For developers still in college, the idea of starting their own software or application business may seem out of reach. They have the drive, the ambition, and the idea, but they aren’t sure how to proceed, and the fear of making the right choices and connections at the right times may be too much for them to take the leap. There is also the issue of who is going to pay all of the expenses incurred with a new venture. So where to turn? I recently spent the day with Spreekler Talent Labs (http://spreenklertalentlabs.org/) Co-Founder Steve Glynn, and I believe he has the answer.
“A Start-up that Starts Start-ups”
It would not be a stretch of the truth to say that Spreenkler Talent Labs in Milwaukee is where dreams are born. Steve Glynn oversees a non-profit seed incubator start-up where he and Co-Founder Greg Meier review idea submissions for software or applications. Submissions are then narrowed down to as many as ten or more of the best to go through a 12-week build-out of the product. Spreenkler Talent Labs is Wisconsin’s first and only seed incubator for tech startups, offering mentoring and a lean startup curriculum to help keep companies on pace to succeed. Steve has also begun initiatives with local universities like the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin in Madison to look for talent, with UW-Milwaukee close to Starting an official “Seed Incubator Student Center” to help prepare talent on-campus.
The idea for Spreekler Talent Labs came to Steve after his work with his first start-up, Spreenkler Creative (http://spreenkler.com/), had helped many college students find work in creative fields in the Milwaukee area and beyond. Steve was finding that many of the more entrepreneurial students wanted to start their own companies, but lacked a good platform to get started. Steve also wanted to give the students a place where they could perfect their craft without having to meet client deadlines or struggle to find a mentor or a resource they may need. Greg had been pitching the idea of a seed incubator to local entrepreneurs and investors for several years, so when Steve and Greg began to collaborate on the concept, things really started to come together. Now that the seed incubator is up and running, Spreenkler Talent Labs is focused on launching 20-30 technology start-ups each year.
The Next Generation
Currently, Spreenkler Talent Labs is still accepting submission via their website for the next round of startups to hit the incubator on June 1st. Besides having a software or application business idea, Steve says the criteria has to do with the people first and the idea second. A student must have a genuine passion and drive for the idea they are submitting. They must be willing to want to see the idea succeed and be committed to making things happen. The idea must also be scalable for growth and be able to become financially self-sustaining. To further encourage talented developers to step forward, Spreenkler Talent Labs is hosting a 4-city Hackathon for developers on April 30th in Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, and New York. For more details on the Hackathon or on Spreenkler Talent Labs, visit their website http://spreenklertalentlabs.org.
Over the next few weeks, I will be shining a spotlight on a few of these talented eggs currently in Steve’s incubator and providing a brief glimpse into what is sure to be the future of software and app development in Milwaukee. Stay tuned!