Portage County Farmers Market

2018 HATCH program; Portage County Business Council hosts May 16

By Portage County Business Council

BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation today announced the schedule for the 2018 HATCH entrepreneurial pitch program. BrightStar, with the assistance of an entrepreneurship support grant from Wisconsin Economic Development Corp, expanded the program from one region in 2017 to three regions this year. The Portage County Business Council is hosting for the second year and the event will be Eron’s Event Barn on May 16, 6:00-8:30 PM. Registration is requested.

“WEDC was impressed with the success that HATCH had last year in supporting entrepreneurs in central Wisconsin and we look forward to seeing the same results as this innovative program expands to other regions of the state,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “We are pleased to be able to provide additional funding to offer more resources to entrepreneurs through programs like HATCH.”

HATCH is a rotating, high-energy idea pitch program designed to facilitate connections between prospective entrepreneurs and those within a community who support them such as industry experts, professional service firms, banks, non-profits, business leaders and investors. All of the central Wisconsin local events drew up to 150 people, and the finale had more than 300 people in attendance. At each program, several individuals or teams of individuals have the opportunity to pitch their best business idea to a panel of judges while substantive connections and networking occurs between attendees. Dates and cities for all of the events have been set, but most of the venue locations have not been finalized. All of the events start at 6 p.m. and end at roughly 8:30 p.m.

“We are excited to bring HATCH back to Central Wisconsin.” said Todd Kuckkahn, Executive Director at Portage County Business Council. “Our community is known for its entrepreneurial culture and spirit and the support last year made it an easy decision for them to come back. We have a unique and fun location and are excited for our jurors to select the $2,000 prize winner who will qualify for the finals.”

Central Wisconsin region schedule:

  • May 16 – Stevens Point at Eron’s Event Barn, hosted by the Portage County Business Council
  • June 20 – Wisconsin Rapids at Mid-State Technical College
  • August 8 – Wausau (venue to be determined), hosted by the Entrepreneurial & Education Center
  • September 26 – Marshfield (venue TBD), hosted by the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • November 7 – Regional finale in Stevens Point (venue TDB), hosted by Central Wisconsin HATCH

In addition to the four central Wisconsin communities that hosted events last year, the program will expand to two other regions. The northwestern Wisconsin region includes the greater Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas, while the southeastern Wisconsin region includes the greater Racine and Kenosha areas.

To register and attend, go to Click on the “Events” link.

Brightstar is accepting applications from entrepreneurs who are interested in presenting their business ideas at upcoming HATCH events. Go to and click on “Submit an Idea” link.

For questions about HATCH, contact Fred Raasch at or locally contact Kayla Rombalski at