Startup central

AOL co-founder Steve Case to lead pitch contest at Launch Wisconsin

Posted on Oct 1, 2017 :: Connections
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Green Bay is “a city on the rise,” says Steve Case,  AOL co-founder and venture capitalist with Revolution LLC, a Washington-based investment firm. “The startup community is showing real momentum.”

Case will bring Revolution’s Rise of the Rest tour to Green Bay during Launch Wisconsin Oct. 17-18 at the Lambeau Field Atrium. The third annual two-day event features more than 200 speakers on innovation, entrepreneurship, venture capital and more.

A highlight will be a pitch competition on the first day, when entrepreneurs from eight Wisconsin startup companies will vie for $100,000 in seed funding from Revolution LLC. Case and his team from Rise of the Rest will judge the competition.

“There’s a desire on the part of folks who we’ve been talking to in Wisconsin to use this as a way to kind of put Green Bay on the map,” Case said in a recent phone interview with Insight.

It didn’t hurt that the Launch Wisconsin leadership, John Ernst, Kim Massey and others, persuaded Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy to write a letter to Case inviting him to Titletown.

“You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve been lobbying for a couple years to get on our radar, with their social media campaign and the hashtag, ‘Place for Case,’” he said. “We like that spunk, that energy.”

Rise of the Rest has committed $4 million to startup companies, with a mission to call attention to the innovation occurring in middle America.

“We spotlight cities that are on the rise, entrepreneurs who are building interesting companies and are positioned well for the future but are generally not cities that investors on the coasts — whether it be Silicon Valley, New York City or other places —  are paying attention to,” Case said. 

A team from the Rise of the Rest tour spent a whirlwind day in late August with the planning group for Launch Wisconsin, familiarizing themselves with innovators in young and mature companies. Led by Anna Mason, director of investments for Rise of the Rest, they visited Menasha Corp. and Sunset Hill Stoneware in Neenah, Breakthrough Fuel and The Cannery Public Market in Green Bay, and The Grind Cowork Space in Oshkosh.

Leaders met with Murphy and Packers Director of Public Affairs Aaron Popkey for lunch at Lambeau Field. They capped the day networking with entrepreneurs from the region at Mr. Brews Taphouse at RiverHeath, Appleton.

When Rise of the Rest returns this month, the group will visit Green Bay on the last of its five-day, five-city tour of the Midwest. This is the sixth such tour Rise of the Rest will have done in the last three years, and in each city Revolution LLC has granted $100,000 to winners of startup pitch contests.

“One part of the day is this idea of connecting and convening key stakeholders and leaders from across all ecosystems — the public sector, the private sector, the traditional business community, the startup community, the media, the universities, the startup organizations like Launch Wisconsin — and getting that plurality of perspectives in the room together,” Mason said at the August visit.

Ernst said the goals of Launch Wisconsin dovetail with Rise of the Rest: to engage, ignite, connect and collide the individuals inside and outside our region who are passionate about building high-growth, innovative companies.

With technology at the fingertips of every entrepreneur today, “this is the beginning of a new era for entrepreneurship across the U.S.,” Case is quoted as saying on the Rise of the Rest website. “High-growth companies can now start and scale anywhere, not just in a few coastal cities.”

Launch Wisconsin 2017

Lambeau Field Atrium

Oct. 17-18
Startup pitch contest with Steve Case:
1-7 p.m. Oct. 17

Insight Innovation Awards Panel: Oct. 18

For an agenda, list of speakers and to register, visit the Launch Wisconsin website at

Wisconsin Pitch Competition Finalists

Steve Case and the Rise of the Rest team will judge a new business startup pitch competition during Launch Wisconsin Oct. 17 at the Lambeau Field Atrium. The winner will receive $100,000 in seed money from Rise of the Rest. The following companies will pitch their ideas:

Lanehub Inc., a social network for transportation, freight lane matching and collaboration. Pitching: Mark Hackl, founder and CEO, based in Green Bay.

Indigenous Pact PBC Inc., a company that puts a health card in the hand of every tribal member. Pitching: Kurt Brenkus, founder and CEO, based in Northeast Wisconsin.

In Our Hands, which educates constituents on state legislation, “putting power in their hands.” Pitching: Founder, president and UW-Oshkosh student Abbie Merrill.

Illumyx, which diagnoses internal barriers to corporate growth, productivity and engagement. Pitching: Stephen Utech, founder and CEO, Green Bay.

OrendX, a Green Bay-based organization which empowers nurse engagement through positive recognition and social collaboration. Pitching: April Hansen, founder.

Also pitching are the following companies from the Greater Milwaukee area:

65 Incorporated, which provides expert, individualized Medicare enrollment guidance without insurance sales. Pitching: Melinda Caghill, CMO.

Scanalytics Inc., which provides data on how people interact with physical environments. Pitching: Joe Scanlin, co-founder and CEO.

Ideawake, which allows companies of all sizes to involve their employees, customers, and other stakeholders more deeply in strategic planning. Pitching: Coby Skonord, CEO.

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →