PerBlue CEO Featured on Tech Cocktail

PerBlue co-founder and CEO (and CE co-founder) Justin Beck was featured recently on Tech Cocktail. Tech Cocktail covers startups, entrepreneurs, and apps. The article highlights Justin’s journey from student to business owner, and includes insight on his experience building PerBlue. The article even includes a shout-out to Capital Entrepreneurs.

“The way I see my CEO role of a bootstrapped business is you do anything that the company needs. Whatever bridge is burning at the moment is what you need to put your focus in so the whole company doesn’t fold,” says Beck.

Check out the full article here.

MixRank Raises $1.5 million

Capital Entrepreneurs and Y Combinator alum Ilya Lichtenstein’s latest venture, MixRank, recently raised $1.5 million from 500 Startups, Mark Cuban, and more. MixRank is a tool for online advertisers to more effectively optimize wordings and approaches of display ads. It allows advertisers to see exactly where their competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them.

A Month Away From Madison

Guest post from Michael Fenchel of 7Cees. Michael and his team recently departed Madison on a 1 year journey around the country in a mobile-bus-studio.

I’ve been away from Madison about a month now on a journey across the country with 7Cees’ mobile bus studio. Even in just that short time I’ve begun to realize things about Madison’s incredible community that I often took for granted having lived there for almost all my life.

There’s an incredible wealth of intelligence in our city. We have great schools and universities, a growing start-up scene and some of the best tech minds in the country. Every other week it seems Madison pops up in some national ranking, like Forbes’ 3rd best city for Young Professionals or Men’s Health’s most educated city in the country. No big surprise.

Being known for smarts is cool, but in my opinion what’s really remarkable about Madison is that its gifted people don’t act ‘special.’ They drive the same cars (or, more likely, ride the same bikes) as anyone else and generally you’d never know that your neighbor invented the Bucky Ball or the woman next to you in line for a beer at the Union won a Pullitzer. Madison’s talent understands that real ability doesn’t lie in people knowing how good you are but rather in quietly and consistently performing. As I travel and meet many ‘high-caliber’ people, I’m finding that’s a rather rare quality.

Madison’s down-to-earth and open community is where its potential for continued growth and success lies. It’s amazing how much just the fact that the person working at the coffee shop has a quick-witted response can keep you sharp and constantly learning. Couple that consistently stimulating atmosphere with an environment of smiles and acceptance and you end up with a breeding ground for innovation.

On top of generating innovative ideas, Madison is becoming an ideal spot for getting them off the ground. Living and start-up resources are cheap especially if you know who to talk to (hint, they run this blog…) and as I’ve elaborated human resources are everywhere (get an intern program like Entrustet’s with students from UW- worked for me). Plus since it’s still a relatively small pond it’s pretty easy to get noticed.

There are of course some factors of ‘impending doom’ that could jeopardize the beautiful balance Madison has achieved. A city goes through a lot of stress as it breaks the 500k population barrier, especially during a recession and in an extremely divisive political atmosphere. I think so long as we stay focused on what we do best- performing at high levels and being open and kind, Madison will continue to thrive.

I can’t wait for November 8, 2012 when our 7cees team rumbles back in to town, bringing our experiences with us to the place that helped us get on our feet from day one both as humans and young entrepreneurs. Madison and all the people in it, we miss you. Thanks for making Madison our favorite place on Earth.

Cheers!
The 7 Cees

Advice For College Entrepreneurs

Justin Beck and Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue were recently featured on Young Go Getter – a blog for young entrepreneurs. Justin and Forrest offered their perspective and advice for college aged entrepreneurs, including: why it’s sometimes scary to be an entrepreneur, why you should be sharing your ideas, and more.

Read the full post here.

CE Members to be Featured at Accelerate Madison

On Thursday, December 8th, Accelerate Madison is hosting a panel discussion featuring Capital Entrepreneur members, Brad Grzesiak of Bendyworks and Scott Resnick of Hardin Design & Development. Brad and Scott, along with Bob Vanden Burgt of Yahara Software will be discussing local resources for independent software design and development. They’ll talk about industry trends and cover a few case studies from their most important clients.

Other topics for the panel:

  • Trends in mobile apps
  • Going to the cloud
  • Taking ideas from concepts to implementation

Registration is free for Accelerate Madison members, and $40 for non-members/guests. Deadline for registration is today, so be sure to reserve your spot before 5PM. If you can’t make this month’s event, tune into the program via webcast here.

For more information and to register, go here.

Re-imagining Health – With a Startup Twist

We’re looking for Wisconsinites who think differently – creatives and entrepreneurs – to engage in a fun brainstorm at Merchant on Monday, December 5 from 6-9pm. We need help envisioning a new health start-up rooted in social innovation and public-private partnership.

Questions like:

  • What does a healthy city look like?
  • Can a new health start-up make that happen?
  • How does it operate, what does it need?

The Challenge: Can we apply lessons learned from creative, agile startups in Wisconsin to building a forward-thinking public service?

The brainstorm will help inform a new project to transform 10 Wisconsin cities for health. If you’re interested, RSVP here.

AquaMost Raises $4 Million

Madison based clean tech company AquaMost has recently completed a $4 million Series B round of funding. AquaMost is developing a new type of water purification technology called photoelectrocatalytic oxidation (PECO), which was invented at UW-Madison. The round consisted of $3 million from investors lead by the Golden Angels Network, and a $1 million phase II SBIR grant.

What “Churn” Does For a Community

Guest post by Justin Beck. Justin is the co-founder and CEO of PerBlue, a Madison based mobile and social gaming company.

What does Silicon Valley have a lot of? Churn. Entrepreneurs found a company then move on to work at another company as a VP or create another company. Then they move on to be an angel investor to other companies. While churn can be particularly annoying for an employer, it is ultimately good for the community as a whole. When people get too settled or stagnant, they become unproductive and there is no cross pollination of ideas or proactive growing.

The best form of success for an entrepreneur is to create churn. We need to inspire passion for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs need to instill their own lessons learned along the way to early stage employees. The ability to look past the P&L statements and the sunk costs of losing an employee in order to inspire other entrepreneurs will allow us to create more churn within the community and drive real value into Madison.

To find out more about churn and why it’s important, read Justin’s full post on the topic here.

Murfie.com Co-Founder Featured in WI State Journal

Murfie.com co-founder and CE member Matt Younkle was recently featured in the Executive Q&A section of the Wisconsin State Journal. Murfie is the latest venture from the serial entrepreneur, which turns your physical CDs into digital bits to be traded or sold online. Murfie currently has over 70,000 CDs stored that its members have sent in, and receives more than 1,000 new discs each day. They are also in the process of raising $1.25 million in funding, which is on track to be fully committed by the end of the year.

“There’s terrific energy around entrepreneurs and startups in Madison and it’s only getting stronger.” – Matt Younkle

Check out the full Q&A here.

94labs Upcoming Social Cause Hackathon

Milwaukee/Madison based technology incubator 94labs will sponsor a Hackathon to benefit area non-profits as a part of Marquette University’s Entrepreneurship Week.

The 94labs Social Cause Hackathon will encourage collaboration between students, entrepreneurs, designers, and developers as they work to create applications for the participating non-profits. The apps created will help the agencies raise awareness, increase donations, or improve their current web functionality. The top apps–as decided by a panel of judges–will receive cash prizes totaling $10,000.

The Hackathon is open to the public, and will begin with a kick-off ceremony Sunday, November 13th at 6:00pm in Marquette’s AMU Ballroom. Participants will develop throughout the week and present their finished apps on Thursday, November 17th to a panel of judges. Prizes will be awarded on Friday, November 18th from 2:00-4:00pm in the Weasler Auditorium. The first place winner will receive $5,000; second place will receive $3,000; third place will receive $1,000. Two additional $500 cash prizes will be awarded in special categories.

All winning applications will be donated to the non-profit organization for which they were developed. The Hackathon provides an opportunity for industry professionals and students to come together in the spirit of innovation for a worthy cause. 94labs hopes that the event will foster growth in Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial community and emphasize the positive social impact that startup companies create.

For more information, see http://www.94labs.com/2011/09/30/94labs-social-cause-hackathon/

Participating Non-profits:

  • The Salvation Army
  • Vote Simple
  • Milwaukee Public Museum
  • 7 Cees
  • H20 Score

Style Shuffler Wins Early Stage Symposium Elevator Pitch Olympics

CE member company Style Shuffler tied for the top spot at the Elevator Pitch Olympics held at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium. Style Shuffler gives you personalized clothing suggestions based on your style. The company was initially started as Brainsy at the first BuildMadison earlier this year where it took home first place. They were also accepted into the 94labs incubator program over the summer.

Madison based TrustEgg also tied for first place at the Elevator Pitch Olympics. TrustEgg makes it easy for anyone to put money into a trust for a child. They were also accepted into Y Combinator last Winter.

Read more about the Elevator Pitch Olympics here.

CE Companies to Pitch at Early Stage Symposium

Multiple CE companies have been selected to pitch at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium being held this week, November 2-3. The annual conference will feature investor pitches where companies give a 7 minute pitch to investors. CE companies selected to pitch include Murfie.com, Door 6, Flatt Cola, and Spill. In addition to this, the “Elevator Pitch Olympics” will also take place, where companies will have 90 seconds to pitch their idea to a panel of judges. For more information on the companies pitching, go here.

“The presenting companies at the Early Stage Symposium reflect the diversity of Wisconsin’s tech-based economy,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “From drug development to Internet solutions, and from production of medical isotopes to new applications in construction, mobile gaming, nanotechnology and water treatment, these companies represent potential opportunities for investors.”

Other CE companies will also be involved in the symposium. Justin Beck and Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue will be on the panel “Campus entrepreneurism: Fad or fixture?”. Chris Meyer of Sector67 will be on the panel “Lean start-ups: Innovating for success in product design and life sciences”. And Mark Gehring of Asthmapolis will be on the panel “Intellectual property: An investors’ perspective in a post-reform world”. For more information on these panels check out the agenda.

Our Ballot Box Launches

Madison startup and CE member Our Ballot Box just launched its free, open polling platform for residents to vote their opinions, on the record, on the issues. Madison Alders and Mayor Soglin can also use the system to send simple questions to residents in seconds.

Our Ballot Box is a constituent communication system that represents a major step forward for Madison by answering the most important question in a democracy: “What do we want?” Astoundingly, as a democracy it has taken us up until now to create an open, verifiable platform for citizens to definitively voice their opinions on the issues and be counted.

Check out their 75 second intro video: http://youtu.be/CBzeXCtSk1o

Our Ballot Box was also just profiled by the Cap Times here.

CE Outreach @ Platteville

The UW-Platteville Entrepreneurship Program is hosting Capital Entrepreneurs members Justin Beck and Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue, Chris Meyer of Sector67, and Mike Fenchel of 7Cees this week for “Meet ‘n Eat with an Entrepreneur.” The event brings together young entrepreneurs to speak about their journeys as business owners and what it takes to put ideas in motion.

We’ll be participating one-on-one with students to discuss the success and challenges we face every day as entrepreneurs. After dinner, students team up to brainstorm new business ideas, and then give 2 minute pitches to Justin and Chris.

The event is Wednesday, October 19th from 5 until 8PM. Dinner is free for UW-Platteville students, and will be held at Ullsvik Hall in the Nohr Gallery. Registration is open for students, but space is limited.

FC: 5 Lessons For Raising Money From Family And Friends

CE founding member and Fast Company Expert Blogger Nathan Lustig was featured today. His Fast Company post offered insight and advice on raising money from friends and family.

Key takeaways:
1) Be Prepared
2) Seek Accredited Investors
3) Put Your Cards on the Table
4) Don’t Drink to Much From One Source
5) Set a Realistic Valuation

Definitely check out the full post for some great advice on friends and family funding.

Murfie.com Featured on NPR

CE member company Murfie.com was recently featured on NPR. Murfie’s All Tech Considered segment highlighted the company, as well as one of their customers who digitized over 900 CDs. Murfie will burn your old discs to a digital file, recycle the cases and even resell the album online. It’s part garage sale, part iTunes.

Read the full article and listen to the broadcast here.

PerBlue’s “Food for Good” Campaign Provides Meals For 2,500 Drought Victims

CE member PerBlue – a mobile and social gaming company, and PlayMob – a London based social company for gaming and doing good through games, paired last month for a unique fundraising campaign benefiting SOS Children. The virtual giving initiative resulted in a donaion of over 2500 meal vouchers for orphans affected by the droughts in Marsabit, a district in North Kenya.

During the campaign, players of PerBlue’s popular MMORPG game, Parallel Kingdom (PK) purchased the Soup Can Hat – a limited edition in-game object – using virtual currency. The hat was available for two weeks in September and sold for 550 ‘Food’, and a portion of the contribuions were then turned into real meal vouchers for SOS Children relief efforts in Kenya.

Check out the full release here and view the InfoGraphic.

Spill Highlighted in UW Corporate Relations Report

CE member Heidi Allstop and her company Student Spill were recently highlighted in the University of Wisconsin’s 2010-11 Office of Corporate Relations Annual Report. Student Spill is an anonymous, online system that offers messages of support from peers during times of vulnerability.

Spill was accepted into TechStars Boston this summer and has also recently been featured in The Boston Globe and The New York Times. Spill is currently operating on 10 campuses nationwide and is planning on expanding to 15 more campuses this year, as well as launching a corporate program.

Check out the full report here.