StartingBlock Madison Names New Tenants Ahead of June Opening

Startup companies developing products that range from a saliva-based fertility test to a smartphone app that lets you securely send photos to your doctor are getting set to bid farewell to their current office buildings and move into a new hub for entrepreneurs in Madison, WI.

On Monday, StartingBlock Madison, a 50,000-square-foot center for startups, investors, and other innovators that plans to open its doors in June, shared the names of organizations it has signed as tenants.

A few of StartingBlock’s future occupants had previously discussed plans to relocate to the facility when it opens, but others only recently committed to moving into the new workspace. Some of the organizations are relative unknowns in Madison’s startup community, while others have created buzz by winning pitch competitions and raising money from investors. About half of them were launched or are led currently by female founders and executives, StartingBlock says.

“Sharing a space with other like-minded entrepreneurs and tech startups will be a great opportunity to foster innovation and collaboration,” says Darcey Nett, president of ImageMoverMD, in a news release. Nett’s company has created digital tools that allow healthcare providers and patients to transmit pictures and videos taken with mobile devices securely. (For the record, the company behind the aforementioned saliva fertility test is BluDiagnostics.)

StartingBlock will be located within an eight-story building nicknamed “The Spark” that Madison-based American Family Insurance is developing in the city’s downtown.

The StartingBlock project has been years in the making. According to its website, in 2012 a group of Madison-based entrepreneurs, business leaders, and elected officials began discussing what it would take 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 vision for StartingBlock took a big step toward becoming a reality in 2014, when American Family committed to help finance the project. Other backers include the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the City of Madison, Madison Gas & Electric, and Wisconsin-based organizations and individuals. StartingBlock has also received grant funding, including more than $470,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, through its Regional Innovation Strategies program.

StartingBlock will be spread across three floors in The Spark. American Family will reserve most of the remaining space in the building for its own employees; the insurer plans to move about 300 of its workers to the new building, according to a company spokesperson. (American Family’s corporate headquarters is about eight miles northeast of The Spark, meaning the new building will give the insurer a larger presence in downtown Madison.)

Troy Vosseller is a co-founder of Gener8tor, the Wisconsin-based startup accelerator that is probably StartingBlock’s best-known tenant. Vosseller, who was one of the entrepreneurs who began brainstorming the project six years ago, says StartingBlock will serve as a “center of gravity” for people in the Madison area who run and support early stage businesses—similar to how Ward 4 functions in Milwaukee.

The 15 organizations StartingBlock Madison announced as future tenants are: Arch Virtual, BluDiagnostics, Bump Studios, The Commons, Doyenne Group, Flourish Consulting, Gener8tor, Hankr, ImageMoverMD, Kilter Rewards, LineLeap, Markable, Rebate Bus, Rock River Capital, and Wolf Flow.

StartingBlock Madison announces tenants by Jeff Buchanan on Scribd

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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