The Speaker Crawl

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Zimmerman Architectural Studios MapMap
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Featured Speakers
Sponsors and Partners

The Speaker Crawl

at Zimmerman Architectural Studios

Event Details:

NEWaukee’s Speaker Crawl is an interactive professional development program that simultaneously features numerous speakers and a cultural institution to a young professional audience. The participants never sit during the presentations as they traverse the program exhibitions to hear from the diverse lineup of speakers. The Speaker Crawl is social in nature while it also imparts a wide array of information about the important issues facing our city as well as tips for personal and professional growth.

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There will be complimentary beverages and appetizers while they last.


  • 6:00PM – Registration and Networking
  • 6:20PM – Introduction
  • 6:25PM – Keynote: John Zeratsky*
  • 7:00PM – First Speaker Session
  • 7:20PM – Second Speaker Session
  • 7:40PM – Third Speaker Session

*Due to unforeseen circumstances, Jeremy Jeffress has cancelled and will no longer to be able to attend. We will, however, have a new keynote presentation from bestselling author John Zeratsky, formerly with Google Ventures!

Speaker Schedule:

Gallery East Wing West Wing
7:00 Olivia Fritz Brent Cross Alex Hart-Upendo
7:20 Ryan Hoban Blessing Egbon Nikia Johnson
7:40 Brian Rott Brian & Angela West Dena Nord and Nydia Maurás-Jones

Additional Information:

This event is part of Startup Milwaukee Week 2018.

Startup Milwaukee Week presented by Advocate Aurora Health takes place on November 5 – 11, 2018, and is designed to connect, educate, and celebrate entrepreneurship in Southeast Wisconsin. The week’s programming showcases the community’s emerging companies while highlighting the resources and organizations available to foster support for entrepreneurs on their journey. The week will feature 40+ events hosted by 35+ partner organizations in the community. Startup Milwaukee Week is supported by Advocate Aurora Health, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, Northwestern Mutual, Accelity Marketing, Headway, Milwaukee Business Journal and Newsradio 620 WTMJ and is a part of the Startup Wisconsin initiative.

Startup Wisconsin is committed to advancing and developing Wisconsin’s tech and startup ecosystems through unique programming, collaborative partnerships, and networking. Driven by entrepreneurs and leaders throughout Wisconsin who are passionate about making a difference, and creating a positive and lasting impact that will advance the state’s economy forward.  Startup Wisconsin Week is supported by Advocate Aurora Health, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, Northwestern Mutual, Accelity Marketing, Headway, Wisconsin Inno and Newsradio 620 WTMJ.

Featured Speakers

Additional speaker information coming soon!

Brent Cross – Product Innovation Manager, Advocate Aurora Health

Corporate Innovation at Advocate Aurora Health: Methods of Engaging Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs

Brent Cross is a Product Innovation Manager at Advocate Aurora Health, the 10th largest not-for-profit, integrated health system in the United States. In his current role he is working with front-line caregivers to establish a culture of rapid problem-solving and solution-scaling. He is also establishing relationships with early stage companies to engage in co-development efforts with subject matter experts within the health system. Previously, he worked in the Innovation division of OSF HealthCare as an Engineering Supervisor, as well as in research positions with NASA and Genzyme-Sanofi. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Sc.M. in Biomedical Engineering from Brown University. He is interested in human well-being, performance, intelligence and longevity.

Blessing Egbon – Founder & CEO, Exit 7C

Entrepreneurship: It’s All About Execution

Blessing Egbon is the Founder & CEO of Exit 7C, a leading nationwide tech enabled fuel distributor, he also serves as a Entrepreneur in Residence at Jaguar Land Rover. Blessing’s background as a tech entrepreneur has led him to start four companies of which he successfully sold two. Prior to his career in business, he worked as a political consultant on over 180+ campaigns for candidates seeking office on the local, state, and federal level.

He’s an active participant of Success North Dallas, The America’s Future Series, Roscon Foundation, Gener8tor, and Wisconsin Forum.

Olivia Fritz – Environmental Project Engineer, Kohler Co.

The Kohler Waste Lab: Turning Nothing into Something

Olivia Fritz is an Environmental Project Engineer in Kohler Co.’s Product Sustainability Engineering team. She manages product transparency for both environmental impacts and material health disclosures, and is leading the effort to integrate product material health initiatives into Design for Environment. Olivia has experience in environmental compliance, remediation, and supplier quality. She’s inspired by the challenge to show others how sustainability is connected to their role, no matter what they do and had the opportunity to help train over 500 manufacturing associates on the topic of sustainability. She is also passionate about student mentorship and encouraging girls to pursue STEM related careers. Olivia graduated from UW-Madison in Civil Engineering, and is currently pursuing her MBA from Marquette University. You can find Olivia traveling to national parks, camera in hand, or exploring the outdoors locally in Sheboygan, WI.

Alex Hart-Upendo – Founder, Build-A-Bow

From Bullied to Bow-Ties

Alex Hart-Upendo is no stranger to fashion or business. At 12 years old, the Racine resident has got a keen sense for both.

Since the age of 5, the now 6th-grader has been building the foundation of his own budding
fashion and special events business. Aptly titled Build-A-Bow, the company is a custom bow-tie/ hair bow & pet bow retailer. Not only people but dogs, he offers bark bows for pets. Build-A-Bow includes special events, where Alex provides attendees with the materials and instruction they need to make their very own bow ties & hair bows.

The company started when Alex at the age of 5 tested as gifted, his IQ was higher than most children in his age group, & was considered to be a high functioning autistic. Those things were the staple of him being isolated & bullied. He wanted to take negative term nerd & turn it into something positive & fashionable. Build-a-Bow LLC was created from being bullied to bowties.

Alex is an award winning entrepreneur. He is SCORES national small business champion
2018, 2018 Project Pitch it award, National 3M Science & technology state merit winner 2018, Wisconsin’s YES youth entrepreneur 2018, Racine youth community advocate 2018, 2017 national Incredible kid, He was Racine’s 2017 humanitarian, 2016 Apollo Award recipient for New and innovative business, Chicago’s 2017 Humanitarian by Ernst and Young, Recipient of two Senatorial entrepreneurship awards given by Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Ron Johnson. He’s received attention from Ellen, Steve Harvey, Harry Connick and NBC Shark Tank. He was awarded Best small business of Wisconsin 2017 and was the first child to graduate from the adult program by “WWBIC” called “ Grow your own business plan”. Along with two college courses at Gateway technical college.

Nikia Johnson – CEO/Founder Of Sekhere

Why should Traditional Delivery Courier Services Reinvent? Modernizing Traditional Logistics to Fit Demands of the Modern Consumer is PIVOTAL

Nikia Johnson is a Skilled Financial Representative with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry. She has experience in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Account Management, Health Insurance, Property & Casualty, and Variable Annuities. At the age of 15, she started her First Successful traditional business, and has recently switched to the Software and Logistics Start-Up Field. Nikia has a Strong Sales Background, and the tenacity to succeed.

Nydia Mauras-Jones & Dena Nord – Partners, Odvant Creative

Now I know: Expectations versus Realities

Connecting to clients is Nydia’s favorite part of the job. She’s been a graphic and web designer for almost 9 years with experience working with non-profits, corporations, and small businesses. The past few years building Odvant Creative has been the most fun and rewarding of her career. In her free time, Nydia enjoys designing for social justice causes, volunteering, spending time with her husband and two kids, and eating all the food.

Dena Nord’s passions lies in both a fine art and design. With over 10 years experience, she has worked with a range of companies helping them find their visual voice. She is a founding partner at Odvant Creative, a branding and design studio in the third ward. Odvant’s process for brand design goes beyond a logo and leaves their clients feeling empowered. In her free time, Dena creates abstract paintings and tags them in augmented reality to show off her painting process.


Brian Rott – Founding Artistic Director, Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre

Talk title TBA

Brian Rott is the founding artistic director of Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre. With co-founder Jessi Miller, he has lead the company through five critically acclaimed seasons writing and directing a diverse repertoire of original works, which have toured across the country from Nevada to New York.

His dedication to strengthening the arts through collaboration has lead to partnerships and site-specific co-productions with The Milwaukee Art Museum, The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, The Wisconsin Historical Society, Milwaukee Public Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, and Old World Wisconsin. In 2015 he collaborated with Present Music and Grammy award winning pianist Cory Smythe to create Carnival, a theatrical concert merging music, dance, and commedia dell’arte.

Angie West, Editor-in-Chief, Alcoholmanac Magazine
Brian West, Publisher, JABmedia, LLC

A Dozen Years of Milwaukee’s Beverage Culture

Angie is a founding partner of JABmedia, LLC, the publisher of Alcoholmanac Magazine. An editor and writer by training and trade, Angie identified her local niche in the beverage scene in 2006, when she was fresh out of Alverno College with an English degree and a world of possibilities ahead. A passion for helping others express themselves made magazine publishing an inspiring career path and one that has helped her build a strong network within the beverage and creative scenes throughout Southeast Wisconsin. Today, Angie wears nearly every hat while publishing Alcoholmanac—from bookkeeping to graphic design. When she’s not working on the magazine, she freelances editing and writing services and can sometimes be found pouring beer at a festival for one of Milwaukee’s many local breweries.

Brian spent eleven years as the publisher of Alcoholmanac Magazine in Wisconsin, five of which were also spent as its Editor-in-Chief. He is a long-time distilled spirit and craft cocktail writer, advocate, and marketer, having founded Milwaukee Cocktail Week and numerous other cocktail- and/or craft-spirit-centric events, programs, and promotions. A Milwaukee native, Brian has a passion for seeing the spirit and cocktail scene flourish in Wisconsin. He has a background in education, which he uses to ignite a similar appreciation for quality beverages in others.

John Zeratsky – Bestselling Author

John Zeratsky was a designer in the tech industry who became obsessed with the idea of redesigning time. He is the bestselling author of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days and Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day.

John’s writing has been published by The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Fast Company, and many other publications. John has appeared on stage more than 100 times, including at Harvard University, IDEO, and the Code Conference.

For nearly 15 years, John was a designer for technology companies. At GV, he helped develop the design sprint process and worked with close to 200 startups, including Uber, Slack, Flatiron Health, Pocket, Foundation Medicine, One Medical Group, and Nest. He was also GV’s in-house copywriter, editor, and content strategist; he created and edited the GV Library, which has attracted million of views since 2012. Previously, John was a designer at YouTube and Google, and an early employee at FeedBurner, which Google acquired in 2007.

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