Welcome to the Chaos
- Quirky single mom of two monkeys. I used to beat up the kids that picked on the "special students" during recess. Now I work with those with chronic mental illness. I speak quite a few languages, enjoy coed naked underwater basket weaving, have an addiction to Sushi and humor is my defense mechanism. Arrogant people make my right eye twitch. I'm ambidextrously brained, I will knit for tattoos, I am the friend that everyone comes to for advice and bail money. I pride myself on keeping my eyes, ears, heart and mind open. Making me laugh goes a long way with me, I think the brain is the sexiest organ and I'm the kinda gal you can take anywhere and I'll have a good time. Other than that, I'm just me.
I was approached by a journalist from the Milwaukee Journal Tuesday regarding my submission to Common Pitch Milwaukee. This is the article she wrote wherein my quote is completely out of context and much of what I said was left out.
This post exists to set the context right.
As some of you may know, I was very excited to read about Common Pitch Milwaukee. As soon as I read on their site: “We’re on the hunt for eight promising startups working hard to redefine business in America. The best candidates will represent products or services that improve on (or completely reinvent) an existing American industry, helping to make it more sustainable, more profitable, more community oriented, more ethical – and maybe even more fun.” I knew I had to do it.
The cafe fits all of that. While the thought of getting on a stage scared the crap out of me, it’s for the dream. So, I went for it. Initially the due date was listed as the 18th. Then, all of a sudden, it got switched to the 13th. The application consisted of two small questions- 1. regarding what social impact our concept has 2. what environmental impact and then a mandatory video. I had clips of people talking about what the cafe would mean to them now or what it would have meant to them growing up. They were going to be at the end of me describing what the cafe was. With the switch in date, I had to just link the videos in separately in the “anything else you want us to know?” section and go with a video of me explaining the cafe. Here is the script I memorized for it:
“Hi, I’m Natali. Some people know me as UberDork Girlie and this is my pitch about UberDork Cafe. There will not be pie charts or a soundtrack or fancy graphics. Just a story. You see, once upon a time there was a single mom that struggled finding a place where her and her daughters could hang out. Looking for things to do during a Wisconsin winter turned depressing. Having crayons and chicken fingers doesn’t automatically make a place kid-friendly. Very few places offered classes and activities for kids and their parents to bond and those that did were outrageously expensive. So, she started thinking. What started out as creating a place for her and her daughters to hang out at ended up being the idea of a home for an entire community.
UberDork Cafe is a cafe, a gaming center and a classroom all in one. The cafe will serve a slight twist on simple food that is made with local ingredients and stuff from the 900 sq foot urban garden space we rent. Kids will be able to build their own yogurt parfaits, whacky sandwich combinations and have their own area to sit, eat and play. And adults will get a toy with their meals and be able to get some work done while they keep an eye on their kids. Board games, old school atari, 360s and pcs will be there to play. Family gaming nights will occur weekly. The classroom will offer a ton of classes from art to science for kids and families and even just adults. Teens can learn how to make their own Comics. Families can take “Dinner and Movie” where they learn how to make their own movies and on the last night everyone makes homemade pizza and watches them. Unschoolers will have a place to meet and group teach while their kids receive social interaction. Parents will have a place to drop their teens off at where they know they will be safe but still be able to be teens. Local artists will have walls to hang their art. Community members will have opportunities to mentor, tutor, play, create, learn.
And every year scholarships will be given to inner city youth that have been a part of the cafe and are going on to pursue secondary education in a tech or science-related field.
People old and young who have never had a place to call home before, will finally have that place. And every community deserves a home.”
From the application, the video pitch was made out to be the main part.
Guess not. In fact, they would admit after they posted who made it through, that they never even bothered to watch the video pitches. That they had no intentions of doing so until after they had the “short list”, meaning the 8 picked.
THAT is where I became “very confused and disillusioned.”
Why would you ask for them and then not watch them? How are you going to pick from the answers of those simple questions?
I wanted to figure out what I had done wrong. What I could do differently next time. So, I went to look at the chosen 8.
First on the list- brighter12 An “online companion for working a 12 step process.” I have seen and heard of other resources for 12 steppers. I checked out the entire site to get a feel for what would make them different. Then I clicked on “our team” and there, plain as can be, under “Our Business Partners” - Spreenkler, Innovation in Milwaukee and Manifesto.
Who is presenting Common Pitch Milwaukee? Spreenkler and Innovation in Milwaukee.
Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t have thought “WTF?!?” too?
Absolutely nothing against the Rahms, at all. I applaud what they are doing. I am all for making a difficult journey easier. It did, however, answer my questions of “How is this different? Innovative? Revolutionary?”
The fact that they would pick their business honestly broke my heart a bit. These are groups that claim to exist to bring in, nurture and support people who want to open businesses that change Milwaukee for the better. Groups I was looking forward to working with in the future. Groups that involve people I had respected. Groups that didn’t even bother to watch the videos people made for their pitch. Groups that just picked their own.
That’s how it feels and it is certainly how it looks. No matter who picked the 8, (which I still have no clue, the rejection letter was from Art Milwaukee? They aren’t even on the Common Pitch Milwaukee site?) the moment that a business partner came up, something should have been said.
Then there is the fact that only 3 out of the 8 are from Milwaukee. I understand both sides of this coin. One is “Why have it here if it’s national?” One is “It gives Milwaukee more exposure.” I’m down the middle. Hell, one company is from Chile?? That certainly doesn’t fit in with “eight promising startups working hard to redefine business in America” and it’s concept is far from unique as well. But, I’m sure there is some sort of reason that it would be picked over all the entries they got. Right? Bottom line- there was a better way to achieve both.
I LOVE Milwaukee. I am all for anything that helps bring in new talent, that showcases the best we have to offer. I am far from some “MilTownHater.” (Seriously is that even a real phrase?) And I certainly did not set out to rock any sort of boat or piss anyone off.
You know what though? I know I’m not alone in this. I know there are many others that are mad as HELL about this and all that lies underneath. And let me tell you, this is all just the tip of the iceberg. There is some disturbingly dark stuff underneath all of this that just keeps going and going. Things I never wanted to know and would rather that I didn’t. But, somethings you can’t un-see or un-know. And all those people out there that are upset about this, that are feeling confused and disillusioned, they had great ideas too. Ideas that would help make Milwaukee even more awesome. But, where are they to turn now? It’s not just about not having the opportunity to pitch at this event. It’s about the whole week and the organizations involved and the feeling that this one event manages to put out there.
At the very least, you can say that this was handled REALLY poorly.
And if that pisses people off, than so be it. Ms. Gallagher already put my name out there connected to this mess, I’m gonna own up to my thoughts on it. Thoughts that may not be popular. Thoughts that have already upset people that matter far more than I do in this city.
But, just like this city that I love, they are mine.
I wish nothing but the best for all of those pitching tonight. And to the organizations that are attached to this mess. Hopefully they will find their way back to their mission statements someday. The first cup of coffee for them at the cafe is on me.
Update: "'Our event is designed to bring attention to entrepreneurs, to celebrate entrepreneurialism and to involve the community in bringing support to people that desperately need it,' said Carmel Hagen, Common's chief marketing officer."
And who won?
A start up that was chosen initially based on their Kickstarter. At the time they were chosen, it was at $230,000. Their goal was only $30,000. So they were chosen when they were already $200K OVER their goal. They ended at $291,493.
But, they desperately need it. :)
It’s an awesome concept and I’m all for creating more manufacturing here in the US. When someone has already raised roughly $261,000 OVER their goal, why not give that slot and that $10,000 to someone who does actually desperately need it?
What did the people that didn't win get? A GIANT SCREW PAINTED WHITE. Seriously. The people behind this event thought it was so funny too.
I'll save you the "well see, a big stink was made over brighter12 being a business partner for no reason, because they didn't win." Regardless of whether or not they won, it was still unethical they were on that stage to begin with.
Whether anyone wants to come forward and say it or not, this one event has done A LOT of harm to the very community this week was to be about. No matter what the groups involved and their friends will say.
- Always wear clean underwear
- beer freak
- bitter old hags
- comfy as hell
- crazy cat lady
- cupids on crack
- Epic Geek Girl Calendar
- fresh start
- How The Hell Am I Their Daughter?
- Island of Love
- mental illness
- psycho boy
- red rubber ball
- Rock the LAN
- roller coasters
- Save The World Syndrome
- sick of being sick
- single mom
- some people are living zombies and some are just douchebags
- star wars
- stupid hipsters with crooked soul patches and no regards for stop signs
- things I know
- uberdork cafe
- you know I've lost it when I'm quoting Beyonce
- zombie Natali