Wes Schroll, Fetch Rewards

The Wisconsin Technology Council produced its latest virtual conference with the theme of “Building blocks for young companies” on Thursday, June 4th, 2020.  Nearly 300 attendees participated in the insightful, multi-faceted regional conference that focused on Surviving and prospering during a ‘new normal’ in the wake of COVID-19 recovery process. Fetch Rewards founder Wes Schroll, former UW-Madison student, kicked off the conference with a view into his journey from being an undergrad to being the lead of one of Wisconsin’s first unicorns – his company has a valuation of over $2 billion. Congratulations to Don Zietlow, founder of Kwik Trip, honored with the annual Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” award.

Six informative panel sessions filled the agenda, around the “launch, grow, succeed” themes, staffed with seasoned investors, successful entrepreneurs and industry experts. A plenary panel also discussed the proposed $100 million Wisconsin Fund [in venture capital] proposed in Gov. Tony Evers’ budget. The panelists were all experienced in successful fund-of-funds in other states, and included Chris Rizik of Michigan’s Renaissance Venture Capital, Brian Birk of Sun Mountain Capital, based in New Mexico and Aaron Gillum of Illinois and Indiana’s 50 South Capital. Additional insights were provided by Brooking Institute contributor and Michigan Economic Center‘s John Austin.

Don Zietlow, Kwik Trip

The Governor’s Business Plan Contest awards ceremony concluded the eventful day with multiple winners, including the Wisconsin Youth Entrepreneurs in Science (YES!) winner.  Congratulations to all of the finalists on your progress and on-going journey.

Grand Prize Winner: Atrility Medical
Category winners: SmartWell (Advanced Manufacturing), eCourt Reporters (Business Services) and Nurse Disrupted (Information Technology)
Bright New Idea Awards: SmartWell and Nurse Disrupted
Wisconsin YES! Award: Pranil Panda, All Weather Bait, Eisenhower Middle/High School, New Berlin

The online SaaS platform allowed the conference sessions to be recorded for attendees to view for additional 90 days post-conference, in addition to 1:1 private video conference meetings and/or chats for all attendees. Thanks to our sponsors, attendees and participants for a great day of learning!

2021 news on the virtual Entrepreneurs’ Conference:
UW-Madison Life Science Communication student stories can be found here.

WisconsinINNO: Fetch Rewards grows with Albertsons deal, added food and gas partners and a new Madison HQ
Milwaukee Business Journal: Madison firm wins 2021 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan competition
BizTimes Milwaukee: How Fetch Rewards grew into Wisconsin’s ‘unicorn’
WisBusiness: Panel: Badger Fund shows private-public funds can lift minority-owned startups
InsideWis: If Wisconsin wants more ‘unicorns,’ it needs venture dollars in the stable
WisBusiness: Wisconsin Venture Capital Association supports the creation of $100M state fund of funds
Business North: Winners announced in Wisconsin business plan contest
WisBusiness: A UW-Madison spinoff took home the grand prize of the Wisconsin BPC
BizTimes Milwaukee: 4 lessons Wisconsin’s proposed $100 million VC fund can take from other states
Concordia-UWM-Marquette spinoff takes second at Wisconsin Gov.’s Business Plan Contest
Countdown! Top 10 reasons to check out the upcoming Entrepreneurs’ Conference
Discounted registration for military vets, students available for June 3 Entrepreneurs’ Conference
June 3 ‘Succeed’ tracks at Entrepreneurs’ Conference focus on hitting early stage goals, ‘crypto’ basics
InsideWis: Kwik Trip’s Zietlow quick to give family, workers credit for success
‘Grow’ panels at virtual Entrepreneurs’ Conference to focus on regional progress, early stage investor
‘Launch’ panels at virtual Entrepreneurs’ Conference will focus on tech talent and post-pandemic resources
InsideWis: Business plan contest finalists reflect range of innovation in Wisconsin
‘See you THIS time!’ Kwik Trip patriarch Zietlow to accept ‘Seize the Day’ award June 3 at ‘treps event
Different ‘flavors’ of state fund of funds on tap for June 3 Entrepreneurs’ Conference
InsideWis: More capital could breed more ‘unicorns’ in Wisconsin
CapTimes: That’s so Fetch: Wes Schroll, ‘unicorn’ CEO, to speak at Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference
Unicorns are real! Founder of $1-billion company to speak June 3 at Entrepreneurs’ Conference