2014 Recap: MadisonStartups.com

MadisonStartups LogoWe continued to build many great relationships in 2014 as we did the year before. WisBusiness.com now syndicates our news, and the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is developing a startups events calendar for us.

We also enjoyed being a part of the startup ecosystem. We were again active participants in events hosted by gener8tor, the Wisconsin Technology Council, Capital Entrepreneurs, Forward Festival, Rise of the Rest and Madworks Coworking. In October, our editor-in-chief spoke about the “Top Five Killer Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make” at the American Family Insurance DreamBank. In December, Madison College invited us and other people involved in the city’s startup scene to discuss how the college can strengthen its role with the community.

A fun moment for Madison Startups occurred when the Huffington Post mentioned our startup database. We also received referral traffic from other media such as Reddit, Xconomy, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Capital Times.

In 2014, we wrote feature stories on many startups, including 900dpi, 32auctions, Fishidy and Flux. We also covered Hospter’s acquisition, AmFam’s investment in StartingBlock Madison and the closing of Nexxt.

For 2015, we hope to get the events calendar up-and-running, add a jobs board and enhance our startups database.

2013 Recap: MadisonStartups.com

MadisonStartups LogoWe hit our one-year-in-business mark in October, and we’ve come a long ways in terms of providing news on the startup scene in Madison.

Part of what makes us tick is keeping in tune with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Madison. This year, we built relationships with groups such as Capital Entrepreneurs, the Center for Technology Commercialization, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, gener8tor and many more. We also garnered support from companies such as American Family Insurance and MG&E, for which we are truly grateful.

Madison Startups was the first media outlet to report on stories like StartingBlock Madison, UW’s D2P program, WARF’s Entrepreneurons and UpStart programs and new social media platform Nextt’s launch. Our Twitter account is now followed by other media outlets and reporters, adding to our credibility.

We also attended as many events as we could, including the Madison Startup Fair, gener8tor’s winter launch, the groundbreaking for FEED Kitchens, the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, Horizon Coworking’s grand opening, Forward Technology Festival and many more.

As our way of giving back to the community, we worked all summer with various stakeholders to launch Madworks Coworking at University Research Park. Our editor-in-chief also moderated Madworks’ first event, which featured an interview with entrepreneur Jignesh Patel (who sold his company to Twitter).

We enjoyed meeting many of Madison’s hardworking, ever-optimistic and energetic entrepreneurs, and we hope to continue covering their companies, products and services in 2014. We also hope to add a startup events calendar, a jobs board and enhance our startups database.

Entrustet Acquired by SecureSafe

Capital Entrepreneurs member Entrustet was acquired by Switzerland based SecureSafe, the market leader in Digital Estate Planning and online data safes.  Announcing the acquisition today, DSwiss CEO, Christian Schwarzer, said the acquisition also “shows our business partners, investors and other competitors that we plan to stay at the top of this market.”

According to Schwarzer, since launching in 2008, Entrustet has built-up relationships with estate planning attorneys who integrate digital assets into clients’ estate plans throughout the US which will “prove invaluable to DSwiss as it strives to expand into the US market. Currently, the SecureSafe service has attracted many US customers who appreciate the benefits of Switzerland’s well-known privacy and data protection policies.”

“The Entrustet service allows people to quickly, easily and securely prepare the last wishes for their digital assets and is a complement to SecureSafe’s existing data inheritance features. By consolidating the two companies, SecureSafe (formerly known as DataInherit) becomes the premier service for offering high security data storage both now and for the future,” Schwarzer said.

Entrustet, cofounded by Jesse Davis and Nathan Lustig, was a founding member of Capital Entrepreneurs back in May 2009 just after Davis and Lustig graduated from UW. The deal also received coverage from The Economist in an article called Deathless Data. Entrustet is the second CE company to be acquired out of the original founding companies.  It shows that Madison is continuing to develop into a great place to start a startup.

 

Real Time Txts Launches in Madison

Real Time Txts, a new business by Capital Entrepreneurs members Steve Faulkner and Tyler Stubbe launched last night.  Real Time Txts sends you text messages for free drinks at selected bars in Madison.  It’s sort of a like Groupon, but texted to your phone and for now, it’s just for bars.  You can sign up on the Real Time Txts website by giving them your phone number.  On days where there is a deal, you get a text a few hours before the free drink special is going to start, with location and time.  When you get to the bar, you show the text on your phone and the bartender gives you a free drink.

“Real Time Txts is a text message list that sends you awesome, amazing, exclusive bar deals weekly,” cofounder Steve Faulkner tells me.  “The service is free and always will be and we plan to send you a text once per week with an exclusive bar deal just for you.”

I tried it out this week and it worked really well.  I signed up on Monday and got my first text last night at about 730pm.  Whiskey River Saloon, one of the newer bars on State Street, was offering a free drink to anyone with the text from 9-10pm.  A few of my friends and I walked down to Whiskey River, showed our phones and got our free drink.  You could choose between beer or a few different types of liquor drinks.  There was a good crowd and many of the other people in the bar were very interested in why people were showing their phones to the bartenders.  I got a free Captain and Coke and had a great time.

Faulkner and Stubbe plan to expand to more bars in Madison in the very near future.  Based on the reaction I saw at Whiskey River and on social media sites, I think Real Time Txts has a really good chance of taking off.  I overheard two people at Whiskey River last night who were on the Real Time Txts list, but were not sure it was legit, so they didn’t tell their friends yet.  Once they got their free drink, they said they would tell everyone.  I expect to see rapid growth over the next semester, as more University of Wisconsin students find out about the service from their friends.

There are a bunch of new services that have launched in the wake of Groupon, but I think Real Time Txts has hit onto an interesting new twist on the model.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

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.