Startup Wisconsin Launch

Startup Wisconsin officially launches tonight (Thursday, May 31) in Milwaukee. This will be the 23rd statewide organization formed under The Startup America Partnership, which was launched at the White House in 2011. Startup Wisconsin was formed to support, mentor and provide access to resources for the state’s young entrepreneurs.

Groups across the state (including Capital Entrepreneurs) have partnered in the organization of this initiative. The launch event will feature Startup America CEO Scott Case, as well as 10 early stage Wisconsin startups pitching to win $1,500. All entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend. Be sure to check out the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article here.

PerBlue Featured on Forbes

Capital Entrepreneurs member company PerBlue was recently featured on Forbes. The article featured PerBlue Co-Founder and CEO Justin Beck as he tells the story of launching PerBlue from his college apartment in 2008. The article dives deep into the early history and culture of PerBlue, and many of the obstacles the core team faced.

“The first year and half was spent bootstrapping, working for no pay and carrying few operating costs — with the exception of an occasional pizza or domain name.”

The article was originally published in the Entrepreneurs section of Forbes. The full article can be found here.

TechStar’s Demo Day: Murfie

CE member Murfie was one of 13 companies to demo at the 4th annual TechStar’s Boston demo day this week. Murfie is a friendly online music marketplace and has already raised $1.4 million in funding. Check out more info on demo day here.

From The Next Web: TechStars operates in 4 cities nationwide including Boulder, Boston, Seattle, and New York, and has more than 300 mentors, 1,000 investors and 78 alumni TechStars companies in its network. Last year, TechStars received over 3,000 applications for approximately 50 positions, making the accelerator program harder to get into than Harvard or Yale with an acceptance rate of approximately 1.50%.

Startup Weekend Madison Recap

The first ever Startup Weekend in Wisconsin was a huge success. Startup Weekend Madison had over 100 participants who pitched 61 different ideas. Of these, 15 projects were chosen and teams worked on them over the weekend. The full list of projects (with details) is available here, and the prizes are available here. The experience was very educational and the energy level was high for everyone involved.

Be sure to check out some of the media coverage of the event from WKOW here, and the Wisconsin State Journal here and here. Startup Weekend Madison was part of Capital Entrepreneurs Week, which continues through Sunday.

StyleShuffler Fashion App Launches

CE member company StyleShuffler.com will launch its fashion mobile app this Friday, May 4 at The Gap, 341 State Street, during a public event from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Founded by Madison entrepreneurs Aaron Larner and Pitt Fagan, StyleShuffler has the potential to change the way consumers shop and the way retailers and manufacturers make decisions.

“My co-worker and I were inspired by Pandora, which uses algorithms to make music recommendations based on an original selection. We wondered if the concept could have business applications beyond music and the idea for StyleShuffler was born,” said Larner.

Shoppers use the scan function on their mobile phone to scan the tag on their favorite item at a clothing store and StyleShuffler automatically recommends complementary in-store pieces that pare well with the item. StyleShuffler uses proprietary technology to categorize each product it recommends with 10 to 30 attributes and the consumer builds a profile over time.
The experience enables consumers to purchase outfits they feel good about and provides retailers with first-hand data about what their customers want.

“With enough data we’ll be able to predict style trends before anyone knows about them. We’ll be able to help shoppers find what they want, even if they have no idea what they are looking for,” Larner said in a recent interview.
His goals include building StyleShuffler into a 30-person company by 2016, based on implementing the app in 295 retail stores over the next four years.

In process that is not unfamiliar to entrepreneurs, Larner and his team refined their strategy several times before arriving at the current version of StyleShuffler “The original idea was called ‘Brainsy’ and included art and home décor as well as fashion,” said Larner. “We found it too broad to be effective and with the help of advisors and mentors we met through Capital Entrepreneurs, 94Labs, Merlin Mentors and Wisconsin’s start-up community, we identified a void in the fashion industry and refined our strategy to focus on clothing.”

StyleShuffler tied for the top spot at the Elevator Pitch Olympics held at the 2011 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium and was part of the 94labs incubator program last summer. The company is currently a finalist in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.