2007/05/30

Governor's Business Plan Contest & Networking

Networking leads to the most unexpected and serendipitous opportunities and adventures -- a case in point being the 2007 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest.

Connection 1: Several members of Abba Makolin Waldron & Associates, LLC (AMW), worked with a particular scientist at a large consumer products company. AMW is a manufacturing process consulting company which provides innovation technical resources for manufacturing companies. After leaving the consumer products company, one of the AMW members, Bob Makolin, stayed in touch with the scientist mentioned above who had been a colleague of Bob's. The particular scientist is Connection 1.

Connection 2: Discussions with Connection 1 led to Bob Makolin visiting Minneapolis to talk with the Donaldson Company about AMW possibly working on various projects for them. The Donaldson Company is a world leader in a number of areas, including nanofiber nonwovens, which was of high interest since AMW feels nanotechnology is an important emerging technology and a effective innovation enabler. Additionally, AMW has a ton of experience and knowledge in the nonwovens area. Several people at Donaldson are, jointly, Connection 2.

Connection 3: One-on-one business networking is an important marketing tool for AMW. Industry conferences are an excellent opportunity for doing one-on-one business networking. At the 2006 Insight Nonwovens Technical Conference, AMW presented a technical paper and also talked with the presenters of two conference papers relevant to nanofiber nonwovens. Those papers were of specific interest because they could help provide better value to the Donaldson Company if AMW was fortunate enough to work on a nanofiber project for them. The presentation and topic presented by NanoStatics was of particular interest to AMW. Bob Makolin and Bob Waldron had several discussions with the co-founders of NanoStatics, and they agreed it would be interesting to continue the relationship after the Insight Conference. A NanoStatics co-founder is Connection 3.

Connection 4: Due to work on numerous AMW projects and lack of high interest in nanofiber nonwovens by anyone in Northeast Wisconsin outside of AMW, neither Bob Makolin nor Bob Waldron gave high priority to pursuing the nanofiber nonwovens project. However, in January 2007, Bob Waldron submitted a 250-word abstract for a nanofiber nonwovens company to the 2007 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest. The concept and write-up was judged to be in the top ideas from the 289 entries submitted to the contest, and it moved into Phase 2 of the contest. Representatives from the contest entries in Phase 2 were invited to attend a Business Plan Bootcamp in Milwaukee. At that bootcamp, Bob Waldron met several other Phase 2 contestants. One of those contestants had a number of interests in common with Bob W., and they have since corresponded and gotten involved on some of the same projects. That contestant is Connection 4.

Connection 5: Bob Waldron submitted an entry for AMW NF Nonwovens in the 1000-word executive summary Phase 2 portion of the contest. The business concept and executive summary were judged, again, to be among the best submitted, and AMW NF Nonwovens became one of the 26 remaining entries which moved on to Phase 3 of the contest. A 20-page business plan was then developed for the venture and submitted, with the final judging to occur in early June. As a result of being a Business Plan Contest finalist, AMW was recently interviewed by a reporter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That reporter is Connection 5.

Connection 6: This connection is a future connection. AMW has connected to other people through the connections mentioned above, and has helped them make other mutually beneficial connections. No doubt more connections will result in the future from the networking mentioned above.

None of the above relationships have led to a paying job yet, although another connection made at the 2007 Insight Conference did lead to a paying job for AMW. However, all the connections have resulted in intriguing conversations, several worthwhile meetings, and may yet lead to paying jobs. Equally enjoyable, and sometimes even more fun, are the connections AMW can make between people we've met and gotten to know. And if AMW had not been aware of, and worked hard to make the most of, the value of personal networking, the AMW NF Nonwovens business plan would not currently be a finalist in the Governor's Business Plan Contest.

The next time you have an opportunity to meet someone new, take advantage of that moment. The time you spend talking with them is guaranteed to be worthwhile, in some way, for either one or both of you. It may even lead one of your lives down an entirely new road! Life is a Journey, not a destination, so make the trip fun, interesting and full of variety.

*****

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