Startup Milwaukee March 2013 Meetup

startupmke_logo_Last night saw another successful Startup Milwaukee monthly Meetup. The event was once again held at Translator in the Third Ward and approximately 110 people attended. This makes several months in a row now of more than 100 attendees and it is becoming increasingly clear there is an active and vibrant startup community in Milwaukee.

translatorThe night was kicked-off by a welcome and introduction to Translator by Katie Felten and Cindi Thomas. The Milwaukee startup community certainly owes a big “thank you” to Translator (and the Milwaukee Brewing Company) for their support and for hosting and sponsoring various Startup Milwaukee Meetup events.

Next, Matt Cordio gave an introduction to Startup Milwaukee and made several announcements:

Next up, Anne Nimke of The Good Jobs reminded everyone about their upcomming Launch Party, and Heather of Find My Spot gave a quick introduction to her new apartment search service. Both have very impressive websites that are well worth the visit.

By this time, everyone was ready for the three “keynote” presentations of the evening:

  • LeMarc Johnson of NightStyr talked about Nightstir, a mobile communication platform designed to allow you to “create and share nightlife plans.” Learn more at GetNightstir.Com.
  • Cindy Rahm and Eric Rahm of Brighter12 described their lean approach to developing their web-based application which supports individuals going through a 12-step recovery program (“Your Journey from Broken to Brighter”). The approach included: Establish a mission; Know your audience; Find a niche; Define the problem; Solve that problem; and Solve it better than anyone else.
  • Ryan Konicek of Tappr talked about the experience of the Tappr team at SXSW with a focus on the “Learnings from SXSW” workshop with Steve Blank, Bob Dorf and Startup Weekend. You can find a copy of Ryan’s presentation and more on the What’s on Tap blog.

In all, the Meetup was a whirlwind of very useful real-world experience from Milwaukee-area startups! The Startup Milwaukee organization deserves real credit for putting together an event like this. The fact that they’re doing it every month is amazing!

If you’re interested in startups — or working with others to build your own startup — be sure to register for the next Startup Milwaukee meeting on April 11!

Clint Laskowski is an information security professional, web developer, and technology entrepreneur in Milwaukee. You can follow him on Twitter at @Clint326.

Wisconsin Startup Night

monona_terraceBetter late than never, right?

Back on March 4 (2013), I had the pleasure of attending Wisconsin Startup Night at the beautiful Monona Terrace in Madison. This was a premier event for the Wisconsin startup community. It was attended by 250-300 people and featured three great talks.

accel_madison_logoOpening comments started at about 6:30pm with welcome messages from Mark Clear, Executive Director of Accelerate Madison; Christopher Cain, Attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP; and Forrest Woolworth, Chief Operating Officer at PerBlue and Co-Founder of Capital Entrepreneurs. Of special interest to me was the announcement by Forrest that the next Madison Startup Weekend will be April 5-7 at the Madison College West Campus. Closing out the welcome messages was Lisa Johnson of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

mschmidtThe first real talk of the night was by Monty Schmidt, founder of Madison’s own Sonic Foundry. Monty took the crowd through the history of Sonic Foundry, from its humble beginnings in a small office with a Tandy 6000 running Xenix to the point where Sonic Foundry sold several of it’s media suites to Sony in 2003 for $18 million. During his talk, it struck me that Monty was able to see the arrival Microsoft Windows 3.0 and the Sound Blaster sound card, in 1990-91, as an opportunity to build such a successful company.

The next talk was given by Matt Younkle and Preston Austin, co-founders of Murfie, serial entrepreneurs, and TechStars alumni. And, the final talk of the night was by Sam Yagan, co-founder of Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago), co-founder of OkCupid, and CEO of


Unfortunately, I was so engaged in all the talks that I didn’t take many notes! The talks ended at about 9pm. In all, it was a fantastic night of networking and talks by successful entrepreneurs with deep ties to Wisconsin and the upper-Midwest.

Pi Day: Are We Doing it Wrong?


Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant [Pi]. [It] is observed on March 14 (or 3/14 in month/day date format), [because] 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of Pi in the decimal form. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day. — Wikipedia

In many schools in the US, Pi Day is a fun opportunity to celebrate math and enjoy all things circular including pies, cakes and cookies. As an example of the enthusiasm Pi Day generates, my 12-year old daughter has recently memorized the first 100 digits of Pi using Learn Pi Free on her iPod Touch. Cool!

However, since Pi Day is a celebration of math, shouldn’t we at least get the math correct?

Pi – the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter – is roughly equal to 3.14. So, it makes sense for Pi day to be in March (the 3rd month).

But, is the 14th the right day to celebrate? I think not! For example, what if by some cosmic chance Pi happened to be equal to 3.48? When would we celebrate? On the 48th day of March? Obviously, there is no 48th day of March, and we’d all miss out on our circular treats.

Instead, we should be celebrating on the day of the month that is 14-percent of the way through the month. By my calculations that would be:

(14/100) x 31 = 4.34

Pi Day should be celebrated on March 4!

Now, don’t even get me started on whether we should be celebrating Pi Day
or Half Tau Day.

Password Recovery Services Best Practices

Recently, I helped a client recover the password to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. In doing so, I came up with a few best practices for password recovery services:

  1. Prior to starting any work on a password recovery project, the service provider should require the client to sign an agreement where by the client:
    1. Attests to ownership of the system or file and their right to engage the service provider to recover the password;
    2. Gives permission to the service provider to recover the password to the system or file; and
    3. Gives permission to the service provider to access the system or file for the purpose of confirming that the password recovery was successful.
  2. Best practices for the communication and storage of passwords should be applied to recovered passwords. For example:
    1. Don’t communicate passwords in clear text;
    2. Don’t store passwords in clear text; and
    3. Change passwords if there’s any chance they’ve been compromised.
  3. The provider and the client should have a reciprocal non-disclosure agreements in place.

Do you have any additional ideas for best practices for how password recovery service providers and clients should work together? If so, leave a comment!