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Creating jobs, opportunity and making Milwaukee a better city

By creating introductions between people who want to fund locally with people who are growing their businesses

Overview

Businesses create jobs, create opportunity and make a city like Milwaukee a better city. Starting a business is hard, and we've worked for local organizations to help make that easier, like WWBIC. Getting funding is even harder or basically impossible for most would-be business owners. At the same time, there are lots of people who invest in the stock market or a mutual fund and would much rather invest it locally, but there's zero conduit to meet business owners who are looking for funding.

Fund Milwaukee is that conduit. Fund Milwaukee introduces people who need funding for their local businesses with people who want to invest into local businesses. Because Fund Milwaukee isn't investing or taking any part of investments, it's really just a conduit to introduce people, it's a difficult organization to understand.

And not just any business. Fund Milwaukee is an organization that wants to increase local investment opportunities, with a focus on local businesses that measure their success against all three pillars of the triple bottom line – economic, ecological and social. Fund Milwaukee has introduced funders to successful business including Purple Door Ice Cream, Outpost Natural Foods, The Bobblehead Museum, The Tandem restaurant, Mushroom Mike's and Wally Schmidt Tavern.

Process

We found that if we talk about both sides of the introductions, people who invest locally and people who need investment, though a vision of the people and the investments that have already happened, we can help explain this much simpler. So we started with wireframes to help abstract the design from the content, and found a layout that has two parts to its main page -- people who've invested and businesses that have taken investments. 

The design came easy after that, adding in the next meetings and other deals and events, and making it easy for people to sign up for news. It's the meetings where people first meet and then hear 2 or 3 different businesses pitch their idea, their ask and the payback terms, so helping people be in the know of the meetings helps facilitate the connections that build businesses in Milwaukee. 

Tooling

The site includes a meeting database, a news and recently funded database and connections to social media. It also includes a list of the businesses and funders that populate the home page, so it's easy to add new business / funder introductions.

Lagniappe

We tend to build a site only to realize that there's something missing, but we're out of budget. We build it anyway, and for Fund Milwaukee, we want to have our split screen funders / businesses include the lines that meet in the middle, so we animated lines and made a system you can flip through businesses and see some people the visitor might know that already invested.