Two student entrepreneurs from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater visited the most exclusive address in the United States this week.
Andrew Hoeft from Onalaska and Daniel Fink from Green Bay attended an invitation-only event for entrepreneurs at the White House in Washington, D.C.
The event, sponsored by the Young Entrepreneur Council, Inc. Magazine and MTV, focused on mentorship.
"Meeting and networking with nationally known entrepreneurs at the White House was an incredible experience," Hoeft said. "We had one-on-one conversations about our businesses, everything from marketing to pricing - specific concrete ideas. It's the best advice I've ever gotten at an event."
Hoeft, a junior finance and marketing major, is CEO and founder of Pinpoint Softwares, a company that created Date Check Pro, an expiration date management software for grocery stores.
The program alerts grocery store workers when specific products are nearing expiration, so they can rotate, price or remove the items from shelves, saving stores time and money. Plus, Hoeft says, customers hate the inconvenience of dealing with expired products.
Fink, a freshman marketing major, founded MacBros with his friends when they were students at Ashwaubenon High School.
"This is Wisconsin, and it was too cold for us to start a business in the garage, so we started ours in the basement," said Fink.
The company repairs and sells Mac computers and devices and uses the profits to create apps for education and small businesses.
During their college searches, Fink and Hoeft said they knew immediately when they visited UW-Whitewater with their families that this was the place to continue their business education.
"There's an openness to this campus," Hoeft said. "There's a really cool feel to it."
"You get to know your professors here," said Fink. "With the small classes, you get one-on-one attention. I wouldn't have gotten that at other universities."
William Dougan, professor of entrepreneurship and CEO adviser, said the national CEO organization hand-picked UW-Whitewater to attend the "I Am An Entrepreneur" event.
Their whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C., included stops at the Supreme Court, Sen. Herb Kohl's office, Rep. Tammy Baldwin's office and the Capitol.
"There's no question that the experience was extraordinary. Few college students are invited to the White House to talk business," Dougan said. "Andrew and Dan are 19 years old, and in spite of their age, they were effective and held their own interacting with other entrepreneurs."
Besides making important connections that will likely prove beneficial in the future, Hoeft says the trip motivated him to continue to think of new ways to solve problems.
"I'm a serial entrepreneur," he said. "I have more ideas brewing in the back of my head."
(Top photo left to right: Hoeft, Dougan and Fink ready to visit Sen. Herb Kohl's Office in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 28, 2011; bottom right: at the White House) Click here for photo gallery.