Our journey begins in Oshkosh, WI. Along the way we’ll encounter six videos, three events, one big dream, 600 “Likes,” and around 100,000 people reached. This is the story of Venture Wisconsin, a Wisconsin startup out of the Fox Cities, and don’t worry I’ll keep it short for you!
My name is Evan Freimuth, and I started RatedVenture LLC in February of 2016, or… somewhere around then. It all started my junior year of college with an app idea that I was going to call RatedVenture. A simple idea with a few problems, where is my validation? Proof that people will use it? Where are my people? How can I build this? I took these problems to the College Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center at UW Oshkosh (UWO) time and time again trying to figure out how to prove the idea was worth something. After about two years of nothing clicking and running in place, I decided to make a video. Something I had some experience in from my class project days in high school.
This video would be short and describe what I wanted to do for people on a micro-level, and then we’d see where it would take me. The video had over 90 shares on Facebook and was viewed by about 10,000 people! I got 200 people to signup for my newsletter. I felt this was validation that idea was worth pursuing.
As I went business to business, I was trying to get them to offer deals to people who received my newsletter. I was talking to a business owner who knew nothing of the internet, and I mentioned, “there seems to be something to these videos.” As fate would have it we made a video with that business owner, and the response was more than I expected. The video was shared 225 times and viewed over 15,000 times. People were commenting from Florida saying how they missed Red’s Pizza in Oshkosh.
All of this momentum began in my last semester at UWO last May, and I have redirected my attention greatly since my days of the app dream. I graduated from UWO with a business degree in Web Management, and have since changed the name of my business from RatedVenture to Venture Wisconsin. The business is focused on telling of unique stories and things to do in Wisconsin through videos and blogs. Venture Wisconsin wants to not only bring you content to motivate you to get out and do more, but we want to build events and other things for you to do.
Now, beginning right after the Red’s Pizza video in May, I decided my, “momentum” would lead to some good exposure if I created an event. Long story short, I created a Finals Week Retail Therapy event where local shops in Downtown Appleton would offer deals to students during finals week. I put it together, boosted it on Facebook, handed out fliers at UWO and Lawrence University to hundreds of students. Five students came. All of them my friends.
I had a lot to learn about momentum, and location of momentum. Clearly I kept pursuing. I have since put on two successful small events that include a scavenger hunt and a biking brewery tour. Venture Wisconsin has released five “Local Showcases” in our series of Northeast Wisconsin businesses and things to do, and our videos alone have reached over 100,000 people.
Venture Wisconsin is currently growing and I (Evan) am the only employee. Although I have been helped by friends along the way to make my first few videos and to staff my events. The business will continue to grow and change to provide the people of Wisconsin the content that they want. The cool part about the internet, and why I am writing this post, is that we can tell our own stories now. You don’t need PR and the news to get your story out there anymore. I have reached over 100,000 people, over a dozen businesses have approached me, and have a total audience of nearly 1,000 people without any help from local media, and we’re just getting started.
To finish this story I want to leave you with what is next. Venture Wisconsin will keep making events, tweeting things to do, and making Local Showcases. We currently make our Local Showcases and events in Northeast Wisconsin only, but we plan to make different video series that take us around the state. Once the word is out, people understand what we are doing, and we have support from Northeast Wisconsin we will look for opportunities to explore the other (many) corners of Wisconsin and then beyond. This is what excites me.
Thank you for reading. If you know of any hidden spots or unique things to do in Wisconsin, please share them in the comments. Please share this article with your friends if you like what Venture Wisconsin is doing. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for different ways to find unique things to do. Each platform shares a different message, I try to keep them fresh and unique. Don’t be afraid to reach out in any way.
Last thing. You never know where an idea will take you, but don’t be afraid to take the journey.