Marcus Lemonis had something up his sleeve.
The Marquette alumnus and Camping World chief executive officer turned off his microphone and whispered to Summerfest CEO Don Smiley and event organizers Matt Cordio of Startup Milwaukee and Kathleen Gallagher of the Milwaukee Institute while the crowd grew restless.
Lemonis hatched his plan as he judged the 5 Lakes Pitch competition at Discovery World on Milwaukee’s lakefront in late June. The contest, part of Summerfest Tech, pitted four startups against each other in competition for a $7,500 cash prize and in-kind services. That top prize went to health care interoperability startup OneChart Health.
But the celebrity entrepreneur decided on the spot to invest $10,000 of his own money in the promising second-place startup, Fiveable.