By Rhea Riley
Brilliant, budding and experienced tech minds came together to encourage and enlighten at the 17th Annual 2019 Entrepreneurs Conference.
The conference was hosted by the Wisconsin Technology Council at Milwaukee’s Venue 42 at MKE Brewing Co. The conference was led by Co-chairs, CEO of Syslogic Tina Chang and Scale Up Executive Director Elmer Moore.
The two-day conference was centered around the theme “Connecting the I-Q Corridor,” which encouraged healthy collaboration and synergy between companies from the three major visiting Midwest cities, Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee.
“Connecting the I-Q corridor is just connecting the opportunism of these three places, that already have a unique cultural and geological overlap,” said Moore. “Let’s take advantage of that and celebrate it.”
The east coast native fell in love with Milwaukee after a cross country move from New York in 2013.
Since then he has been involved in advising local entrepreneurs and championing for the city to flourish and establish more resources.
Beyond bridging the gap between cities, the conference also offered a multitude of stimulating career tips and conversations.
The event began each day with a welcoming remark by keynote speakers, Jeff Rusinow, founder of Silicon Pastures and Super-Angel investor, and John Zeratsky, tech designer and author of “Design Spirit.”
Afterwards attendees could choose between 12 different panel discussions crafted to cater to each and every entrepreneur in various stages of their professional development. Each panel discussion was filtered into three concentrated themes: launch, grow and succeed. From there, 60 different professionals tackled topics like financial planning, attracting financial investors, company marketing in the digital age and the balance of work and mental health.
The conference also featured a plenary panel which discussed the concept of workplace diversity and inclusion.
Moore along with several other panelists explored the steps towards making their field more accommodating to all people. The panelists explained the importance of increasing opportunities for diverse individuals, while simultaneously engaging in inclusiveness with open dialogue and understanding.
“Inclusion means to care about someone,” said Ben Juarez, Cream City Coders founder. “If I don’t know about something maybe you can teach me something that hasn’t been brought to the table.”
Juarez and along with panelist Gina Pagán, a financial advisor at northwestern mutual, shared their challenging experiences they faced furthering their careers, such as being invited to a “dress as your favorite minority party” to being called a “chorizo.” Both professionals addressed fighting prejudices while creating pathways and opportunities for young professionals in the Milwaukee area.
After the learning and networking, it was time to award individuals for their hard work.
On the first day Sue Marks, CEO and founder of recruitment solutions company, Cielo, was awarded the 16th annual Ken Hendricks memorial “Seize the Day” Award. According to the Wisconsin Technology Council, Cielo has reportedly employed an estimated 2,000 people worldwide. Each year the award is presented to an innovative leader who’s shown exceptional work and has been influential in the growth of Wisconsin’s economy.
“Sue Marks is an outstanding entrepreneur who will speak directly to what it’s like to launch, grow and succeed with companies in a competitive environment,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.
The conference concluded with the results of this year’s Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Of the 13 finalists, winners were awarded in four of the contest categories: life sciences, information technology, business services and advanced manufacturing. Madison based startup, GrowthChart Record took home the grand prize for their proposal to provide hands-free documentation to child-care providers through voice assisted technology.
To learn more about the Wisconsin Technology Council or the 2019 Entrepreneurs Conference, visit https://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com