Summerfest Tech to host startups pitching investment opportunities

By Catherine Jozwik - Special to Conley Media

June 21, 2019

MILWAUKEE — During Summerfest Tech’s first 5 Lakes Pitch Competition, local technological startup companies will have the chance to pitch ideas to community investors and business executives — and win $10,000 in cash prizes.

Aiming to enhance Milwaukee’s reputation as a technologically forward city, Summerfest Tech will be held for the second year Tuesday at the Henry Maier Festival Park Johnson Controls stage and Wednesday in the East Pavilion at Discovery World, 500 N. Harbor Drive.

The two-day event will feature keynote speakers Dennis Hoffman, senior vice president of corporate strategies at Dell Technology, and Sudhi Sinha, vice president and general manager of digital solutions at Johnson Controls. Summerfest Tech will also include Women in Technology and Cyber Security panel discussions with local tech professionals, business networking opportunities, and a technology and music talk with Grammy Award-winning DJ and producer Steve Aoki. At 11:40 a.m. Wednesday, Marc McAllister, Harley-Davidson vice president of product planning, will present a LiveWire electric motorcycle display.

“We’re excited about welcoming the region’s best up-and-coming startups to Summerfest Tech. We are very familiar with the concept of fostering emerging talent within the music industry and look forward to extending our support to the tech startup community,” Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., said in a recent news release.

5 Lakes Pitch is geared toward companies that have secured less than $250,000 in funding or have earned less than $500,000 in revenue. The competition will focus on companies from five technology sectors — future of work (improving efficiency in the workplace), health, mobility solutions, environmental technology, and advanced manufacturing. The contest’s final round — in which four tech startup companies will compete for cash and other sponsor prizes — will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Awards will be presented at 11:50 a.m.

A grand prize winner will take home $7,500. The second place prize is $1,500; third and fourth place $500.

Matt Cordio, cofounder of 5 Lakes Forum, said the group strives to form connections between tech startups and Great Lakes business owners. Cordio, also founder of organization Startup Wisconsin, started 5 Lakes Forum with Milwaukee Institute executive director Kathleen Galagher earlier this year.

“Our goal is to build the (regional) tech and startup ecosystem,” Cordio added.

For more information about Summerfest Tech, visit online at