Inventors and Entrepreneurs Club

Do you have an idea for an invention or new product? Would you like to start your own business?  The Inventors and Entrepreneurs (I&E) Club can help you explore your idea and turn it into a product or business.  At our meetings you can share your ideas, network with other creative people and find resources to help you.  New ideas are just a spark away!

Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at the Food Enterprise Center, 1201 North Main Street in Viroqua. Networking starts at 5:30 p.m., the program begins at 6:00 p.m. The meetings are free and no reservations are required.  Everyone is welcome!

We have created a LinkedIn group for our I&E club.  Join Us to network with other creative people.

Next meeting

Wednesday February 12, 2020

“From Thoughts to Things”

A fun and experiential evening with Gayle O’Meara Nielsen, MHt, learning how to use the power of the subconscious mind to tap into creativity and inspiration. Great for inventors, business owners, entrepreneurs and artists. Learn some science about the brain and practice some quick and easy tools to leverage the potential of your brain to expand your possibilities.

Gayle is a Hypnotist, Certified Matrix Energetics Practitioner, and martial artist. With degrees in Electro-Mechanical Technology and Visual Communications, and a past corporate career with a Fortune 100 company in laboratory materials testing and Information Technology, she brings a solid science background to her work in understanding consciousness and exploring the potential of the human mind. She works with clients individually and in group to access positive states create outstanding change.

Whether you have an idea or just like to think business, plan to attend for a dynamic evening of networking with lots of creative people. Everyone is welcome! 

We hope to see you at the club!

Past Topics and Speakers

January 8, 2020
How small business owners can save for retirement
Allison Mendoza, Independent Advisor Representative, LPL Financial

December 11, 2019
Show and Tell Your Invention or Service
Sharing with Club Members

November 13, 2019
Creative Storytelling with the power of 3D animation
Dave Myers, professional animator and illustrator

October 9, 2019
How to get your product on the store shelf
Jonah Curley, Grocery Manager at the Viroqua Food Co-op

September 11, 2019
QuickBooks 101
Cathy Kulig, Certified Public Accountant at Johnson Block and Company in Viroqua

August 14, 2019
Developing the Driftless Brewing Company
Cynthia Olmstead, Business Operations Director, and Scott Noe, Production & Cellar Manager at Driftless Brewing

July 10, 2019
Marketing, Advertising, Branding and Design
Tony Roberts, President of The BLU Group – Advertising & Marketing in La Crosse

June 12, 2019
The Viroqua Area Maker Movement
Peter Bergquist, Co-founder at Shade Haven

May 8, 2019
Identifying Costs and What They Mean
Aaron Reimler, Business and Income Developer for Couleecap Inc.

April 10, 2019 cancelled due to weather

March 13, 2019
Writing Grants, Getting Funded
Sue Noble, Executive Director, Vernon Economic Development Association

February 13, 2019
Food and Business from Scratch
Justin Johnson, CEO/Founder of Sustainable Kitchens

January 9, 2019
Opportunities with HempScience
Luke Zigovits, CEO and Co-Founder of HempScience

December 12, 2018
SeedLinked…a data sharing platform for plant breeders, growers and gardeners
Dr. Nicolas Enjalbert, Co-Founder and CEO of SeedLinked

November 14, 2018
Beyond your Shoebox…Getting ready for your accountant
Cathy Kulig, CPA and Tax Manager with Johnson Block and Company, Inc.

October 10, 2018
Learning from a Hazelnut Company
Brad Niemcek, Director of the Kickapoo Culinary Center in Gays Mills, and general manager of the American Hazelnut Company

September 12, 2018
10 Elements of Good Product Label Design
Abby Voye and Rich Rice, Prizm Print and Label in La Crosse

August 8, 2018
Sales Opportunities in the Government Market
Kim Garber, from the Wisconsin Procurement Institute

July 11, 2018
Small Business and Social Media
Carolyn Zick, owner of Bad Axe Enterprises and Director of Communications at Bank of Cashton

June 13, 2018
Owning and Operating a Bed and Breakfast Inn
Marie Cimino, Co-owner of the Westby House Inn, Westby Wisconsin

May 9, 2018
Go Nuts!  Opportunities with Hickory Nuts
Sam Thayer, author and organic fruit/nut grower and harvester of wild food products

April 11, 2018
Information Technology…If it's geeky, we do it
Laura and Rodney Holum, co-owners of Coulee Tech, Inc.

March 14, 2018
Branches Winery - What we've learned in five years
Therese Bergholz, co-owner of Branches Winery

January 10, 2018  (February 2018 meeting cancelled)
New opportunities in Ag with Industrial Hemp
Ken Anderson, Founder and President of Legacy Hemp

December 13, 2017
Product/Service Show and Tell
Showcasing ideas, inventions and services of club members

November 8, 2017
Composting Beyond Your Backyard
Angie Lemar, Program Director at Recycling Connections and
Mary Christenson and Stephanie Brown, “Growing For Good” program

October 11, 2017
How to take an Outside-In Approach to Marketing
Kevin Carlson, owner of Innovative Marketing Strategies in West Salem

September 13, 2017
Social Media Marketing: Do's and Don'ts
Sarah Arendt-Beyer, Marketing Director for DigiSage in La Crosse, WI

August 9, 2017
Start, Manage, Grow
Terri Urbanek, Business Counselor and Outreach Specialist at the Wisconsin SBDC at UW-La Crosse. 

July 12, 2017
Legal Tools to Protect Your Ideas and Inventions
Nick Brannen, Patent Attorney and Owner of Brannen Law Office, LLC

June 14, 2017
Building Success in a Direct Sales Business
Rebecca Eby, Small business owner and serial entrepreneur

May 10, 2017
Bootstrap your marketing by being authentically "you"
Rachel Wolf, owner and founder of LuSa Organics

April 12, 2017
Getting financing for your business
Julie Emslie, Rural Small Business Consultant for the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC)

March 8, 2017
Before you hire a website developer
Sarah Bratnober, marketing consultant at the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-La Crosse and owner of Whereabouts Marketing LLC in Viroqua

February 8, 2017
Nurturing Creativity
Gregory Splinter, architect and mindfulness facilitator

January 11, 2017
Solar Energy for Your Home, Farm and Small Business
Jim Bassett PE, entrepreneur and beef cattle farmer

December 14, 2016
Product/Service Show and Tell
Inventors and Entrepreneurs showcasing their ideas

November 9, 2016
How to 3D Print Your Idea
Ben Eby, Serial Inventor and founder of E.B. Tool Company 

October 12, 2016
The 3 R's for Revitalizing your Business
Thomas White, serial entrepreneur 

September 14, 2016
Identity Theft and Privacy Protection
Laura Fay, Agency Liaison for the Bureau of Consumer Protection within the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. 

August 10, 2016
Valuing a Patent
Attorney Jeremy Laabs

July 13, 2016
The Wisco Pop Story
Austin Ashley, Co-owner and Co-founder of Wisco Pop

June 8, 2016
A Kickstarter Crash Course
Dennis Glover, K-Kat Innovative Pet Products

May 11, 2016
Focus group feedback on member inventions

April 13, 2016
Money Matters in your Business
Colin Fleming and Carol Ostrem, Small Business Advisors at State Bank
La Crosse

March 9, 2016
Do what you say, Say what you do
Carolyn and Brian Austin, owners of “Austin’s Rush Creek Farm”

February 10, 2016
Writing Grants, Getting Funded
Sue Noble, Executive Director of Vernon Economic Development Association

January 13, 2016
Learning From the Past--Living in the Present--Planning for the Future
Daniel Gilbertson, Inventor and Entrepreneur, Retired business counselor

December 9, 2015
Product/Service Show and Tell
Inventors and Entrepreneurs showcasing their ideas

November 11, 2015
A simple approach to successfully growing your business
Thomas White, serial entrepreneur and leadership teacher

October 14, 2015
Successful Growth Strategies in the Government Marketplace
Kim Garber from the Wisconsin Procurement Institute

September 9, 2015
Essentials of Effective Selling
Jon Fields, Business Growth Coach

August 12, 2015
Shipping, Logistics and Packaging
Tony Saarem, Operations Manager at GoMacro in Viola

July 8, 2015
UW-Stout’s new "Idea to Prototype" program
Renee Surdick and Terese Wentworth from UW-Stout’s Center for Innovation and Development

June 10, 2015
Clues for Marketing and Branding 
Rachel Jovi, Rural Small Business Consultant for WWBIC

May 13, 2015
Insurance Topics and Tips
David Wright, Independent Insurance agent

April 8, 2015
A Kickstarter Crash Course
Dennis Glover, K-Kat Innovative Pet Products

March 11, 2015
“Financial opportunities through WPI, SBA, DATCP and FSA”
Patrick M. Dardis, Mary Trimmier, Kim Garber, Kathy Lewison, and Ginger Jacobs   

February 11, 2015
“Why the Dance - and Working through the Relationship Details - Really Does Matter”
Anne Hlavacka, Director of the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the UW-La Crosse

January 14, 2015
“Meeting with your business banker”
Scot Wall, President of the Bank of Cashton

December 10, 2014
“Product/Service Show and Tell”

November 11, 2014
“Where did the money go?”
Al Lorr, owner of Lorr Computer Solutions, Viroqua

October 8, 2014
“Diversifying Your Sales Pipeline”
Kim Garber and Dave Olson, Wisconsin Procurement Institute
Mary Trimmer, U.S. Small Business Administration

September 10, 2014
“Creating a Business by Solving a Problem”
Vince Hundt, Guthrie Knapp and Peter Burquist, co-owners of Shade Haven

August 13, 2014
“Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights”
Chuck Sara, Patent Attorney with Dewitt Ross & Stevens Law Firm

July 9, 2014
“Turning an Idea into a Business”
Cecil Wright, farmer member and owner of Maple Valley Cooperative

June 11, 2014
“When do you need market research and How to access it”
Bud Gayhart, Director of the Center for Innovation & Business Development at UW-Whitewater

May 14, 2014
“What Not to do! as learned by a successful inventor”
Ben Eby, inventor and founder of E.B. Tool Company

April 9, 2014
“Great Broadband for Great Communities”
Rod Olson, CEO & General Manager of Vernon Telephone Cooperative

March 12, 2014
Lessons from My Backyard Business
Joyce Quarnstrom, owner of Kvarnstrom’s Bakery

February 12, 2014
“Lean Startup Method”
Andrew Londre, Business and Income Developer for Couleecap,Inc

January 8, 2014
“5 Keys to Entrepreneurial Success”
Thomas White, Inventor, serial entrepreneur, author and radio program producer

December 11, 2013
“Product Show and Tell”
Inventors and Entrepreneurs showcased their ideas for roundtable feedback

November 13, 2013
“Finding Opportunities for your Business”
Kim Garber, Small Business Programs Manager for the Wisconsin Procurement Institute in Milwaukee

October 14, 2013
“Expanding and Marketing your New Product Line”
Donna Bauer, owner of The Bauer Group Inc. which manufactures and distributes “Smile on a Stick®”

September 11, 2013
“Compensation Management – The Journey Matters”
Deborah Schultz, Director of Strategic Human Resource Services and Business Solutions for MRA, The Management Association

August 14, 2013
“Business Execution: Let's Grow Your Business, Not Kill It!”
Kelton Greenway, Greenway Consulting, business improvement services

July 10, 2013 
“Using Innovation resources to nurture your ideas”
Paul Easterday, UW Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center

June 12, 2013 
“Do you know how to sell? Or are you just talking?”
Frank Kroncke, highly successful salesman and sales manager

May 8, 2013 
“Managing Small Business Cash Flow”
Brock Waterman, entrepreneur, consultant and founder of Fundunity LLC

April 10, 2013
“Business Basics – Thinking Tactically about your Business”
Carol Roth, Rural Outreach Specialist at Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC)

March 13, 2013
“Online Marketing and E-Commerce”
Melissa Pahl, Executive Director of Platteville Area Industrial Development Corp and owner of Twenty Marketing

February 13, 2013 
“Naming your product or business”
Dennis Treu, Entrepreneur and marketing consultant

January 9, 2013 
“Creative…Wherever you are”
Anne O’Connor, founder of Tending the Fire Within

December 12, 2012 
“Regional Approaches to Innovation”
Jim Bowman, Regional Account Manager for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Michael Gay, Director of the Center for New Ventures at UW Platteville

November 14, 2012 
"Building A Business Web Site & Getting It Found"
John Wells, owner of WebWise Design & Marketing

October 10, 2012 
“Cooperatives and the Mondragon Business Model”
Anne Reynolds, Director of the Center for Cooperatives at UW-Madison

September 12, 2012 
“Keys to Sustainable Business Success”
Driftless Integrity Fund faculty:  Steve Tippins, Thomas White, David Banner, and Sarah Bratnober

August 8, 2012 
“Entrepreneurship in Tourism Panel Discussion”
Patrick Reinsma, Wisconsin Department of Tourism
Jennifer Kuderer, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)
Pete Knapik, Inn at Lonesome Hollow in Soldiers Grove

July 11, 2012 
“Sales Made Simple”
Todd Ihrcke, Business coach with ActionCOACH

June 13, 2012 
“Branding and Marketing Your Business”
Ruth Rohlich, Center Director for WWBIC in Madison

May 9, 2012 
“Emerging Opportunities in the Food Processing Industry”
Wade Nolte, VP of Operations at Century Foods International

April 11, 2012  
“Need Cash: Tap Federal Dollars, Crowdfunding and other Initiatives to Fund Your Project”
Anne M. Hlavacka, Director of the Small Business Development Center, UW-La Crosse

March 14, 2012  
“Lessons on inventing from Wile E. Coyote”
Herb Goetz & Mark Payne, product development experts from the Fab Lab at Fox Valley Technical College

February 8, 2012  
 “Teaching a New Dog Old Tricks”
Joel Gordon, retired businessman from New York's Madison Avenue

January 11, 2012
Cancelled due to weather

December 12, 2011
Holiday Party at Dave’s Pizza in Viroqua
Featuring Dave Goss. Owner and Serial Entrepreneur

November 9, 2011
Selling to the Federal Government
Kim Garber, Small Business Programs Manager for the Wisconsin Procurement Institute in Milwaukee

October 12, 2011
“The Story of Bluedog Cycles”
Pete Taylor, Owner of Bluedog Cycles in Viroqua

September 14, 2011
“Does your idea need research and resource help”
Sandra Beccue, Market Research Manager for the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center (WISC) at UW-Whitewater

August 10, 2011
“What You Need to Finance Your Venture”
Terri Urbanek, Internal Financial and Operations Auditor at Community Credit Union in La Crosse

July 13, 2011
Meeting cancelled due to schedule conflict

June 8, 2011
“Business Planning Based on Reality”
Rick Terrien, Executive Director of the Iowa County Area Economic Development Corp.

May 11, 2011
“The Kickapoo Coffee Story”
TJ Semanchin and Caleb Nicholes, Co-owners of Kickapoo Coffee in Viroqua

April 13, 2011
“Managing your Intellectual Property”
Chuck Sara, Patent Attorney with Dewitt Ross & Stevens Law Firm

March 9, 2011
Cancelled due to weather

February 9, 2011
“Think Funded! Grant Writing 101”
Sue Noble, Director of Vernon Economic Development Association

January 12, 2011
“How to Use Social Networking to Increase Your Sales”
Stephen Woessner, UW-La Crosse Small Business Development Center

December 8, 2010
Holiday Party and Networking at Optimo Café in Viroqua

November 10, 2010
“From Idea to LLC” 
Roald Gundersen, co-owner Whole Trees Architecture and Construction

October 13, 2010
“Making Your Dream Profitable”
Jim Gage, business consultant and grant writer

September 8, 2010
The Wedding Barn
Diane Hunter, owner of Huntington Farm near Viroqua

August 11, 2010
Powering Vehicles with Cow Pies
Chris Schneider, owner/founder of Honda Motorwerks and Greendrinks in La Crosse

July 14, 2010
A Legal Smorgasbord
Jason Sytsma, Attorney at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

June 9, 2010
Building a Year Round Sustainable Tourist Destination
Donna Justin, Owner of Justin Trails

May 12, 2010
Guerilla Marketing
Sarah Arendt, Marketing Director for AVS Marketing Group, La Crosse.

April 14, 2010
Growing a Grassroots Organization from the Ground Up
Tamara Dean, President of Driftless Community Radio, WDRT 91.9FM  

March 10, 2010
Approaching investors and more
David Banner, an engineer, professor and entrepreneur  

February 10, 2010
Getting Your Business Web Site Online
Stephen Woessner, UW-La Crosse Small Business Development Center

January 13, 2010
Building a Business on Your Values
Richard de Wilde, owner of Harmony Valley Farm

November 11, 2009
What Makes an Idea POP
Brad Biddick, owner of Rural Route 1 Popcorn

October 14, 2009
Cooperatives as a Business Model
Margaret Bau, USDA Rural Development Cooperative Development Specialist

September 9, 2009
Branding your Business or Product
Lois Federman, Marketing consultant for Something Special from Wisconsin
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

August 12, 2009
Managing Intellectual Property, Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks.
Chuck Sara, Patent Attorney with Dewitt Ross & Stevens Law Firm

July 8, 2009
Social Networking Tools and Tricks
Tim Puyleart, Business Development Manager for IEA, Inc

June 10, 2009
Turning a Product into a Business
Peter Weber, Potter's Crackers in Madison

May 13, 2009
Turning Opportunity into Success
Ivan Davis, Marketing Specialist with Output Generation

April 14, 2009
Business Etiquette for Entrepreneurs
Sue Marino, Director
The Etiquette Center, Richland Center

March 10, 2008
Step by Step Guide to Developing Your Marketing Plan
Mark Thorne
Marketing Consultant at La Crosse Sign

February 10, 2009
Understanding Taxes and Finances
Mary McEvoy, CPA, CFP in Viroqua

January 13, 2009
How to Survive as a New Business
Bob Starks and Loren Cade
Vernon Vineyards, Viroqua

December 9 and November 11, 2008
Meetings were cancelled due to weather

October 14, 2008
Licensing & Marketing: Getting Your Invention Sold
Chuck Sara, Patent Attorney
Dewitt, Ross, & Stevens in Madison

September 9, 2008
Keys to Success & Resources to Get You There
Greg Wise, UW-Extension Community Development Specialist, Madison

August 12, 2008
Using Innovation to Grow Your Business
Dave Franchino, President, Design Concepts, Madison

July 8, 2008
What Makes A Good Business Idea?
Jan Gallagher, Director
La Crosse Small Business Development Center

June 10, 2008
Meeting cancelled due to weather

May 13, 2008
Making the Right Connections for your Invention or Business
Julann Jatczak, Vice President
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation

Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The Serial Entrepreneur
Al Waller, Out of the Box Publishing

March 11, 2008
Growing your Online Business
Ivan Davis, Marketing Specialist with Output Generation

February 12, 2008
Star Valley Flowers…Sharing Their Story
John Zehrer and Phil Mueller
Star Valley Flowers, Soldiers Grove

January 8, 2008
Managing Intellectual Property: Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks
Chuck Sara, Patent Attorney
Dewitt, Ross, & Stevens in Madison

December 11, 2007
Meeting cancelled due to weather

November 13, 2007
Creating a Culture of Innovation and Networking
Terry Whipple, Executive Director
Juneau County Economic Development Corporation

October 9, 2007
Taking Risks…How to Get to Success
Jan Rasikas, General Manager of the Viroqua Food Co-op

September 11, 2007
First Meeting Kick-off
Innovation in our Economy
Greg Wise, UW-Extension Community Development Specialist, Madison
and Ten Steps to Marketing Your Product
Ivan Davis,Marketing Specialist with Output Generation


The Inventors and Entrepreneurs Club meetings have been postponed indefinitely, due to the COVID pandemic. Please let us know if you have questions or need assistance. We miss your creative energy and hope to be back together soon.

Click here for more info on the I&E Club

Quick VEDA Contact Info

Susan Noble
Executive Director, Vernon Economic Development Association
1201 North Main Street,
Suite 6, Viroqua WI 54665