For Hub City Times
MILWAUKEE — BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc. and NEWaukee recently established HATCH, a community-based startup pitch platform that aims to convert strong “napkin” ideas into business plans that launch new companies in central Wisconsin. The application period for idea submissions is now open.
HATCH is a rotating, high energy, social networking and idea pitch program. At each program, several individuals or teams of individuals will have the opportunity to pitch their brightest business ideas. Both the crowd and a jury of select entrepreneurs, companies, investors, and/or community resource partners select the winning idea.
The winner receives $2,000 in cash and an invitation to attend the end-of-year finale to compete against the other winners from previous programs. The winners’ event will offer the opportunity for the four semifinalists to pitch their concepts and attempt to win a $10,000 grand prize. In addition, if any of the pitch participants throughout the four events further their idea, they could be selected as a “wild card” semifinalist to compete for the grand prize as well.
“BrightStar’s mission is to invest in Wisconsin early-stage companies that have the potential to create many high-paying jobs in our great state,” said Tom Shannon, BrightStar’s president and CEO. “We are often asked to help impact the startup ecosystem in ways other than direct investments, and the HATCH pitch program that we’ve developed with NEWaukee is an excellent way to do that. We’ve decided to launch this test program in central Wisconsin, a part of the state where we’ve had especially great support.”
Through the 72 Initiative, a statewide talent attraction strategy started by NEWaukee, a series of millennial-focused organizations will take the lead in organizing the HATCH events. Those organizations include: The Marathon County Development Corporation in Wausau, Ignite Leadership Network of Portage County in Stevens Point, Marshfield Young Professionals, and Current Young Professionals of Wisconsin Rapids. River City Bank is a major sponsor of the HATCH program.
“The startup conversation tends to get stuck with the same people at the table,” said Angela Damiani, NEWaukee CEO and co-founder. “We believe HATCH can be a more inclusive effort in inspiring new founders to take the leap into entrepreneurship, thus growing the number of opportunities for our talent to stay and invest in Wisconsin.”
The first event will be held in Stevens Point on April 26, and the deadline for submitting ideas for consideration for that event is March 31. Submissions of ideas for the remaining three events are accepted on a rolling basis. Those events will be held in Wausau on May 24, Wisconsin Rapids on June 21, and Marshfield on July 19. The finale is scheduled for Oct. 11, and the location will be announced at a later date.
For more information about HATCH, to submit an idea, or to become a resource partner, visit hatchwi.com.