UlluTek Selected for Early Stage Symposium

Capital Entrepreneurs member UlluTek was selected to present at the Early Stage Symposium next week in Madison.  From the UlluTek website:

It’s official. UlluTek is presenting at 2010 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium. There are 42 early-stage companies in two tracks: WAN Track for companies seeking angel investment and beyond and Elevator Pitch Olympics for companies seeking seed funding. UlluTek will be in the WAN track with 19 other companies.

Real Time Txts to be Featured on This Week in Startups

Capital Entrepreneurs member Steve Faulkner will be featured on This Week in Startups with Jason Calacanis in 15 minutes, at 3:30 central time. Check out This Week In Startups and watch live to see Steve in the Shark Tank pitching his new startup Real Time Txts.

Steve will be giving a 60 second pitch and then the host and audience will be giving him feedback.  Check it out if you can take a few minute break at 3:30.

Follow Up: Sector 67 Grand Opening

Last Friday was the grand opening of the Sector 67 hacker space in Madison.  There were many members of Capital Entrepreneurs in attendance.  Personally, I thought the event was fantastic. Great to see so many people out supporting this awesome new space in Madison. Check out their website for more information on upcoming events, otherwise see below for some embedded photos and video from the grand opening.

15 gallons of Spotted Cow and 3.5 gallons of root beer consumed. . . #S67less than a minute ago via web

Sector 67 Hackerspace Grand Opening This Friday

Capital Entrepreneurs member Chris Meyer emailed me today to share that Sector 67 is hosting the grand opening this Friday.  Sector 67 is Madison’s first hackerspace, which is a shared space “dedicated to providing members the opportunity to work on tomorrow’s technology; to build, collaborate, learn, and teach about next generation devices.” Hackerspaces have been sprouting up all over the world and are a staple of a community committed to innovation and technology.

“The goal is to create a space where anyone interested in making things can come and hack away,” Meyer tells me.  “Whether you’re an Artist, Engineer, Programmer, Tinkerer, Hobbiest, Maker, Hacker or anyone who likes to create things, Sector 67 is the place for you to work with other like minded people.”

Sector 67 is a big addition to the Madison tech community.  “Sector 67’s support infrastructure is important because it fosters creation and growth of high tech companies.  Perhaps more important than the facility itself is the contribution Sector 67 will make toward strengthening the culture of entrepreneurship in our community,” says Allen Dines of the University of Wisconsin’s Office of Corporate Relations has been working to support Meyer’s Sector 67 effort.

Meyer has been working extremely hard for over a year to make Sector 67 a reality and I’m excited to attend his grand opening on Friday.  I’ve gotten to know him over the past two years and it’s been great to hear weekly updates along the way.  You can check out some of Meyer’s previous work in the Burrill Business Plan Competition last year and the Governor’s Business Plan Competition from earlier this year as well.  I’m excited to attend and will take some pictures and include an update over the weekend.

Sector 67 is a much needed addition to the Madison tech startup scene and will hopefully help foster the next generation of entrepreneurs in Madison.  It has broad based support from the community and the University of Wisconsin and will be a great resource for entrepreneurs in Madison.  “Getting this facility up and running is huge.  When it succeeds, watch the creativity follow,” writes the City of Madison’s Michael Gay.

If you’re interested in checking out Sector 67, the Grand Opening is open to the public:

When: Friday, October 15th 5-10
Where: 2100 Winnebago St
Blog: http://www.sector67.org/blog/

GoBuzz Launches New Business Intelligence Email Alert System

Capital Entrepreneurs member GoBuzz alerted me that they’ve just launched their free email alert system this past week.  “The GoBuzz system is designed to help professionals develop business relationships and strengthen industry knowledge,” says cofounder Dan Voell.

Dan tells me that the software allows users to set up customized alerts which monitor industry, topic, and location based business news and offer opportunities to reach and strengthen your network by finding social profiles for the people and companies that you might otherwise miss via traditional monitoring services like Google Alerts.  GoBuzz is different from Google Alerts in that:

1.       GoBuzz learns what you are looking for. Click on “useful” or “not useful” buttons beneath the article and your results will improve over time.

2.       Share news results across social networks such as Twitter and Facebook with one click (become a center of influence around a topic)

3.       GoBuzz finds contact information and social profiles for the people and companies mentioned in articles of interest

4.       GoBuzz allows you to search for a concept (software industry) instead of a keyword (software)

5.       GoBuzz filters out the noise (more filters)

I tried it out today and it it’s really easy to set up a free alert.  I like that I can enter more specifics than with Google Alerts, as many of my Google Alerts return results that are not pertinent to my searches.  I’ll keep updated on how it works out for me, otherwise, you can check it out for yourself and report back to us!  You can follow the GoBuzz Team on Twitter or contact them on their website for more info.

GoBuzz Informational Video from Dan Voell on Vimeo.

Welcome Momenta Technologies

Longtime CE members Dan Gordon and Michael Fenchel recently launched their website for their company Momenta Technologies. Check out the members page to see their logo, along with the rest of the CE members.  From their site:

Our dream is to use the power of the Internet to make watching television an interactive and social experience. Television today is a one-way street: the television outputs content, and we consume it. We want to take television to the next level. We want to enable friends all over the world to watch and interact with television content together regardless of where they are. We want people to be able to play along with their favorite game shows, to test their sports knowledge against their friends while watching the big game, to laugh together while watching a funny comedian.

Nevermind the Valley: Here’s Madison feature on Read Write Web

Audrey Watters of Read Write Web is doing a series about entrepreneurship outside Silicon Valley and Madison was the most recent featured city.  The article called Nevermind the Valley: Here’s Madison talks about Capital Entrepreneurs, Merlin Mentors, The University of Wisconsin and a bunch of CE member companies including Entrustet, Student Spill and Networked Insights.

Along with Steve Faulkner’s post on TechCrunch last month, Madison is really starting to get on the map as a startup hub in the midwest.  From the link:

Since early 2009, Capital Entrepreneurs has held a monthly meet-up for entrepreneurs. With over 60 member companies, the group has helped bring the Madison entrepreneur community together. The group also has its own Capital Entrepreneurs Angel List, based off of a similar program out of Venture Hacks.

Based off a successful program at MIT, Merlin Mentors pairs new startups with successful business people in the community, who act as mentors and as an informal board of advisors. Merlin (short for Madison Entrepreneur Resource, Learning and Innovation Network) Mentors was developed with the support of various programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Welcome Bendyworks!

Bradley Grzesiak from Bendyworks is the newest member of Capital Entrepreneurs.  Bendyworks is a software firm focusing on mobile and web application development. They deliver value constantly with a unique process that allows our clients to manage and direct their project at all times.

It’s always fun when more people decide to join, so if you’re an entrepreneur, shoot us an email, we’d love to meet you.

Boardman Law Firm Sponsors Capital Entrepreneurs

We’re excited to announce that Boardman Law Firm has joined Capital Entrepreneurs as its 4th sponsor.  They are now listed on our resources page, which also includes helpful startup tips and Madison, WI networking opportunities.

Boardman Law Firm is one of the largest firms here in town and we’re really happy to be able to add them to our list of sponsors.  From their site:

Boardman, Suhr, Curry & Field LLP, also known as Boardman Law Firm, is one of the largest and most highly regarded law firms headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. We offer a wide range of legal services, providing full service to both businesses and individuals.

Our roots date back to 1881. Our founders believed that the practice of law is a noble profession, and that belief still informs everything we do today.

While we respect our history, we have also evolved with the times. Today, we offer legal services that are completely up-to-date, in keeping with our complex and ever-changing legal environment.

Capital Entrepreneurs Featured in Techcrunch

Steve Faulkner of GeoHuddle was invited to write a guest post about startup culture in Madison.  He wrote an article called Wisconsin: Beer, Cheese and…Startups, which included Capital Entrepreneurs, GeoHuddle, Networked Insights, Entrustet, Virent, PerBlue and Alice.  It’s great to see Madison being recognized as one of the new, up and coming hotbeds of entrepreneurship and technology startups.  From the article:

Most people associate Wisconsin with cheese and beer, but you should think about adding startups to that list. Led by a tidal wave of mostly young entrepreneurs, Madison, Wisconsin is staking a claim as the startup capital of the Midwest. Madison was recently ranked as the 7th most innovative city in the country by Forbes magazine – just above perennial powerhouse Boston, MA.

Several key organizations are driving the growing startup community. Capital Entrepreneurs is a group of over 56 companies that meet on a regular basis to help founders network and develop connections. MERLIN Mentors provides free mentoring services to new startups. Applicants are assigned a team of experienced entrepreneurs who help founders navigate many of the challenges facing a new company. These groups, along with the University of Wisconsin, are fostering a great culture for new startups.

Capital Entrepreneurs and Merlin Mentors Joint Meeting a Success

Last night, MERLIN Mentors and Capital Entrepreneurs held a joint event at the University Research Park.  It was a great opportunity for CE members to meet successful entrepreneurs in MERLIN Mentors and bridge the gap between some of the newer startups in town with those who have been successful in the past.

Entrustet, PerBlue, GoBuzz, GeoHuddle, Door-6, Student Spill, Y-Innovation, Sector 67, Hardin Design and Development and Badger Trips were among the companies in attendance representing Capital Entrepreneurs.

Introducing the Capital Entrepreneurs Angel List

On May 26th, we celebrated our one year anniversary with our 13th Capital Entrepreneurs meeting.  Capital Entrepreneurs has grown from it’s original 10 members to over 60 young, growing startups.  It’s been an awesome year, with CE members closing funding rounds worth over $7.5m and being featured in The Washington Post, New York Times, Tech Crunch, Mashable, Lifehacker, BBC, Fox Business and tons of others.  Madison truly is an up and coming startup hub in the US.

To jump start our 2nd year, we’re starting the Capital Entrepreneurs Angel List.  The CE Angel List is based off of Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi’s extremely successful Venture Hacks Angel List.  The VH Angel List pairs startups looking for capital with angel investors who are looking for cool startups to fund.

The CE list works like this:

  1. Capital Entrepreneur member companies that want to raise money submit 1 page summaries that include information about the business, management team, how much money they are seeking, valuation and basic financial models.
  2. Nathan Lustig and other CE members read over the pitches, suggest edits and vet them for content and readability.
  3. CE sends an email out to the accredited investors in the CE Angel List with the CE member’s pitch.
  4. Angel investors read over the pitches and if they are interested in more information or pursuing investment, they email CE and CE makes the introduction.
  5. The startup founder and the potential angel investor take it from there.

We believe that the Angel List has the potential to bridge the gap between interested investors and startups that are seeking Wisconsin capital.  If you are interested in being on the Angel List and you are an accredited investor, please contact us via our form and we will put you on the list.

Powered Green Featured on EcoStreet

Capital Entrepreneurs member Powered Green was featured on EcoStreet to promote their Earth Day give away.  From the link:

An Energy Seal is a sticker made from recycled aluminium that represents a carbon offset for a computer. Each Energy Seal symbolizes that renewable energy sources have produced an equal amount of energy used by a single computer over the course of its lifetime. The Energy Seal is then placed on the outside of a computer to show support for clean energy.

Powered Green is an environmental start-up based in Madison, WI, founded by two recent UW – Madison graduates. Their efforts support the development of new wind projects across the country through the sale of Powered Green gear. Each product stands as a way to generate awareness and support for renewable energy on an individual basis. Their efforts in less than a year have already stopped over 1,000 tons of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere.

Capital Entrepreneurs Is Against Raising Accredited Investor Requirments

The 1300 page financial reform bill making its way through congress has the potential to be one of the biggest blows to US entrepreneurship ever.  It makes finding investors much harder by requiring startups to register with the SEC and wait for 120 days for approval before the startup can accept money.  It also lowers the pool of accredited investors by raising the requirements from $1 million in assets or $250k in income to $2.3m in assets or $450k in income.  Forrest Woolworth of Capital Entrepreneurs member PerBlue wrote a great blog post laying out the case against this bill:

According to the US Census Bureau and the Kauffman Foundation, start-ups and businesses less than five years old created all of the net new jobs over the last 25 years. Over that time, angel investors were responsible for up to 90 percent of the funding these businesses received. This angel funding allowed these firms to grow and create jobs. In 2008, angels invested $19.2 billion in over 55,000 companies.

Now what exactly are angel investors? These are high net worth individuals who invest their own money in start-ups and small businesses. Angels provide the necessary investments many small businesses need. These are not investments in trading risky derivatives (which do not provide a value add to anything), but rather they contribute directly to innovation and job growth. By the current definition, an accredited angel investor must have a net worth of at least $1 million. The RAFSA2010 bill would raise the net worth requirement to $2.3 million. This would eliminate at least 2/3 of all current angel investors.

In addition to greatly shrinking the number of angel investors, the RAFSA2010 bill would make it more difficult for the remaining angel investors to invest by introducing new regulations and barriers. These barriers will complicate and delay investments by requiring a 120 day waiting period for investments to potentially be reviewed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as make it difficult to raise money from angels in different states.

This will greatly hamper the creation of new businesses, and ultimately reduce the creation of new jobs by potentially 60%. In addition to making it more difficult to start a business, current entrepreneurs would also have a more difficult time finding new sources of funding, resulting in more possible business and job losses. These businesses need this capital to grow and create jobs, and without it, many will fail.

I wrote a post following up on my personal blog as well called Brilliant Idea: Make It Harder For Startups To Raise Money.  Capital Entrepreneurs is against this portion of the bill.  It will be disastrous for CE members and the economy as a whole.

Venture Investors Sponsors Capital Entrepreneurs

Madison-based VC firm Venture Investors became the 3rd sponsor for Capital Entrepreneurs.  Venture Investors is a premier provider of seed and early stage venture capital in the Midwest. We have a proven track record of working with world-class healthcare and technology companies throughout the region and has a history of helping Madison-based startups, even if they do not invest in the startup.  Scott Button, one of the partners in Venture Investors made this sponsorship happen.  Thanks to Venture Investors for their sponsorship of Capital Entrepreneurs!

Michael Best and Friedrich Sponsor Capital Entrepreneurs

Madison law firm Michael Best and Friedrich join Neider and Boucher as sponsors of Capital Entrepreneurs today.  They are now listed on the Resources page, which includes entrepreneur friendly service providers, blog posts all entrepreneurs should read and practice advice for how to actually get your business off the ground.

Gregory Lynch of Michael Best and Friedrich is one of the top entrepreneurship lawyers in Madison and is Capital Entrepreneurs main point of contact.  Lynch and other Michael Best attorneys have a strong history of helping startups with legal advice and business services.  Check out their website here.

There are still 10 more sponsorship opportunities left for 2010, so if other Madison service providers are interested, please contact us.

Google Fiber Update: Madfiber.net

Capital Entrepreneurs is a huge supporter of bringing Google Fiber to Madison.  The Madison community has really come together to help support the effort.  Since we posted a Google Fiber page on Capital Entrepreneurs, people from all over the city have contributed ideas, time and money to support the effort.  It’s really amazing what a cool cause can do to bring an entire city together.

So what’s been done so far?

Community Support Site – Madfiber.net

Madfiber.net is now live.  Madfiber is the place where Madisonians can show their support for Google Fiber in many different ways.  You can input your name and zip code an get added to a custom Google map to show your support.  As of now, 451 people have added their support to the google map and it looks awesome!

We’ve also got a http://madfiber.posterous.com/ setup which lets people easily add pictures, videos and other media to Madfiber.net.  Do it today!

Twitter

A Madfiber twitter account has been set up and the official hashtag is #madfiber.  As of today, there are about 400 followers.

Facebook

With over 3800 fans, Madison is currently #4 in facebook fans of cities that are supporting Google Fiber.  Join the group today and help us move up!

Madfiber Ice Cream

On Friday March 5th, Capital Entrepreneurs members Nathan Lustig and Jesse Davis came up with the idea to create Madfiber Ice cream to show support for the effort.  By the next week, Babcock hall used their recipe (vanilla ice cream, google colored m&m’s and sweet granola) to create an amazing flavor.  Thanks for Babcock for making this happen so fast.

The flavor debuted at the Madison Community Meeting, which you can watch online, to great success.  Babcock will be making a full production run later this month.  We are the only city in the country that created a custom ice cream flavor!  Take that Google, (I mean Topeka) Kansas!

Press

The Madison press has published all sorts of articles about the Madfiber effort.  Here’s a sampling of some of the coverage:

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fqd2Yt5koo
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkrQYa0hlCM
  3. http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=28462
  4. http://dane101.com/current/2010/03/12/packed_public_meeting_shows_madison_support_for_google_fiber
  5. a blog post on the PerBlue blog
  6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaVqo-tMe2A
  7. http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt_and_politics/city_hall/article_a103bb78-2e18-11df-91f8-001cc4c002e0.html
Special Thanks
There has been a huge amount of support in the Madison community for Google Fiber.  This list does not do everyone justice and if I miss anyone, please email me so I can add what you’ve done to help to the list.  Here’s a list of people that Capital Entrepreneurs has worked with to help bring Google fiber to Madison:
  • Preston Austin – organizing, developing and running the website
  • Matt Younkle – coordinating the effort, interfacing with the city
  • Forrest Woolworth – Website help, organization
  • Scott Resnick – Website design
  • Kyle Pfister – Community Support, Community Art
  • Mark Evans – Madison Public Schools
  • Mo Cheeks – Official Twitter Account
  • Bill Klein – Babcock Plant Manager who made Madfiber Ice Cream a reality
  • Matt Peterson – Business development ideas
  • Bendycode – Web development
If you want to help out and don’t know how, comment here or contact us and let us know what you can do!

Entrustet Launches Beta at SXSW

Capital Entrepreneurs member Entrustet launched it’s beta version today at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.   Entrustet is a secure online service that allows users to create a list of their online accounts and digital files, and manage their distribution and deletion on death.  From the Entrustet blog:

I’m happy to announce the official beta launch of Entrustet!  We’ve been working on the site for over 18 months and it feels great to finally see it in action!  You can officially use Account Guardian to organize your digital assets.  Best of all, Account Guardian is 100% free.  Stay tuned for updates on our next service, Account Incinerator, which will be live in the next few weeks.  From there, we will continue to roll out new features of the next several weeks.  Check out the site and let us know what you think!

My cofounder Nathan Lustig and I are down in Austin, TX at South By Southwest and I will be presenting tomorrow at 5pm when I give my presentation called People Die, Profiles Don’t.  I’ll be covering digital assets, Internet celebrities and how you can protect your digital assets like email accounts, domain names and family photos when you die.

Entrustet Launches Informational Site

Capital Entrepreneurs member company Entrustet launched its premotional site today.  From the site:

Entrustet is a secure, organizational tool that brings together people like you, estate planning lawyers and the companies that provide online accounts and memberships. Entrustet allows users to maintain a secure portfolio of online assets, nominate heirs and manage asset distribution and deletion after their passing. Entrustet’s wide range of services allow you to organize and decide what happens to your digital assets, before your loved ones or your executor are faced with the unknowns and complexities of protecting your online legacy.