Engage Mentor

Starting up a new company isn’t easy, with many studies reporting a 90% failure rate (Kotashev). The UWM Research Foundation (UWMRF) was looking for a new way to support UWM innovators and thus formed the UWM ENGAGE Mentor program in early 2020. The ENGAGE Mentors are a group of experienced business leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors who volunteer their time and expertise to help new Milwaukee entrepreneurs through regular meetings, advice, networking, feedback on presentations, or whatever a team may need to continue their product development.  

The program started with a goal to help any innovator with a startup idea at any stage. The only requirement has been a link to UWM, whether past or present, as a faculty, student, or staff member. 20 unique startup teams have participated in the program to date and 20 mentors remain involved to consult with the innovators. In addition to private mentor meetings, the ENGAGE coordinator and UWMRF Vice President, Jessica Silvaggi, hosts a monthly lunch meeting where teams can practice their pitches or share their development updates and receive feedback from a larger group of mentors. Several educational panels on key topics of interest to startups are being held such as intellectual property considerations, fundraising tips, digital marketing, and industry specific themes.  

The UWMRF will be hosting an ENGAGE in person reboot event on May 19th at the LEC. It is time to reconnect, share innovation stories, and network with the amazing mentors. We would like to encourage any innovator/startup team linked to UWM or any team that has participated in the Milwaukee I-Corps program, to join us for this exciting opportunity to showcase and share their product or service. Jessica is also always looking for additional mentor volunteers that are interested in sharing their knowledge with others. All types of seasoned experts are welcome whether your background is high tech, finance, marketing, consumer goods, sales, scale-up, manufacturing, management, or other areas. There is so much to learn when starting a business, therefore we need all hands on-deck to propel our Milwaukee inventors and creators towards success. Please contact Jessica@uwmrf.org to RSVP for the ENGAGE REBOOT or to learn more about ENGAGE.