This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Grady Buchanan, the co-founder and CEO of OmniValley.
Buchanan is an investment analyst with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The OmniValley platform is a private, online community for professionals in his space -- investors, venture capital firms, accelerator organizations and others.
After launching in March, OmniValley now has more than 100 members.
“One of the luxuries that I have as an institutional investor, we can connect with other institutions -- we’re a fairly close-knit group,” he said. “The world is pretty small altogether, and our world is even smaller.”
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” is with Pete Layton, CEO and owner of Tallgrass Restoration, a Milton company that restores land to its natural state with native plants and animal species.
“When the earlier settlers came here they did a lot of planting in the wetlands because they could plow it up,” he said.
Nowadays, when businesses impact wetlands with a development, they are required to do some restoration to offset the damage done to the environment.
“What they’ve found is it’s much better to hire a firm like ours -- that are professionals about it and do it on a large scale -- and get their wetland credits from us,” he said.
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Andrew Verboncouer, president of Digital Fertilizer, a northeast Wisconsin entrepreneurial support group.
This community-building group is celebrating its fifth anniversary next week in Green Bay.
“What we try to do is engage, connect and empower the startup community in northeast Wisconsin,” he said. “We bring in speakers, sometimes from the Fox Valley, sometimes from San Francisco, Chicago, to really share their story and some hiccups along the journey.”
He says this inspires community members to get started with their own business ideas and take some risks as they lean on the resources available through Digital Fertilizer.
This podcast was recorded last week in Madison at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference.
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features a discussion with John Ernst and Irene Strohbeen (pictured here) of Kinnektor, a Fox Valley entrepreneurship group with plans to extend its reach into the greater Midwest.
“When we look at other regions, we see there are many nodes involved in making the ecosystem successful, and helping each individual that has a business-related mission and goal to accomplish,” Ernst said.
He sees help coming from: entrepreneurial support organizations like Kinnektor, venture capital investors, universities, accelerators and other groups.
“What I see in the future and what we hope to see here in Wisconsin is that there is acceptance for many nodes to participate, which helps widen diversity, not only in discipline but in thought,” he said.
“I realized, I have quite a bit I can contribute to mentoring and helping to guide startups because that’s essentially what I’ve been doing for most of my career,” Strohbeen said. “What I really enjoy doing is providing additional info to entrepreneurs on how they can strengthen their startups.”
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Jonathan Wiggins, president and CEO of Madison-based sports startup called myAgame.
He’s developing an “interactive playbook” for use by football teams and their coaches, with a second round of beta testing to begin in the fall.
“We’re going to have a few teams utilizing our software. My goal is to have 30 teams total -- 20 youth, 10 high schools -- across the state,” he said. “I just want to build on the success we had last year with Memorial High School’s program.”
The school’s football team hadn’t won a game in four years, and hadn’t won more than one game per season in nine years. After implementing the myAgame system, “they were eight seconds away from making the playoffs for the first time since 2000 -- so that’s huge.”
Coaches send their playbook into the company to be digitized, so that player-specific assignments can be sent out the night before a game. Players can sign into the platform from any internet portal, practice their assigned plays, and get scores based on how well they do.
The platform incorporates gamification to make studying plays and learning the game of football more fun. Players are ranked based on their performance in the system, which also includes a messaging section for competitive banter.
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Don Eisenhauer, the program director for Young Rembrandts Metro Milwaukee.
This company goes into local schools and school districts in the Milwaukee area to put on before- and after-school art activities with a goal of supplementing existing art programs. Parents pay the company directly for these activities, which are hosted with permission from the school.
Eisenhauer says this provides creative growth opportunities for kids that are dwindling as funding for art programs dries up in some areas and schools statewide put increasing focus on high-stakes testing.
“I believe the future worker is going to have more success in any job -- whether it’s developing products or offering a service -- I strongly believe that any worker will have more success if they have more right-brain or more creative ability,” he said.
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Karen and Eric Riggers, co-founders for Appleton-based food startup Reinvent Ferment.
After starting the company late last year, they began selling their fermented food products in early 2018. Though they do have their own version of sauerkraut, they also sell kimchi, and curried cauliflower as well as fermented fruit products like mango and raspberry.
Their goal with this company is to provide all-natural foods with positive benefits on digestive health.
“Living fermented foods introduce good bugs,” she said. “Your gut health is responsible for your immunity, it’s responsible for inflammation in body systems… we also know gut health is also responsible for our mental health -- you have more serotonin in your gut than in your brain.”
She says that’s where the idea of “gut instinct,” or “gut feeling” comes from.
“In a western diet, that’s largely based on processed foods that we heat pasteurize to kill bad bugs, but we’ve also killed all of the good bugs that we find in whole foods,” she said. “Introducing fermented foods helps introduce good bacteria and kind of reset our microbiome.”
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features a discussion with Jignesh Patel, a computer sciences professor at UW-Madison.
He discusses the role of computer sciences in Wisconsin’s biggest industries, explaining how agriculture, manufacturing and health care are being transformed as technology becomes more widespread.
“Every sector of our economy is now becoming data-driven [but] in many cases we are still in very early days,” he said. “You act on what the data is telling you now based on patterns that you’ve inferred, from collecting and learning… you can make better decisions, you can make manufacturing much more economical.”
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Shirley Malski, an international business consultant at the Small Business Development Center in UW-Oshkosh.
She helps businesses identify opportunities and resources for international trade as they work to develop a global presence.
In this discussion, she talks about the importance of international trade to Wisconsin companies.
“Oftentimes, you can see mitigation of risk by diversifying across a number of different economies and a number of different geopolitical environments,” she said. “Here your product might be in a mature or even a declining stage, but if you introduce it to a new market somewhere, it’s probably going to be in a growth stage.”
This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” is with Dale Willis, co-founder of Curate Solutions.
This Madison-based startup relies on artificial intelligence to parse through government minutes and agendas to find opportunities for companies in the construction industry. Willis says the company has specialists on hand to help determine if the data identified is valid.
Curate is currently focused on the Midwest, but he says the team is looking to expand nationwide.
“The only way we could really do that and scan through this data across the entire country is by taking the data we have labeled, and use artificial intelligence to determine what will be valid for our other customers as we expand,” Willis said.