What is your name and profession?
My name is Laura Kaiser, and I started my career as a reformed banker, but left the banking world and am now a conference planner and social media director for the Wisconsin Tech Council.
How did you get to where you are today?
I worked in banking for a very, very, very long time, and eventually became a bank manager, but after many years I got burned out. There were skills that I learned from banking that I wanted to apply to my life in a different way, so I pivoted my career in the middle of my life. I’ve been working in event planning now for 4.5 years.
What values or principles have brought you to where you are now?
There are a few things that have stayed with me. Following my instincts is really important, having high ethics, a strong desire to help people and resilience to keep bouncing through any kind of adversity while keeping a positive attitude. At the beginning of the pandemic in March, I was planning to hold a tech summit at Lambeau Field. The tech summit is where strategic speed dates are set up between major firms like AT&T and GE Healthcare to meet with startups. Four days before the event was to take place, we had to move all 252 of the meetings online. All of the companies were adjusting to the crisis and a lot of people were relying on the event to take place, so I had to do everything I could to make sure the event still took place. Every single meeting successfully took place, and I have been adjusting to working online ever since then.
What is the Wisconsin Tech Council, and why is it important?
The Wisconsin Tech Council is a non-profit bipartisan governing board to the legislature and the governor. We advise on tech and science related issues with businesses, start-ups, and investors. Our mission is to bridge all of these branches together and establish ways to work harder, smarter, and better together. The Tech Council is important because we do a lot of advocating and policy work, and produce conferences for entrepreneurs and investors to network and thrive off of each other.
How is the Wisconsin Tech Council useful to UW-Madison students?
Student innovators at UW-Madison can use the Wisconsin Tech Council to get in front of a larger audience that extends beyond campus. We can provide larger exposure, and a bigger platform for student’s innovations to be recognized.
Who have you looked up to in your life?
I look up to strong women. Period. Throughout my career I have been encouraged by strong women to not sit back, be bowled over and stay quiet, but to be active, step up, and look for opportunities. I look up to the Michelle Obamas of the world, women who work hard to stand up and advocate for other women.
What is the most fun part of your job?
The most fun part of my job is simply meeting amazing new people. I am a huge people person and my job allows me to meet different and interesting people from different industries. Starting your own business is powerful and it is fun to meet all the unique people who are trying to bring their ideas into the start-up world. If I had to give any advice to young entrepreneurs, I would tell them to lean into their personality. Businesses are sold more on your personality and want to work with you not just your product. Be authentic in everything you do and be cognizant of the fact that everyone is different.
Anything you want to plug?
The Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium taking place on November 9–11 is a huge opportunity to get in front of investors. The event includes an elevator pitch Olympics, 90 second pitches in front of investors, investor network presentations, and awesome keynote speakers. Anyone interested in the entrepreneurship ecosystem can get something valuable from the event. Visit wisearlystage.com for more information about the event!
Interview and transcription by Abby Krause