"This program has opened up doors of opportunity that we never knew existed or just hadn't thought to pursue" -Mike Jozwik, Hanging Gardens, LLC and Scalerator participant
The initial phase of Scale Up Milwaukee is beginning to wind down, as plans are made to "scale up" the initiative in 2014 and beyond. This partnership between the GMC, UWM, WEDC, MEDC and American Express OPEN - and facilitated by Dan Isenberg of Babson College - has set for itself the audacious goal of fostering the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem - in short, making the Milwaukee region a center of excellence for entrepreneurship, where risk and ambition are celebrated.
Of course, changing a culture and fostering an ecosystem takes the dedicated input of many stakeholders and will be the result of many programs. I'd like to highlight two of these, and make sure you know about a third coming up soon.
One of the pilot programs is the Scalerator. Twelve ambitious local companies with strong growth potential were selected to participate in an intense mini-MBA-like series, where world class faculty has led them as a group and as individual companies to explore their own growth potential. While only halfway through the program, the impact has been noticeable, as indicated by the quote above. When the program is complete and the companies have had the opportunity to implement their plans, we will have demonstrated that, as a whole, Milwaukee is place where entrepreneurial companies can thrive. You'll have a chance to meet all of the Scalerator participants at the November GMC membership meeting.
Last Friday, Scale Up hosted another program intended to prime the pump of our regional entrepreneurial ecosystem - a Financial Stakeholders workshop. Approximately 50 people (1/3 entrepreneurs, 2/3 financial stakeholders) held a facilitated dialogue where they were able to explore how each group engages with one another.
The goal of all of these programs extends beyond the activities themselves; together, they highlight the growth of the ecosystem. With that in mind, I encourage all of you to consider attending or sending someone from your company to the Corporate Venture Forum on October 18th. One of the critical components of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem is the relationship between local corporations and regional entrepreneurs. On October 18th, corporate leaders from American Express OPEN, IBM and ManpowerGroup will lead a half-day forum on this topic. Out of it will come best practices that you can incorporate to contribute to this burgeoning ecosystem.
I hope to see you on October 18th.
Greater Milwaukee Committee