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BizStarts Catalyst: November 2011



BizStarts Catalyst
November 2011

In This Issue of the Catalyst

BizStarts to honor Inspirational Entreprenur Joe Tate Thursday

Joe TateBizStarts Milwaukee continues its Inspirational Entrepreneur series on Thursday, December 1, when we honor Joe Tate, founder of companies like waste handler Superior Services, Inc. and Tate Enterprises. Joe founded Superior Services in 1967 with three employees and annual revenues of $40,000; by 1999, Superior was sold to Vivendi in an IPO for slightly over $1 billion on $400 million of revenue and 3,000 employees. Now that’s inspirational!

We’ll also hear from Ken Wanek, CFP, RIA, Founder, President and CEO of Datatrac, a market research company specializing in the banking industry. His company monitors deposit and lending rates for over 20,000 financial institutions nationwide and is the exclusive provider of interest rate data for national banking and professional organizations.

If you haven’t RSVP’d yet, please do so by Wednesday! It will be an afternoon event, running from 4-6pm at We Energies in their Auditorium, 231 W. Michigan Street in Milwaukee.

For registration and more information, click here.

 George Dalton, original BizStarts Board member, passes away at age 83

Inspirational Entrepreneur Award will be named in his honor

As you likely have read by now, prolific entrepreneur and BizStarts Board founding member George
GeorgeDalton Dalton passed away on November 18th. He was 83.

Much has been written about George, and his contributions to the community, to our region’s economy and to organizations he supported such as BizStarts are nothing short of legendary. If you ever used a TYME machine back in the day, George Dalton was a key reason you were able to access your cash. He was co-founder of Fiserv and founded Novo 1. You can read more about George in these articles from BizTimes and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He will be sorely missed.

It was also announced on Tuesday that moving forward, we will be presenting the newly-minted George Dalton Inspirational Entrepreneur Award when we honor entrepreneurs at our quarterly events. This includes the Inspirational Entrepreneur Event featuring Joe Tate this Thursday.

You can find out more information about the George Dalton Inspirational Entrepreneur Award in the Business Journal, the BizTimes and the Journal Sentinel.

BizStarts across the Region

dansteingreenfieldDan Steininger,
Co-Founder and President of BizStarts Milwaukee, delivered the keynote speech at the Greenfield Public Library on November 4, “Startups, Spinoffs and Angels: The Key to Job Creation in Wisconsin” as a fundraiser for the Library. Details of his speech are below.

What do electric shavers, the car radio, laundromats, photocopies, two all-American favorites, Mrs. Field’s cookies and the Monopoly board game, all have in common? They were ideas that became indispensable products from the inexhaustible innovators and inventors during the Depression. In the 1930’s, the inventiveness of American entrepreneurs didn’t stop, nor even pause.

The entrepreneurial spirit must be encouraged, mentored and nurtured: a Kauffman Foundation study indicates that all new jobs in the last twenty-five years come from new companies, from entrepreneurial start-ups. Success will come from technology, mentors and money “from friends, family and fools.” In his summary, Dan exhorted all of us to change our business approach “We need to teach our youth how to run companies, and have the support to succeed; if they’re going to fail, they should fail fast and fail early.”

Dan is also a regular contributor to John Torinus’ blog ( This month’s topic is “Economic reinvention via startups takes root The Startup Economy”.

Eric Paulsen spoke on the topic “From Idea to Investment: How BizStarts Milwaukee Helps
EricPaulsenEntrepreneurs Launch Businesses” at the Inventors & Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Milwaukee on November 9, 2011 at the Tommy Thompson Youth Center at State Fair Park. The Inventors & Entrepreneurs Program is sponsored by the CEOs of Growing Businesses, a service of the MMAC, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and We Energies. This was their final meeting, and entrepreneurs with innovative start-up ideas were encouraged to work with BizStarts to move forward… and we’ve been hearing from them!

The Early Stage Symposium in Madison took place November 2nd and 3rd at Monona Terrace. Chelsea Krause moderated the panel “Entrepreneurs’ Workshop: Perfecting Your Short-Building
Chelsea1Elevator Pitch,” where participants had only ninety seconds to communicate their company, product, plan, investment needs and qualifications to a panel of investors. A three-person panel that included Dave Linz of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network provided feedback. Dan Steininger served as a panelist for “Intellectual property: An Investors’ Perspective in a Post-Reform World,” a track helping entrepreneurs understand when they need to get patents or other protections for their products and ideas – and also when it wasn’t necessary to, which can be just as important!

HoodiePetStory Behind The Startup:

Louise Kempe, CEO & Founder, HoodiePet, LLC

One of Milwaukee’s newest start-up companies is HoodiePet, LLC (, a
HoodiePet - Artwork1company built on imagination, creativity and, for Founder Louise Kempe, her children. This is the story of how inspiration from her offspring, BizStarts and WWBIC helped launch what could be one of the hottest holiday clothing items for children this season.

“You have to listen to everyone. Listen and learn from your children.  And when you have a positive mindset about any initiative, it will always create opportunities. Always. With an optimistic attitude, obstacles won’t exist.”

Louise and Alexander Kempe joined our community when Alexander accepted a position with GE Healthcare in the service operations division.  Originally from Sweden, they and their children, Seth, Alexia and Alba, came to Milwaukee from Germany to enjoy all of what Milwaukee’s neighborhoods have to offer.  Creative and innovative people, an entrepreneurial possibility was yet to present itself.  But it did, and in a very unexpected way.

One evening, as Louise was bathing and dressing their three children, daughter Alexia asked her to attach her favorite stuffed animal to the front of her fleece blanket.  Being open to the wisdom of he
HoodiePet - Artworkr daughter, and not yet knowing how to sew, Louise purchased a sewing machine, children’s clothing patterns, fabric and stuffed animals. The HoodiePet was born, the product of a child’s creative imagination and Louise’s responsiveness and initiative.

The HoodiePet encourages creative play and fun while keeping children warm and cozy.  The fleece hoodie has a plush animal toy and puppet that attaches with velcro to the front.  The animals are interchangeable, each has its own personality and biography, helping children to learn more about our planet’s animal kingdom. Children trade, collect and play with their favorite HoodiePet puppet friends.

Since its launch earlier this year, the HoodiePet was immediately popular with schoolmates, neighbors and other friends asking for them.  But research was also important.  A pilot was completed with twelve families suggesting minor changes to the original concept and an approving product survey score of ten confirmed what she already knew. The HoodiePet was going to be a success.

A succession of the next steps of development is familiar to all entrepreneurs.  They found support from all areas needed to progress the HoodiPet to completion.  Frank Botto at Florence Eisenman provided valuable advice, they retained a manufacturer of children’s’ clothing and plush toys in China, Lightburn completed the website hosting and development and they secured a patent, trademark and other legal assistance provided by Davis & Kuelthau.

“We feel like we’ve been ‘in the zone’ for the last nine months.  It’s exhilarating.  The support of BizStarts Milwaukee came just as it was needed.  At the end of summer, we were running at 180 mph and knew it was time for local marketing intelligence and working capital.  Eric Paulsen provided assistance and direction for the needed financing through WWBIC, a successful lever in making all of this happen.  Because it was important to promote a Wisconsin presence, to contribute and stay a part of this community, we have chosen firms here in Milwaukee.  And, four new positions will be filled by the end of the year. ”

HoodiePets are sold through the website and a Mayfair Mall kiosk, a perfect holiday gift for any child.  Louise appreciates not only the business success but also the family’s personal success.
Louise says “It’s made my relationship with my family stronger:  my husband and I knew each other as friends, spouses and parents and now we are delighted to know each other as business partners, too.”   And for Alex:  “It’s been really cool to know that the HoodiePet CEO is also my wife.”

To purchase a HoodiePet for the children in your life, visit


 Racine’s new “Launch Box” receives support from BizStarts Milwaukee

Recognizing the importance of business start-ups for reviving local economies, the City of Racine announced its new Launch Box initiative at a press conference on Tuesday, November 22nd, with commentary from Racine Mayor John Dickert and manager of the Launch Box effort, Kristin Niemiec. The Launch Box will be a place where the partners can provide certain kinds of help for businesspeople to share information and resources. BizStarts Milwaukee is one of nine partners providing partnership support for the initiative.

“We’re about helping entrepreneurial efforts across all of southeastern Wisconsin,” said BizStarts Executive Director Eric Paulsen, who attended the press conference and signed the memorandum of understanding. “Racine ‘gets it’ – they understand the importance of start-ups. This is where innovation can thrive – this is the city where the garbage disposal and malted milk, among other things, were invented. As new entrepreneurs come forth with innovative ideas, BizStarts will do what we can to help them turn these ideas into great and growing companies.”

Other partners for the Launch Box include the Racine County Economic Development Corporation, the UW-Parkside Small Business Development Center, Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network and WWBIC, the Wisconsin Women Business Initiative Corporation. You can read more about the Launch Box initiative in this article from the Racine Journal Times by clicking here.

Quote of the Month

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs

For the Calendar

Inspirational Entrepreneur event featuring Joe Tate and Ken Wanek, Thursday, December 1st
For registration and more information, click here.


For up-to-date information on BizStarts Milwaukee, be sure to visit the website:
http://www.bizstartsmilwaukee.comClasses and events relating to business can be found on the BizStarts calendar at:

Pass the Catalyst newsletter on to your friend and associates! They can subscribe to our free newsletter on BizStarts Milwaukee’s Home Page under BizStarts Milwaukee Catalyst.

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