WomStreet Launches Open Contests

womstreetWhite-blue-transparent (1)WomStreet has just made their online contest hosting platform open to anyone. An online contest enables any person or organization to simultaneously crowd-source content, engage with their community, and promote their cause. The host puts up a prize, users submit their entry, and their community votes on their favorite. WomStreet contests are very interactive and tend to go viral because participants are incentivized to share to social media channels in exchange for extra votes – giving them more decision making power.

The new contest creation feature allows anyone to create and monitor a contest using an intuitive contest management dashboard. Every contest can then be accessed through a unique hyperlink. In order to be featured on the homepage, users have to submit a request that must be approved by the WomStreet staff.

Asthmapolis Featured in Scientific American

Asthmapolis_Logo_WebsiteAsthmapolis, maker of a smart asthma inhaler, was recently featured in Scientific American. The article focuses on several US cities currently running large scale asthma studies utilizing Asthmapolis’ inhalers that are topped with a small sensor that wirelessly broadcasts when, where and how often the device is used.

Data collected by the sensor can be aggregated to better track and predict asthma outbreaks. This type of smart health tech can be combined with others (like FitBit) to continue to revolutionize how we look at our health. Check out the full article here

SnowShoe Launches Stamp Rocket

snowshoeSnowShoe just launched the latest addition to their line of mobile device interfacing stamps.

The Stamp Rocket brings simple task automation to your iPhone or iPad. Stamp Rocket allows you to quickly and easily automate every-day tasks like emails, text messages, and alarm clocks. The system is built around Stamp Rockets: small plastic stamps that interact with a smartphone’s touch screen. Using the Stamp Rocket iOS app, users can associate a specific stamp with a certain tedious task that they want to automate. Thereafter, the user can simply open the app, touch the Stamp Rocket to their phone screen, and the app will execute the specific task or series of tasks in question.

Stamp Rockets can be configured to launch a wide range of actions, from sending an SMS to queuing up a specific iTunes playlist, opening another app, checking a location, sending an e-mail, loading a map, or making a call. Other available actions include posting to Twitter or Facebook, Foursquare Check-ins, and opening specific urls in Safari.

Featured Sponsor Welcome: Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.

Godfrey-Kahn_Logo_Full-ColorCapital Entrepreneurs would like to welcome our newest Featured Sponsor – Godfrey & Kahn. Sponsors provide financial support to fund core Capital Entrepreneurs operations and meeting events. If you would like to get involved as a sponsor, contact us.

Godfrey & Kahn has long been involved in the Wisconsin entrepreneurial community. Some of Godfrey & Kahn’s earliest clients were start-up businesses – start-up businesses that went on to become some of Wisconsin’s largest companies. Throughout our history, we have remained committed to the entrepreneurial community, both through our representation of new companies (and the investors in them) and through our involvement with organizations serving entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship throughout the state.

That commitment continues today, with the recent decision to formally establish our Emerging Companies Practice Group and now with our sponsorship of Capital Entrepreneurs. Capital Entrepreneurs’ members are among the most dynamic and innovative early-stage companies in Wisconsin, and we very much look forward to working with all of you as you achieve great things.

Firsthand Perspective: How I A/B tested a Database Versioning tool on HN

aaron-larner-profileAaron Larner is a Madison entrepreneur and CTO of The Art Commission. Aaron shares his experience A/B testing his database version tool DevJoist via Hacker News.

devjoist-logo

This past Monday I shared DevJoist on Hacker News. I posted around 10:30am CT and quickly reached the front page, hovering around spot #8 until about noon. I've summarized some of the data that I collected while DevJoist was on the front page.

The Tagline Test

Before submitting to HN I had set up an A/B test to determine how well different taglines converted to registrations. Here are the conversion results by tagline:

Tagline Visits Pages / Visit Visit Duration Bounce Rate Registrations Conversion Rate
Collaborative Schema Editing 379 1.74 0:01:15 65.17% 1 0.0026
Database Schema Versioning 369 1.92 0:01:16 60.16% 2 0.0054
Database Versioning Done Right 314 1.82 0:01:27 64.33% 1 0.0032
Version Control For Your Database 397 1.76 0:01:22 65.99% 3 0.0076
Version Control For Your Schema 313 1.76 0:01:27 59.11% 2 0.0064

Version Control For Your Database and Version Control For Your Schema were the winners in terms of registrations. It's also interesting to look at the time it took people to register based on which tagline they saw:

Tagline Avg. Time to Register
Collaborative Schema Editing 1.91 minutes
Database Schema Versioning 1.19 minutes
Database Versioning Done Right 2.88 minutes
Version Control For Your Database 0.94 minutes
Version Control For Your Schema 1.87 minutes
Product Tours

Within the app, I added a little product tour. The tour consisted of small popups that highlighted the functionality of different elements within the app. Each column in the table below represents one of the tour popups. They were presented to users sequentially starting with "Save a version."

The numbers in the table below represent unique views of each tour popup

Tagline Start a project Save a version Projects dropdown Diff and merge Collaborate with other developers Don't forget to register
Collaborative Schema Editing 22 6 5 4 3 3
Database Schema Versioning 23 0 0 0 0 0
Database Versioning Done Right 15 6 4 4 4 4
Version Control For Your Database 27 0 0 0 0 0
Version Control For Your Schema 23 4 3 3 3 3

I thought it was interesting to see that almost everyone closed the first tour popup immediately, but the people who continued after the first popup were very likely to continue all the way to the end. 3 of the visitors who continued past the first popup registered. That's a 18.75% conversion rate, which is very similar to the 18.33% conversion rate of users who clicked the call to action button. In the end, it looks like the product tour has little to no effect on final registrations.

How To Run Your Own Tests Using Google Analytics

Here's how I ran my tests. For each new visitor I generated a random integer between 1 and 5 to determine which tagline that user would see. I then stored that tagline in a cookie on the users machine, so that they wouldn't see other taglines if they refreshed the page. When I rendered the page I insterted the appropriate tagline for the user and set a custom variable in google analytics (with their javascript API). I also sprinkled GAN event API calls throughout my javascript to keep track of a slew of other information, such as:

  • When users registered
  • Which tour popup boxes they saw
  • etc.

With a mixture of advanced segments and custom reports within Google Analytics, I was able to come up with all of the data that you see above. See the full blog post on the DevJoist website for more implementation details here.

Keep up to date other DevJoist news. Follow me on twitter: @devjoist

Disclaimer: The purpose of running this analysis was mostly to get practice and get in the habit of using data to drive decision making. I haven't done a rigorous analysis on the statistical significance of the results. Many of them are likely not statistically significant because of the relativly low traffic volume.

Wisconsin Startup Night: TechStars in Madison

techstars-logo-smallNew tech businesses are thriving in Wisconsin – and your odds just got even better! Could your idea become the next Sonic Foundry or match.com? On Monday evening, March 4 at Monona Terrace, join Accelerate Madison, Foley & Lardner, LLP and Capital Entrepreneurs in welcoming TechStars Chicago to Madison.

TechStars Chicago’s co-founders are prominent entrepreneurs Troy Henikoff and Sam Yagan, co-founder of OkCupid and now CEO of match.com. TechStars, billed as “the world’s #1 business accelerator,” is a 12-week bootcamp program designed to provide promising startups with seed capital, intensive mentoring, infrastructure, and a chance to pitch angels and VCs. TechStars has a history of successful programs in Boston, New York, Boulder, Seattle and San Antonio, and now they have expanded to the Midwest through a combination with Chicago’s Excelerate Labs. This is an exciting opportunity to learn from and with some of the smartest and best-connected people in the high-tech industry.

Presenters include Monty Schmidt, founder of Madison’s Sonic Foundry; Sam Yagan, co-founder of OkCupid, CEO of match.com and co-founder of Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago); and Matt Younkle & Preston Austin, co-founders of Murfie, serial entrepreneurs and TechStars alumni. The evening will include networking, a full explanation of TechStars Chicago, and a call for new businesses to apply to this excellent Midwest accelerator.

Register by February 25 and attendance is free!

Who should attend

  • Founders of startup tech businesses
  • Entrepreneurs with new tech concepts
  • Managers & professionals working in the digital sector
  • Anyone involved with business growth in southern Wisconsin

Event details
Location: Monona Terrace, Madison
Time: Monday, March 4, 5-8 p.m.
        5:00-6:30: networking, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar
        6:30-8:00: program & Q&A
Cost: FREE through 2/25, $10 after 2/25 or at the door

EatStreet Raises $2 Million

eat-street-logoEatStreet (formerly UConnect) has just completed a $2 million Series A financing round led by Cornerstone Opportunity Partners, with Great Oaks Venture Capital, Independence Equity, and Gener8tor also participating in the round. EatStreet is a free online ordering service that connects customers with restaurants, and the new capital will enable EatStreet’s expansion into new markets.

Since its launch in 2010 and completion of the Gener8tor Accelerator Program, EatStreet has brought its online ordering platform to over 700 restaurants in 18 markets across the country.

“We have a strong platform and we are ready to use this investment to scale to new markets across the country.” – EatStreet CEO and Co-Founder Matt Howard.

EatStreet is projected to sign over 1,000 restaurants this year and establish an additional 30 markets. Howard says the company is expanding to service larger corporate restaurant chains and will soon offer tablets to current partnered restaurants.

Madison Coworking Movement Highlighted

horizon-logo2The coworking movement in Madison is alive and well, and has seen much activity recently. The Isthmus covered much of what is going on in a recent article on how new coworking space bolsters Madison’s tech scene.

Much of this momentum started with the Horizon Coworking pilot (hosted by Murfie), which began less than 2 years ago. A handful of other coworking spaces have emerged, and there are even bolder plans in the works. Also featured were coworking spaces hosted by Bendyworks and Sector67. Each coworking space offers a different environment and vibe, but ultimately facilitates interaction and community building among its members. Checkout the full article here.

App Developers Featured in The Isthmus

isthmus-appcoverIf you grab an Isthmus this week you’ll notice a number of Capital Entrepreneurs companies featured in the cover story on Apple app development in Madison. The article profiled 8 local developers, including PerBlue, SnowShoe, Asthmapolis, Pinpoint Software, Door 6, Fishidy, TheoryThree Interactive, and MobileIgniter.

The article focused on what it’s like to be an app developer, as well as the ecosystem that exists in Madison including supporting groups such as Capital Entrepreneurs, Build Madison, and the Forward Technology Festival.

We’re smart enough to see the possibilities here in Madison, and accordingly the tech startup scene around iPhone apps is smoldering… Mobile startups are making a dent in the universe from right here, and it’s changing the way that computer professionals who live in Madison are relating to the global technology community.

Be sure to checkout the full article here.

PerBlue Launches Big Updates for Parallel Kingdom and Boardtastic

logo_transparent_blueMobile and social game developer PerBlue has had a busy week, launching two significant updates for their mobile games.

PerBlue’s flagship game, Parallel Kingdom, saw the release of the fifth “Age” for the game. This was the first Age to be released in nearly 2 years, and contains a huge swath of new game features. The Age of Ascension marks the beginning of exploration in the air. The Sky Realm unlocks a completely separate world from the previously inhabited Land Realm. Parallel Kingdom is a location based RPG and now has over 1.6 million players from all around the world.

PerBlue also released a brand new version of their latest game, Boardtastic Skateboarding 2, which is a full 3D skating game for Android. The game drops players at the beginning of a promising skateboarding career. It’s up to them to skate their way to the top and become the best skateboarder in the world. The latest version unleashes a global multiplayer system.

Read more on their blog here.

TechStars Cloud: Month 1 – The Mentors

Max Lynch is a Madison entrepreneur and co-founder of Codiqa. Codiqa provides rapid HTML5 mobile prototyping in the cloud. Max shares his journey through the TechStars Cloud program.

codiqa_page_logoOne month ago Drifty Co. (creators of HTML5 dev tools Codiqa and Jetstrap) started our three months of TechStars Cloud in San Antonio, TX.

TechStars is a national, mentor-driven accelerator program for early stage startups. The “Cloud” version, sponsored by Rackspace, focuses on companies building out the future plumbing of the cloud. Of all the TechStars programs, Cloud is probably the nerdiest, with many startups stacked with technical founders focusing on developer tools, APIs, and services.

TechStars programs follow a consistent format: the first month is all about meeting with mentors and finding a core set to meet with for the duration of the program. Month two is all about working with that core set of mentors and making progress, and month three is focusing on demo day and raising money for those who choose to (hint: it really is your choice).

We are in the first month, which is supposedly the most intense part of the program, and I have to agree: I have never been more mentally and physically exhausted or worked so hard in my entire life. We have met with so many mentors, and each has had something unique to add or challenge us to conquer. We work hard each week to try out their suggestions, gather data, and figure out where the truth lies.

You learn quickly that to get the most out of your mentor meetings you must effectively explain your company, vision, current progress, and challenges within the first few minutes, lest you dwell on the same questions from mentors and waste the precious 30 minutes.

The mentor meetings have been hugely important for us. We have gained perspective and clarity about where our company is at, and where we are going. I feel much more confident about our future and how we are going to tackle this huge opportunity in front of us. That includes working on our marketing, big vision, hiring strategy, capitalization, and product development, among many other things.

Now that we are reaching the end of the first month, I am happy to say that the group of 12 startups (50+ founders and employees) are becoming much closer. Through drunken nights of ping-pong to playing Werewolf, to critiquing each other’s pitch, we have formed relationships that feel more like real friendships than simple business acquaintances.

I’m starting to fully appreciate the importance of forming real friendships with others in the startup space. When you can’t bullshit each other and can trust telling each other your deepest darkest fears, you form truly strong bonds that help you conquer amazing challenges and grow in profound ways.

It’s one of the biggest lessons I want to take back to Madison with me. Our startup scene and city will grow best when we form more informal relationships with each other outside of work. When we feel more comfortable sharing the realities of running a startup, we can receive and give the best advice. But it’s a two-way street.

Now that month one is ending and month two is beginning, we are extremely anxious to hit the track and make more progress on the product and business. We are preparing for demo day, but we are leaning towards not raising money: we’d rather close some big deals we are working on and use that to fund our company.

More than anything, TechStars is like a 3rd co-founder, complete with all the closed-door discourse and honesty you’d expect from a founder. But at the end of the day “it’s your company” (commonly heard here) and you truly are in control.

We all feel like we are in college again, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a blast!

Until next month,
Max Lynch
Founder of Drifty Co.
max@drifty.co

WomStreet Featured in EDM Insider

womstreet logoWomStreet is making a splash in the national concert scene. Their platform acts as a competitive social media hub, and has allowed big name acts such as Pretty Lights and Big Gigantic to crowd-source their opening acts. This enables local DJs to compete for very unique opportunities, and ultimately helps promote local talent. WomStreet’s platform is changing the way artists engage with their fans and gives fans a direct voice in the process. Check out the full article on EDM Insider here.

2013 Madison Startup Fair Recap

The first ever Madison Startup Fair was a success. The event showcased 25 startups and entrepreneur groups and was attended by over 150 people at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. The goal of the event was to raise the awareness of Madison startups and connect them with UW students and the broader community. Capital Entrepreneurs partnered with TheHub, CEO, and Hybrid Zone X in organizing this event. Thank you to everyone who participated!

The full list and descriptions of startups attending is available here, and more pictures are available here.

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Codiqa Featured in Wisconsin State Journal

codiqa_logoCodiqa was recently featured in the Wisconsin State Journal. Codiqa is in the middle of their 3 month TechStars Cloud accelerator experience, and they join Capital Entrepreneurs members Murfie, Vidmaker, and Spill as being a TechStars company. Codiqa is a prototyping and interface-building tool for jQuery Mobile that makes it easy to create mobile websites or native apps. The article touches on their roots and products – check out the full article here.