#ESSWI - Nov. 7-8, 2018 Monona Terrace in Madison

Kelly Fitzsimmons
serial tech entrepreneur
Keynote speaker Nov. 7

KELLY FITZSIMMONS, a Milwaukee-based entrepreneur whose journey has ranged from cybersecurity to voice technology, and from virtual reality to film, will set the tone for the annual Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium with a Nov. 7 opening session talk in Madison.

As someone who has built companies and recovered from a major loss along the way, Fitzsimmons will talk about learning from failure – and how to avoid it if possible. Her upcoming book, “Lost in Startuplandia,” was motivated by her frustration with current literature for startups.

“Success is not simple. Success is incredibly complex and it has everything to do with the individual,” Fitzsimmons told BizTimes Milwaukee in a recent interview.

Fitzsimmons is the recipient of the Silvertip PwC Entrepreneurship Award and Speech Technology’s Luminary Award. Her work has been published by Network Computing, InformationWeek and Inc. An active angel investor, she serves on the technology committee for BELLE Capital USA, an early stage angel capital fund that invests in women-led startups.

She is co-founder of Custom Reality Services, a virtual reality production company whose first project, “Across the Line,” premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

photo by Todd Langley, AVID Golfer

Aaron Kennedy
founder of Noodles & Co.
Keynote speaker Nov. 8

AARON KENNEDY is the founder of Noodles & Company, a high growth quick-casual restaurant with 400 locations around the U.S. He launched the business in 1995, was CEO/Chairman until 2008.  He now serves on the board of directors for Sartori Cheese Company, Sterling Rice Group and Modern Market.

He recently served a two-year assignment as chief marketing officer for the State of Colorado. His mission was to unite the state’s 25 agencies under one brand identity and position Colorado to become more competitive in the global marketplace for talent, trade and tourism.

Prior to Noodles & Company, Aaron was marketing director for the NY design firm BrandImage, directing branding projects for Coca-Cola, Swiss Army Products, and the PGA. Before the internet, he worked for Pepsi Cola Company as brand manager of Brand Pepsi and at Oscar Mayer, where he helped develop and launch Lunchables.

He’s a member of the Inc. 500 Hall of Fame for making the Inc 500 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies five years in a row and was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young. Aaron earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism/English at Augustana College and his MBA from UW-Madison.