In late 2012, a group of Madison’s young entrepreneurs, including Troy Vosseller (gener8tor), Forrest Woolworth (Capital Entrepreneurs), and Scott Resnick (Capital Entrepreneurs) joined forces with other entrepreneurial, tech and civic leaders, including Madison Gas and Electric and the UW’s Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic. The idea was to bring together in a single location the critical components that local entrepreneurs need to start and grow businesses, create jobs and stimulate the regional economy.
The founding team evaluated other cities’ entrepreneurial hubs, including 1871 in Chicago, MassChallenge in Boston, 1776 in D.C., The Water Council in Milwaukee and CoCo in Minneapolis. Committed to building an entrepreneurial ecosystem organically from the ground up, the team also employed and continues to use an open and inclusive model in developing the project, welcoming input and involvement from a wide variety of individuals and entities throughout the community. Although these collaborations and partnerships play a critical role in shaping the project, StartingBlock remains committed to its “By Entrepreneurs, For Entrepreneurs” mentality.
In June 2013, the group retained George Austin to guide the development process. Mr. Austin is an experienced project manager for community-based projects, including the Monona Terrace, the Overture Center and the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. In late 2013, the group officially formed StartingBlock Madison, Inc. as a Wisconsin non-stock corporation. In May 2014, StartingBlock received federal nonprofit status.
After successfully completing our $10 M capital campaign for the StartingBlock hub and partnering with American Family Insurance and the City of Madison, American Family Insurance broke ground on the “Spark Building” in January 2017. StartingBlock’s 50,000 square foot entrepreneurial hub occupies the second, third and fourth floor on the Spark providing a collaborative community for Madison area startup and entrepreneurs. Our mission is to put Madison on the national map for entrepreneurship and innovation by creating the intersections that cultivate entrepreneurs, accelerate growth and drive innovation.