COMMON Pitch Milwaukee

Thank you to all the entrepreneurs who shared their amazing ideas and also to the community who showed up to support them! The judges choice winner received over $30,000 in cash and prizes, and the audience choice received an audience donation. Attendees generously shared over $800 of their own money.


BRIGHTER12 is the first ever online companion for working a 12 Step Program. We are taking the tried and true 12 step process and reinventing it by developing a powerful web application for our users, replacing their outdated pen and paper methods. As a membership based system, brighter12 will provide robust tools and interactive features to create a safe and private environment for people interested in getting the most out of the 12 step experience. The online tools brighter12 offers will not only be revolutionizing the industry but will be transforming livesalong the way, making a journey from broken to brighter!

Presenting Entrepreneurs: Erik and Cindy Rahm
Twitter: @brighter12steps


CoupleSpace is a robust consumer web app to help couples have stronger happier relationships: We help those in trouble to save and revitalize their relationships— to be happy again, and help good relationships become great ones. We will be the only low cost effective solution for the 90-95% of semi happy and unhappy couples in the USA who are unable or unwilling to see a therapist.

Presenting Entrepreneur: Gary Krane
Twitter: @CoupleWise


BOULD is a for-profit, for-impact seeking to eliminate substandard housing through green building education. BOULD partners with affordable housing builders, like Habitat for Humanity,to transform housing projects into hands-on, interactive green building “classrooms” for career developing professionals and students.

Presenting Entrepreneurs: Shane Gring, Stephen Lepke and Shane Baldauf
Twitter: @ShaneBaldauf, @StephenLepke, @be_BOULD


Hands-on Garage (HG) is an exciting new approach to automotive repair. Conceived at a time when Americans are concentrating on self-reliance in difficult economic times, HG fulfills the unmet needs of the do-it-yourself automotive repair customer while enhancing the repair experience of the full-service customer. HG gives back to the communities it is based in with charitable events, automotive workshops and proper recycling. HG is a timely company people believe in.

Presenting Entrepreneurs: Gary Miller and Bill Reilly
Twitter: @handsongarage


Storyhunter crowdsources high quality video journalism production for the web. We are curating the world’s premier global network of video journalists, providing them custom-made web tools to pitch, produce, publish, and distribute their stories more efficiently. We want to empower a new generation of video journalists to tell the world’s most important, untold stories.

Presenting Entrepreneurs: Jaron Gilinsky and Alex Ragir
Twitter: @storyhunter@jaronreport, @alexragir


Did you know that 99% of the men’s underwear in America comes from China, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. and the other 1% is kind of poor quality? Flint and Tinder aims to change that, make a better product and save a 100 year old factory in the process. It’s about more than just premium men’s underwear though, it’s about redefining what it means to be made in America.

Presenting Entrepreneur: Jake Bronstein
Twitter: @jakehimself
Web and Video:


SwipeSense is a portable, trackable hand sanitation device for healthcare workers, designed to increase hand hygiene and reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). The device clips onto the scrubs of a healthcare worker making hand sanitation “as easy as wiping your hands on your pants;” always available at the point-of-care. Embedded electronics allow us to monitor hand hygiene performance of individual staff members in real-time allowing us to use the web,transparency and incentives to drive behavior change.

Presenting Entrepreneurs: Mert Iseri and Yuro Malina
Twitter: @mhi, @ymalina



Cold Fizzin’ provides the marketing, manufacturing and support necessary to take the myriad of designs developed by individual engineers around the world and turn them into market-ready products.



Presenting Entrepreneur: Tom Gralewicz
Twitter: @roycepipkins


Todd spent his early career at Saturn and Daimler Chrysler learning the world of marketing. His first entrepreneurial vision was an innovative communications agency called Clear!Blue, formed in 2000. Clear!Blue reached $30 million in revenue with 70 employees and multiple offices. They executed some of the greatest product launches and won countless regional and national awards based on growth and culture.

Todd’s latest endeavors are Awesome Ventures and MADE Movement – a perfect combination allowing him to exploit his marketing, business and entrepreneurial expertise. His specialties include marketing & brand strategy, business architecture, company culture, change management, venture capital & private equity.


Sharon Schneider is the founder and CEO of Good Karma Clothing for Kids, a new subscription service for busy parents that delivers hand-picked baby clothes that you exchange as baby grows. Good Karma recently won COMMON Pitch NYC to be crowned “best collaborative consumption startup” and has been featured on Good Day Chicago, Mashable, Technorati, GOOD, Stanford Social Innovation Review,, Trendhunters and many others.

Prior to founding Good Karma, Sharon was Philanthropic Director at Foundation Source, the nation’s leading provider of support services for private foundations, where she assisted the company’s 1,000 family foundations to accomplish their philanthropic goals, particularly through social enterprise and impact investing. She co-authored “Strategic Philanthropy: Five Approaches to Making a Difference” and is the author of popular blog “The Philanthropic Family” (


I started frustrating my parents and teachers with “why” and “how” questions about everything at a very early age. And the answers were frequently followed with more “why’s.” I may have discovered the “five why’s” by the age of 10. It wasn’t insolence — it was curiosity. I loved understanding why and how things work.

That curiosity combined with my experience working for one of the first interactive agencies in the world, Fry Inc., led me to an emerging discipline now known as user experience. While at Fry, I worked with premier retailers to establish some of the first ecommerce sites including Spiegel and Crate and Barrel.

When I joined Razorfish, I had a mentor who exposed me to “user research.” We went into peoples’ homes to observe how they put outfits together. While that seems like a menial task, the struggles, behaviors and emotional investment that went along with every outfit decision was striking and game-changing. Physical or digital, people’s needs were not being met.

So a fork-in-the-road moment for me was the realization that you can be in the business of best practices, live by analyst evaluations and one-up the competition, or you can make things better — in a way that’s meaningful for businesses and people.

They’re not mutually exclusive.

As vice president of experience for Razorfish, I work with clients and teams to find meaningful solutions for businesses and people. It’s exciting, frustrating and heartbreaking — but at the end of the day, it’s rewarding.


Jeff Snell, Grad ’96, is the special advisor to the president at Marquette University, where he works with the university leadership to determine long-term strategies, including the identification and recruitment of members of the board of trustees and the university’s academic priorities in conjunction with the Office of the Provost.
Prior to joining Marquette, Jeff served as chief operating officer for the Argosy Foundation, a private foundation with assets projected at $1 billion. His duties included designing and implementing the full scope of all operations in support of the Foundation’s board of trustees.


Chuck Templeton (@CTemp) is passionate about early stage and emerging companies and is focused on using business to find solutions to environmental and social challenges.

He took his first big step as an entrepreneur in San Francisco when he founded OpenTable, Inc., which went public on the NASDAQ in May of 2009 (OPEN). He helped build an industry leading company that changed the way full-service restaurants manage their top-line growth and diners make their dinner reservations.

He used that experience to support the team as an Advisor and Director as they grew to be the national leader in providing hungry diners with all their food delivery and take-out options while helping independent restaurants use technology to operate more profitably.

He has had the pleasure of being involved in over 2-dozen startups as an investor, board member or advisor, but spends the majority of his time today building his next venture called helps people Share More, Consume Less, and Help Each Other and is helping to grow The Sharing Economy, having a positive environmental and social impact. To learn more, join him at

Paul Krajniak

A native of Milwaukee, Paul Krajniak is the Executive Director of Discovery World. This center for public innovation, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, was built where the urban world meets the natural world. Discovery World’s mission celebrates human ingenuity and the sustainability of natural resources.

At Discovery World, Krajniak has created an educational engine where exhibits are combined with a person-to-person interaction and at-home learning experiences. Discovery World’s also has 9 labs and studios where visitors explore innovation through technology, design, freshwater issues and opportunities, engineering, entrepreneurship, the biosphere, and digital media.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Krajniak’s background covers K-12 education, architecture, engineering, and art. He has earned a national reputation for his work creating exhibits and experiences at Discovery World and the MIT Media Lab, as well as his work in the visual arts including theater, music, and dance.

Krajniak’s work has focused extensively on inspiring innovation. He has led the charge to create personal, meaningful experiences that connect people with technology, science and engineering with creativity, and entrepreneurship with industry and the marketplace.

Paul Krajniak, Executive Director – Discovery World


Dave Schiff started his advertising career 10 years ago as a copywriter at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, where his creative work drove sales for brand clients MINI Cooper, Molson and IKEA and won international awards. In 2033, he was promoted to creative director on Coke Zero and helped engineer the company’s most successful new product launch in 25 years with the beverage enjoying double-digit growth every quarter since launch.

As VP/Executive Creative Directors, Schiff continues championed big brands, but did genre-disrupting, award wining work for challenger brands as well. His work on running show brand Pearl Izumi resulted in a first year sell-out of preseason orders. And his Detroit-to-DC trip on an electric motorcycle was the subject of the highly successful Shocking Barak viral campaign for EV manufacturer BRAMMO, a journey which resulted in Brammo’s CEP being invited to the White House.

Schiff also hosted and directed Mr. Internet, a 30-Minute TV show for the Plum network.

Last year, as the ECD for Under Armour, Schiff steered the company’s most effective new category launch to date, helping the brand gain an instant following in basketball, a sport where it had been a virtual unknown.


Susan is a Founding Member of Singularity University (SU). She organized SU’s 2008
Founding Conference, helped source 1.5M seed funding, and negotiated a 5-year
partnership with NASA. Susan spearheaded SU’s TED09 public launch and executed
SU’s inaugural Graduate Studies and Executive Programs. Today, SU Alumni are in
60+ countries around the world.

Susan is titled “Founding Architect” for her role in building the initial DNA that is SU.
Susan is also the founder of Women@TheFrontier, an explosive forum highlighting female change-agents that are leveraging exponential technologies and innovative platforms to address global grand challenges.


Michael is responsible for global Innovation and Industrial Design for Johnson Controls supporting the company’s overall commitment to growth through creativity and design. He oversees the innovation process, learning & development programs and portfolio of new business ventures for JCI.

A leader in Innovation and Design for over 21 years at Johnson Controls, Michael has been an integral part of building Johnson Controls capabilities in Industrial Design with studios throughout the world. He just opened a new global center for JCI Innovation in Milwaukee’s Third Ward (May 2012). His mission has been to drive innovation through a strong partnership of design and business.

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design, Michael has a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Industrial Design. An active member of the Design community, he’s a member of MiKE (Innovation in Milwaukee), TED, IDSA, PDMA and on the executive board of New North Design in Business.


As Chief Engineer of System Groups, Vance Strader is a member of Harley-Davidson’s OE Engineering Leadership Team. He leads the System Groups organization that encompasses Core, Powertrain, Chassis and Electrical Engineering– focused on developing world class technical competence, providing expert support to product development projects across Harley-Davidson Motor Company, and performing advanced technology development to enable industry-leading,customer-valued execution.

Vance has been with Harley-Davidson since 1997, starting at Buell as the Lead Project Engineer directing the design, development and launch of the XB platform. He then transitioned to the role of Manager, Strategic Planning with responsibility for the H-D sales and marketing organizations. In 2005, he was promoted to Director of Special Projects, responsible for developing strategies and implementing new business initiatives with special emphasis on product development. He then moved through various leadership positions including Sportster ® Platform Director, Sr. Manager of Value Engineering and then Chief Engineer of Advanced Motorcycles where he led the team developing multiple all-new motorcycle prototypes and business plans.


Tim is the Chief Storyteller at Manifesto, a brand actualization agency. An 8-year veteran of engagement marketing, Tim has worked on dozens of Fortune 100 brand campaigns spanning nearly every industry. Former Creative Director at GMR Marketing and Executive Creative Director of Summit Series, in 2011 Tim co-founded Manifesto, a social cause and innovation agency focused on engaging generation Y through powerful brand platforms.


Lane Becker has been hanging out on the Web since it was invented, from his work-study job setting up websites for the University of Texas at Austin in 1994, to his first, sadly failed startup in 1999 (don’t ask), and on to more successful ventures: co-founding Adaptive Path, the first user experience design firm, and Get Satisfaction, an online customer service community platform.

While with Adaptive Path, Lane ran the consulting practice as well as the New Ventures program, which invested in and developed Web-based products including Measure Map, a
blog analytics tool acquired by Google in 2005. Get Satisfaction is currently used by over 65,000 companies and recently received a $10 million investment round from InterWest Capital.

Lane is also the New York Times bestselling author of “Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business,” a book about harnessing serendipity as a business practice that he co-wrote with Thor Muller.

Judges Choice

Flint and Tinder Twitter: @jakehimself   Web and Video:

Audience Choice

Swipe Sense Twitter: @mhi, @ymalina  Web:

Photos courtesy of Jeffery Garland. More photos available here. Also check out the full sketchnotes recap courtesy of Mike Rohde (@rohdesign).

COMMON Pitch is a non-traditional, international event series that shines a spotlight on the best new ideas for sustainable innovation and reinvention.

Launched by COMMON, an accelerator for social change founded by Alex and Ana Bogusky, Rob Schuham and John Bielenburg in the summer of 2011, COMMON Pitch has been featured in most major publications, including The New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Next Web, FOX News and Mashable.

Past participants in COMMON Pitch hail from over 13 countries, representing over 30 startups in the areas of technology, consumer products and services. Milwaukee is only the third US city approved to host a COMMON Pitch event in 2012, and the sole event focused exclusively on innovation in America - a distinction that acknowledges the area’s increasingly welcome climate for creativity, technology and entrepreneurialism.

For more information about COMMON Pitch or Milwaukee Innovation Week, please say hello!

COMMON Pitch Milwaukee 2013
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