Entrepreneurship Networking

WiSys Lights Fire With Latest Entrepreneur Class

six Chippewa Valley business founders accepted into program

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

Andrew Gehrke of Eau Claire Cocktail Co. is one of six local business founders accepted into the latest cohort by WiSys Venture Home.
A FLASH OF ENTREPRENEURIAL INSPIRATION. Andrew Gehrke of Eau Claire Cocktail Co. is one of six local business founders accepted into the latest "seed accelerator" cohort by WiSys Venture Home.

A cocktail entrepreneur, an intern manager, and a tiny home maker are among the fourth cohort of businesspeople accepted into an Eau Claire-based “seed accelerator” program this spring. WiSys Venture Home – which was launched in 2020 as a partnership among UW-Eau Claire, CoLab, and WiSys, a Madison-based nonprofit – exists to foster new startups in the Chippewa Valley.

In April, it announced that it had accepted six new founders who will take part in its programming over the coming months. They include Andrew Gehrke of Eau Claire Cocktail Co., who teaches cocktail classes, offers private event bartending, and wants to get his Old-Fashioned Cocktail Syrup sold in stores; Doug Rhoten of Cereus, which determines if websites are compliant with international privacy laws; Emily Elsner Tweske, founder of Vibrant Virtual, which hires, trains, and manages interns for small businesses; Graham Barnes, founder of No Boundaries Tiny Homes, which builds tiny houses out of repurposed materials; Justin Vajko, founder of Dialog, a recruitment marketing agency for blue collar employees; and Nick Clattenburg, founder of CAC, a company aiming to make aviation greener, less expensive, and more accessible.

According to a media release, “Over the next five months, this cohort will network with other entrepreneurs in the local and statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem as they complete programming and receive assistance from these experienced entrepreneurs. This rigorous and customized program will prepare these six founders to present their businesses to investors and the community at the end of this summer on ‘Pitch Day’ to garner funding and support as they take their next steps with their businesses.”

Learn more about the program online at venturehome.org/eauclaire.