Thank you for your time and partnership as we roll out Scale Up Milwaukee. I wanted to share some quick feedback from the first activities since April 15 and a few thoughts on next steps.
What have we learned from our community discussions?
On April 15 – 17, we hosted five roundtable discussions with more than 50 members of the entrepreneurial community and its stakeholders – including financial services experts, municipal leaders, investors, university educators and entrepreneurship supporters, regional and state agencies, directors of co-working spaces and entrepreneurship development organizations. On May 6, we held a public event at the University Club where more than 150 community members attended and participated in a discussion for two-and a half hours with Dan Isenberg as well as with each other.
The following are comments from participants in all venues, in their words (needless to say, there are naturally differing opinions, and of course many nuances):
- “Milwaukee has a great legacy of successful industry and business to draw on, but we don’t…. Our ‘legacy’ industries are not breeding entrepreneurship.”
- “The corporate community [with noteworthy exceptions] is insufficiently engaged with entrepreneurs, for its own benefit as well.”
- “We don’t take advantage of the numerous excellent small manufacturers to foster their growth.”
- “The Milwaukee community needs to do a better job of branding, internally through storytelling, as well as externally. We are hungry for local success stories and teaching case-studies on local entrepreneurs.”[This may be due to Milwaukee’s culture of modesty].
- “We need many more informal activities to meet and connect with more people in the community.”
- “Access for existing ventures and/or startups to capital, talent, and large, local companies needs to be much stronger.”
- “Entrepreneurs approaching us [investors] are not ‘investment ready.'”
If you missed the May 6th event, you can watch the video here: http://scaleupmilwaukee.org/#!/events/
What are we doing next?
Scale Up Milwaukee Team is now designing activities, in collaboration with many of you and building on existing activities, to address these above issues – some, if not many, of them are actionable, as stated by Dan Isenberg. On Monday, May 20, Dan had a live conversation with two of our local entrepreneurial leaders – Don Layden, partner at Baird Venture Partners, and Matt Cordio, cofounder of Startup Milwaukee – on some of these issues raised during the community discussions and what Scale Up Milwaukee can do to address them. Check out the video here: http://youtu.be/Gndd429qv2g.
In the coming weeks, we will be communicating with you in the coming weeks about some of the specific activities so stay tuned for more details.
We recently received feedback from some of you following the May event, which we will note for future events and activities – including:
- Content will be increasingly focused on the specifics of Milwaukee.
- As the project moves along, we will be able to specify objectives of each event and/or activity at the onset.
- We will target explicit next steps and/or a call-to-action.
Thank you again for your interest and time. We look forward to working with all of you on scaling-up Milwaukee. Follow us on Twitter @ScaleUp_MKE or reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 414.905.0118 with any questions or further comments.
Policy Director, Greater Milwaukee Committee