Featured Faculty: Rebecca Holderness

Rebecca Holderness is the founder of 2 Foot Design Data (2Ft.D), a software as a service company that aids small-scale entrepreneurs in designing real estate plans.

Rebecca also developed the very successful UWM Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Acting program – which focuses on promoting individual growth for the benefit of the community.

Follow along in a Q&A with Lubar Entrepreneurship Center Innovation Interns Madeline Pratt-Tooley and Mitch Janezic to get to know more about Rebecca and her work.

Q: What advice do you have for people who might be new to a social innovation or a leadership position?
Rebecca: I would say that the most challenging part for me has been the kind of all-at-once nature of entrepreneurship. I’ve been making theatrical shows for many years, leadership is familiar to me; but leadership in entrepreneurship is not as sequential, it happens all at once really. That can be bewildering… So, I would say stay in the kitchen and keep cooking.

Additionally, I’d like to offer some advice to entrepreneurs in general. I’ve had on my refrigerator for the longest time a postcard I got at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York. It says, “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. Put that on your fridge. Because it does seem that way, and for us it kind of still is. But we’re still compelled by the world we live in, so we are inspired to keep going (exciting news – we have a commitment to first round investment!).

Q: What inspired you to choose your path and what keeps you going down it?
Rebecca: What inspires me is my observation around the country of development, gentrification, and use of tax increment financing (TIF) funds. The 2Ft.D team is driven by an interest in seeing more creative and unusual uses for space that supports the long term vibrance of diverse communities. People always ask me “Why?” and I tell them because more diverse, vibrant communities make everything better from art to pizza. I believe in a kind of conscious, locavore, capitalism that unites smart business with smart community.

As a director of theater there are specific “hoops” that you jump through to develop a national profile. In the moment, some of those hoops seem repetitive, or like they are meant to be things that slow you down. I found that entrepreneurship includes many of those same kinds of hoops, and sometimes they do seem repetitive. But every time we pitch or every time we work with an accelerator, we learn more about the product, we become more visible in the community, and we learn more about ourselves as a team. It’s a journey that has been incredibly helpful, and I do recommend sticking with it, even when jumping through hoops starts to look like an endless cycle.

Q: Are there any projects that you’re working on now that you would be willing to share with the community?
Rebecca: Currently I am working on continuing to develop 2Ft.D. The concept for 2Ft.D was grown from the Milwaukee NSF I-Corps Program with the support of the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and IdeaAdvance over a two-year period. There were several pivots while looking for a profitable tool that would also support and address areas of economic inequity. We landed on what we call a “TurboTax for individual developers”. A tool that would make it easier for the user to find the capital that they need to build as an individual or small-scale developer.

Right now, we are in exciting conversations with seed investors, and really honing in on developing a product that we can market.