Creating a grassroots vibe in your community

By Marshall Folger – COO, Polaris Talent Inc.

Attending the first ever Racine Startup Week Community happy hour this past Tuesday left me feeling an air of excitement and positive vibes about the startup scene in Southeastern Wisconsin, specifically Racine county.  

Bringing together Racine’s Startup Community for the first time

Hosted at The Branch, more than forty like-minded and goal-driven members of our community gathered over some really awesome flatbreads (seriously – huge shout out to The Branch for the amazing food!) and beer to learn more about the upcoming Racine Startup Week, part of Wisconsin Startup Week which is November 5-11, 2018.  Startup Week Wisconsin was founded by Matt Cordio of Skills Pipeline. Matt is a connector at heart and tirelessly promotes the startup ecosystem in Wisconsin to educate and encourage entrepreneurs at all stages to get out and build their dreams and create companies that create jobs and improve their communities.  

 

But back to Tuesday night – It’s important to note, this wasn’t a city government sanctioned event, it was organized by the Racine Startup Week Organizing Committee (which the executive team of Polaris Talent Inc is part of) to be an entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur evening of people to learn how we’re going to use startups and entrepreneurship to write a new chapter in Racine’s history of innovation beginning by hosting our very own startup week here in November. We learned what the Racine Startup Week team has planned, how our week is part of a larger statewide effort to showcase startups and build a stronger network of entrepreneurs for Wisconsin, and found out how each of us can play a part in the week at the grassroots level by being speakers, sponsors, or hosting a event. 

Startup Wisconsin Founder Matt Cordio and Racine Co-Chair Marie Watkins enjoying beer and music at The Nash after the happy hour

 

The highlight of the evening was the networking and side conversations that allowed people to really connect with each other. Racine often feels stagnant and siloed when it comes to entrepreneurship but Tuesday’s event was a tipping point for positive change in my opinion.  Joining up with like-minded people brought us all out of our individual silos as we shared our experience and knowledge with those that have an interest in creating businesses to create jobs and improve the quality of life for the city we live in. And yes, Foxconn’s potential impact (for better or worse) on the county was a topic but it seems there is more excitement than dread about the changes that are on our horizon as a result.  The evening was also about discovering the different paths to success people have taken. It was forming new relationships and reinforcing existing. It was an exciting moment of people removing labels and political affiliation to be on the common ground of building dreams and looking out for their community whether they are young professionals or seasoned business owners. All in attendance shared stories and goals and how-to’s in an environment of mutual respect and shared interest.  

 

My takeaways from the evening were:

 

  • Grassroots works. Get together over a cold pint or whatever and just talk – you’d be amazed how much common ground there is.
  • Get to know each other and build your tribe and then integrate with another to form a bigger circle.
  • Leave your politics and ego at the door and let success and new ideas happen.  Community growth will happen.
  • Success is contagious and it’s one infection we can all agree we don’t want a cure for.  We just want more success.
  • Just an hour or two of your time a week can build your dream of owning a business and making a better world for you and those around you.

 

If you’re in Wisconsin, plan on joining us for startup week in Racine or whatever community you are closest too.  If you want to get involved as a speaker, sponsor, or to host an event, contact us.

 

#Wisconsin Forward

#Racine Forward

#Forever Forward

 

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