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March 23, 2016 - entrepreneur@work Digest  
In This Issue
summitSummit Uses Tools Like 'Speed Dating' to Help Start-Ups Build Connections
WI tech summit logo
Mike Flanagan is no stranger to business. He's a financial consultant in Onalaska, just north of La Crosse, and president of Functional Biosciences, a DNA sequencing company based in Madison's University Research Park. Even experienced dogs can learn new tricks, however. When Flanagan attended the first Wisconsin Tech Summit, he got advice from major companies that changed the growth prospects for his emerging biotechnology firm. His story is just one example of how the upcoming Tech Summit at Waukesha's GE Healthcare Institute connects major companies with young firms from across Wisconsin. Learn more about Flanagan's experience, as well as the Summit and major participating companies, here
threeWhat Three Entrepreneurs Did to Test Their First Concepts
3 entrepreneurs
Before you empty your 401(k) or max out your credit cards trying to build an idea into a business, it's imperative that you make sure your risk and labor will pay off. For entrepreneurs, an effective way to validate an idea is to test out a minimum viable product, or MVP, with real potential customers. Exploring the market in this way can help you learn about your customers without wasting a lot of time, capital or other valuable resources. It can also highlight ideas that don't have legs, or help you pivot to something even more suited to your intended audience. Here, three entrepreneurs share how they created effective MVPs, including developing a commercial for a non-existent product, poorly designing a website and incrementally improving on the first 10% of an idea. 
igniteIGNITE! Business Success: Youth Idea Challenge Selects 7 Teams for April 13th Pitch Event
IGNITE graphic
Seven area high school teams have been selected to pitch their product or service ideas at the inaugural IGNITE! Youth Idea Challenge on April 13. The public is invited to attend this exciting "Shark Tank" like event. Engaging high school students is a key focus strategy of IGNITE! Business Success, the umbrella go-to resource network of 17 local organizations supporting area entrepreneurs. "Entrepreneurship spurs innovative and creative thought. This is important for our local community's competitiveness, plus wealth and job creation," says Jo Ann Giese-Kent, IGNITE! Representative from the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation. "IGNITE! wants to recognize, support and maximize entrepreneurial talent and aspirations in our youth." Read more.
codeAre You Looking to Crack the Code to Grow Your Business?
computer code
Entrepreneurs and CEOs spend most of their time and effort caught in the grind of running their operations. Human resources issues, customers, and just stuff take up most their awake hours. They often crawl into bed for a few hours at night, too fried to think. Ami Kassar, founder and CEO of MultiFunding, suggests a simple and powerful exercise that can pull you out of today, and make you think about tomorrow. Read more.
SBDCSBDC Success Story: Full Circle Supply
Mary and Josh Larson
A sustainable lifestyle is important for Josh and Mary Larson, who throughout their lives have always tried living environmentally conscious. It wasn't until late 2012 that Josh came across an article in Popular Science that sparked the couple's interest in owning their own company and making a difference in the La Crosse community. Following some online research, the couple was attracted to the free and local resources the SBDC of UW-La Crosse offered and began working with Terri Urbanek upon opening Full Circle Supply in September 2013. Since then, Full Circle Supply has already made significant impacts in its community, refilling more than 6,000 plastic bottles, which equates to approximately 1,125 pounds of plastic waste. The Larsons attribute a majority of how their company is run to the SBDC, as Urbanek helped with budgeting, forecasting, creating profit-loss statements, establishing contacts throughout the community and even hiring an employee. "Honestly, I don't know where else I would turn in times of need," Mary Larson said. "I trust them completely to give me accurate, easy-to-understand information and advice." Read the full success story here
AroundAround the State. . . 
Entrepreneurship Over Easy: Efficient Operations
Entrepreneurship Over Easy is a quarterly series presented by the United States Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship (USASBE), University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and BizStarts Milwaukee. In their April 14th edition, they are welcoming Joe Scanlin, UW-Whitewater alum and founder of Scanalytics, Inc. In a very short time, Scanlin has built a successful business using operations techniques in which every member of his company is marching lock-step behind one vision. You will learn the importance of increasing efficiency in every aspect of your operation. Scanlin will provide you with specific, easy to understand examples and take-away strategies you can use immediately, including:
  • Ways to market inexpensively and productively.
  • Strategies for saving resources in operations.
  • Leveraging "just-in-time" inventory strategies to free up cash flow and increase your bottom line.
  • Emphasis on how important these principles are in your company's evaluation and potential exit.
Register today for this event on April 14 @8-10am in Milwaukee.
Funding for Your Technology Innovation: Free SBIR/STTR Training Workshop
$2.5B+ of federal funding is available each year for R&D leading to commercialization through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) is presenting a free workshop to help you determine if SBIR is a fit for you and get you started with the process of applying for this funding. This workshop is part of CTC's SBIR Labs program that provides comprehensive assistance in SBIR preparation for Wisconsin businesses. Click here to learn more and register for the workshop on April 5 @8:30-11am. 
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The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a program of UW-Extension. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.