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BrightStar Announces Second-Year Expansion of HATCH program

By Portage County Business Council

BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation today announced the expansion of HATCH, a community-based startup pitch platform that aims to convert strong “napkin” ideas into business plans that launch new companies. The application for idea submissions is now open to the public at

HATCH is a rotating, high-energy, and idea pitch program designed to facilitate connections between prospective entrepreneurs and those within the community who support them such as industry experts, professional service firms, banks, non-profits, business leaders and investors. At each program, several individuals or teams of individuals have the opportunity to pitch their brightest business idea to a panel of judges while allowing substantive connections and networking to occur between attendees during the event.

“What we saw after one year was an ecosystem begin to develop across the central Wisconsin region in ways that hadn’t happened before,” said Scott Larson, executive director at the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “The connection and communication that occurred at these events drove further activity and resulted in more events, programs and entrepreneurial support. The response was incredible.”

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

BrightStar again will partner with NEWaukee to coordinate the HATCH events, including those that represent an expansion of the program. NEWaukee is a social architecture firm that specializes community-based signature experiences centered on high-profile issues of importance for cities across the country. “Due to the success of the pilot program in central Wisconsin, we are thrilled to expand HATCH across the state,” said Jeremy Fojut, chief idea officer at NEWaukee. “There are entrepreneurs, creators and creatives in all parts of the state and our goal in year two of HATCH is to help provide a platform for them to grow their ideas into companies. That takes the support of an entire community.”

Brightstar is accepting applications from entrepreneurs that are interested in presenting their business ideas at upcoming HATCH events. This link will take you to the submission form: . The first HATCH event will be held on May 16, 2018, in Stevens Point. Event locations and dates for the rest of the HATCH season will be announced soon.

For more information about HATCH, please visit:

For questions about HATCH, contact Fred Raasch at


About BrightStar Foundation: BrightStar is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation created to facilitate job creation and increase Wisconsin’s economic activity by deploying donated funds into equity stakes in for-profit early-stage, rapid growth companies. This unique approach enables the formation of new investment capital in Wisconsin through charitable donations to the foundation. For more information, please visit: