Brotherly business

Jim and Jack Pettinger sit with their laptops open at a picnic table on campus.

Jim Pettinger, left, and his brother Jack Pettinger are looking into partnering with one of the developers they met at the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament to start their business and turn their app, CrackDown, into a reality. The app helps students increase productivity in downtime by finding new ways to get motivated.

UWL duo hopes to find app success

They didn’t win the state competition, but the Pettinger brothers say they still walked away as winners.

UW-La Crosse students Jack and Jim Pettinger entered the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament with their app that helps students increase productivity in downtime by finding new ways to get motivated. The Pettingers, from Racine, competed alongside 11 other teams April 21 in Madison. They didn’t win, but they came home even more excited about finding success with their app.

“It was incredibly encouraging to meet other young entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks in pursuit of their dreams,” says Jim, a sophomore studying English education. “Beyond this, we were able to meet with mentors, patent lawyers, and contacts who put us in touch potential app developers.”

Jim says he and his brother are looking into partnering with one of the developers to turn their app, CrackDown, into a reality.

“We are excited to be the first company to launch an educational application that incorporates motivational psychology into its framework,” explains Jim, who has a minor in psychology. “We are confident in both the research backing these concepts, as well as our implementation of them. CrackDown will increase user interaction and ensure that students are more capable of meeting their academic goals.”

Brother Jack, a double major in marketing and microbiology business concentration, says they walked away from the competition better prepared to find success.

“Jim and I plan to further our application development and develop it into a profitable business,” Jack says. “The networking opportunities we experienced were incredible and will help Jim and I advance Pettinger Technologies.”

That’s something Jack intends to move on following graduation this May. Jim, who plans to teach English abroad and hopes to publish novels once he finishes college in 2020, is ready to pursue entrepreneurship with his brother.

“Certainly the future of CrackDown contains a lot of unseen obstacles, but with the help and support and of all our wonderful mentors, as well as the connections made through attending the WBIT, Jack and I are prepared to meet them head-on,” he says. “Watch out world, we are coming for you!”

The Pettinger brothers participated in the 2018 UWL Innovation Lab, gaining access to business resources to help launch their business. The UWL Small Business Development Center runs the UWL Innovation Lab each spring semester.

About the WBIT

WBIT is an entrepreneurship competition open to undergraduate and graduate students attending any two- or four-year University of Wisconsin school across the state except UW-Madison. It teaches cutting-edge Lean Startup business development tools, provides business mentorship, and allows participants to compete at a state level for a chance to win seed funding for their idea, as well as a chance to compete internationally. Learn more about Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament.