Existing Businesses

Improving your business-sharpen your tools with the Venture Center

Do you own a small business and need help but don’t know where to turn? Are you wondering why the small business reality you’re living is so far removed from the dream you had when you launched your small business? Do you need to increase sales and profits? Do you want to spend less time working in your small business?

The Fox Valley Technical College Venture Center will help you sustain and grow your small business or entrepreneurial firm!

The FVTC Venture Center is a business solutions and training provider centered around entrepreneurial studies, customized, cost-effective, non-credit training for small business owners, companies, employees and residences within Appleton and the surrounding areas. We do this with a diverse team of experienced professionals, hands-on industry specific experts and world class educators. This is blended with FVTC and Venture Center’s vision and technology to provide innovative solutions for target market small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Whether you want seminars & workshops, one-on-one small business coaching, need to develop a business plan with E-seedE-seed Express or E-seed for Direct Sellers or small business assistance with the Small Business Design Plan and Grow series orPro-Seed Business Model Design, the FVTC Venture Center can help you solve your small business problems.

Start your training here -"Explore Business Model Design" seminars

How Does Your Business Make Money?

This is a simple, but fundamental question most business owners and entrepreneurs struggle to answer. Instead, most of them wonder, “Are we making money?”  

Break out of the past, move your business forward and increase your revenue streams. How? Learn to design a business model that empowers your product/service/technology. The hottest word in business today may be innovation but the newest critical competency is business model design. 

Join the Fox Valley Technical College Venture Center for Explore Business Model Design and you will:

1. Learn the nine essential business model building blocks
2. Be introduced to different business and revenue models you should consider
3. Understand why business model design is the new core competency you need to develop

You’ll also hear from small business owners who have experienced real results from learning how to use business model design tools, techniques and resources to invent new business models that are driving growth in their businesses.

Join us to learn about the Small Business Design, Plan and Grow and series approach to helping you expand your business:

  • Business Model DesignEnable you to map your assumptions & stream
  • Further develop/refine your customer base
  • Identify the incremental and iterative processes that create market agility

Register now for this FREE Session!

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Small Business Design, Plan and Grow Series

Invest 24 hours and create new business models that drive growth. 

Devote 8 weeks to develop a business plan to execute your business model.  

Transform your business and go from asking “Are we making money?” to confidently knowing “This is how we make money!”

Most non-profits, social enterprises and businesses have developed a product, service or technology innovation and built their success around that. In today’s dynamic business environment that’s not enough. You need to know how to combine product, service and technological innovation with business model innovation to become unstoppable in the marketplace. Join the award-winning Fox Valley Technical College Venture Center and learn how!


1. Learn about different revenue models you should consider.
2. Identify how to position your business for long-term growth.
3. Gain access to industry and market research that equips you with the knowledge you need to make good business decisions and create solid strategies.
4. Develop a lean business plan to support your business model.
5. Limited to 10 businesses per session for accelerated, focused results.
6. Receive one-on-one business coaching throughout the experience and beyond.

Phase One: Pro-Seed: Business Model Design:
Built on the successful Business Model Generation approach by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, you will begin by using the Business Model Canvas to design a business model that works. Then you’ll map your current business model against the backdrop of your business’ operating environment and generate a S.W.O.T. Analysis. Armed with this information you will be able to create new business models that drive growth and sustainability in your business.

Phase two: E-seed Express Entrepreneurship Training:
Immerse yourself in the better art of small business and entrepreneurial management during an accelerated 8-week E-seed series. The interactive sessions will enable you to build your network via interacting with professional guest expert speakers, develop a lean business plan to support your business model while sharpening your entrepreneur and personal maturity skills sets including leadership, accountability and creativity.

Register for the series and save!

Register now for the Small Business Design, Plan and Grow Series

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Pro-Seed™: Business Model Design

Big idea #1

Empower your product/service/technology innovation with business model innovation.

The 21st Century business environment is dynamic and volatile. It is no longer sufficient to compete with the best product/service/technology. Today’s savvy businesses and organizations know how to combine a great product/service/technology with business model design to become unstoppable in the marketplace.

Big idea #2

Invent a new business model.

Originality matters. Quit looking to others, including your competition, to define your company’s business model. Who cares about the competition? What you want to do is invent business models that solve problems/addresses pain for YOUR customers. That is the ultimate goal. Design a business model that works for your customers. 

Big idea #3

Take some risk and experiment.

Can you prove up front that a business model is going to succeed? NO chance. You can’t prove up front that a business model is going to work. The FVTC Venture Center’s Pro-Seed: Business Model Design workshop allows you to find ways to see if it will work. What’s the first thing people ask when you want to do something new? “Prove that it works.” We need to get back to a culture of experimentation. Not just experimentation of products/services/technologies but experimentation of business models...it is through experimentation that we learn and build powerful business models.


  • Learn to eliminate blah-blah-blah and move your business forward. Immerse yourself and your staff in the language of business model design and get everyone in your company/organization on the same page and pulling in the same direction.
  • Learn how to describe, analyze and design new business models! Engaging, intelligent and informative facilitators and coaches, brilliant texts including Business Model Generation and Blue Ocean Strategy, supporting videos, the Business Model Canvas and an IBISWorld™ industry and market research report are the design tools you will receive and use to invent new business models and create sustainable models for the future. Learn to identify patterns, based on concepts form leading business though leaders and understand techniques to design business models.
  • Learn how to prototype, test and experiment with the new business models you invent. Understand how to integrate the new business model (s) while concurrently supporting the current business models in your company/organization. Use business model design tools to determine the revenue and cost structure for your current and new business models and to re-interpret strategy through the business model lens.

Devote 3 days and learn how to invent new business models for your company/organization. Invest 24 hours and create new business models that drive growth. Transform your business/organization and go from asking “Are we making money?” to confidently knowing “This is how we make money!”

Oberstadt LandscapesTaking Care of Business: Read Pro-Seed Success Story
Oberstadt Landscapes: Jerry Oberstadt

Register now for the Pro-Seed Venture Advantage

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E-Seed Express

E-seed™ Express

Hey, small business owners that need to develop management and planning tools for your small business, this newest offering is designed JUST for you. Small business owners and entrepreneurs who are operating and need to develop a business plan for your small business, E-seed Express is JUST what you need. Small business owners that want to build a sustainable small business, enroll in this experience today.

In just 8 weeks, you'll put together a business plan that provides you with a roadmap for guiding and growing a small business. Participants develop a business plan through completion of weekly worksheets and exercises. Experts from the entrepreneurial and small business community provide insight into legal, management, accounting, financing and marketing issues. Both early stage and existing small businesses and entrepreneurial firms benefit from the hands-on, interactive sessions that provide practical tools to prepare a useful business plan that can be immediately applied to your business venture. Learn it tonight and apply it tomorrow!

During E-seed Express you will

  • Reconnect with why you started this small business in the first place
  • Plan for success via the creation of a business plan for your small business
  • Identify your life and business’ short and long-term goals
  • Network with other small business owners and entrepreneurs
  • Meet small business experts and professionals
  • Learn how to manage risk
  • Develop marketing strategies and tactics for your small business
  • Attend weekly labs where you can interact with guest speakers, subject matter experts and professionals
  • Learn about financing available for your small business, including: SBA Loan Guarantees, angel and venture-capital financing, working with banks and credit unions and micro-credit
  • And much, much more!

Register today for E-seed Express

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Marketing Made Lean 

Marketing Made Lean (MML) will enable you to gain and retain customers while increasing sales and profit. 

You will:

1. Increase customers, sales and profits!
2. Solidify your value proposition and align products/services with meeting customer’s needs, wants or jobs to be done.
Identify current and potential customer segments, and learn to identify customers based on the 80/20 principle in order to maximize your marketing resources while driving sales and profits.
4. Explore and further develop your marketing channels.
5. Create customer service strategies.
6. Develop your marketing budget and implementation plan.
7. Learn from and network with marketing experts during the monthly marketing coaching calls.

The Marketing Made Lean series incorporates solid marketing fundamentals with other disciplines including Lean; and design tools like the Value Proposition Canvas to create an interactive, intense, impactful, workshop. You’ll learn to use techniques for gathering customer insights, and feedback to increase brand awareness. We’ll build on the traditional 4Ps of marketing and introduce you to Entrepreneurial Marketing and the 4Cs. We’ll help you identify your best customers and share tactics for driving referrals. You’ll participate in hands-on activities designed to reinforce concepts and create a lean marketing plan complete with budgets and expected Return-on-Investment.

Marketing Made Lean weekly workshop is 4 hours and builds upon the previous week’s learning. The series includes facilitated instruction, books, tools, canvases, worksheets, templates, a marketing expert call-in series and refreshments. Included with your registration is one-on-one coaching during the series and after the series has ended, you join the monthly, one-hour, Marketing Made Lean call-in to learn from marketing experts, get answers to your current marketing questions, discuss marketing challenges/ successes, and network with other business owners. You will have time during each workshop to develop your strategies, tactics, budgets and lean marketing plan.

The approach for each week:

Week 1: Defining your Business Purpose and Reconnecting with your Vision 

  • Why are you in business? Align your vision, mission & values
  • Using the Value Proposition Canvas to align your value proposition with your 
  • targeted customer segments
  • Pricing Strategy and Break-even
  • What is your competitive advantage?

Week 2: Positioning & Developing Marketing Channels 

  • What marketing channels exist?
  • What are the best channels for you to market your business?
  • Exploring inbound and outbound strategies
  • Resources, activities and partnerships

Week 3: Customer Relationship Strategies 

  • How do you value your customers?
  • Getting feedback from your customers
  • Create your customer service creed
  • Test measurement tools

Week 4: Marketing ROI, Strategic Plan & Implementation 

  • Create your marketing budget
  • How do you know if your marketing efforts are working? Measuring your success.
  • Pulling it all together: Your strategic marketing plan
  • Implementation, Assessment & Pivoting

Grant Funding Available: Apply Now

Register today for Marketing Made Lean

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Seminars & Workshops

Education and training is a critical key to success in business. Whether you want in-depth small business and entrepreneurial training or just need a short refresher we have relevant, interactive, small business and entrepreneur-focused seminars and workshops available throughout the year. Topics including marketing and business planning, financial management and cash flow, talent management, innovation and sales are the most popular.

We have the best small business and entrepreneurial instructors and presenters available. They are all are current and past successful small business owners who are passionate about helping you and committed to your success. They have the education, experience, savvy and communication skills to educate and uplift you.

All of our seminars and workshops are affordable, too. You receive Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for attendance. Sessions are held throughout the region in our world-class training facilities. Locations provide convenient, safe, free parking. Session fees can include instruction, materials, refreshments and more.

Learn more about these affordable, practical, effective, small business and entrepreneurship workshops! See all small business and entrepreneurship seminars.

Pro-Seed™ Custom

As a solopreneur, owner of a microenterprise, small business owner or entrepreneur we know you are looking for outcomes and solutions that will affect your life. We have learned you are action-oriented and want to “do”. Theory alone does not provide the kind of learning experience desired. Business owners and entrepreneurs prefer practical, condensed training sessions where you can learn the art of business and prepare yourself to work through the various stages of business growth and development. You demand solutions you can learn today and use tomorrow to create, develop and strengthen your business!

The Venture Center meets your needs by providing a practical, hands-on, common sense approach to developing your small business—whether just starting out or ready to grow.

We offer one-on-one small business instruction and coaching as well as small group training in these areas:

  • Business and Marketing Planning
  • Sales Execution
  • Financial Management
  • HR: Attracting, Training and Retaining Employees
  • Leadership & Communication
  • Innovation

We know how easy it is to get caught up working in your business rather than on your business. Contact the FVTC Venture Center today for affordable solutions that have an impact and drive results.

Contact us for more information on Pro-Seed Custom

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Business Coaching, Customized Training and Technical Assistance

Each business is unique and that's why our experts at the Venture Center can help you with one-on-one business coaching, customized training and technical assistance in a fee-based arrangement. Services are designed to meet your needs, your employees' schedules and drive real results.

From a one-hour session to a series of day long sessions or longer term coaching agreements, the Venture Center delivers training on topics including but not limited to:

  • Innovation
  • Small Business Start-up
  • Small Business Growth and Expansion
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Marketing: Research & Analysis, Market identification, Strategy and Tactics
  • Money: Accessing Financing, Cash Flow, Budgeting
  • Sales
  • Client Fulfillment
  • Human Resources

Our staff members have skill sets in the following areas:

  • Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Small Business Start-Up
  • Small Business Operations
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Deal structuring
  • Accessing capital
  • Business Administration and Finance
  • Communication
  • Computer Technology
  • Customer Service
  • Human Resources & Workplace Issues
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing Skills and Processes
  • Organizational Performance
  • Safety/Compliance

As our training programs are highly customized, we ask that you contact the Venture Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for fees, program content and scheduling. Looking for another training? Share your needs with us.


Thinking of starting your own business? It all starts here.

Entrepreneur Map

Browse the myriad of success stories throughout the region.

Existing Businesses

Sharpen your tools and grow your existing business.

Corporate innovation

Join the nations top brands with 'Intrapreneurship'.

Get Connected

Interact and connect with the Venture Center experts.

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