Peer support for startups
Residents of rural areas may have great ideas for inventions or new companies, but they don’t always know how to go about starting a business—and community support to encourage their efforts is often scarce. The Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club of Juneau County became a nonprofit corporation and held its first meetings in 2003. Its goal: To bring people together to learn from each other and to find out what it takes to start with an idea and turn it into a viable business. The club provides education, support and networking, and acts as a feeder system to many of the business resource agencies in the state, such as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Small Business Development Center. In pre-pandemic times, its meetings often drew anywhere from 30 to 45 people.
Members of the club have launched a variety of companies, including:
- Tailor Fur You, a pet grooming business
- Clean Beam, a UV light product that sterilizes footwear at food processing plants
- Burr Oak Winery
- Bunker Water Jet Cutting, a metal cutting company
Club President Cary Winch co-founded CampInn Trailers, and he and his partner, Craig Edevold, have invented a host of products, from games to rifle accessories. Club member Tom Burton pitched his invention, a nonslip tool tray called Grypmat, on the “Shark Tank” TV show.