2010 Recap: Momenta Technologies

Year 11111011010 (aka. 2010) was an exciting, adventurous and adaptive one for Momenta. We began the year working on an Internet acceleration solution out of our apartment and ended the year developing a new website for social travel in a great office space, several ‘failed’ projects and a round of funding later.

Along the way our team, which grew from 2 to 5, completed software consulting projects, released the iPhone game Beat the Swine, and took the time to develop our skill set and let our company culture and passion develop. As 2011 begins, we are ready to leverage that passion to create the coolest possible travel experience for young professionals.

We also met and learned from tons of great people in the Madison community in the last year, which was truly the best part for us and spurred our progress throughout. We collaborated with several Capital Entrepreneurs companies, joined the Merlin Mentor program, helped plan events such as the Entrepreneurial Deli and TEDx Madtown, and worked with Planet Propaganda to design Snapp Football, our interactive TV iPhone app that didn’t quite make it out the door before our latest switch of gears.

11111011011 looks to be an even more incredible year for Madison start-ups and we’re very excited to be a part of it. We’ll soon have our new website up, which will offer Groupon-style weekend trips for young professionals looking to turn a vacation day into a real vacation. We’re also launching our company blog later this week. Check back in sometime to see what it’s all about, and have a great new year!

Contributed by Michael Fenchel of Momenta Technologies.

2010 Recap: PerBlue

The year of 2010 proved to be a very active and successful one for PerBlue. Our company and products have grown and matured much over the year. We’ve generated a lot of attention in the gaming industry and have established an increasing presence there. We are now one of the largest gaming studios in Wisconsin.

We completed our $800,000 Series A funding round in September. We’ve capitalized on this to grow the company and have doubled size of our team. PerBlue now employs 12 full time and 2 part time people and recently moved into some new spacious office space to accommodate our growing team. We were a finalist at midVenturesLAUNCH, our CEO Justin Beck was named one of the Top 40 Executives Under 40 by InBusiness Magazine, and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle even gave us some props, saying:

“PerBlue, Inc. is built on a foundation of innovative technology and strong leadership. I am very excited to support a company that represents the future of Wisconsin’s economy.”

The mobile and social gaming space saw explosive growth this year and is now well over a billion dollar industry. The social gaming space on Facebook has exposed millions of players to a new type of gaming. The iTunes App Store and Android Market have hundreds of thousands of applications. These new types of games have become adopted by mainstream society and integrated into our daily lives. There have even been some interesting TED talks on the positive effects games have on the brain and society overall.

Our flagship product, Parallel Kingdom, saw rapid growth this year. After clearing a milestone 100,000 users in February, we now have over 285,000 users world wide. The newest age, the Age of Thrones, was launched in October. This age includes a whole bunch of really cool new features that add a whole new level of social interaction in the game.

We also launched the beta of our newest game on Facebook. It’s an adventure puzzle game called Looty where you are a treasure hunter immersed in a jungle on the quest for gold and gems. We also have some other games in the pipeline that will be launching in the coming months.

We are very excited about the upcoming year. As the mobile and social gaming space continues to evolve, look for continued enhancements to our current games as well as the launch of new titles. We hope to build on our success from 2010 and continue to innovate by making fun, innovative, and engaging games.

Contributed by Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue.

2010 Recap: Entrustet

2010 was an action packed year for us at Entrustet. We first came up with the idea to create a system to allow people, companies and attorneys to transfer and delete digital assets back in November 2008, but we really hit our stride in 2010. In January, we closed our first round of funding from investors in the midwest and the east coast. We also were approved for the Wisconsin Technology Venture Loan, a program that awarded us a low interest loan from the State of Wisconsin. We’ve seen our team expand from 2 to 7 and seen our business grow with our team.

We’ve used this money to launch our product and become the thought leaders in issues dealing with death and the Internet. In March 2010, Jesse spoke at a panel at South By Southwest called People Die, Profiles Don’t. That same day, we launched Account Guardian, which allows consumers to create a list of their online accounts and computer files and decide which should be deleted and which should be transferred to heirs when they die. Our SXSW panel allowed us to break onto the scene and we received our first press features in The Washington Post and Rocketboom Tech.

We also calculated that three Facebook users die every single minute, a stat that has been published and blogged about all over the Internet. We’ve been featured in Mashable, TechCrunch, Forbes, Fox Business, Lifehacker, Wired, BBC, Financial Times and a whole host of other publications. I attended the inaugural Digital Death Day in Mountain View, CA and Jesse and I (along with A LOT of help from our interns) have written over 170 blog posts about digital estate planning, digital assets and websites issues relating to digital death.

We’ve used our press, blog and marketing to sign up over 20 attorneys for our attorney partner program. These attorneys represent over 15,000 estate planning clients and have learned how to create wills and trusts that incorporate digital assets. In fact, Jesse and I were the first people in North America to execute wills that include all of our digital assets. Our partners and attorneys at Neider and Boucher have taken the lead as the preeminent digital estate planning firm in the United States and probably the world.

In October, we officially launched our corporate partner program. Partner websites agree to allow their users to transfer or delete their online accounts when they pass away, and Entrustet notifies each partner website whenever one of their users passes away. We’ve partnered with a bunch of websites so far, including Flavors.me, Broadjam, Vendder, Goodsie, others.

We’ve also seen a huge change in public awareness and perception of our industry. When we first started, there was only one other company in the “digital death” space. Now there are over 50, including 4 who are direct competitors in the consumer market. We love competition, as we believe it validates our market. If you Google digital estate planning, digital assets or any other keywords, you’ll find hundreds of press mentions and blog posts about digital death.

We believe that we’re nearing a tipping point where planning for your digital death becomes mainstream. Facebook, Twitter and Google now all have death policies and have actively updated them in 2010. Facebook even admitted they have a death problem. Oklahoma just passed a law that requires websites to allow executors access to deceased people’s online accounts. I’m confident that other states in the US will pass similar laws in the near future. Entrustet was even featured in a book about our industry called Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What’s Your Legacy?

In November, Entrustet was selected for Start-Up Chile and Jesse and I moved to Santiago to continue to work on the business. We’ve been here for about a month now and have enjoyed meeting all of the other startups and experiencing life in another country. We’ve had the opportunity to meet successful Chilean entrepreneurs, professors, as well as Silicon Valley icons like Steve Blank and Vivek Wadwha.

We believe that 2011 will be the year that our industry becomes mainstream. More states will pass laws similar to Oklahoma’s and more websites will realize that they need to create a plan for dealing with user deaths. We believe that we are in the right place and have the right plan to help websites, consumers and attorneys create plans for dealing with digital death. Look for big things in the digital death space in 2011, with Entrustet leading the way.

Contributed by Nathan Lustig of Entrustet.

2010 Recap: The Madison Startup Scene

The Madison startup community had a very vibrant year in 2010. Capital Entrepreneurs grew much over the course of the year and emerged as a center point for the expanding and active startup community which as taken root in Madison. Many have begun to take note of Madison’s emerging role as the startup capital of the Midwest.

Forbes declared Madison the 7th most innovative city in the country, ReadWriteWeb recognized Madison as a technology startup hub in its Never Mind the Valley Series, and TechCrunch declared Madison the Land of Beer, Cheese, and… Startups. Over the course of 2010, Madison startups raised over $62 million in funding. This funding was led by Virent, Shoutlet, Networked Insights, and PerBlue. Madison startups hired 73 full time employees this year, and now employ over 250 people.

Capital Entrepreneurs organized and hosted the first annual Forward Technology Conference. With a vision to be the SXSW of the Midwest, the inaugural Forward Technology Conference proved to be very successful, attracted an overflowing audience, and will definitely be back and better than ever next year. Capital Entrepreneurs also played a key role in organizing Madison’s official application for Google Fiber. The entire city got behind the Google Fiber effort, and the “MadFiber Cabal” (made up of CE members) was at the organizational forefront. There was even a custom MadFiber ice cream flavor created by Babock Dairy.

Capital Entrepreneurs companies had a very successful year overall. There are now over 60 CE member companies, up from 10 when the group formed in mid 2009. Throughout the year, companies received a lot of attention and were featured in the New York Times, TechCrunch, Mashable, Forbes, VentureBeat, ReadWriteWeb, numerous local publications, and many more.

Madison welcomed its first hackerspace with the opening of Sector 67. Asthmapolis won the Twilio and Union Square Ventures contest. PerBlue’s Parallel Kingdom launched its newest version, the Age of Thrones, and now has over 275,000 players worldwide. Entrustet was selected as one of only 25 startups from around the world to participate in Startup Chile. Hardin Design and Development’s apps were featured on Apple commercials and received numerous awards. Murfie launched its beta service to revolutionize the way you buy and sell music. Student SPILL expanded to an additional 10 college campuses. BrazenCareerist opened a new office in Washington, DC. UlluTek pitched at the WI Early Stage Symposium. HealthFinch and GoBuzz were selected to pitch for Paul Graham’s Y Combinator. And Flatt Cola helped all of us achieve everyday world domination.

All in all, 2010 was a great year for Madison startups. Based on the momentum of this year, 2011 will prove to be a very exciting time for the Madison startup scene. So if you’ve got that entrepreneurial itch and are thinking of doing a startup, Madison is a great place to do it. Be sure to keep an eye on the CE website for the latest updates from Madison startups.

Contributed by Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue.