The Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference was founded in 2003, and for the first 10 years was held in Milwaukee.
In 2013, the conference moved to the Madison region, and attendance immediately increased, said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, which puts on the event.
“At that time, the Madison area was ahead of Milwaukee. We no longer think that that’s the case,” Still said.
So this year, the conference is returning to its roots. The two-day event will take place June 4 and 5 at Venue 42 in the former Pabst Brewery complex in downtown Milwaukee.
“First and foremost, I think the (Milwaukee) region has really moved ahead in a lot of important ways in the last five years or so in terms of the startup economy, as well as the more mature scale up economy,” said Still. “Second, we’re excited by the broader choice of venues in which to hold such a conference. Third, we think that the legacy company environment in Milwaukee is much more open to conferences such as this now.”
The Entrepreneurs’ Conference has consistently attracted 500-plus attendees from across the Midwest to Madison, and Still hopes to see the same in Milwaukee.
He pointed to the development boom, increased focus on entrepreneurism among higher education institutions in the area, more openness to startup activity among government entities and added investor activity in Milwaukee as drivers of the changed startup economy.
“Part of the allure of it is that visitors will be able to see that revitalized Brewery district and see Fiserv (Forum)…and just get a sense of Milwaukee’s rebound,” Still said. “I think it’s emblematic of other great things that are going on in the city.”
The theme of the conference is “Connecting the I-Q Corridor” among Midwestern cities such as Minneapolis, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago. It will include a variety of panel discussions in three tracks: launch, grow and succeed.
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