Jack Fennimore
YP Week

How To Become An Entrepreneur

Panel at The Commons offers advice, encouragement, and anecdotes.

By - Apr 16th, 2015 01:34 pm
Entrepreneurship 101 (Photo by Ian Abston)

Entrepreneurship 101 (Photo by Ian Abston)

On Wednesday, NEWaukee hosted Entrepreneurship 101, a mid-day panel (starting at 11:30 a.m.) held at the The Commons, located on the second floor of the Walker’s Point Kramer Foundry Building at 170 S. First St. The Commons was created as a kind of startup accelerator for entrepreneurial university students in the Milwaukee area. So it was an appropriate location for a panel encouraging young entrepreneurs, which was part of Newwaukee’s Young Professionals Week program.

The panel was moderated by Matt Cordio, a co-founder of The Commons and Startup Milwaukee, and consisted of Daniel Sem of Concordia University, Dominic Anzalone, Founder and CEO of RentCollegePads.com, Matt Bartel, Founder and President of Digital Measures, Lizzibeth Weasler, Founder of Lizzibeth, Jonathan Zuckerbrod, BusinessStrategy and Platform Developer for the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, founder of the CSA Partners venture fund. They spoke to about 75 attendees.

Each of the speakers gave the audience advice and anecdotes about entrepreneurship and startup businesses. One of the most important points I took away from the panel was to start early and start now. It’s especially good to start while you’re still in college, where you’re still able to take risks and learn from your mistakes. (Anzalone started his company while in college.) Panelists warned listeners not to make the mistake of waiting too long to start a project or hire people or take other risks. As Weasler noted, “it’s okay to be scared because it drives you forward and gives you confidence in yourself.”

There are many good qualities that can help in your pursuit of entrepreneurship. Bartel said that you need to “have a vision” and “see the possibilities that other people don’t see.” Zuckerbrod added that you have to “understand what failure is and get close to it” and to “listen to customers and advisors.” Abele quipped that you need a “pathological attraction to the challenge of a problem.”

One of the anecdotes was Abele’s recollection of when a coworker was burned by a steam tank in a hospital. There was no safety manual, just a tiny sticker on the tank. Even though the situation could have been avoided, it could have been worse and they addressed the problem and learned from it. There will be times where things will catch you off guard, Abele noted, and when they do, don’t think it’s the end of the world. If fact, it can be an opportunity for further growth. “The best learning is failure,” Abele noted.

Although Milwaukee is small, there are plenty of resources available that can help you, panelists stressed. The panel recommended finding advisors and peers that you’re compatible with and who can share your interests and have knowledge and experience to share. They have to “almost become part of your start-up family,” Weasler suggested.

And unlike East Coast and West Coast cities, where competition can be fierce, Milwaukee is less competitive and has “more of a sense of community,” as Bartel put it, which can be helpful. Weasler agreed, saying the tendency of Milwaukeeans to be so “gosh-darn friendly” helped her build her business.

When Cordio asked how many in the crowd wanted to start a business, a dozen or so hands went up. They left with plenty of encouragement and advice for how to get started.

To learn more about the Young Professionals Week Program and the full schedule and locations for events, you can visit their website. To learn more about Newwaukee, as well as information on memberships, you can visit their website.

Categories: Business, YP Week

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