In just about every industry, startups across the state are hard at work on new ideas and technologies with the potential to bring smarter, faster and leaner approaches to the way their industries operate.

This rich culture of entrepreneurship was highlighted at the first State of Innovation meetup held by Wisconsin Inno on Aug. 1 at Industrious in Madison. Attendees had the opportunity to mix and mingle with other innovators, trailblazers and startups based in the Madison community, as well as listen to a fireside chat featuring Brian Jensen, CEO of Fishidy, a waterway location-based social network for people who love to fish. The Madison-based startup recently was acquired by Raymarine and achieved its one-millionth active user in late July.

Jensen framed his presentation around tips and best practices for inspiring entrepreneurs, including:

  • The importance of pacing: planning and strategy will ensure startups don’t burn through early investment cash quickly.
  • Staying resilient: some startups are making as many as 60 to 70 pitches to reach their investment goals.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: shoot to secure funding from several investors, even as many as ten.

Jensen also highlighted how Madison’s rising tech scene helped attract Raymarine to Fishidy, and that he was able to secure investors throughout his company’s development, thanks to Madison’s growing and dedicated startup community.

The event also included a panel of experts from around the state that discussed Wisconsin’s startup ecosystem and tech community. Speakers included Aaron Hagar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for WEDC, who served as the moderator; Alexandra Suprise, strategic counsel at MARKABLE; Greg Baker, founder and managing partner of Bascom Ventures; and Lisa Johnson, CEO of BioForward Wisconsin.

Takeaways from the panel included how perceptions of Madison and Wisconsin, which have been underestimated as a launch pad for startups, are evolving due to community and state resources and more visible success stories. Suprise noted that the lifestyle and cost of living that the city and state offer are huge pluses and are gaining national attention. Johnson echoed those sentiments, saying she’d always viewed Madison as a biotech hub, and that the city’s and state’s successes are contributing to the local startup community’s growing momentum.

All panelists discussed the rise of capital and angel investment in Wisconsin as being significant triggers for growth, with StartingBlock and the Badger Fund of Funds in particular as major contributors. The combination of capital and community support showcased at the event are positive signs for the local entrepreneurial community’s continued growth.