Each year the Milwaukee Business Journal and Wisconsin Inno editorial team choses five rising tech leaders as well as five others to watch on its annual Wisconsin Inno Under 25 list. This year MSOE’s very own Paul Rinaldi made the list.

“I feel I don’t deserve it, but I’m really grateful for the recognition,” said Rinaldi. “I know I’ve worked hard on various tech projects and dedicated much of my time to furthering the tech landscape in Wisconsin through organizations within and outside of MSOE. In the future I plan to continue these efforts for the generations to come. However, I know many amazing people in tech in Wisconsin who I’d name as rising tech leaders as well.”

The software engineering senior is already making a splash in the tech landscape. In addition to serving as a software engineering intern at ChemDirect, Rinaldi has two startup companies: Day & Night Consulting, an engineering consulting firm; and 5 To 9 LLC, a startup that’s dedicated to creating technology to automatically turn online content into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that can be bought and traded.

“With 5 to 9 LLC, I work on finding unrealized market opportunities for technologies and then solve problems within those spaces,” said Rinaldi. “Currently 5 To 9 is focusing on a product called EasyMint which is a tool that enables fans and streaming creators to create legacies of moments on blockchains quickly and easily.”

Through 5 To 9, he plans to continue enabling innovative minds to solve real world problems in the present and creating products that scale for the future. For his second company, Day & Night Consulting, Rinaldi hopes to provide freelance opportunities to students to build their portfolios and show them the power of no-code solutions as well as custom software development. 

Rinaldi was inspired to start his own businesses thanks to meeting fellow entrepreneurs. He knew starting a business would be the easy part, while pushing it to success would be the challenge.

“Networking a lot in the first two years at MSOE led me to meet many entrepreneurs and eventually convince me that I could start a business. I realized it was extremely easy to start a business, but it was going to be as hard of a challenge as I wanted to make it to have a successful business. The biggest reward so far is that I’ve been pushed to lean into entrepreneurship as more than an interest or abstract idea, which has helped me grow much more as a problem solver and researcher.”

As a software engineering intern at ChemDirect, Rinaldi facilitates the validation and verification of data as it enters the company from suppliers. “Some of my work involves writing scripts that access databases, update and edit data. The other portion of my job involves using other tools to efficiently maintain up-to-date market data for our customers and effectively make decisions about future data processes.”

Rinaldi previously held internships at Real Time Automation where he worked on automating configuration programming; Collins Aerospace where he supported the design, definition and implementation of aerospace radio software; and Gottlieb Technologies where he performed software consulting and full stack development.

As if balancing two companies and an internship isn’t enough, Rinaldi is heavily involved in groups across campus. He is the vice president of the Society of Software Engineers, house manager and social media chair for Triangle Fraternity, president of the MSOE Lifting Club, SWE next chair of the Society of Women Engineers and an MSOE University Innovation Fellow (UIF). He also enjoys learning about AI in MSOE’s AI Club and will occasionally pop into other clubs.

Rinaldi was intrigued by software engineering after working in several programming languages in robotics, game development and application development inside and outside of high school classes and extracurriculars. “I knew I wanted to solve problems with software and technology that were close to the pain points of real-world processes and problems. I initially programmed because I wanted to create my own video games, but as I experienced other applications of programming, I became obsessed with increasing my and others’ productivity with software at the end of high school.”

MSOE piqued Rinaldi’s interests because of the industry experienced professors and opportunities to engage in a real-world project right away through the University Scholars Honors Program. For individuals interested in starting their own companies, Rinaldi recommends believing in yourself and taking action.

“If you’re an MSOE student, you will be trained in vital problem solving and critical thinking skills needed to identify opportunities or problems and start a business solving them. So having the confident and realistic optimism to simply start and figure unknowns out later is how I see many successful startups begin.”

When Rinaldi finds free time in his busy schedule, he can be found weightlifting in the Kern Center or riding his bicycle through Milwaukee capturing its beauty via camera or his own eyes. Rinaldi is originally from Waukesha, Wisconsin and is a quadruplet.