The podcast features interviews with business owners from across Southwest Wisconsin, sharing their hacks and backstories on their road to success. Get the backstory on host Kate Koziol and what to expect from this podcast series.


[Koziol]: Welcome to the Driftless Makers Podcast, coming to you from the Platteville Business Incubator. I'm your host Kate Koziol, Executive Director at The Incubator and recovering entrepreneur. The podcast features interviews with business owners from across Southwest Wisconsin, sharing their hacks and backstories on their road to success. You'll also hear from area experts on legal, financial, and other business operation experts to learn how to avoid the pitfalls and navigate the peaks of running your own business. The Driftless Maker's Podcast, bringing you the hacks, horror stories, and humor of running your own business. 

[Koziol]: Hi, welcome to the Driftless Makers Podcast. I'm your host Kate Koziol, and we're going to have a series of very interesting speakers over the next many, many weeks and months, and I encourage you to tune in on a regular basis. I thought we'd start this podcast with a little background on me and why I'm doing this and where I come from. So I'm the executive Director of the Platteville Business Incubator. And we're working under a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and our friends over at Prosperity Southwest and working in conjunction with other partners in the area such as the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation and the Small Business Development Center to help entrepreneurs in the region be more successful. Being an entrepreneur is a terrific opportunity. And incredibly difficult. I would know this first hand because I ran my own marketing and public relations firm in Chicago for 17 years and sold that maybe 10 years ago. And I've never looked back. Was thrilled to have the opportunity to run my own business and was also equally happy when I had the opportunity to sell it and exit in a way that allowed me to to move on to new ventures. So I'll tell you a little bit about my story. I worked for many large corporations, and I was last working with a subsidiary of United Airlines when my boss at the time gave me the ultimatum that I needed to be working in the office and be there 10 to 12 hours a day. Well, I had two little children. And I was not going to sacrifice their childhood and my opportunity to spend time with them for the sake of corporation. So I decided to take my show on the road. This was in, I think 98 or 97, just when working from home, was starting to be a concept. And so I work from what I call a broom-sized closet in my house for many years and built the company until my husband was tired of me and my employees and my papers and my conference calls taking over more and more of the house. And I moved to this super cool dentist's office which was a block from the house. It had transoms over the doors. For those listeners who are not familiar with that, those are those little like wacky windows that you see in like old black and white movies that are over the door frame and let the air circulate. It was a cool vintage building and then I spent the next many years there. My job was public relations and marketing, and I worked with companies all across the world actually and specialized in particular working with entrepreneurs. And also in the travel industry and had many wonderful clients and really enjoyed the work. But being an entrepreneur is not all that it's cracked up to be. It is the best and the worst thing ever, right? Because you get to make all the decisions awesome and worst thing you get to make all the decisions which can be challenging. I feel like when you enter to be an entrepreneur, you're quite good at a couple of things. I was good at marketing, public relations, but I didn't really understand HR or policies and procedures that I needed to have in place. I'm still not a fan of accounting, even though I do a lot of that work, but I like to hand off most of that to others and then just be able to review reports. Me filling out invoices will just make me want to pull out my hair. But being an entrepreneur really does let you set your own pace and set your own goals and it's quite exciting. I know during my time at the company I ran opportunities, came up that had I been sitting in a little cubicle and United Airlines I would have never had these opportunities for example. There was a US State Department program where I got to go to Kenya and Tanzania to help young business owners there start the first young Kenyan Entrepreneurial Association and many of those students I'm still in in contact with. Me and a team of other entrepreneurs and and business experts stayed there and I was away about a month and we had the opportunity to work closely with them and go on site visits and really a lot of talent. And had I, been a mere minion at a large corporation, I don't know that that would have been an opportunity for me. So, you know, with risk comes reward. Coming out of that opportunity, I wrote a book called "What the Mazunga Saw: Business and life lessons from Africa" and you can buy that on Kindle, if you're so inclined. It tells some stories about business and then also about the shower that almost killed me, rhinos in the river, and other important lessons that you might be interested in. So that's a part of my back story is that I I ran my own business and so I have a a keen understanding of what that's like the pluses and the minuses of it. And then now in my current role, I'm an economic development specialist for the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. And underneath that role, I get to work with businesses and communities all across the five counties in the beautiful Southwest region of Wisconsin, the Driftless region, one of my many jobs is the Executive Director role at the Platteville Business Incubator where I'm coaching between 15 and 20 businesses at any given time on how to be more successful and that includes mentoring sessions and networking sessions and all sorts of, fun and and hard work in order to help businesses be more successful. So this became an opportunity for us working with our, our good friends at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to bring a new series. And that's what we're going to be doing. This podcast is part of that, but we're also going to be starting monthly mashups which will be networking sessions that will take place in Platteville at the Platteville Business Incubator at 52 Means Drive. We're also going to have satellite gatherings, one in Richland Center at a location we're going to figure out and one in Greene County at a another center we'll figure out exactly where we're going to put that. Those are gonna start this summer, and we'll get you all the information as those become available. That'll include a networking session, an hour of networking, and it'll be like facilitated networking, so you don't have to worry about walking into a room blind and then dreading every minute that you're there. It'll be fun and engaging, and you can bring your dog, your kids, your partner. It'll be fun and they'll be, you know, munchies and some refreshments. It'll be an easy, time and you'll be happy that you showed up in the middle of that. We're going to drop in a 20 minute sort of what we're calling pro tips and hacks from a local expert. So it might be something on cash flow, it might be something on legal. We are lining up those speakers as we speak now. And these monthly mashups are going to happen on the second Tuesday of every month. So you're going to have a chance to meet others both in Platteville. There'll be an event happening up in Richland Center and over in Monroe, all in Wisconsin, and everyone is welcome to attend. They'll be a reservation, but join us chance to mix and mingle and then get a quick shot of some expert information and then back to mixing and mingling. The part of this program and it's really a diverse and interesting program that we are lining up with trying to hit entrepreneurial mentoring and education needs on a wide variety of levels is also going to include the makers market that we're going to host and that's going to be September at the Platteville business Incubator. You'll be getting more information about that. But what we're going to do there is invite all the, know, 60 or 70 alums from the Platteville business incubator to come back and show what they're doing. We've have some incredible success stories and we've not, done a good enough job in getting the word out. So we're going to invite all our alums back. We're going to invite other local business owners and and producers in the region to come and. Have a trade show, show off what they do and I think it'll be an opportunity for us to rejoice in the community that we have the expertise that we have and be able to showcase that. Then we'll also have a some food trucks. I'm hoping we'll have some other local products that you can sample and I think a band or two. So it'll be a fun way to to do some business networking and learn about some of the products that are made here in the the Driftless region of Wisconsin. So this program is going to roll out throughout the rest of the year and I think it'll be something that everyone can, find something of value. All of this is to support entrepreneurs in the region and also to make you aware that the Platform Business Incubator which is located in the Industry Park up by Wisconsin Bank and Trust behind the the UHAUL office buildings and storage units. We have spaces there and we have opportunities to get you into an internship. For a program where you'll be able to grow your business, we have office space, we have manufacturing space, We're supporting a couple of food businesses out of the incubator, and there's room for you there, whether you're going to take your own private office or if you just want some co-working space. We have the fastest Internet in town. We've got great public offices, semiprivate and private offices. We have coffee. And hey, I'll bring you some ramen if you come up. So think about the Platteville business incubator. If you're a work from home, if you're a trailing spouse, if you're someone who's working on an idea, feel free to come on up and we'll be happy to connect you to all the resources that we have in the region. We have opportunities to connect with the Idea Hub, which is our local business accelerator, or put you in touch with the right mentors so that you can test out your business idea. You can grow your current business. You can enjoy the community of other business owners. So think about starting your business, thinking about growing your side hustle into more of a business and know that the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Platteville Business Incubator have the loan funds, the expertise and the ability to help you. Live your dream life here in the Driftless. So again, my name is Kate Kozoil. I'm a recovering entrepreneur, I'm the executive Director of the Platteville Business Incubator, and I'm going to be your host for the Drift List Makers podcast. If you or someone you know want to be interviewed, want to hear more about it, I'd be happy to take your messages at Ed. That isn't Ed. It stands for Executive Director at PBII. Dot org. So again that's Ed @ or give us a call at 608-888-9588. I look forward to speaking with you and I look forward to bringing you some of the magic of the driftless makers in this region. 
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