Insight on Business

April 2013

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>> ���>> ���>>���>>���>> ���>> ���>>���>>���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ���>> ��� for me, and I am excited to give back to my community and the New North,��� says Zielinski, who will eventually hire technical and skilled professionals in IT, programming, web development and sales at his Appleton facility. Part of giving back, he says, is someday doing for others what his Fast Forward mentors have done for him. ���Fast Forward mentorship is a phenomenal thing to do, and we���ve built a dynamic relationship that has helped me discover my blind spots. I thought I had all of my bases covered, but my mentors refined my strategies and focused my energies, giving me the connections and feedback I needed.��� Heartfelt Celebrations > a business model shifts om Vandenboogart spent the past 25 years as a scientist at Kimberly-Clark. But when the economy slumped and he was offered a package to retire, he gladly took it as a challenge to launch his next adventure: Heartfelt Celebrations, Inc. He began to develop a business model based on insights he���d learned about the baby boomer generation. As this generation enters its golden years, Vandenboogart saw a unique opportunity to tap into one particular truth: ���Boomers like to buck tradition and do things their own way. We often struggle with traditional end-of-life planning, and don���t necessarily want the predictable ceremony,��� says Vandenboogart. ���The question is, what do we want instead?��� The answer seemed to center around legacy and story. So he began to build his business model for Heartfelt Celebrations around customizing alternative traditions that capture and celebrate a life well lived. It was an idea with heart, and a model that won the Marquette University and Kohler Business Plan of the Year for 2010, and was a top contender for the Governor���s Business Plan competition. But something was missing. With neither entrepreneurial experience nor funding, Vandenboogart sought the Fast Forward program and found the right mentors to help him fill both gaps. ���My mentors, Randy Lawton and Jon Wright, helped me focus on go-to-market strategies and customer alignment through networking and connections. It���s finally happening now that we���ve fine-tuned my model to be more specific to generating revenue.��� For Lawton, mentoring Vandenboogart was especially satisfying. ���The overall idea of helping people with end-of-life celebrations is a wonderful concept,��� Lawton says. ���But creating a sustainable business model from that is a challenge when you���ve never run a business making your own calls and spending your time and resources in startup mode." Vandenboogart presented his model and a video of Heartfelt Celebrations at the New North Summit in December. His story is already resonating with several potential companies, including Thrivent, which now has 26 | Insight ��� A p r i l 2 013 online: Mike Zielinski and one of his mentors, retired CEO of Outlook Group Glen Yurjevich, talk about how the Fast Forward program pairs startup companies with experienced businesspeople to help them find success. engaged in a pilot program with Vandenboogart. ���I am especially impressed that the Fast Forward program is approaching this for the wellbeing of the entire state instead of just the New North area,��� says Vandenboogart, whose plans include creating an Appleton call center to support caregivers. The business will be headquartered in the Milwaukee area. Snap Lab Media > prepping for prime time cott Francis knows the future of marketing is in the palm of our hands, as smart phones transform the next wave of retail and communications. His company, Snap Lab Media, which he co-founded with John Ernst, designs mobile phone engagement software that allows shoppers to experience products in a virtual way that extends beyond what they see on the shelves. ���Fast Forward has been a tremendous help in sharpening our go-to-market focus and fine tuning our offerings,��� says Francis. But after months of shaping their business plan, Francis and Ernst have discovered a valuable lesson: the market fit isn���t quite there yet. ���It doesn���t mean they had a bad idea; on the contrary, they have a neat technology,��� explains their Fast Forward mentor, Paul Lemens, owner of enSight Consulting in Green Bay. ���This is an excellent learning opportunity about the marketplace that will benefit the next Fast Forward candidate who steps up to do this, so in that respect this is a win.��� Peeps Eyewear > focusing on distribution risten Ellsworth is a Fast Forward 1.0 graduate who can thank her toddler for inspiring her business idea for Peeps Eyewear, a specialty custom eyeglasses company geared toward tiny ���princesses.��� As her website explains, w w w. i n s i g h t o n b u s i n e s s . c o m

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