2017 Madison Startup Fair

Capital EntrepeneursThe Madison Startup Fair is back! The 2017 Madison Startup Fair features successful startups from the Madison area. The goal of the 5th annual event is to enable startups to connect with students on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus as well as raise the awareness of Madison startups in general. We’ve partnered with the Engineering Career Services (ECS) Career Fair, and the Startup Fair will be co-located with the Spring ECS Career Fair on the UW campus.

When: Thursday, February 2, 2017 from 1pm-7pm
Where: Gordon Dining & Event Center

This event is FREE for UW students and alumni to attend. 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.

Startups attending include PerBlue, Ionic, Dock Technologies, EatStreet, Hardin Design & Development, AkitaBox, OpenHomes, Redox, C-Motive Technologies, and more including startup resources such as gener8tor, Madworks Seed Accelerator, and UW Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic!

Redox Raises $9M in Series B Funding

Redox just completed a $9M Series B funding round, led by RRE Ventures. Redox is a local startup that is accelerating technology adoption in healthcare with cloud-based applications. These applications are revolutionizing the way healthcare data is shared among healthcare organizations, patients, researchers, and technology providers.

Redox plans on using the funding to continue improving their technology and expanding its use. Since their applications are centralized, they will become more powerful as the number of users increases. The ultimate goal is to create a system where clinical data follows patients so that any hospitals or specialists they visit will be able to easily access their information.

Read more about Redox and their growth strategy here

2016 Recap: The Madison Startup Scene

In 2016, Madison startups continued to be an engine of economic growth. They drove strong net job creation, raised a record amount of funding, and solidified as well as expanded their physical presence in the community.

Madison startups now employ 825 full-time and 300 part-time people*. In 2016 they created 150 new full-time and 135 part-time positions. Tech startups raised a record $114M* in funding in 2016, which is a 70% increase over the prior year’s funding total. Two dozen companies raised rounds of $500k or more, with the largest later stage capital raises (>$4M) coming from Propeller Health, EatStreet, Ionic, Understory, Healthmyne, Catalyze.io, PerBlue, ABODO, Moxe Health, Forward Health Group, and Pegasus Sustainability Solutions.

The physical footprint of the startup community continued to expand and became a more permanent fixture within the broader Madison community. Individual startups expanded their footprints by tens of thousands of square feet of office space all over downtown Madison. There was a bustle of new activity in particular at 316 W Washington Ave as startups took over multiple floors of the newly renovated building.

Madison was studied as a hub for tech innovation and entrepreneurship by the Atlantic Council and was recognized as having one of the fastest growing high tech industries in the country by the Brookings Institute. The locations of technology companies and supporting resources was even mapped by MadREP to better visual their impact on the city.

Many entrepreneur focused workspaces grew and transitioned from temporary spaces into long term homes. Horizon Coworking and Madworks Coworking expanded. 100state expanded and moved into a brand new space. Sector67 launched a capital campaign to fund their new permanent home. And after 4 years of planning, StartingBlock Madison completed their capital campaign, received final City approvals, and will be breaking ground in just a few short weeks. StartingBlock’s 50,000 sqft entrepreneurial hub will provide long term homes to gener8tor, the Doyenne Group, and many other startup resources.

Capital Entrepreneurs continued our mission of connecting the Madison entrepreneurial community. Throughout the year we held joint meetings with StartingBlock, 100state, Horizon Coworking, and gBETA. We stepped up our initiative to better connect student entrepreneurs to the broader Madison entrepreneurial community through our support of the Transcend Innovation Competition, establishing an informal mentoring system, and hosting the annual Madison Startup Fair on the UW campus. This year’s Madison Startup Fair co-located with the UW Engineering Career Service’s Spring Career Fair which gave Madison startups large scale exposure to over 1,500 engineering and STEM students.

The annual Spring Tech Kickoff is our biggest social event of the year, and this year’s fourth annual event was the largest to date attracting over 400 attendees to the newly completed Galaxie building in the Capitol East District (overlooking the future StartingBlock site). The fifth annual Startup Showcase featured 5 new startups and updates from over 20 past presenters. The Forward Festival continued to expand, and has come a long way since its first year in 2010. It has grown from 5 events with a few hundred attendees in the first year, to 43 events and over 4,000 attendees this year and featured events organized by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs encompassing tech, food, social good, and art.


To help showcase the variety of activity in the burgeoning Madison entrepreneurial ecosystem, here are some 2016 highlights directly from some key entrepreneurial organizations:

In 2016 100state announced that it would move from 30 W. Mifflin St to the 6th floor of 316 W. Washington Ave. 100state is Wisconsin’s largest coworking community, and this move brings 100state members to the the same building as notable Madison companies like EatStreet, Abodo, 5NINES, Catalyze, Filament Games, and HealthX Ventures. In order to accommodate the growth of 100state, they doubled the size of their coworking space, adding 19 new private offices, a classroom, and modern event space specifically designed for the innovative community’s needs. A new classroom will be dedicated to providing opportunities for entrepreneurial and tech education for youth and adults alike. A specially designed arts space will host art-related workshops and provide space where artists can work. 100state also added two new members to their board of directors, Rachel Neil of Carex Consulting and Drew Coursin of Neider & Boucher. 100state’s first day in the new location was 1/2/17.

Doyenne had an amazing 2016! We secured over $800,000 in funding through a City of Madison Grant, WEDC, A Fund for Women, private fundraising and matching dollars from WWBIC and in-kind donations from local collaborators. These funds will be used in 2017 & 2018 through the Doyenne Evergreen Fund to provide grants, loans, equity investments, and programming for women-led ventures based in Madison and across Wisconsin. We saw a 35% increase in Doyenne programming participation and have more than 150 members based primarily in Madison and Dane County, and all across Wisconsin.

In 2016, gener8tor was ranked “Gold,” amongst the top 15 startup accelerators in the United States, by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project. To date, gener8tor has completed 9 cohorts and invested in 49 companies. Cumulatively, those companies have raised more than $100M in follow-on financing. Madison-based gener8tor investments in 2016 include: Allergy Amulet, Curate and Behold.ai. gBETA–a free, six-week accelerator for early-stage companies with local roots–completed its fifth cohort. 15 companies graduated from gBETA Madison in 2015. gBETA expanded in 2016 to run programs in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. gener8tor added Madison entrepreneur, Mark McGuire, to lead expansion efforts in Minnesota. In 2017 gener8tor looks forward to its Madison 2017 program, growth of gBETA and Minneapolis expansion.

In 2016, Madworks Seed Accelerator mentored 17 early stage companies, which since inception, brings the total number of teams mentored to 59. As a collective, our companies employed over 90 people, raised over $4.6M, and have revenues close to $3.4M. Always looking for ways to fulfill needs in the community, we augmented our services since the summer by helping entrepreneurs build corporate governance acumen (i.e., legal, financial, and board management skills). We look forward to helping nascent food and beverage related entrepreneurs in our next cohort starting mid-February. Madworks Coworking continued its growth in 2016, increasing total membership to over 50 people. University Research Park knocked down a wall, giving Madworks an extra 1,000 square feet, and the space can now accommodate 42 dedicated desks, up from 24, a 75% increase in capacity.

2016 was a big year for StartingBlock Madison. In September, StartingBlock completed its $3M capital building campaign. In November, the U.S. EDA announced StartingBlock as one of 35 i6 Challenge grant winners. The $475,000 grant will support staff funding for a Director of Programming, a recruiting consultant, a part-time Lab Coordinator, and mentor-in-residence. In December, “The Spark” project completed the city approval process, setting up for breaking ground in early 2017 and opening in Spring 2018. StartingBlock also added Laura Strong to its board and Chandra Miller Fienen as its Director of Operations and Programming.


Diversity and inclusiveness emerged as important priorities over the last few years for organizations across the startup community. Nearly all organizations have made conscious adjustments to ensure their groups and events are as open and accessible as possible, with a focus on continuing to improve this. This mindfulness by event organizers, coupled with more direct efforts by groups like the Doyenne Group, have begun to alter the startup community into one that is becoming noticeably more diverse and inclusive.

The Madison startup community saw another year of consistent growth and impact. Companies have been able to attract sizable funding rounds, and a cohort of successful later stage startups has emerged. PerBlue sold their DragonSoul mobile game for a reported $35M, and if that is any indication of what’s to come next, this type of exit and return to investors is important in order to continue to strengthen the funding environment and continue to build up the ecosystem as a whole in order to support the next wave of companies. Cheers to 2017!

Be sure to also check out individual company recaps for 2016 here, as well as past startup scene recaps from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

* Employment data is sourced from a voluntary self reporting survey of CE startup companies, with 58 companies reporting. Because of the voluntary nature, these employment numbers are likely 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, and includes both debt and equity funding rounds closed in 2016. For the sake of better representing a clear cohort, aggregate funding reported for “tech startups” here does not include biotech/lifescience companies.

2016 Recap: PerBlue

The year of 2016 was another action-packed year for PerBlue. Much of the year was focused on scaling our newest game DragonSoul into the largest and most successful title we’ve released to date. In less than 1 year since launch it amassed over 9 million players, emerged as a top 10 mobile RPG, and grew to a Top 50 Grossing App in the US. We even ran large scale national TV ad campaigns throughout the year, so you may have seen it on TV!

The culmination of all this came in October when DragonSoul was officially acquired by GREE International Entertainment, which is the Western division of the Japanese global mobile-social company, GREE. The sale enables the DragonSoul franchise to continue to scale globally and operate under GREE, while enabling our team at PerBlue to remain independent and focus on new product development.

Throughout the year we continued to grow our team. A number of very talented people from the Madison area as well as all over the country joined us, and we’ve nearly doubled the size of our office space over the year to accommodate. The broader Madison game development community also saw a lot of momentum as the Madison Games Alliance continued to take root and grow.

We’re excited for our next big chapter at PerBlue. Cheers to 2017!

2016 Recap: Ionic

2016 was a great year for the Ionic Team. Earlier this Spring we closed our $9M Series A led by General Catalyst in Boston and Palo Alto, grew the team in Madison, and continued to build out a powerful suite of tools and services to help developers build better mobile apps faster and cheaper than ever before.

The Ionic Team also continued to build strong partnerships with leaders in the mobile app space, including Microsoft which integrated Ionic 2 into Visual Studio, and Amazon Web Services adding official documentation for using Ionic with AWS.

We were proud to see major brands continue to adopt Ionic, including Diesel, Dow Jones MarketWatch, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Developers in the Ionic community went on to create over 1.5M new apps with Ionic in 2016.

We also recently made our first major C-level hire, bringing in Swami Kumaresan from Boston, who was employee #5 and EVP at Carbonite.

As we look to 2017, we’re focused on expanding our commercialization efforts to help teams collaborate more effectively on app projects, as well as helping Ionic developers rapidly build apps with Ionic Creator and add powerful backend functionality with Ionic Cloud. With nearly 700,000 developers signed up, Ionic is quickly becoming one of the major developer platforms in the world.

As ever, we’re committed to growing our team here in Madison right above the Merchant, and we look forward to watching and helping the Madison startup scene grow!

2016 Recap: Rabble

The year was a defining one for Rabble and MUSICat, the local music platform we’re building with public libraries. We launched several new sites: PlayBack with The Seattle Public Library in August, BoomBox with Nashville Public Library in October, and an upgraded Yahara Music Library with Madison Public Library in December.

Edmonton Public Library’s MUSICat site Capital City Records won the Canadian Library Association/OCLC Award for Innovative Technology. Madison Public Library nabbed an IMLS National Medal, the nation’s highest honor for library service to communities, based in part on its MUSICat site, Yahara.

Rabble was honored to be a finalist in multiple competitions in 2016 including the Knight News Challenge that asked “How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?” the Force for Positive Change competition headed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the Wisconsin Innovation Awards. We were also chosen to take part in the Forward Fest Startup Showcase.

In the new year, we’ll rewrite MUSICat to improve site performance and facilitate developer integration, improvements that will bring us closer to our long term goals to release a Software as a Service version of MUSICat and an open source DIY toolkit. Rabble is on track to bring 10 additional library partners on board in 2017.

2016 Recap: Field59

After two years of winding down a legacy CMS company and ramping up another, Field59 officially took off. We brought in new, multi-year video contracts for a 72% increase in revenue over 2015. We’re still bootstrapping our business, and even turned down an opportunity that wasn’t right for us. One thing that remains the same, however, is our mission is to empower our customer partners to reach their business goals through online video. Our first priority has always been to value their rights as video content owners and publishers.

Field59 offers a start-to-finish video solution for media companies. These companies are primarily television and radio broadcasters, newspapers, and educational organizations – anyone that produces premium video content online. From live stream production, to video library management, to online delivery, the Field59 Video Platform offers tools for video publishing and distribution to the web and over-the-top devices, such as ROKU, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. We’ve built an easy-to-use video system that’s always on, 24/7, for live stream and pre-recorded content, so audiences can tune in, anytime, anywhere.

This system, along with our automated syndication, smart playlist technology, customizable video players, and top-notch customer support, is what we offer, and we look forward to bringing new innovative solutions to our customer partners in 2017.

Reflecting on the past year, we’re grateful for the opportunities, partnerships, and customers that we’ve had the pleasure of working with in 2016. We welcomed five Calkins newspapers, eight Casa Grande Valley newspapers, 24 CNHI newspapers, the broadcasting ABC affiliate WTXL ABC 27, Bloomington Herald-Times’ Hoosier Sports Report (Indiana University sports) and Edutopia.

We also strengthened our business partnerships with Forscene in London, who offers live-feed capture and professional video editing software, and Calkins Digital, a mobile and over-the-top video app developer. Our partnerships with these two companies allow us to provide time-saving, efficient, and intuitive workflows for a complete video publishing and delivering solution, with the goal of keeping our customers relevant and competitive in the age of video streaming.

Our customers have always had an easy way to add their videos to any website. But now, we offer API integration into any CMS. TownNews.com’s BLOX CMS integrated Field59 directly into their CMS this year, and our joint customers have seen a definitive workflow improvement in publishing their news.

But what has been really exciting was watching the Bloomington Herald-Times produce the Hoosier Sports Report, bringing their local Indiana University sports coverage to the next level. With constantly updated videos of the latest sports news, discussion, and personalities, Field59 powers the delivery of their sports video to the web, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV devices.

We’re also extremely proud to have begun working with Edutopia, a non-profit resource for educators and parents created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Field59 delivers Edutopia’s premium video content to new audiences via over-the-top devices. These ROKU, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV apps provide a big-screen experience in homes and classrooms, allowing viewers to discover best practices in education from these original and curated content channels.

Earlier this year, Field59 was one of a dozen companies selected to exhibit in the “Innovation Lounge” at the Digital Entertainment World Expo in Los Angeles. The DEW Expo is an annual gathering of leading media and technology companies in the entertainment industry. Closer to home, Field59 has been heavily involved in the Madison community, producing weekly live and recorded video of presentations by Madison-area entrepreneurs for 1 Million Cups Madison; producing and managing 100Live, the 100State coworking community’s live video events; live streaming the Madison Area Music Association Awards show with our Madison production partner, Hinckley Productions; live streaming the spring and fall graduating classes of startup accelerator, gener8tor; producing four live streamed and recorded events at Forward Fest, Madison’s technology and entrepreneurship festival, including: the Social Good Summit, The System, The Failures, and The Consequences on The Country, a Startup Roundtable with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Doyenne Group & 1 Million Cups Madison’s 5x5x5 Pitch Event; and producing various live streamed and recorded events for the Madison Women in Tech meetup.

We’ve just moved into a new office at 100State in the 316 Building, and we’re thrilled continue being a part of Madison’s entrepreneurial and coworking communities. We can’t think of a better place to be.

Online video is a billion dollar market, and we’re excited to be innovating in this space. In 2017, we’ll continue to help our customer partners deliver premium online video to where their audiences are watching, whether on handheld devices or on the TVs in their living rooms.

Best wishes for a prosperous 2017!

2016 Recap: Noble Applications

2016 was a great year for Noble Applications, and as we do every year, we want to express our gratitude to our team, customers, partners, and the local business community. We turned 4 years old in September, we moved our offices to 44 East Mifflin in October, and we recently launched our new website. We are pleased and proud to report that we continued on our growth path as our revenue increased by 26% over 2015. This provided us the opportunity to grow our team and show our appreciation for making us what we are today.

The growing core of our business continues to be providing our design and development talent to established enterprises with new mobile strategies. As we say, “You know your business. We build your apps.” We added 13 new customer partnerships to this core in 2016.

For the annual Capital Entrepreneurs recap, we like to take the opportunity to show our appreciation to local customer partners, so this year, we’re sending a special shout-out of appreciation to…

i3 Product Development: We have a special partnership with i3PD that allows us both to bring truly innovative products to the world, that are created right here in Madison. They are our engineering partner, and we are their mobile app partner, and we have collaborated on several products during the course of the year – fitness and medical wearables integrated to app platforms, integrating agricultural machinery to app platforms, and several more Internet of Things projects. We have many more on the docket for 2017.
Original Wisconsin Ducks: Going to the Dells to ride the Ducks and take the boat tours is a family tradition. We built them a platform with integrated e-commerce, box office apps, and dispatch apps, so everyone can put their focus on having fun and enjoying the scenery.
Strive Orthopedics: this is the first and only platform for remote orthopedic care, and you will definitely be hearing more about them in the year to come.

We will always be grateful to the Madison business community, and would like to thank the amazing teams at Urban Land Interests, Baker Tilly, Capital Entrepreneurs, and the local treasure that is Gail Selk.

We get to work with incredible people that have amazing ideas and we are all very grateful that our customers and team give us the opportunity to push boundaries and bring real innovation to the world.

Stay tuned to our website, where you can keep track of the new apps and platforms that are built for the world, right here in Madison.

2016 Recap: Updown Technologies

2016 was a year of growth for Updown as we continue to build our vision of delivering a personalized workout experience. We saw our user base for the Updown Fitness app grow from 3,000 to nearly 50,000 and the app consistently has maintained a very high rating. We released the paid subscription version of the application in June and have started generating revenues. Over the summer we hired several UW students as interns who contributed to development of the product and business development.

We’ve also started integrating our application with fitness professionals. In summer of 2016, we released a product for gyms to integrate Updown with their members. We implemented and tested at 10 different gyms in the Madison area and featured the product at the Club Industry conference in Chicago.

Early 2017 will see the release of our largest project to date – the first platform that connects high-quality workouts from fitness professionals with exercisers around the globe. Several of our Madison gym partners are participating as workout contributors, and we’ve signed several of the top fitness channels on YouTube as partners. With this new product, we will rely heavily on network effects and expanding distribution channels to facilitate increased growth in users and revenue in 2017.

We look forward to continued growth in 2017 and will be kicking off a $1 million round in Q1 to help us scale our product. Stay tuned for some major updates in the next couple of months!

2016 Recap: Arch Virtual

In 2016, we nearly doubled the size of our team and project revenue building custom virtual reality applications. We completed a large Oculus Rift virtual reality application for a $360 million student community at Texas A&M, along with a trade show application for Wessels, an industrial product manufacturer to showcase their products. We also completed several HTC Vive and Oculus Rift applications for real estate developers that enable buyers to configure luxury homes before they break ground.

We’re putting the finishing touches on a new project for American Family Insurance’s ‘DreamBank’ where we installed 3 Oculus Rifts in their front room facing the capital square on East Washington, along with a series of custom VR experiences. We also created an Oculus Rift experience for the ‘Spark’ building here in Madison, which enabled project stakeholders to visualize this exciting new project.

Find out more about Arch Virtual here and experience their technology here.

New Years Kick Off

2017

To bring us into 2017, we’ll first be looking back at 2016. A lot of great things happened within the Capital Entrepreneurs community and the Madison Startup Scene and we’d like to share them. As in prior years, we’ll be kicking off with a series of posts from Capital Entrepreneurs companies summarizing their year in review, and we’ll cap it off with a full 2016 Madison Startup Scene Recap post. Stay tuned!