96square Turns 1!

One year ago today, Startup Milwaukee launched 96square. We started with a few initial tenants, over the year we have grown to 19 companies with over 45+ employees working out of the space. Before 96square Milwaukee lacked a place where growth-oriented entrepreneurs could go to gain access to affordable, scaleable office space and a community of supportive peers during the earliest stages of their companies.

Building a Community of Like-minded Entrepreneurs
At Startup Milwaukee we felt that a physical space for entrepreneurs in Milwaukee needed to happen to increase collisions among entrepreneurs to ultimately accelerate the growth of their companies and increase the pace of innovation. A year later I have no doubt that our tenants have developed their own community where knowledge sharing and co-learning happens almost everyday.

Enabling Growth in Milwaukee
We’ve seen Rent College Pads scale-up  from just one desk a year ago, to over 10 desks today as they continue their recently documented growth trajectory. We’ve also seen companies such as Find My Spot, Homefront Alliance, SpotHopper and Snapifeye grow their footprints at 96square as well.

Providing Access to Capital
We promised we would provide more access to capital through 96square. Since our founding we’ve had local groups such as CSA Partners (Milwaukee) and Wisconsin Super Angel Fund meet with entrepreneurs in our space. We’ve even attracted investor groups from around the Midwest to hold office hours in Milwaukee for the first time, these groups include AmFam Ventures (Madison), Hyde Park Angels (Chicago) and Techstars Chicago. All through our efforts we’ve made over 73 connections between these groups and startups in Southeast Wisconsin.

Thanks to Our Team
While I often get to serve as the face of 96square, there is a great group of volunteers who produce events that serve as the glue of 96square the team includes: Steve Anderson and  Brandon Alberti of Snapifeye, Brennan Stehling of SpotHopper and my fellow Startup Milwaukee co-founders Alicia Boknevitz, Tim Grove and Joe Poeschl! Also importantly, thank you to our real estate partners David Florshiem and Ronnie Reum.

Where does 96square go from here?
We are excited to watch the continued growth of the space. Right now demand outstrips supply and we are nearing capacity, stay tuned!

Want to work @ 96square?
Desks start at $110/month and that includes: access to fiber internet, unlimited use of conference rooms, access to our community kitchens and a network of like-minded entrepreneurs who are committed to growing here in Milwaukee. To learn more about leasing a desk visit 96square.org.

Additional Reading:
Co-working space 96square aims to help Milwaukee start-ups collaborate. - by Kathleen Gallagher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/28/14

Founder of Milwaukee’s First Angel Network, Jeff Rusinow, to Headline gener8tor’s Launch Event

MILWAUKEE – Local angel investor and former retail executive, Jeff Rusinow, will keynote gener8tor’s Premiere Night event October 21, as five startup companies present their businesses to over 400 attendees.
The event will feature companies that have completed gener8tor’s Milwaukee 2014 accelerator program, which provides funding, mentorship, and training for high-tech entrepreneurs. The program culminates with a Premiere Night event where each entrepreneur pitches their company to an audience of potential investors.

Jeff Rusinow has been an active member of the early-stage venture capital community in the Midwest for over the past 15 years, when he founded Milwaukee’s first angel network, Silicon Pastures. He earlier spent 22 years in retail management, holding senior executive positions at Macy’s, Gimbel’s, Hudson Bay Company and, most recently, Kohl’s Department Stores, where he served as an Executive Vice President until leaving corporate mainstream in 2000.

Jeff has been on the Board of Directors of a number of private and public companies, as well as non-profits, over the past several years. As an angel investor, he has invested in over 30 startups, and has had 6 successful exits. He has been the Chairman and lead investor in  two startups that have been acquired by Fortune 500 companies. He is a Founding Donor  of BrightStar Foundation and is on the Investment Committee of the Wisconsin Super Angel

“Jeff has been a critical supporter of gener8tor through his mentorship, investment and cheerleading support. We’re thrilled to have him keynote our firth Premiere Night,” said Troy  Vosseller, gener8tor Co-Founder.

The companies to be featured at the Premiere Night event: