MILWAUKEE, Dec. 18, 2019 – BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation’s “Hatch” program was originally created to be a one-year event in order to reward some of its northern Wisconsin donors by helping them to increase entrepreneurism and deal flow in their locales. Though outside of its core mission to fund early stage companies, the program was designed to give entrepreneurs outside of Wisconsin’s two major metro areas a platform to present business ideas to their community, business leaders, industry experts, banks, law firms, potential investors, and other organizations that support startup and early-stage companies. The entrepreneurs also compete for prize more to help start or expand their business.
Launched in 2017 with the cooperation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and their Entrepreneurial Support matching grant program, the inaugural Hatch participation exceeded expectations. Therefore, BrightStar decided to extend the event for an additional two years in order to reach remaining outlying metro areas such as Sheboygan, Appleton, Green Bay, Marionette and Racine/Kenosha. This year the three regions involved held a total of nine events that included their individual regional finales, and BrightStar awarded a record total of more $33,000 in Hatch prize money in 2019.
The Central Wisconsin regional Hatch Finale included two WEDC territories known as Centergy and Grow North. They worked together and had a great event in Plover at the John Noel Car Barn. Michelle Goetsch from Kronenwetter took first place and won $5,000 with her idea ERbin, a software app that works to educate people on a city-by-city how recycle follow the local guidelines that community sets.
At the Chippewa Valley Hatch Finale in Altoona Jim McDougall’s from Eau Claire took first place and won $5,000. His business, UpStream, provides 100% wireless audiovisual solutions using proprietary software and hardware for businesses and homes.
The New North Hatch Regional Finale held December 5th in Green Bay closed out the Hatch program with close to 400 people in attendance…a record crowd for a Hatch event. Luke Haen from Kaukauna with his idea BAKKAB, a device that assists heavy equipment operators and truck drivers by alerting them of unseen hazards, walked away with the top prize of $5,000.
Over the last three years BrightStar has discovered numerous solid ideas at the Hatch events and has invested $100,000 each in two of these companies and are currently evaluating a third opportunity. “There was a real need to stimulate the entrepreneur eco-system in most parts of the state, and the Hatch program has proven to be a successful platform for doing just that,” said Fred Raasch, BrightStar’s Vice President and Hatch program director. “With the many dozens of civic leaders and support organization that have now participated in Hatch, I feel confident they will easily be able to continue and improve their own local programs using our template as a basis.”