730 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee
Innovation: Web-based staff scheduling tool
Ben Bartling likes to go with the flow. As he sits in a café in The Third Ward sipping iced java and discussing a new venture with a potential business partner, it's hard to believe that this baby-faced 23-year-old is even out of college, not to mention the owner of a company.
Bartling is the CEO of ZoomShift, a Milwaukee web-based staff scheduling tool for restaurant managers and staff. The program allows restaurants to eliminate the confusion that can follow last minute shift swaps.
The one-year-old company has already sold subscriptions to more than 800 restaurants. At the moment, Bartling is the company's only employee. Without a physical product or direct marketing costs, the company is run essentially on "autopilot," he says.
The Marquette University finance grad taught himself to read HTML code as a student and soon began working under the guise of 94 Labs, a tech-incubator in Milwaukee. In 2011, Bartling's app won the college's s prestigious business plan award.
With backing from angel investors ZoomShift officially went live before Bartling's spring graduation.
He says he never set out to create a company.
"I just wanted to build a cool app," Bartling said of the now profitable venture. "I didn't know where it was going to go. It's awesome. I wouldn't change it for the world."