Back on March 4 (2013), I had the pleasure of attending Wisconsin Startup Night at the beautiful Monona Terrace in Madison. This was a premier event for the Wisconsin startup community. It was attended by 250-300 people and featured three great talks.
Opening comments started at about 6:30pm with welcome messages from Mark Clear, Executive Director of Accelerate Madison; Christopher Cain, Attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP; and Forrest Woolworth, Chief Operating Officer at PerBlue and Co-Founder of Capital Entrepreneurs. Of special interest to me was the announcement by Forrest that the next Madison Startup Weekend will be April 5-7 at the Madison College West Campus. Closing out the welcome messages was Lisa Johnson of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The first real talk of the night was by Monty Schmidt, founder of Madison’s own Sonic Foundry. Monty took the crowd through the history of Sonic Foundry, from its humble beginnings in a small office with a Tandy 6000 running Xenix to the point where Sonic Foundry sold several of it’s media suites to Sony in 2003 for $18 million. During his talk, it struck me that Monty was able to see the arrival Microsoft Windows 3.0 and the Sound Blaster sound card, in 1990-91, as an opportunity to build such a successful company.
The next talk was given by Matt Younkle and Preston Austin, co-founders of Murfie, serial entrepreneurs, and TechStars alumni. And, the final talk of the night was by Sam Yagan, co-founder of Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago), co-founder of OkCupid, and CEO of match.com.
Unfortunately, I was so engaged in all the talks that I didn’t take many notes! The talks ended at about 9pm. In all, it was a fantastic night of networking and talks by successful entrepreneurs with deep ties to Wisconsin and the upper-Midwest.