Madison Entrepreneurial Resources

There are a number of great entrepreneurial resources in the Madison, Wisconsin startup ecosystem. This is our curated list of the resources you need to know about as an entrepreneur in Madison. The Madison startup community has developed significantly since Capital Entrepreneurs was founded in 2009. The success seen so far has been a result of a grassroots ecosystem that was built up by passionate entrepreneurs who want to make Madison a great place for startups.

forwardFest-logo_madison CELOGOThe Forward Festival is Madison’s flagship technology and entrepreneurship festival. Since starting in 2010, it now attracts over 2,000 attendees and includes 8 full days packed with 20+ events organized by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. The event is headlined by the Forward Technology Conference, as well as keynote events including the Badger Startup Summit, Edible Startup Summit, Startup Showcase, and more.

Flagship Event! August – Yearly

startup-fair-logo CELOGOThe Madison Startup Fair is part career fair, part startup showcase that takes place on the University of Wisconsin campus. The event features successful startups from the Madison area and aims to raise awareness of Madison startups to students on campus. Find out more about opportunities startups have to offer, including ways to get involved by starting your own company or through internships and full-time positions with existing startups.

February – Yearly

spring-tech-kickoff-logo CELOGOThe Spring Tech Kickoff celebrates the achievements in the past year and gets the tech and entrepreneurship communities into high gear for an eventful summer. Capital Entrepreneurs and partners invite our community and its supporters to the annual Spring Tech Kickoff, which is an open and informal social event that attracts 300+ attendees and takes place at a unique new space each year. Anyone is welcome, this is a place where anyone who wants to connect and participate can easily plug in and help move our community forward.

April – Yearly

spring-tech-kickoff-logo CELOGOStartup Weekend is a 54-hour event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups. Startup Weekends take place in hundreds of cities around the world, and has taken place in Madison yearly since 2012.

April – Yearly

spring-tech-kickoff-logo CELOGOThe Startup Showcase takes place during the Forward Festival and features an evening of startup pitches from some of Madison’s most compelling emerging companies. Five to seven startups will be selected to give a 5-minute “demo day” style pitch. In addition, several Startup Showcase alumni from past years will take part in a lightning round of 1-minute update pitches. The Startup Showcase is a high energy stage that celebrates and showcases what’s next in Madison’s startup ecosystem.

August – Yearly

build-madison-logo CELOGOBuild Madison is a 24 hour community “create-a-thon” that brings together creative and talented people to cooperatively build real products in less than 24 hours. The event is open to a wide variety of projects, and focuses on “building cool stuff”. Build Madison has been held annually since 2011 at the Sector67 hackerspace.

Fall – Yearly

1-million-cups-logo 1 Million Cups is based on the notion that entrepreneurs network and discover solutions over a million cups of coffee. The weekly gathering is free and on every Wednesday morning, one or two early-stage startups present their companies to an audience of mentors, advisers and other entrepreneurs. Each founder presents for six minutes, followed by a 20-minute question-and-answer session with the audience.


early-stage-symposium-logo The Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium is designed for promising early stage companies to gain advice and meet with investors. These companies are hoping to break through from the early development stages to becoming sustainable and successful startups. The event aims to connect startups with potential investors and mentors who could help them further develop their companies.

November, Yearly

Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Conference Logo The Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference is a two day event where entrepreneurs of all ages and experience levels are invited to attend panel discussions with successful business leaders, watch the finalists compete for the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, and network within the community.

June, Yearly

Peer / Networking /
Mentor Groups
CapitalEntrepeneurs_Source Capital Entrepreneurs is a grassroots community group for Madison entrepreneurs that has been built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Capital Entrepreneurs acts as the “social fabric” that connects the Madison entrepreneurial community through its networking and social events. Since it was founded in 2009, it has grown to over 300 members from Madison’s most successful startups. The group holds monthly meetings, organizes many staple entrepreneurial events each year, and provides peer support resources.
doyenne group logo The Doyenne Group is a networking/mentoring group for women entrepreneurs. They provide support for women as they develop themselves as entrepreneurs, found and build their ventures, and help women become more fully engaged in the broader entrepreneurial community.
Merlin Mentors Logo The Merlin Mentors is a mentoring service for entrepreneurs composed of volunteers who have masterfully started and managed new ventures. These mentors use their skills, experience and enthusiasm to guide emerging entrepreneurs in early stage ventures to boost the potential of business success.

Coworking / Hackerspaces / Workspaces
startingblock-logo CELOGOStartingBlock Madison is a  50,000 square foot entrepreneurial hub in the heart of Madison’s Capitol East District where entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, and community members can connect, share innovative ideas and create next-generation businesses. StartingBlock is home to Capital Entrepreneurs, gener8tor, Bunker Labs and Doyenne as well as dozens of startup and social impact entities. StartingBlock members have access to numerous mentors as well as the Entrepreneur in Residence and Artist in Residence. StartingBlock provides affordable, flexible office and coworking space, educational and networking opportunities, and low cost health, vision, life and dental insurance.

Entrepreneurial Hub – Downtown / Capitol East

100state-logo 100state is a non-profit community and home for problem-solvers, creatives, and entrepreneurs. They inspire collaboration and create connections to unleash our community’s potential. Benefits provided for members include brainstorming sessions, shared and reserved workspaces, and over 150 other members to bounce ideas off of.

Coworking – Downtown / Capitol Square

Horizon Coworking-logo Horizon Coworking provides a collaborative, tech-focused workspace with shared and reserved desks. Daily rates and monthly memberships are available, and amenities include reservable conference rooms and phone booths, printing, a kitchenette, and a quiet workspace.

Coworking – Downtown / Capitol Square

Madison Enterprise Center-logo The Madison Enterprise Center is an office and light industrial business incubator that serves startup and expanding small businesses. The Madison Enterprise Center offers an affordable rental rate and shared services including high-speed Internet and video conferencing equipment. Businesses may stay at the Madison Enterprise Center from 3-5 years.

Incubator – Near East

Innovators Coalition strives to be the hub of entrepreneurial activity at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Inc is a coworking space on campus run by students for students. We provide members with a community built on accountability and collaboration.

Coworking – Downtown / Campus (Students)

logo-madworks-campus Madworks Coworking is located in University Research Park and offers shared and reserved desk space for entrepreneurs, remote workers, freelancers, and more. They offer a 1 GB fiber Internet connection, conference rooms, and mentoring.

Coworking – Near West

Main-Street-Industries-logo Main Street Industries is a second-stage business incubator serving startup and expanding small businesses. They offer attractive affordable office and light industrial space and shared services. To qualify for acceptance into Main Street Industries, a business must be a for-profit company, produce a product or provide a service and have the potential for future job creation.

Incubator – Near East

Matrix-Collaborative-Solutions-logo Matrix Collaborative Solutions is a cross industry coworking and shared rental space. No matter what your business type or business size, Matrix is a space where you can work, network and grow in a safe environment. At Matrix, you don’t have to be a tech-centric business to fit in. They have coworking space, meeting rooms, yoga space, music practice space, and more available.

Shared Space – Near West

MGE-logo The MGE Innovation Center consists of 113,000 square feet of office space and laboratory suites designed for early stage startup companies. Office suites are unfurnished open office floor plans with phone and high-speed internet connections. Laboratory suites have a sink and water in a 12-foot bench with cabinets, increased electrical service capacity and can accommodate chemical exhaust fume hoods.

Incubator – Near West

Sector67-logo Sector67 is a non-profit collaborative community workspace / hackerspace / makerspace dedicated to providing an environment to learn, teach, work-on, build, and create next generation technology; including software, hardware, electronics, art, sewing, metalwork, apps, games, etc. Members get access to a full suite of tools and equipment, and co-working space and various classes are also available.

Hackerspace – Near East

Synergy Logo Synergy Coworking provides flexible workspace including private offices, meeting rooms, and event space. Synergy fosters a diverse and professional environment and community of growth and collaboration through the exchange of knowledge, expertise, ideas, resources, and tools. We also facilitate strategic connections and provide guidance for utilizing Madison’s ecosystem of support for small businesses, startups, and professionals.

Coworking – Near West

gener8tor-logo Gener8tor is a top 15 startup accelerator that invests its community, capital, expertise, mentorship and network in capable, early-stage entrepreneurs with innovative business models. gener8tor works with the startups in its portfolio to create successful, scalable companies, and is seeking to invest in high-growth businesses, including software, IT, web, SaaS, e-commerce and hardware. Accepted companies receive up to $140,000 and 12 weeks of mentorship-driven programming.
gBETA is a program of nationally-ranked startup accelerator gener8tor. gBETA is a free, six-week accelerator for early-stage companies with local roots. Each program is capped at five teams, and requires no fees and no equity.
Madworks Seed Accelerator-logo Madworks Seed Accelerator provides grants, mentors, lean startup methodology, structure, access to financing, and more during a 10 week course and has been instrumental in helping young startups get their ideas off the ground. Madworks accepts early-stage companies created by UW-Madison faculty, staff, alumni and students, as well as early-stage companies from the greater Madison community.

Transcend-logo The Transcend Madison – Innovation Competition aims to bring students from all disciplines at UW-Madison together to demonstrate their novel ideas and creations. Unlike previous competitions, all you need is an idea to compete; all you need is hustle to win. $20,000 in cash prizes and other perks will be awarded to Best Overall, Best Prototype, Best Business Model, Best Social Entrepreneurship and Fan Favorite. Registration, competition guidelines, and information can be found here
Wisconsin Governors Business Plan-logo The mission of the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest is to encourage entrepreneurs in the seed, startup and early growth stages of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin. The contest links up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of community resources, expert advice, high-quality education, management talent and possible sources of capital. This statewide contest is an opportunity to compete for over $150,000 in cash and prizes across four industry categories.

Entrepreneurial Bootcamps
Bootcamp-logo The Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp (WEB) is a one-week intensive training program in technology entrepreneurship for graduate students in the sciences, engineering, and math. WEB is co-sponsored by the Initiative for Studies in Transformational Entrepreneurship (INSITE) and the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship. As a WEB student, you will work with case analyses, lectures, expert panels, and exercises in market assessments and participate in lively social events.
UpStart-logo The WARF UpStart program for minority and Women’s Entrepreneurship is designed to equip entrepreneurially minded women and minorities in the Madison area with the tools needed to launch or expand any business venture. The several-week curriculum covers the skills needed to conceive, fund, organize and test a business idea.

Legal Services
us-law-entrepreneurship-clinic-logo The UW Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic provides free legal services to nascent entrepreneurs and early stage companies from the Madison area through the work of law students supervised by faculty and private sector attorneys. They also strive to connect entrepreneurs with other resources in the entrepreneurial ecosystem who can help them launch.

Additional Resources
For some additional entrepreneurial resources, be sure to check out the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit, the Entrepreneurs’ Handbook: 101 Resources for First Time Entrepreneurs, and Entrepreneur 101 by Nathan Lustig.

Is there a resource missing you think should be listed here or that needs to be updated? Let us know.