June 4-5, 2019 at Venue 42 in Milwaukee #WiTreps

keynote speaker June 4

I’m an angel investor, birder and lister, former retail guy, grandfather, author of three books, lifelong student of business models, collector of neat stuff, and a lover of good food, while doing that crazy dance around caloric intake!  As I head more toward my version of retirement, I am devoting less time as an influencer, blogger and online commenter/poster.  There is way too much outstanding content out there for me to try to make headway into that torrent of information; there’s only so much time in a day, and I want to devote a nice chunk of it enjoying this incredible, golden age of series, movies, podcasts and the written word.   I’ve always been a seeker of fun experiences with my family and friends, and going forward now making it an even bigger part of my plans. I also have a lot of fun collecting older, finely detailed things made by incredibly talented artisans (aka objects of vertu or ‘smalls’, and pietra dura). I am attracted to the romance of antiquity and really enjoy the thrill of the hunt for that elusive item.   More recently I have derived a lot of satisfaction better defining and presenting my personal aesthetic.

After spending 22 years in retail management, I left corporate mainstream in 2000 and founded Milwaukee’s first angel network, Silicon Pastures. Over the past 19 years I’ve invested in dozens of early stage companies, after reviewing thousands and thousands of business plans. I have been very fortunate to have so much experiential variety over the past 20 years. In November, 2015, I was inducted into the Wisconsin Investors Hall of Fame, and in August, 2012, was the recipient of the George Dalton Inspirational Entrepreneur Award. I’ve been on the board of directors of a number of private and public companies, as well as non-profits. I’ve always derived immense satisfaction helping to build something from nothing. And when there’s a ‘win’, it’s exhilarating. Conversely, when a startup fails, as most of them do, it’s no fun. People who know me will confirm that I don’t like to lose! Yes, it’s a little crazy making that I’ve been so into startups, and probably helps explain why I am starting to pull back. But to be clear, I still have a few dogs in the hunt.

keynote speaker June 5

John Zeratsky was a designer in the tech industry who became obsessed with the idea of redesigning time. He is the bestselling author of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days and Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day.

John’s writing has been published by The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Fast Company, and many other publications. John has appeared on stage more than 100 times, including at Harvard University, IDEO, and the Code Conference.

For nearly 15 years, John was a designer for technology companies. At Google Ventures, he helped develop the design sprint process and worked with close to 200 startups, including Uber, Slack, Flatiron Health, Pocket, Foundation Medicine, One Medical Group, and Nest. He was also GV’s in-house copywriter, editor, and content strategist; he created and edited the GV Library, which has attracted millions of views since 2012. Previously, John was a designer​ at YouTube and Google, and an early employee at FeedBurner, which Google acquired in 2007.

Originally from small-town Wisconsin, John and his wife Michelle have lived in Chicago and San Francisco. Today they split time between their sailboat “Pineapple” (currently in Panama) and their home in Milwaukee.