News & Noteworthy

Posted on Apr 29, 2021 :: News & Noteworthy
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Get to know: Stephanie Hoskins, Co-founder of Debtle

Stephanie Hoskins and her husband, Houston, made the gamble last year to move their family and startup — Debtle — from Louisiana to Kohler. She couldn’t be happier with the decision.

“There are so many good startup programs in Wisconsin. We were attracted to what was happening in Sheboygan and the region,” she says. 

Debtle is a cloud-based software as a service solution that automates and simplifies the negotiation and settlement of bad debt accounts. “Based on the response we’ve received, we feel more comfortable in our decision each day,” Hoskins says.

That response includes winning the 2020 NEW Launch Alliance pitch event, held by New North, Inc., and being named to a list of the top 35 startups to watch in Wisconsin in 2021.

“Winning the pitch event took us to the next level and after being named to the top 35 list, we had three VCs (venture capitalists) reach out to us,” Hoskins says.

Hoskins, who formerly worked in health care finance and strategy, developed the idea for Debtle after seeing the miscommunications that often resulted when patients called to negotiate how to pay their bills. She also saw the failures of the system when a friend tried to negotiate making student loan payments and a solution never materialized.

“Our product empowers consumers to easily purchase their bad debt directly from the organization they owe while optimizing margins on accounts receivable. It’s good for both the consumer and the company,” Hoskins says. “Thirty million Americans have at least one bad debt account, which can affect their credit score, mental health, financial stability and more.”

The goal now is to get in front of potential clients, including health care systems and vendors that sell to health care systems, to show what Debtle can do, Hoskins says. “Our latest version is going live and as we show them (potential clients), we’ll get a real solid response.” 

— MaryBeth Matzek


Pop-up shops

Downtown Green Bay Inc., Olde Main Street Inc., the City of Green Bay and private property owners have come together to offer the Pop-Up Program, which will provide business owners with low-rate, short-term leases. Selected businesses will occupy vacant storefronts and/or shared retail spaces with the potential for long-term occupancy. Local businesses, entrepreneurs and startups are all eligible for the program. The hope is that by helping small businesses enter the downtown market, additional stores will create a more vibrant downtown, which will attract more visitors.


Scooting around town

Bird electric scooters are coming to Travis VanderZanden’s hometown. A 1997 graduate of Appleton North High School, Bird’s CEO and founder succeeded in getting the City of Appleton to run a pilot program to deploy 100 Bird scooters around Appleton. 

Bird Rides Inc. is an app-based dockless scooter-sharing program headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif. Users locate the stand-up, battery-powered scooters through the app, rent them by the minute and leave them at their destination point. There are no fixed locations where rides must begin or end. The company’s employees will move the scooters to make sure they are widely available.

The scooters can be used on streets, sidewalks and paved recreational trails. The pilot program, which ends Dec. 31, includes the stipulation that the scooters cannot be used on College Avenue sidewalks between Badger Avenue and Drew Street.


How do you feel?

Imagine Fox Cities, a communitywide initiative designed to help shape the future of the Fox Cities, launched a survey to assess how residents are feeling about their life circumstances and the community. The survey asks about mental and physical health, finances, life purpose and fulfillment, and emotional and social support. Questions also are included about the community’s overall well-being. The survey is open until May 14. Results from the survey will be used in discussions and plans to improve the lives of Fox Cities residents now and in the future.