Events & Sponsorships

HATCH Finalists and Judges Selected

posted on November 5, 2019

HATCH, an entrepreneurial pitch program has selected the finalists to pitch their ideas to regional judges and a live audience at the annual event held at John and Patty Noel’s Car Barn on November 13 from 6:00-8:30 PM. Special thanks to Compass Properties for their support of the event at the Car Barn. Registration to attend is requested.

The seven finalists are:
• Michelle Goetsch, Kronenwetter, ERbin (Kigo LLC)
• Julie Kaprelian, Marshfield, The Fresh Jar
• Karolee Krause, Stevens Point, Therapy Cubes
• Debbie Lemke, Wausau, U Rock For Kids
• Heidi Pope, Stevens Point, Expat Biz Network
• Nate VanDerLoop, Stevens Point, Chronetic Software
• Ian Waller, Iola, Kazuko

Judges include: Jeff Ebel, SCORE; Volker Gaul, Mid-State Technical College; Lisa Johnson, BioForward; Melissa Meschke, Small Business Development Center; and Laura West-Kralcik, CAP Services

“We are excited to bring HATCH back to the region.” said Todd Kuckkahn, Executive Director at Portage County Business Council. “We have a unique and fun location and are excited for our judges to select the $5,000 grand prize winner, along with $2,500 for second place, $1,000 for third and $500 for the People’s Choice.” The People’s Choice Award is being sponsored by Grow North, a regional WEDC economic development organization serving northern Wisconsin and is chosen by a popular vote of the audience.

HATCH is a rotating, high-energy idea pitch program designed to facilitate connections between prospective entrepreneurs and those within a community who support them such as industry experts, professional service firms, banks, non-profits, business leaders and investors. Last year’s Central Wisconsin finale had more than 300 people in attendance. Several individuals or teams of individuals have the opportunity to pitch their best business idea to a panel of judges while substantive connections and networking occurs between attendees.

There is no cost to attend the event, however registration is requested to make sure there is enough food and beverage. The “eats and drinks” are sponsored by Copperleaf Management Group/Krista & Jim Mendyke. To register and attend, go to The ever popular “after party” location, where attendees can network more with the participants and winners, will be announced at the event.

Financial supporters of this event include Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Brightstar Wisconsin Foundation, Judd S. Alexander Foundation, Dwight and Linda Davis Foundation, Ruder Ware, Incourage Community Foundation, BMO Harris Bank, Grow North and Copperleaf Management Group.

For questions about HATCH, contact Fred Raasch at or for central Wisconsin, contact Todd Kuckkahn at


About Portage County Business Council-Where Economic Vitality Meets Quality of Life
The Portage County Business Council is the preeminent leader in economic development and community growth. The priorities for our members and the community are retention and attraction of businesses and employees. That is accomplished through engagement, growth, innovation, leadership, network development and partnerships.

About the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, Inc.
BrightStar is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation created to facilitate job creation and increase Wisconsin’s economic activity by deploying donated funds into equity stakes in early-stage, rapid growth companies. This unique approach is enabling the formation of new investment capital in Wisconsin through charitable donations to the foundation. Contributions to BrightStar are tax deductible.

About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC)
WEDC leads economic development efforts for the state by providing resources, operational support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. Working with more than 600 partners across the state, including regional economic development organizations, academic institutions and industry clusters, WEDC develops and delivers solutions that help businesses, communities and people maximize their potential In Wisconsin.

For more information:
Todd Kuckkahn
Portage County Business Council
(715) 344-1940