SnowShoe Raises $1M in Funding

snowshoe-logoMadison and San Francisco based startup SnowShoe recently announced a $1M funding round. They had previously raised $2.5M in earlier rounds.

Founded by three UW graduate students in 2011, SnowShoe sells an intelligent piece of plastic that interacts with touch screens. Among its many uses, the plastic stamp allows users to instantly download music, authenticate purchases, and even transport real life toys into online video games. The newest round of fundraising will allow the company to scale up production of its stamps to reduce the selling price from $2.50 a stamp to fewer than 50 cents each.

SnowShoe, who recently completed the TechStars Disney Accelerator, also announced a new platform that will allow developers to more easily integrate their web pages with the stamps. Read more about SnowShoe and their latest developments on TechCrunch and Xconomy.

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Madworks Graduates Third Class

madworks-seed-acceleratorCapital Entrepreneurs would like to congratulate the eight companies who just completed the Madworks Seed Accelerator program. The most recent class featured a variety of different tech innovations, cashmere baby wraps, a new yoga music company, a product to aid event promotion, and a foot care device for the elderly.

Madwork’s 10 week course, which is designed to help young companies further develop their ideas, has now successfully worked with a total of 30 companies over the last two years. With a combination of mentoring and capital, the program has been instrumental in helping local startups (and a team from Brazil this year) get their ideas off the ground. Madworks is unique from other accelerator programs because of their focus on problem solving, something that is particularly important for companies in the early development stages.

Applications for the next class are due May 15, with the program set to begin May 26th.

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2015 Startup Weekend Madison Recap

RGB-StartupWeekend_LogoGFEThe 2015 Startup Weekend Madison was a huge success. This year’s 54-hour marathon event featured nine teams who worked tirelessly all weekend to create incredible projects. Congratulations to everyone who participated and we hope you enjoyed the experience. You can check out some pictures from the event here, as well as a list of all the teams here.

This year three awards were not enough. The high quality of presentations led the judges to add on a fourth award, which they named the “YOLO award.” This award was designed to recognize YOLO Pops for their innovative Jello Shot Sticks that won over everyone at Startup Weekend.

All teams did an exceptional job and we wish you all luck as you continue to pursue your goals! The top three teams this year were:

1. Blinky: An accessory for bikers, Blinky plans to revolutionize biker safety. You no longer need to worry about dangerous hand signals because Blinky will alert people behind you which way you are turning with flashing arrows. In addition to winning first place, they also won the crowd favorite award.

2. Cranberry: In order to improve the health care system, Cranberry has created an At-home UTI testing device. The goal is to connect you to a prescription in minutes rather than spending time and money on doctor visits. Cranberry is well on the way to solving an issue that could save health care providers millions in wasted costs.

3. MD Forms: Have you ever spent too long waiting to see a doctor? MD Forms has created a solution that will ensure more efficient doctor visits. Their technology will allow patients to spend more time with the doctor and less time filling out forms through their patient generated notes for clinicians.

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Catalyze Raises $4M in Funding

catalyze-logoCatalyze recently completed a $4M funding round. The company previously raised a $2M Series A round following completion of the gener8tor accelerator program in 2013. Catalyze provides HIPAA-compliant cloud computing services for the healthcare industry.

More information can be found on Xconomy here.

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Drifty Raises $2.6M in Funding

drifty-logoDrifty recently completed an additional $2.6 million funding round led by Lightbank in Chicago, with additional participation from Arthur Ventures. Drifty previously raised $1 million in funding last year, and this latest investment marks Lightbank’s second investment in a Madison based company following their investment in PerBlue last year.

Drifty is the creator of the Ionic Framework, which makes it possible for web developers to build and publish native mobile applications. Ionic is one of the top 50 most popular open source projects in the world, and is used by developers ranging from individuals to Fortune 50 companies.

Read more about Drifty and their latest funding round on TechCrunch here.

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Startup Weekend Madison Returns April 10-12!

RGB-StartupWeekend_LogoGFEStartup Weekend returns to Madison April 10-12, 2015 for the fourth annual Startup Weekend Madison event! Register by March 27 to save 25%!

Startup Weekend is a weekend long event where developers, designers, marketers, and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups. To get a better idea about the event, check out a brief video trailer here.

More info and to register: REGISTER NOW

Startup Weekend is a true risk-free environment and a great opportunity for both new and seasoned entrepreneurs to gain valuable entrepreneurial experiences and put their unique skill sets to use, meet great people, and have fun. People of all different backgrounds and with all different skills are encouraged to participate.

Organizing partners for the event include Capital Entrepreneurs, Sector67, The Doyenne Group, UW-Madison, Edgewood College, and Madworks Coworking. The event is hosted by University Research Park.

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Healthfinch Raises $1.5M in Funding

healthfinch-logoHealthfinch recently completed a $1.5M financing round led by Jumpstart Ventures. Healthfinch has raised $2.8M total since its founding in 2011. Healthfinch focuses on automating and improving the routine, repeatable work that physicians and healthcare staff are tasked with. The company’s first product, Swoop, focuses on increasing the efficiency of prescription refill requests and is used by more than 1,000 doctors to process more than 1 million prescription refill requests since launching in 2012. Healthfinch intends to expand their product line in the coming year.

More information on this financing round can be found on Xconomy here.

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gener8tor Ranked a Top 15 Accelerator

sarp_logoThe Madison and Milwaukee based gener8tor startup accelerator, earned a ranking of #14 in the 2014 Seed Accelerator Rankings Project that was published today at SXSW. According to the rankings organizers, competition for the top 20 spots this year was fierce. With so many new programs coming into their own, and the addition of eligibility for non-equity-taking programs and programs with specific affiliation requirements, the pool for this year’s ranking has grown considerably. Over 150 accelerators around the US were ranked based on metrics including: valuations, fundraising, exits and survival.

More information is available on TechCrunch and the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project.

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HealthMyne Raises $4.5M in Funding

healthmyne-logoHealthMyne announced that it has raised $4.5 million in a Series A round of investment. The round was led by Venture Investors and 4490 Ventures. Additional participation included HealthX Ventures and several prominent angel investors.

HealthMyne is an early stage healthcare informatics company focused on bringing evidence-based imaging analysis to the point of care, and was founded in 2013 by a seasoned group of passionate healthcare industry entrepreneurs who have enjoyed overlapping business success. The funds will be used to expand and accelerate HealthMyne’s product development, regulatory, and commercialization efforts.

More information can be found here.

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2015 Spring Tech Kickoff and CE Open Social

Capital EntrepeneursJoin us for Madison’s 3rd Annual Spring Tech Kickoff and Capital Entrepreneurs Open Social on Wednesday, March 25 from 5-7pm!

Please register here if you’re planning to attend. It’s free.

Technology business, entrepreneurship, and startups in Madison have another great year ahead. To celebrate that and get in high gear for an eventful summer – Capital Entrepreneurs, Horizon Coworking, and the Forward Festival invite our community and its supporters to the 3rd Annual Spring Tech Kickoff!

This year’s gathering is in Fiore Company’s new building right above the fabulous new Cento Ristorante across from Overture center and The Madison Public Library.

Once again a lot has happened since last year’s spring event, and with new energy, new employers, and new support and funding resources for entrepreneurs we foresee even more coming this year.

Come celebrate achievements and we’ll share a little about what’s new in an open informal event. Anyone is welcome, this is a place where folks who want to connect and participate can easily plug in and help move our community forward.

We’ll enjoy beer from MobCraft & Karben4, and snack on delicious goodies from Cento as Fiore hosts us on the 2nd Floor of the new building at 111 N. Fairchild.

Presented by: Capital Entrepreneurs, Forward Festival, and Horizon Coworking.

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gener8tor Announces Winter 2015 Class

gener8torStartup accelerator gener8tor kicked off their Winter 2015 class that will be held for the next 12 weeks in Madison. gener8tor recruits, mentors and trains entrepreneurs leading high-tech business ventures from around the world. Since June 2012, the 28 startup graduates from gener8tor’s previous five accelerator programs have gone on to raise nearly $35 million in financing and created over 250 jobs.

“The Madison 2015 program brings our most diverse mix of companies ranging in geography from Wisconsin to Florida in industries ranging from healthcare to wine,” said Troy Vosseller, co-founder of gener8tor. “We’re excited for these five great companies to join the Madison and gener8tor startup communities.”

Out of over 400 applications, the following 5 companies were chosen for this class:

GrocerKey – An e-commerce platform that helps grocery stores build an online store and implement profitable pick up and delivery systems.

Bright Cellars – A subscription wine experience that matches members with personalized monthly selections using an algorithm created by its MIT-grad co-founders.

Carson Life – A health and beauty products company focused on the Hispanic market.

Passage – Helps specialty events take control of their ticketing & payments both online and at the door.

AltusMedical Group – A healthcare software-as-a-service company focused on achieving better patient outcomes through continuing medical education.

More information on gener8tor’s newest class is available here.

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2014 Recap: The Madison Startup Scene

Capital Entrepeneurs2014 was a year of impact for the Madison startup scene. Capital Entrepreneurs member companies saw another year of record growth – the largest to date. They created 175 full time jobs, and now employ 500 full time people.

Madison tech startups raised $44 million in funding in 2014. The first half of the year was led by a burst of follow-on funding deals, and the year closed with 10 companies raising rounds of $1M or more – including Propeller Health ($14.5m), EatStreet ($10.5M), PerBlue ($3M), Understory ($1.9M), Fishidy ($1.7M), StudyBlue ($1.7M), Aquamost ($1.3M), ABODO ($1.25M), Drifty Co ($1M), and Wellbe.

The larger funding rounds consisted of an increasing amount of capital coming from out of state – including VC firms in Chicago, as well as the East and West coasts. The $30M state backed 4490 Ventures Fund also launched, and Nordic’s Mark Bakken started his own healthcare IT focused VC fund.

A Year of Milestones
In 2014, new startups were formed and new products were launched. Many startups saw strong revenue and user growth, and formed partnerships with companies large and small. Drifty’s Ionic Framework is now one of the top 50 most popular open source projects in the world. Murfie was hailed as one of the most interesting startups in the Midwest by Inc. magazine, and spun off a new company focused on providing a platform for libraries to digitize their music offerings. PerBlue launched their newest game Titan Empires that grew to 1 million players in just 3 weeks.

EatStreet provided an online ordering platform for 15,000 restaurants nationwide and partnered with Yelp. Flux Mopeds launched their fully electric moped. MobCraft launched the state’s first equity crowdfunding campaign, was rated as the Best New Wisconsin Brewer, and medaled at the Great American Beer Festival. The growing healthtech startup sector continued to gain attention, and included the launch of Branch2 and Redox.

A Growing National Recognition
The Madison startup community continued to draw increased attention and recognition from around the country. It was rated as one of the top cities for young entrepreneurs and recognized as having one of the fastest growing information technology sectors in the country. The Wayward Nation film crew stopped by Sector67 and PerBlue in search of the “New American Dream”, and The Startup TV Show filmed at Murfie, Fishidy, and MobCraft. The Rise of the Rest Road Trip kicked off their tour in Madison and traveled to top startup communities in the heart of the country.

The Rise of an Ecosystem
A whole support network of accelerators, workspaces, and organizations has become more established and continued to grow. gener8tor was rated as one of the top accelerators in the country, completed their 5th class of companies, and now has 28 alumni companies which have raised nearly $35M in follow-on funding. The Madworks Seed Accelerator launched and graduated their first 2 classes of 21 young companies. Sector67 expanded and was declared the most interesting makerspace in the country by Make Magazine. 100state’s community of creators grew to nearly 160 members, moved to a larger space, and started new initiatives like 100arts. The Doyenne Group set off on their mission to make Madison one of the best places in the country for women entrepreneurs, and hosted a number of events including 3 weekend long retreats for women-led startups. Capital Entrepreneurs celebrated its 5th anniversary and saw membership increase by 30% to encompass 350 area entrepreneurs.

2014 FTF Startup Showcase-2


2014 FTF Startup Showcase-19

2014 FTF CE Social (32 of 64)

2014 FTF CE Social (50 of 64)

2014 FTF CE Social (14 of 64)

There were 1,500 hours of entrepreneurial events and programming in 2014, and an established set of anchor events that Capital Entrepreneurs organizes or collaborates on has emerged. Headlining the ecosystem was the 8-day long Forward Festival, which celebrated its 5th year and drew 2,500 attendees. It was highlighted by events like the Forward Technology Conference, Badger Startup Summit, Forward Festival Startup Showcase, and new events like the Edible Startup Summit that marked the expansion of the festival beyond just tech and now includes food entrepreneurs.

Build Madison celebrated its 5th anniversary, and Startup Weekend returned for its 3rd annual event. The 2nd annual Madison Startup Fair connected UW students on campus to startups, and the Spring Tech Kickoff nearly doubled in size in its second year. Madison Magazine’s M List returned and recognized 35 food entrepreneurs and innovators, and a number of startup founders were represented in the InBusiness 40 Under 40 list. Other events also returned including OnRamp Wisconsin, the Governor’s Business Plan Competition, Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, and 3 Day Startup.

The entrepreneurial community also welcomed some great new events in 2014. The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce hosted the inaugural Pressure Chamber event, which brought a select group of startups to pitch at prominent VC firms in Silicon Valley. Capital Entrepreneurs hosted a joint event with Startup Milwaukee to help bridge the Madison and Milwaukee entrepreneurial communities. There was a CryptoCurrency Hackathon at Madworks, and local chapters of 1 Million Cups and Startup Grind formed.

Signs of What’s Next
As the ecosystem has developed, we have started to see more M&A related activity. In 2014, this included MdotLab’s acquisition by comScore, Hopster’s acquisition by Inmar, Spill’s merger with MeToo, and Vidmaker’s acquisition by YouTube.

There have been big moves in establishing long term entrepreneurial infrastructure that will elevate the Madison startup ecosystem to the next level. After nearly 2 years of planning, StartingBlock Madison accomplished some significant milestones in 2014. The City of Madison committed $1.5M to the project, and American Family Insurance announced that it would be a significant investor. A site was secured in the emerging Capitol East District downtown, a development partnership was formed, and construction of the entrepreneurial hub is expected to begin in mid-2015.

Looking Forward
The Madison startup community has developed significantly over the last 5 years, and is now approaching a critical tipping point. The success seen so far has been a result of a grassroots ecosystem that was built up by passionate entrepreneurs who wanted to make Madison a great place for startups. This type of commitment to constantly improving the ecosystem from everyone involved is critical going forward, and will be necessary to take it to the next level.

Between the successful startups emerging, their increasing impact on the city, and the well rounded support ecosystem that has formed, something meaningful is definitely happening in Madison. Cheers to an exciting 2015!

Be sure to also check out individual company recaps for 2014 here, as well as past startup scene recaps from 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

* Employment data is sourced from a voluntary self reporting survey of CE startup companies, with 52 companies reporting. Because of the voluntary nature, these employment numbers are conservative representations of the actual employment impact of all startups. Funding amounts listed are also based on the CE survey data, in combination with other public sources. For the sake of better representing a clear cohort, aggregate funding reported for “tech startups” here does not include biotech companies.

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2014 Recap: PerBlue

perblueThe year of 2014 was a year of big moves for PerBlue. We started out the year by moving to a brand new office. After 3 years in what was intended to be a “temporary” office space, we decided it was time for a change up. In March we moved back downtown and into a great office that is a much better fit for our culture and in a great neighborhood.

This marks our fifth office move over the history of the company, and we’ve come a long way since the early days working out of Justin’s college apartment. It’s great to be in our new space, and we’re excited to be located in the vibrant Capitol East District in downtown Madison. Check out more pictures from our office move on Facebook here.

In May we completed a $3M funding round which was led by Lightbank out of Chicago. This was Lightbank’s first investment in a Wisconsin based company, and we are excited to have them as a partner in our adventure.

We were awarded the coveted “Top Developer” distinction from Google, and we released our newest game Titan Empires to the world in October. It quickly surpassed 1 million players within just 3 weeks of its launch, and climbed the app store rankings charts to be a Top 25 Free Game in the US. Titan Empires was even “featured” front and center on the homescreen of the Google Play Store for a week. Greed for Glory also received a Google feature, and continues to have a strong and active player base.

To celebrate the launch of Titan Empires, we partnered with our friends at MobCraft who brewed us our very own beer (and let us help) – the PerBrew Apollo Ale. It was quite delicious, and was even featured in The Cap Times.

Madison’s role as an emerging tech and gaming hub continued to increase, and PerBlue continued to play an important role in that. We have a strong (and growing) team, and are excited to continue to build great mid-core mobile games to share with the world. Cheers to 2015!

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2014 Recap: EatStreet

eat-street-logo-2EatStreet had one thing in mind for 2014: more growth. We set our sights on growing our already talented team, our innovative product offering, and lastly our restaurant clientele. While it was a somewhat terrifying goal, we were determined to grow our restaurant list from 2,500 to 10,000 by year’s end. To fund our aggressive growth goals, we closed a $10M Series B investment with funds coming locally from 4490 Ventures and SWIB.

This investment allowed us to bring on a plethora of new, exciting talent varying from programmers for continued product innovation to sales professionals needed to grow our restaurant list. And grow our restaurant list they did. By mid summer we had already hit our previously stated goal of finishing 2014 with 10,000 restaurants. It was clear we needed to readjust and set a higher goal of 15,000.

Now sitting on one of the largest restaurant lists in the industry, we immediately became an attractive partner in the online food ordering space. Our programmers got to work building out integrations for these partners and this past summer we announced our partnership with Yelp. The partnership now allows their customers to place a delivery or pickup order without needing to leave their site or app. However, our partnerships didn’t stop there. Following our partnership with Yelp, we also launched a partnership with SinglePlatform, a menu provider for many leading search engines.

With an expanded product team, we found ourselves able to bite off more initiatives than possible in 2013. In addition to building out integrations for these partnerships, our product team managed to completely revamp the Android and iPhone apps launched in 2013. Early on it became evident that this was a wise move and we saw our transaction volume shift to nearly 50% mobile throughout the year. The product team also launched a restaurant-specific loyalty program. Last but not least, they completely overhauled our web offering while moving to Angular JS and a whole new design and feel.

However, the biggest achievement of 2014 was building the team of EatStreeters with whom we will embark into 2015. For perspective, we kicked off 2014 with just 20 employees. Today, our office is filled with 80 talented, energetic, and eager minds looking to bring fast, easy, and enjoyable online food ordering to hungry diners all across America.

Make sure to stay tuned in 2015 for more exciting news by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog.

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2015 Madison Startup Fair

Capital EntrepeneursThe Startup Fair is back! The 2015 Madison Startup Fair features successful startups from the Madison area. The goal of the 3rd annual event is to enable startups to connect with potential intern and full time employees, as well as raise the awareness of Madison startups on campus. Check out coverage from last year’s event here.

Anyone interested in technology and entrepreneurship can talk one-on-one in an informal environment with startup founders and employees about their experiences. Find out more about the burgeoning Madison startup scene and the opportunities startups have to offer, including ways you can get involved by starting your own company or through internships and full-time positions with existing startups.

When: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 from Noon-4pm
Where: Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery

The event is organized by Capital Entrepreneurs in cooperation with on campus partners including the UW Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic.

For more information and to RSVP, go here.

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