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Bright Idea: WI companies working with WI Companies

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?