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November 8th Inspirational Entrepreneur Event honors Mario and Cathy Costantini, founders of La Lune Collection

November 8th Inspirational Entrepreneur Event honors Mario and Cathy Costantini, founders of La Lune Collection

costantiniaward_200BizStarts held its quarterly Inspirational Entrepreneur event on November 8 at We Energies’ Auditorium, where attendees enjoyed networking and hearing from entrepreneurs Mario & Cathy Costantini of La Lune Collection (, a locally quiet but world-renowned upscale rustic wooden furniture manufacturer located in the Riverwest neighborhood. They presented their suggestions for success:  “Have a good partner, find a narrow niche, accept the occasional, inevitable failure and learn from it, always stay optimistic, starting is easy and keeping it going is hard.”LaLune-Logo

La Lune’s clientele includes Disney, Ralph Lauren, Oprah Winfrey, and  John McCain, to name just a few.  The company is also a favorite of environmentalists and is considered by many to be the most eco-friendly furniture made today. The Riverwest neighborhood, where La Lune is still located, has undergone tremendous urban renewal since the Costantinis moved their business there in 1986. They have supported the neighborhood both economically and socially, co-founding the Holton Youth Center and serving on boards of organizations like First Stage Children’s Theater, Pearls For Teen Girls, Next Act Theater, St. Joan Antida High School and the Florentine Opera Company.

Video of their story – and it’s a good one – is available right on the front page of!

Gener8tor start-ups gener8te $2.5 million in investments

Gener8torLogoCongratulations to gener8tor’s first graduating class of start-up companies… collectively, they have generated $2.5 million in early stage investment for future growth. The seven companies, which span from Milwaukee to Madison, are focused on the tech sector and recently completed their 12-week program. Read more

HoodiePet kids receive TAGIE Young Inventors of the Year Award, will host Open House Friday the 30th


Seth Kempe, 9 and Alexia Kempe, 7, of HoodiePet, LLC (a BizStarts and WWBIC-assisted company) were honored with the 2012 Toy and Game Inventor (TAGIE) Award on November 16 at an elegant gala at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The event brought together toy industry leaders from around the world, and their “clothing meets toy” concept – developed further by parents Alexander and Louise – certainly draw attention. If you didn’t get a chance to browse HoodiePet clothing at our 4th Anniversary Party, check out their kiosk in Mayfair Mall or go online to browse options and get a HoodiePet for your energetic yet fashion-conscious kids: 

HoodiePet will also host an Open House at their facility in the Third HoodiePet HoodiePet-artworkWard Friday from noon-6pm. They’re located at 240 N. Milwaukee Street on the 4th floor. Enjoy the Christmas in the Ward and lighting of the holiday tree afterwards!

Oh, and mention you saw this through BizStarts, and get a special deal on HoodiePet clothing!

BizStarts offers job market perspective at UEDA Summit


UEDALogoThe Urban Economic Development Association (UEDA) 11th Annual Summit, “Completing the Circuit: Electrifying the Job Market” was held at Manpower Group, on November 8.   The Summit focused on addressing the role established employers and potential entrepreneurs play in “electrifying” the job market through new partnerships and identifying ways to overcome challenges in the workforce system. This year’s Summit featured a unique format, including “fishbowl” discussions, encouraging attendees to engage in purposeful dialogue identifying collaborative strategies and developing methods to address the challenges facing our region’s workforce, entrepreneurs and employers. Eric Paulsen offered perspective from the BizStarts and entrepreneurial and small business angle, as BizStarts participated in the Summit’s planning and execution.  Find out more about UEDA at

Startup Weekend hits Milwaukee, creates 15 promising start-ups in 54 hours

BizStarts Milwaukee was one of the sponsors of Startup Weekend Milwaukee November 9, 10 and 11.  Sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, its objectives were to support and teach entrepreneurs how to pitch startup ideas, learn new skills, receive feedback from mentors and peers and even start companies, all within 54 hours.  Our own Eric Paulsen assisted in organizing the event at Marquette University (and moved some furniture, too).  Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world. Get the skinny at

Early Stage Symposium serves up start-ups, including BizStarts companies

The Wisconsin Technology Council’s annual Early Stage Symposium took place at Monona Terrace in Madison November 13-14. Entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, and more were in attendance checking out topical tracks and pitches from start-ups ranging from 7-minute presentations to a 90-second elevator pitch competition. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Larry Landweber, inaugural member of the Internet Hall of Fame, and Greg Milman, an expert on Small Business Innovation Research grants, and panels of other business leaders and veteran entrepreneurs spoke to participants from early stage companies.

EarlyStageSymposium-1 BizStarts hosted one track that helped people develop and refine their “elevator pitch.” Our congrats go out to BizStarts-assisted Novo, LLC, which placed second in the Elevator Pitch competition, and Scanalytics, which won the People’s Choice award (they won the BizStarts Collegiate Business Plan Competition sponsored by Mason Wells earlier this year.) Also, they had a “tweet pitch” competition, and the second-most discussed thing on Twitter from the Symposium turned to be (as part of a three-way second place tie), Golf Pipeline. All in all, a great conference and great work by the entrepreneurs!

SpeechTails Partners with Connections Learning

Connections Learning, a leading provider of digital learning solutions for the K-12 education community and part of global education


company Pearson, has partnered with SpeechTails, an online speech learning initiative and a BizStarts company.  Enhancing Connections Learning’s Online Speech Therapy program with their learning system assessment tools, SpeechTails will help educators and parents determine a child’s individual speech therapy needs.  Connections Learning’s Online Speech Therapy program is available to school districts and individuals seeking an innovative and cost-effective speech therapy program. In their online program a team of highly trained, licensed speech therapists engage with students using a cutting-edge “telepractice” approach, which is endorsed by The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Milwaukee Announced as One of 20 National Finalists in Mayor Bloomberg’s Challenge

Milwaukee’s entrepreneurial efforts have been noticed!  “The Mayor’s Challenge,” is a competition organized by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to generate innovative solu
MayorsChallenge-Milwaukeetions to the problems facing American cities.  More than 300 cities entered the competition, which comes with a $5 million grand prize.  Milwaukee’s proposal, submitted by Mayor Barrett and called “HomeGr/Own”, seeks to transform foreclosed properties into links in a new supply chain for nutritious food.  The 20 finalists will submit refined proposals in early 2013. In addition to the $5 million winner, four runners-up will receive a $1 million prize to be announced in the second quarter of 2013. The Mayors Challenge is    funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bloomberg family foundation.

Good Reads

Congratulations, you just sealed the deal on fresh capital for your startup!  You’ve also just raised the bar on expectations and increased the pressure to perform.   Are you ready?
Quote of the Month
“There’s no good idea that cannot be improved upon.”  Michael D. Eisner, entrepreneur, author and former CEO of the Walt Disney Company

Mark Your Calendars


Small Business Connections Networking Group, Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 6:00pm – 9:00pm Waukesha County Technical College, Richard T. Anderson Education Center, 800 Main Street, Pewaukee, WI 53072

Latino Entrepreneurial Network’s 7th Exito Awards “Learn, Connect, Grow” will honor Gladis Benavides, President, Benavides Enterprises, December 8, 6:00pm – 9:30pm, Oak Creek Community Center

The 2013 BizStarts Collegiate Busines Plan Competition, MSOE’s Todd Wehr Center, April 24, 2013

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