Bright Cellars' technology will change how you discover & purchase wine by RICHARD YAO - CEO, Bright Cellars
We have all experienced this problem in the wine aisle: seemingly infinite selection with no good idea on which wine to pick. Ultimately, we make a wine purchase based on whether we like the label, or whether the price seems reasonable. Other times, we will just purchase the same wine over and over, or go with a wine that looks familiar.
Milwaukee-based Bright Cellars solves this exact problem by using technology to help its members discover and learn about wine they love. Here’s how it works:
1. Members take a quiz that matches them to a unique four bottle-per-month wine subscription.
2. After trying each bottle, members have the opportunity to rate and review their selections.
3. Using these ratings, Bright Cellars’ proprietary algorithm gets better at matching members to wine every month.
Bright Cellars' members discover wine from all over the world they love at an affordable $15 per bottle. Bright Cellars removes the guesswork from the wine purchasing process. With its individualized algorithm, Bright Cellars takes each member’s unique preferences into account, matching members to a diverse set of wines.
Serving a new market
With an emphasis on discovery and education, the company largely serves an underdeveloped wine market – millennials and wine drinkers who are just trying to learn more. Bright Cellars focuses on enabling members to learn about wine in a enjoyable, unpretentious way.
Founded in 2014 by MIT grads Joe Laurendi and Richard Yau, Bright Cellars has been growing fast. With over 16,000 members and ten-fold growth in the last two years, the model is working well.
“We’re resonating with our members,” Yau said. “They’re looking to try wine they wouldn’t otherwise pick up off the shelf and we’re improving the algorithm’s ability to match them to wine.”
Building in Milwaukee
“We started the company in Boston and had no idea we would find ourselves growing it in Milwaukee,” said Yau. A conversation with startup accelerator gener8tor’s partners Joe Kirgues and Troy Vosseller led to Bright Cellars participating in the program in 2015. Local venture capital firm CSA Partners, backed by Chris Abele, led Bright Cellars $2 million seed round.
“CSA Partners and gener8tor have been champions of Bright Cellars since the day we met,” said Laurendi. “It was 100% clear to us by the end of our three-month program that Milwaukee would be the absolute best place to grow the company.”
At the end of the accelerator program, Bright Cellars moved to the Ward4 co-working space in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. The company has since grown to 30 employees, with the majority of those employees coming from UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.
“We’re excited to continue to build Bright Cellars in Milwaukee and hope to become a leader in a $56
billion-a-year industry.” said Yau.
To learn more about Bright Cellars and take the wine quiz, visit www.brightcellars.com.
We are living in an age of disruption. More than 50 years after the formulation of Moore’s law – which holds that computing power doubles on capability every 18-24 months – technologies such as articifical intelligence (AI), mobile
platforms, sensors, robotics and social collaboration systems are becoming more pervasive and revolutionizing the
way we live, work and communicate.
In an increasingly connected world, one only has to think of how platforms such as Facebook, Netflix or Uber have transformed how we interact with and perceive different industries. While these examples are portrayals of how technology has facilitated the upheaval of long standing business models and disrupted industries, research shows similar transformations are taking place in all areas of business. As AI systems, robotics and cognitive tools grow in sophistication, almost every job is being reinvented, creating what many call the “augmented workforce.” As this trend gathers speed, organizations must consider how they design jobs, organize work and plan for future growth.
Companies experiencing a fundamental shift
Our research shows that most companies are in the middle of this fundamental shift. Thirty-one percent of companies in this year’s Global Human Capital Trends survey tell us they are in the process of implementing AI and robotics, and 34% are piloting selected areas. And 10% say they are fully automated or highly advanced in this area.
Research clearly shows that one of the few rules for the digital age is to expand our vision of the workforce. We need to think about jobs in the context of tasks that can be automated (or outsourced) and the new role of human skills; and heighten the focus on the customer-employee experience.
As discussed in the 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, Ford Motor Co. has successfully harnessed the forces of technology disruption to become a pioneer in connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles. With nearly 200,000 employees, the company is going through a transformation, with a mission to “make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”
Moving from product to consumer focus
Hinged on innovation, Ford has moved from a product to consumer focus in its products and services while also moving from a product to employee experience focus in its workforce solutions. The company has been developing new business and customer engagement models along with new product design and engineering approaches. To achieve these goals, Ford has aimed to cultivate a culture of empowerment for its employees; one focused on being nimble and defined by accelerated product exploration, creativity and development.
In contrast, new products are revolutionizing long standing conceptions of how the workforce interacts with machinery and robotics. ABB, for example, has introduced an autonomous yet collaborative robot called YuMi to its global assembly lines. YuMi is a dual arm, small parts assembly robot that includes flexible hands, parts feeding systems, camera-based part location and state-of-the-art robot control allowing it to work closely with human operative without the need for cages or barriers.
Global workforces are changing. Whether it is behind the scenes or on the assembly line, technology has become more intrinsic than ever to the manufacturing process. By focusing on the employee experience, business leaders can improve employee engagement, empower teams and develop workforce solutions that will be useful and compelling.
For more insights from Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report,
Picture this: a client meets with the design firm they have entrusted to create their new headquarters. They’ve spent countless hours and resources to ensure employees will have a space that is comfortable, inviting and integrates into their overall brand. The client sits down and the design firm presents plans and renderings. But, the client struggles to understand how the design relates to their goals.
Let’s flip the switch. What if, instead of the singular view these plans and renderings provide, the architect hands each member of the client’s team a pair of virtual reality goggles allowing them to experience the proposed headquarters firsthand.
Technology plays a critical role in Eppstein Uhen Architect’s (EUA) approach to designing spaces and ensuring client satisfaction. While Building Information Modeling (BIM) is still the standard among architects, Virtual Reality (VR) allows us to leverage it in a new way.
VR immerses users in a 3D virtual environment, bringing our designs to life in a way that was not possible even a few years ago. Not only does the technology allow clients to better understand what a space will look like in final form, it also can track critical performance data, saving money throughout the various phases of design and construction.
The next advanced technology option that is being perfected is Augmented Reality (AR). This technology allows the architectural team to overlay 3D virtual images over real-world spaces, enhancing the model to the point that programming and design options can be altered and vetted from various locations in real-time.
There was a time, just a few years ago, when one-dimensional plans would go out early for the contractors to budget from, so a client would have a sense of early project budgets. This left the door open to assumptions and design details being missed in early estimates. VR has aided our clients and contractors in understanding design details that are being planned for in the built environment. Contractors pick those details up in the early budgets and owners have a greater level of confidence in the design and corresponding budget.
With the ability to leverage these new and improving technology tools, we are now able to give clients confidence that the final design will provide exactly what they want. What they see is what they will get.
For more info, contact Heather Turner Loth at 414.291.8143 or to see VR in action, visit
Protect your organization from ransomware & phishing attacks by Tom Reminga - Technology Resource Advisors, Inc.
In today’s technology landscape — which includes email as the preferred communication tool and internet browsing as the conduit of information—organizations of all sizes are at risk from cyber attacks. The latest large scale ransomware attack dubbed “WannaCry” was first detected the morning of May 12, 2017 and affected an estimated 200,000 computers globally. As the methods of intrusion become increasingly sophisticated, protection of your organization’s data should be a top priority. Here are some quick protection tips in order of importance:
End User Education
Most hacker attempts are no longer attacks on firewalls or servers. It is far easier for a nefarious character to pose as a known entity or a trusted brand. Identification of oddities, suspicious timing, or peculiar content in the form of email messages or websites are keys to prevent infections. Ongoing training of your end users to identify common tactics used by hackers will greatly reduce the potential for a virus outbreak.
This tool is the first line of defense when it comes to e-mail phishing attacks and scams. In-depth heuristics and verification methods are critical to eliminate the majority of e-mail phishing attempts.
Secure E-Mail Environment
Many organizations may be unaware of simple and often overlooked configuration details that allow spam filters to work at their top potential. Default configurations may allow invisible hackers to pose as users allowing the transmission of malicious e-mails through the organization’s e-mail server.
Since there is no guaranteed method to prevent all intrusions, a reliable offsite backup solution is extremely valuable when a breach occurs. Utilizing cloud-based backup solutions that can run multiple times per day will limit how much data may be lost in the event of an infection.
Correct User Permissions
Similar to protecting your e-mail environment, it is critical to limit file access for users that do not require rights to certain file locations. Correct permissions and proper design of file structures will protect sensitive information and limit any potential infection or breach that may occur.
What used to be the #1 preventer of infections is now the last line of defense as cyberattacks today are more likely to succeed by exploiting people rather than technology infrastructure. In light of this shift in cyberattack methodology, AV solutions that analyze end user behavior instead of code are recommended.
To learn more about this topic, MMAC members are invited to attend the “Cyber Security & Disaster Recovery” seminar presented by Technology Resource Advisors, Inc. on Thursday, September 14 at the Harley Davidson Museum. The featured presenter will be Byron Franz, Special Agent of the FBI. To reserve your space, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Dr. Vicki Martin - President, Milwaukee Area Technical College
Since our founding in 1912, Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) has offered the education and training area residents need for in-demand careers that drive the region’s economic prosperity. Our college and, more importantly our graduates, are integral to the vitality of southeastern Wisconsin.
Every year, we graduate 2,800 students with the education and hands-on training needed to close the skills gap. Local business and industry leaders recognize the significant contributions our graduates make to the success of their companies. One question I have been asked frequently since becoming MATC president in 2014 is, “When will your students be ready to come work for us? We need them!”
It truly is a great problem to have, but the reality is 90% of our students attend classes on a part-time basis. The average MATC student age is 30, which means family and work commitments often come first and students may delay their education, and ultimately their careers, to address these obligations. Unfortunately, our local employers do not have time to wait.
'Promise' provides tuition plus support services
Enter the MATC Promise. In April 2015, after learning about successful Promise programs in other states, I formed a team to develop the MATC Promise, a program that would pay the tuition and fees for students who enroll at MATC directly from high school and meet certain eligibility criteria. The program is a “last dollar” scholarship, which means MATC pays the balance of a student’s tuition and fees (after federal and state aid awards have been applied) for five semesters, which is typically enough time to complete an associate’s degree.
Our initial goal for the first Promise class was 1,000 applicants. More than 3,100 high school seniors applied to MATC, or 214% of our goal. Ultimately, close to 1,200 Promise applicants enrolled at MATC in the fall of 2016. The program is supported entirely by private funds and we rely on our generous donors to continue the MATC Promise program as long as the need for career and technical education exists.
When students arrive at MATC, a network of support services is in place to help them succeed. I am extremely proud that more than 500 faculty and staff members serve as mentors to our Promise students.
The Promise, which makes the dream of college a reality for young people, is just one example of MATC’s commitment to transforming lives, industry and community by preparing today’s students for the careers and workplaces of tomorrow.
By Debbie Seeger - Senior VP & Co-Founder, Patina Solutions
Finding and keeping good talent will continue to be a challenge for at least the next decade as significant shifts in the U.S. workforce are taking place: changes in generational work attitudes; an ever more global economy; companies re-sizing; and loss of experienced leaders and workers to retirement — it’s a Big Shift.
Smart companies know they must get ahead of these challenges or they will not be an employer of choice as the competition heats up.
Every day Patina is talking with business leaders who are challenged by doing more with less. Attracting the talent to help you not only grow, but to be cheaper, faster, better, smarter – is a huge challenge. The need to be agile and creative amid a firehose of change has created an environment where smart companies are thinking differently about how they make their talent programs match their growth needs. Here are a few strategies I’ve seen companies implement.
Grow your own
One company I’ve worked with recognized that they could not face increased loss of business opportunities, so they decided to create a “greenhouse” to grow their own talent. They worked with representatives across all levels of the company and identified the biggest skills gap for new entry level employees and for current employees considered as future leaders. Then they determined which of the skills could be learned. English as a second language was a major barrier in this company, so they decided to offer English courses to their employees. It became so popular that they decided to invite guests of employees (parents, cousins, neighbors). They found that their employees who were learning English were having fewer on-the-job accidents and safety violations, were more conscientious, had improved morale and retention improved.
Man to man coverage (women too…it’s just a sports analogy)
Another company decided that some of the skills gap it experienced was harder to address with traditional training programs (“soft skills” like work ethic, positive work attitude, being conscientious, etc.). They decided to implement a wrap-around program – or “Wrappers.” Each new hire is assigned another person in the company whose responsibility it is to mentor the person through their work experiences, and help build those soft skills into their core values. The Wrappers can help with any aspect that the new hire may find to be an obstacle: attendance; follow-through; quality; asking for direction; or having a crucial conversation. In this program, the new hire feels that there is someone rooting for them, expecting something of them, holding them accountable and helping them get the development they need. This company reports getting feedback from many of its younger employees that they’ve never had anyone support them like this – at all.
We all know that mentoring is becoming a staple in the development toolbox. But have you heard of “Reverse Mentoring?” I first heard of it at a large financial institution where they brought employees together from different generations for sessions to learn from each other. Millennials led interactive hands-on sessions on topics such as how to use social media or store your photos in the cloud. Some of the Boomers led sessions like the basics of Financial Planning and Saving in a 401K. This supports my long-held belief that everyone brings gifts and as leaders it’s our job to tap our gifts and apply them in the best way possible. It also puts the focus on the ways that each generation in the workforce can help each other instead of highlighting the differences.
Start by doing one thing, today
If all of this seems too overwhelming, think about what you can do to just get something started, right now, right where you are today. A few things to consider:
Web-based platform facilitates career-based learning experiences by connecting students to local businesses
By Julia Burns - Co-founder, Pathways High
Unique curriculum at Pathways High addresses local challenges
Inspired by their work with students in Destination Imagination and the documentary, "Most Likely To Succeed," Amber Regan and I created Pathways High, a personalized, project-based high school opening in downtown Milwaukee in August 2017. Diverse by design, Pathways High has enrolled approximately 100 students from varied socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds from both city and suburban neighborhoods. The goal: to graduate more students fluent in academic, technological and interpersonal skills.
Broad exposure to careers
Through extensive research, Burns and Regan saw the need to provide high school students with broad exposure to career options and 21st century skills required for success in college, career and life. Also, best practices at schools across Wisconsin and the country revealed the importance of providing industry certifications as early as possible so students can demonstrate mastery. Re-purposing the STEM acronym as Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship and Mastery as coined by the highly successful STEM School in Denver, a partner of Pathways High, echoes Pathways High's mission.
Mastery of academic and technical content and skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, communication and problem solving, is accomplished through student engagement in projects that are co-designed by businesses and teachers and create connections to the community via their IMPACT program. Connections and networks can dramatically alter the trajectory of a young person’s life, especially a young person who lives in a disadvantaged zip code.
The goal of IMPACT is to expose students to careers and mentors in 12 industry clusters including:
Optional fifth year
IMPACT takes the form of classes, week-long inter-sessions at a partner’s location and an optional fifth/gap year. The IMPACT year will be personalized for each student, blending internship/apprenticeship and dual enrollment in college courses.
This hybrid model provides a student with a deep understanding of both the workplace and academic requirements of a career pathway before s/he graduates and enrolls in a postsecondary program. The result is less costly experimentation in college and lower college debt burdens.
If you are interested in learning more about the IMPACT program and becoming an IMPACT partner, please contact me at email@example.com
By Steve Baas – MMAC Senior VP of Governmental Affairs
Governor Walker's proposed budget invests more than $6 billion in new money for Wisconsin's transportation infrastructure.
While these investments are a good start, the "perfect storm" of major highways in the state reaching the end of their serviceable lifespans and an under-performing revenue stream into the state Transportation Fund means that, despite this generous levels of spending, some projects still face delay. Most notably for the metro Milwaukee region is the delay of the I-94 East-West between the Zoo Interchange and the Marquette interchange.
With the majority of the truck traffic in Wisconsin going through the Zoo or Marquette interchanges, increasing capacity and safety along the East-West corridor linking them is not only a regional mobility concern but also a statewide economic concern. MMAC is grateful for the generous funding the Governor has proposed in his transportation budget that keeps projects like the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange and I-94 North-South on track. We will continue to work with the legislature, however, as the budget moves forward to find a sustainable long-term solution to our transportation funding challenges that will allow critical projects like the I-94 East-West to be put back on track without jeopardizing other critical road projects statewide.
By Steve Baas – MMAC Senior VP of Governmental Affairs
Increasing the state share of education funding to its highest level in nearly a decade, Governor Scott Walker introduced his state budget yesterday with a clear focus on building the workforce of Wednesday. Over the biennium, Walker is proposing spending an additional $649 million in state aids for K-12 education and more than $140 million in new funding for the University of Wisconsin System.
Under the Walker proposal, school districts around the state will receive an additional $200 in state funding per pupil in 2017-18 and another $204 increase in 2018-19. In addition to this new funding for school districts, the Governor also increased support for alternative education options in Milwaukee by proposing a $217 per-pupil increases in each year of the biennium for students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and in independent charter schools. Even with these increases, Choice and Charter schools would still receive several thousand dollars less per pupil in taxpayer support than MPS, but the additional funds will help narrow the gap for these schools between the amount of state support they receive and the actual cost of education for their students.
The Governor also is proposing a new incentive program for high-performing or rapidly improving schools in Milwaukee. Under his budget, schools earning one of the two top grades on the state report card or schools that have improved by three grade levels on the report card would be eligible for an additional $100 per pupil in performance bonus funds. Finally, the Governor is proposing $1.4 million each year in summer school grants for MPS.
This week’s budget announcement is only the first step in a budget process that will extend through the legislature over the next 4 months. We are pleased, however, that the initial outline Governor Walker has laid out places such a high priority on the same education issues that our MMAC members consistently tell us are key to our region’s economic success. Click here for the text of the Governor’s Budget Address and to see more details in the Budget in Brief.