In the Governor’s Roundtable on Entrepreneurship, Governor Walker asked a group of entrepreneurs for things that would help the startup ecosystem. Of course the most important thing for startup companies is customers. Customers validate your product, generate revenue and give you critical feedback as you are growing your business. I proposed that we foster this connection of startups and established companies.
I had also just learned that a competitor from CA was being used at a large HC organization here in Madison. I thought – why didn’t we know they needed a solution like that? Why didn’t they know SOLOMO was here and could provide this solution? In Wisconsin, there is no established way to foster the connection and provide visibility between established companies and early stage companies. Thus, we need a more predictable way to connect these companies and potentially R&D tax credits or other incentives for established companies to participate in a meaningful way.
There are clearly different levels of support that early stage companies require as outlined the pledge (link), including Mentorship, Customers, Solving Real-World Challenges, and Investment. Participating in the Pledge will raise our startups visibility and connect them more directly with established companies that have a specific interest in their industry or technology.
There are also many benefits to established businesses, including access to new technology to differentiate you in the marketplace. It’s hard to keep your current systems running and find time to investigate new technology. Our startups can do that work for you and you can provide feedback, do customer trials and implement the technologies that are of benefit to your organization.
In the future, we’d like to lobby for tax credits or other benefits for our established companies in order to help incent you to participate at higher levels. Sponsorship will help with these activities.
Sign up to take the Pledge – what can you do?
Recently, I was asked by the Capital Times for a Bright Idea for 2014.
In 2014, I will promote the growth of Wisconsin’s technology ecosystem with a “buy local” approach – but instead of food, I’ll apply it to Information Technology products and services. Under this initiative, established Wisconsin businesses will advance their digital capabilities by using technology products and services provided by the growing community of WI technology start-ups. These partnerships will benefit both parties – established businesses need new technology to remain competitive and get ahead in today’s evolving digital world, and start-ups need customers to grow and inform their product development. The efforts will also foster a collegial, supportive culture among local businesses, as the established companies can serve as mentors or even potential investors for start-ups, providing them with the necessary tools to grow their businesses and in turn help them become an integral part of Wisconsin’s knowledge economy.
I’m proud to have started my company SOLOMO, which provides location services to businesses, right here in Madison. The great thing about this city, and Wisconsin in general, is that in addition to its world-class academic institutions, it is home to some really fantastic people, ideas, and companies that are ripe for growth. The success of our burgeoning technology sector.
The question is how do we do this? We need a more formal mechanism for connecting companies with common interests. We are proposing facilitating this through the Wisconsin Partnership Pledge (link). This pledge will outline the different levels of interaction that our established companies can have with entrepreneurs including mentoring, product testing and usage, collaborating on business challenges and even investment. We will then connect companies with common interests to jumpstart the interaction!
The Wisconsin Technology Council is making strides in this area with the 2014 WI Tech Summit. This is a GREAT start – but let’s make it bigger, formalize it, get everyone involved. Sign up to take the Pledge – what can you do?