Focus on the Entrepreneur: iSupply
In 2009, iSupply was a small electronics accessories store in a Green Bay mall. “Business was not very good,” says 27-year-old Tom Mittelsteadt. “Then one day a customer asked if we repaired iPhones™. I said no, but when another customer later asked the same question, the light came on. We fixed the customer’s iPhone, and came up with an entirely new business model.”
Mittelsteadt and his partner Sam Warpinski knew they had a good idea, but it needed professional direction and support. “We were accepted into the Venture Center’s new Business Model Design Workshop,” he says. “The training gave us the opportunity to literally map out and visualize our business plan.”
A week later, Mittelsteadt began the eight-week E-seed Express™ program. “It was incredible. They brought in speakers for every class, and each one was a professional in the areas we needed to learn more about,” he says. “We received real-time feedback, plus great networking connections thanks to the Venture Center.”
Today, iSupply has 15 employees in three Green Bay locations and one in Appleton. In addition to offering same-day repair for Apple and Samsung mobile products, iSupply provides expert service for PCs and Macs™, Xboxes™, PlayStations™, and Wii™gaming systems. The company also established a business division to serve area businesses and non-profit organizations.
iSupply has no plans to stop growing. “Our big goal is to expand nationally,” says Mittelsteadt. “We have also been accepted into the New North Fast Forward program, where we can get additional mentoring help. Fox Valley Tech has done so much to help us succeed. We don’t know what we could ever do to pay it back.”
Going With a Winner
The Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College recently earned noteworthy grant awards and recognition for its impact on small business development:
Winner of the 2014 National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) Shared Vision for Small Business Competition, resulting in a $20,000 award to develop Marketing Made Lean, a four-part, 16-hour workshop series designed to help micro- and small-business owners in the region.
A $10,000 grant from Sam’s Club and the NACCE to help finance tuition for attendees of the Pro-Seed: Small Business Design, Plan and Grow™ program.
A $5,000 grant from AT&T to advance Pro-Seed and E-seed Express training in the greater Waupaca region.