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UW-Eau Claire alumni collaborate with WiSys VentureHome® to create startup business to improve access to lakes in Wisconsin, Minnesota

Photo caption: Entrepreneurs (from left) Patrick Rebman ’95, Ted Johnsen and Dave Mullen ’96, along with Corey Honadel, launched in collaboration with WiSys VentureHome®-Eau Claire’s Level Up!® seed-accelerator program.

When they were students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Dave Mullen ’96 and Patrick Rebman ’95 learned that networking and collaboration are critical elements to the success of any startup business.

After two years of brainstorming, research and relationship building, the pair of Blugolds launched a startup business with a digital solution to improve access to waterways across Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The result is, an online portal that connects dock owners with boat owners seeking access to water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes or the Dairy State. The site allows boat owners to rent private dock space for a short time or for an entire season. At the same time, dock owners are able to tap into a new revenue stream. Think Airbnb for boats.

Before they dipped their toes in the dock-sharing waters, Rebman and Mullen partnered with Eau Claire web developers Corey Honadel and Ted Johnsen.

The group launched their startup early in 2022, and several regional businesses stepped forward to help the business in its pilot phase.

“Creating Vacation Docks has been both rewarding and eye-opening,” Mullen says. “Some key moments in our development have been completing the WiSys VentureHome®-Eau Claire program and having good luck to bring on two talented partners.”

WiSys VentureHomes are a network of startup hubs that connect statewide resources with community initiatives to provide local entrepreneurs a springboard to success. The initiative invites Wisconsin alumni to “venture home” to contribute to local communities. You can find more information at

Vacation Docks LLC became a reality by taking advantage of WiSys VentureHome-Eau Claire’s Level Up!® seed-accelerator program.

“Although there are hurdles with every startup, we have seen a need and the response has been supportive,” Rebman says. “We just need to tell people about it and move forward with getting the word out.”

Applications for the next round of the Level Up! seed-accelerator program will be accepted in February. For information about WiSys VentureHome-Eau Claire, contact Ann Rupnow, manager of entrepreneurship in UW-Eau Claire’s College of Business, at 715-836-5026.