Conference will help entrepreneurs grow, succeed

By Tom Still, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

2015 Save the Date FINAL_Page_1Jerry Jendusa’s newest venture is called STUCK, but the veteran entrepreneur, business adviser and community leader seems anything but mired in the muck of underachievement.

The UW-Milwaukee graduate grew EMTEQ from a basement start-up to an international aerospace company over 18 years before it was sold, along with another aviation firm, to BE Aerospace for a combined $470 million in 2014.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Jendusa promptly co-founded STUCK LLC to provide business advisory services to companies looking to grow. STUCK has also launched an early stage investment fund and incorporates a philosophy that successful business founders should give back to the community when they reach the promised land of profitability.

It’s all part of the message Jendusa will deliver during the June 2-3 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison, where he will be a keynote speaker and one of many examples of the innovation economy in southeast Wisconsin.

Still flying high in New Berlin, EMTEQ is an industry leader in airplane cabin comfort and lighting, exterior lighting, aircraft systems design and more. Founded in 1996, it has weathered recessions and dramatic changes in the aviation industry, not the least of which was the downturn following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was a challenging time to be scaling up an aviation company,” Jendusa recalled.

The company grew nonetheless through three acquisitions and the addition of six offices in the United States and three other countries. EMTEQ had 630 employees and more than $100 million in annual sales when it was acquired. Jendusa’s role in navigating that growth explains why he serves as co-chairman of Scale Up Milwaukee, among other community endeavors.

Scaling young companies will be among the themes of the 13th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, which will be held at Madison’s Alliant Energy Center. The theme of “Launch, Grow, Succeed” will bind together several speakers, 15 panel discussions and the finalist round in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Some examples:

  • “Scaling Your Business: How To Foster a Culture of Growth and Spur Rapid Scaling” will feature Brian Schupper, the director of Scale Up Milwaukee, as well as executives from a diverse group of companies.
  • “Are You the ‘It’ In IOT?: Fitting Your Company Into the Internet of Things” will be led by David Vasko of Rockwell Automation. It will underscore how Wisconsin companies are using machine-to-machine communications to move, track and market goods and services. The panel is a follow-up to the March 23 Wisconsin Tech Summit, which was held at the GE Healthcare Institute in Waukesha.
  • “Water, Power, Food and Data” will provide an overview of the work of four Milwaukee-area clusters: The Global Water Council, the Midwest Energy Research Consortium, FaB (Food and Beverage Wisconsin) and The Milwaukee Institute.
  • “The ABCs of Accelerators: Finding What’s Right For You” will feature leaders from accelerators such as Gener8tor, which operates in Milwaukee and Madison, as well as other places where young companies can get a strong start.

Other topics will include how to build the right business team, marketing young firms, understanding key business metrics, learning when to “fail fast” or pivot with young companies, equity crowdfunding, social media for start-ups and the details of how to measure business valuation, find investment dollars and generally fund an emerging business.

The Governor’s Business Plan Contest, which began in January with nearly 250 ideas, now includes 25 finalists competing for cash and other prizes. Eight of the top 25 hail from southeast Wisconsin.

The growth of the Milwaukee area as a start-up and scale-up hub is becoming more evident. While it’s not proceeding quickly enough to please everyone, the foundation for more success stories is being laid.

That’s due to a combination of factors: Promising business ideas; colleges and universities that stress entrepreneurism; a bench of C-level leadership; and partnerships that match private, nonprofit and public players. Milwaukee won’t be “stuck” so long as it continues to produces more EMTEQs and Jerry Jendusas.

– Reposted from JSOnline.com

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