” 

This comes as health groups in the state are stepping up their warnings about vaping products, while the number of related hospitalizations continues to rise in Wisconsin and around the country. 

The Milwaukee Health Department this week issued a health alert warning residents to stop vaping altogether, after individuals hospitalized for serious lung conditions reported using vape products containing nicotine or marijuana oils and concentrates. 

And the American Lung Association in Wisconsin echoed that warning, calling on all state residents to “stop using any vape and/or e-cigarette devices immediately.” 

In a statement, the organization expressed concern about the “youth e-cigarette epidemic” and noted hospitalizations have now been reported in at least 22 states. 

“While much remains to be determined about the reported cases of severe lung disease as well as the lasting health consequences of vaping, the American Lung Association is very troubled by what we see so far,” the group said. 

DHS says the connection between the lung issues and THC products is based on interviews with those affected, which found 89 percent of the 27 people interviewed so far reported vaping THC products including waxes and oils. Importantly, DHS isn’t drawing a connection between the lung diseases and THC itself, but rather the products that contain THC. 

“Vaping cartridges containing THC may include chemicals or additives that are unknown, unregulated, and unsafe,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We strongly urge people not to vape.” 

DHS says it’s working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is looking at more than 200 cases in 22 other states. And the agency is working with the FDA to determine what exactly was in the used vaping products. 

See the release: 

Track the investigation at the DHS site: 

— Wisconsin is set to receive $7.1 million in AmeriCorps funding, which will help nonprofits and other organizations in the state bring on about 900 volunteer workers for projects related to education and health care. 

The national program — sometimes referred to as a domestic version of the Peace Corps — has more than 75,000 members each year serving at 21,000 different organizations including schools, faith groups and nonprofits. A release shows 26,000 Wisconsinites have served in AmeriCorps since 1994. 

Jeanne Duffy is executive director for Serve Wisconsin, which helps coordinate AmeriCorps placements in the state. She says these members will work to “tackle some of the toughest problems in Wisconsin including the opioid epidemic, the academic achievement gap, housing shortages for low-income families, and health care access.” 

After their one-year term of service is up, individuals in the program each get about $6,000 to use for education expenses, according to a release from Serve Wisconsin. The release includes a list of the 29 projects being supported in the state. 

See the list: 

— The latest podcast in the Plan2Win series from Brookfield-based Edge Messaging spotlights local radio ads for small businesses, highlighting the “phenomenon of the business owner serving as radio talent.” 

“This episode is going to ruffle some feathers in the sales departments of several radio stations,” said Edge Messaging President Brian Fraley. “But the fact is, many small business owners are getting terrible advice and aren’t maximizing the return on their important local radio investment.”

Listen to the podcast here: 

See more: 


# City of Milwaukee urges everyone who lives there to stop vaping immediately

# Mount Pleasant apartments respond to massive predicated need

# Sierra Club: shuttering coal plants could save ratepayers $138M a year

# Medical College of Wisconsin, UWM to partner on mental health nurse practitioner residency program



– Wisconsin communities, farmers offered federal money to deal with impacts of recent flooding

– Organic Valley now 100% powered with renewable energy

– Kannel promoted as WFBF’s sr. member relations director


– See photos: Installation of BMO Tower’s glass exterior slated for Friday finish

– Wanted: More construction workers in upper Midwest


– Ray Cross, UW System work to better meet employers’ needs

– Workshops aim to inform farmers, food entrepreneurs about grants


– Latest wolf count provides further evidence Wisconsin’s wolf population is stabilizing

– Wisconsin officials say gray wolf population seems stable


– Andy Peach named president and CEO of Waterstone Mortgage


– Wahlburgers announces opening date for Brookfield location


– Foxconn releases two more bid packages for manufacturing plant


– Lutheran Social Services spending $1.7M on Waukesha addiction treatment facility

– THC found in Wisconsin vaping cases that led to illnesses


– Delegation lodging only the first piece of DNC hotel puzzle

– ‘Tremendous’ legal case in limbo as attorney general, GOP lawmakers spar over law

– Evers calls on ‘adults’ to solve conflict with Kaul, GOP


– Alro to double warehouse space at former Central Steel & Wire building in Milwaukee

– Abele issues challenge grant to complete $1.3 million Adams Garden Park redevelopment campaign


– Madison officials change directions again on Judge Doyle project


– Kroger rival Meijer launches neighborhood stores


– New event venue to bring foam sword fighting to Wauwatosa

– Lake Geneva golf resort unveils new boutique lodging for 2020


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Marquette University: Dean of libraries elected American Library Association endowment trustee

Serve Wisconsin: Announces $7.1 million in AmeriCorps funding for Wisconsin

Edge Messaging: Podcast looks at why many local radio spots stink

American Lung Association: Echoes Milwaukee Health Department’s warning to stop vaping