Tag Archives: StartingBlock Madison

StartingBlock: Imagine the Opportunity

submitted by Kevin Hoffman; photo by Margaret Murphy

Chandra Miller Fienen 9 5 2018

Chandra Miller Fienen pictured here with club member Charles Tubbs

Chandra Miller Fienen, Director of Operations & Programs at StartingBlock Madison, spoke to Downtown Rotary about what StartingBlock is and how it helps support and foster innovation entrepreneurs.

Recently opened in June 2018, StartingBlock Madison is supported by Madison Gas & Electric, American Family Insurance and the City of Madison.  In collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, StartingBlock Madison seeks to launch early-stage companies by creating a home base for innovation entrepreneurs.  Resources provided include affordable and flexible workspace, speakers on relevant topics, introduction to the startup scene, mentorships, and refining sales and marketing messages.

StartingBlock also helps fledgling companies grow by assisting with finding talent through an onsite recruiter, matching students for internships and paid positions, connecting with professional advisors and mentors, and workshops on financing and operating a business.  There are currently 20 companies, 7 partner organizations, and two venture capital funds involved with StartingBlock.

Innovation is further fostered by showcasing new ideas, collaboration with members of StartingBlock, connecting with investors and advisors, and working with experienced entrepreneurs to bring ideas to reality.

Last, StartingBlock seeks to cultivate a sense of giving back by encouraging supportive practices for employees and the community, staying in Madison once they are successful, and having a positive social conscience and impact.

Summing it all up, StartingBlock Madison’s vision statement is:  Creating intersections that cultivate entrepreneurs, build innovative companies, and drive ideas into reality.

If you missed our meeting, you can watch the video here.

Next in Madison: StartingBlock Madison

–submitted by Larry Larrabee; photography by Loretta Himmelsbach

Austin Reed Wolter

George Austin (center), Madison’s former Planning and Development director and President of AVA Civic Enterprises Inc., provided the introduction about what StartingBlock Madison is planning to do to encourage, develop and grow entrepreneurs by bringing them into an entrepreneur hub that will place them in contact with peers, mentors, investors and consultants.

The building will be located in the 800 block of East Washington Avenue and American Family Insurance is funding the construction of the first 50,000 sq. ft. phase of a 160,000 sq. ft. building.

Founded in 2012, StartingBlock Madison is dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurs, growing Madison’s economy and providing educational opportunities regarding entrepreneurism.  It will be able to do this because of the strong support of MG&E Energy and American Family Insurance.

Dan Reed (left), Managing Director of American Family Ventures, spoke about his company’s investments in new technology companies in areas like automobile safety through their Direct Venture Capital program.  Their support of StartingBlock Madison is an extension of this concept.

Gary Wolter (right), Chairman & CEO of MGE Energy Inc., sees StartingBlock Madison as expanding the Madison entrepreneurship environment and helping to grow the economy.  He explained the stretch goal as “how can I change the world?” and sited those Madison entrepreneurs that have done that such as Jamie Thompson’s Cellular Dynamics, Pleasant Rowland’s American Girl and Judy Faulkner’s Epic.

The positive response to the three presenters and the concept of StartingBlock Madison that represents the combined efforts of corporate, educational, and civic entities including the City of Madison suggests StartingBlock and the entrepreneurs it cultivates are sure to be successful.

We would like to thank Madison City Channel for videotaping our meeting this week.  The program will be rebroadcast on analog basic channel 98, digital channel 994 & AT&T U-verse 99 as follows: Friday, April 17 at 8 PM; Wednesday, April 22 at Noon; Friday April 24 at 5 PM; Sunday, April 26 at 5 PM.  You can also watch this program on the WEB.