Written By: Dan Steininger, President and Co-Founder of BizStarts, and John Limbach, Entrepreneur Coach of BizStarts
As seen on the October 31, 2016 post in Milwaukee Business Journal OnRamp Blog.
The economic history of our region has been fueled by startup manufacturing companies.
They are, after all, the companies that actually make things. No disrespect for the hottest, latest app; but companies that build and create products that consumers use are still the gold standard.
That said, the question is whether it’s possible to start a new manufacturing operation in Wisconsin and survive?
And the answer is a resounding yes — if the entrepreneur can identify an important niche that’s not been served in the marketplace. It also requires access to capital because manufacturing is always capital-intensive.
One shining example is the story of Steen Mikkelsen who sought BizStarts’ help for a startup manufacturing operation in the print world.
Bizstarts connected him to John Torinus, previous president of BizStarts and successful business leader, who knew the space and could connect Steen to early-stage capital.
The result was the birth of MCTdigital.
MCTdigital is now about five years old, and employs 30 people, and ramping up to 50 in the next 18 months.
It has now become a Milwaukee success story, recently winning a very prestigious industry award. The SGIA, or Specialty Graphics Industry Association, supports the digital and screen printing community in the US. MCTdigital won the Product of the Year award for finishing-routers/cutters with its VersaTech2 “all in one” cutter.
MCTdigital developed this technology and executed on it through their international partnership with UK firm Blackman and White. VersaTech2 is manufactured in the US in MCT’s factory based in Milwaukee.
MCTdigital cut its teeth years ago as Mikkelsen Graphic Engineering, which since 1999 pioneered the digital die cutting market with its proprietary solution, I-cut that provides all-in-one grand format finishing solutions. As a distributor that developed its own software, MGE was not always capable of getting its suppliers to move fast enough to meet emerging market needs. Therefore MCT was established to develop a next generation solution.
And today after winning this prestigious award for a second time, MCTdigital is creating jobs and providing customer-focused support through a higher technician-to-customer ratio than any other supplier.
Hats off to Steen and his team, and to John Torinus for sharing his expertise and advice and connecting Steen to the Wisconsin Super Angels to provide the early stage risk capital.
About the Authors
Dan Steininger is the president and co-founder of BizStarts. BizStarts facilitates the creation of new companies in southeast Wisconsin. He currently teaches courses on innovation for the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education for business leaders. Contact BizStarts >>
As the Entrepreneur Coach for BizStarts, John Limbach has a lot to offer entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting a business. He partners with Jacquin Davidson, Executive Director of BizStarts, to guide entrepreneurs through the challenges of starting their business. John comes from an entrepreneurial family.
OnRamp offers conversation and connections among the entrepreneurs who are shaping Wisconsin’s economy, and brings corporations and start-ups together at statewide events. View other OnRamp blog posts >>