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.

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