The following post by Matt Cordio, is a guest post, the views expressed hereinafter do not reflect the official views of the Wisconsin Startup Coalition. Photo Credit: Soichi Noguchi Note: The post was updated on 12/20/20 to include 20 additional startups identified by members of the Wisconsin startup ecosystem.
Despite a global pandemic impacting broad parts of our nation’s economy, Wisconsin tech startups continued to launch new products, create new jobs and attract Venture Capital to the state in 2020. As we head into 2021 expect Wisconsin tech startups are playing a key role in reshaping new markets such as “meat alternatives,” “digital commerce,” and “the future of work” as well as traditional markets such as agriculture, energy, finance, healthcare and logistics.
Advanced Ionics (Milwaukee, WI)
Hydrogen is used by many industrial users including fertilizer production, power plants and metal fabrication. Currently, the hydrogen production process also emits carbon dioxide. Advanced Ionics has developed a new generation of electrolyzers that is cleaner and more affordable and enables on-site production of hydrogen for industrial users.
Agricycle (Milwaukee, WI)
Aiming to eradicate rural poverty by transforming waste into opportunity, the company launched Jali Fruit Co. a line of dehydrated fruit products grown by women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and Tropicoal Ignition a charcoal product made from coconut and shells and palm kernels which cuts back on the use of wood, a major cause of deforestation in Africa.
Agrograph (Madison, WI)
The company celebrated two major product releases this year. The launch of the ARGO Score, a new field-level credit score provides accurate benchmarks and instant risk scoring for agricultural lenders, and AGROS 4.0 an update to the company’s flagship predictive model for crop yields and credit.
AirDeck (Madison, WI)
The company’s platform enables users to easily create shareable presentations with narrated voice or video. The company recently raised a $3.4m seed round led by Rock River Capital Partners and Cultivation Capital with participation from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund and Winnebago Seed Fund. They plan to use the capital to expand the platform vision for AirDeck and grow their team. AirDeck was founded and is led by Jason Weaver who previously founded Shoutlet and Spendsetter both of which were acquired.
AIQ Solutions (Madison, WI)
The UW-Madison which has developed a technology platform, driven by AI which analyzes PET and CT scans that revolutionizes how researchers understand disease and clinicians treat patients. AIQ was recognized for adapting their platform in the face of COVID-19 to automatically quantify sophisticated CT lung imaging patterns in COVID-19 patients. Improving how accurately these readings are interpreted, better predicting the severity of lung damage and providing valuable insights into emerging drug therapies for the virus.
Allergy Amulet (Madison, WI)
A peer-reviewed study of the Allergy Amulet’s consumer food allergen sensor confirmed its ability to detect allergenic ingredients in foods and raised a $3.3M seed round to manufacture beta units, help with product pre-orders, expand product offerings to cover more allergens. The round was led by Titletown Tech with participation from Great North Labs, Colle Capital, Great Oaks VC, DeepWork Capital, Dipalo Ventures and Bulldog Innovation Group.
Alinea (Milwaukee, WI)
The developer of patient engagement software for Physical Therapy practices has continued to grow their client base as PTs look for new ways to engage and manage patients in a virtual world.
Arbre Technologies (Stevens Point, WI)
The company has developed an IoT solution that enables horticultural businesses and other green asset companies to efficiently manage inventory - improving workflows, eliminating waste, reducing time, decreasing costs, and improving margins. The company continues to grow both their user base and team and expects continued growth in 2021.
BankerGPS (Madison, WI)
The way bankers go about deepening customer relationships has not. BankerGPS has developed a data-driven customer engagement and growth platform for community banks and credit unions.
Blue Line Battery (Beloit, WI)
The company designs and manufactures lithium-ion power systems for a variety of market applications including; industrial, stationary, small electric vehicles, and solar. The company announced a $500K funding round with participation from Hendricks Commercial Properties, Lancaster Investments and Silicon Pastures.
BoothCentral (Milwaukee, WI)
The company made a successful pivot from developing software for in-person events to quickly launching a virtual events platform in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far the firm has hosted over 130 virtual events on the new platform ranging from Cedarburg’s Strawberry Festival to Purdue’s Alumni Homecoming.
COnovate (Milwaukee, WI)
Incubated out of UW-Milwaukee the company is developing materials for next generation battery technology. In August the Department of Energy awarded the firm (formerly known as SafeLi) a grant to scale-up production of Graphene Monoxide in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory.
ChemDirect (Green Bay, WI)
Titletown Tech convinced the founder of this company focused on bringing transparency to the chemical supply chain to relocate to Green Bay from LA this summer. The need for speed, service, and transparency in the $5T chemical industry is a challenge that ChemDirect is meeting head on, and their value has been further amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cultured Decadence (Madison, WI)
As the demand for meat alternatives increases the team at Cultured Decadence is hard at work growing lobster meat in a lab using novel cell culture and tissue engineering techniques. The company participated in gener8tor’s Madison accelerator this past summer.
Curate (Madison, WI)
Municipal meetings didn’t stop during the pandemic, neither did the Curate team. The “Civic Intelligence” company which has developed a technology platform that enables companies to access municipal documents was busy this year and released a new client dashboard which makes it easier for companies to track and understand local legislation.
Cygnus (Madison, WI)
Developers of a B2B SaaS product to provide remote technical support for IoT products. The software helps IoT companies increase efficiencies and reduces costs associated with technical support. Cygnus was launched by i3 Product Development a Madison area firm who designs and supports IoT products for global brands and recognized the market opportunity.
DataChat (Madison, WI)
Has developed an interactive platform for visualizing data sets and gathering insights. The company led by serial entrepreneur Jignesh Patel raised $4m in October from Silicon Valley investors to fuel the growth and make additional hires.
DotCom Therapy (Madison, WI)
The company recently announced a pilot with Illinois-based OSF Healthcare providing therapy services for children with autism. The firm also secured funding from New Capital Partners and OSF Ventures.
Debtle (Kohler, WI)
The FinTech startup is bringing organizations and individuals together to help resolve financial obligations in a quick and transparent manner. The company recently relocated to Wisconsin from New Orleans and won the NEW Launch Alliance’s pitch event in November.
EnsoData (Madison, WI)
The company’s proprietary technology transforms billions of waveform data points collected from sensors in medical devices and wearables into reports, so clinicians can make faster, more accurate diagnoses. EnsoSleep, the company’s flagship product has helped technicians reduce the time it takes to score sleep studies by 75%. The company raised $9m led by Venture Investors and Zetta Venture Partners the capital infusion wil help EnsoData launch new AI products in sleep and neurology, grow their team, expand partnerships and support clinical trials.
Fetch Rewards (Madison, WI)
The consumer-loyalty and retail-rewards company announced an $80M in Series C led by Iconiq Growth in December. It will be interesting to watch this company which clocked 3,161% growth over the past few years and ranked #116 on the 2020 Inc. 5000.
FeedX (Madison, WI)
Founded by Dairy farmers this AgTech startup aims to help farmers evaluate feed costs and make smarter buying decisions. The company participated in Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator this Fall.
FieldCast (Delafield, WI)
Podcasts have grown in popularity in recent years. FieldCast helps large organizations with disparate workforces engage employees and partners by producing and distributing corporate podcasts via their secure podcasting platform. The company was founded by GMR Marketing founder, Gary Reynolds and launched their software product and new branding earlier this year.
Fork Farms (Green Bay, WI)
Indoor vertical hydroponic farming can enable sustainable hyperlocal food production even in harsh climates like Wisconsin winters. Fork Farmshas developed a patented indoor vertical hydroponic system that enables operators to grow up to 3,400 of fresh produce annually while consuming less water, lowering transportation costs. Titletown Tech made an investment in this AgTech startup earlier this year.
GenoPalate (Milwaukee, WI)
The developer of personalized nutrition solutions has continued to grow, scale and form new partnerships in 2020.
GLW Technologies (New Glarus, WI)
GLW is 3D printing commercial drones at a fraction of the cost. Persephone, one of their first models is equipped with an open source guidance system, will help farmers complete field work in minutes that used to take hours.
GrocerKey (Madison, WI)
Clocking in at #311 on the Inc. 5000 this year, GroceryKey combines technology and operational experience to help brick-and-mortar grocery retailers build a profitable ecommerce business. No doubt the pandemic which has upended how we all shop for groceries will provide even more tailwinds to the firm which grew 1,455% over the past three years.
Holos (Madison, WI)
This company is at the forefront of developing immersive learning experiences leveraging Virtual Reality. As the pandemic has forced both education and training sessions online are e interesting to watch if VR adoption in these spaces accelerates.
Fiveable (Milwaukee, WI)
The EdTech startup has experienced explosive growth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The company raised $2.3 Million in October to Build Online Social Learning Community to Address Socialization, Motivation Challenges for Students.
Frontdesk (Milwaukee, WI)
The short term rental company raised a $6.8M Series A in Spring and has capitalized on opportunities to grow such as taking over properties from Stay Alfred a former competitor who fell victim to the pandemic.
Ideawake (Milwaukee, WI)
With a SaaS platform that powers innovation programs at companies like Advocate Aurora Health and Sargento, Ideawake continues to grow.
Kiio (Madison, WI)
As the digital transformation of healthcare accelerates due the pandemic Kiio a provider of digital musculoskeletal therapeutics promoted Lydia Zeller to CEO and added Afsana Ahkter an industry expert as Chief Growth Officer.
Ionic (Madison, WI)
Making app development easier is Ionic’s mission, the company raised $6m after delivering strong enterprise customer growth in 2019. The company continues to launch updates to the enterprise product and build a strong open source app development community.
Joy Boost (Milwaukee, WI)
We’ve all been to a concert or sporting event and had a dangerously low cell phone battery. Joy Boost has developed a wireless charging patch that will enable you to recharge your phone on the go, without being tethered to a shared charging station.
Linectra (Madison, WI)
This company is developing a high-resolution and high-throughput 3D metal printer that enables additive manufacturing of metal parts, prototypes and other products helping manufacturers cut costs and reduce lead times.
Marathon Machines (Milwaukee, WI)
Hate changing laundry between your washer and dryer? Marathon Machines is developing an all-in-one solution, the company just announced they have raised $2.7m.
Mpirik (Milwaukee, WI)
Raising $2.7m earlier this year, Mpirik is leveraging AI to develop a suite of solutions to improve cardiac care. The company has also added a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon to their team as Chief Medical Officer.
Novir (Milwaukee, WI)
Founded in April by seasoned healthcare executives this biotech startup offers rapid COVID-19 testing solutions. The company won WEDC’s “We’re all Innovating” contest in December.
PAXAFE (Milwaukee, WI)
As companies look to tighten supply chains after dealing with the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic expect PAXAFE providers of simplified shipping insurance solutions that enable both shippers and insurers to gain real visibility into their supply chain to potentially benefit from this shift.
PROMISS Diagnostics (Wauwatosa, WI)
The company developing an early-stage test for Ovarian Cancer raised $400K earlier this year. The company continues to work on optimizing the technology, gaining clinical validation and conducting multi-site clinical trials.
Proceed (Appleton, WI)
The company has developed a visual knowledge sharing platform that enables companies to digitize their training processes. Earlier this year, Proceed won the Startup Wisconsin pitch competition at Summerfest Tech.
Punch (Appleton, WI)
An innovative messaging app that enables B2B ecommerce. On Punch wholesalers can receive orders, send invoices and receive next day payments from buyers.
Quiver Quantitative (Spring Green, WI)
Founded by twin brothers who graduated from UW-Madison in just two years, Quiver Quantitative aims to provide Main Street investors with free access to some of the alternative data being used by major Wall Street trading firms. The two graduated from UW-Madison this year and scored a $100K investment from the Idea Fund of LaCrosse.
realityBLU (Beloit, WI)
The company has developed a no-code creation engine for Augmented Reality. The company participated in gener8tor’s Madison accelerator program this past summer and has raised over $1m in financing from various investors.
ReinventAuctions (Milwaukee, WI)
The company helmed by former Harley-Davidson executive, Paul Jones, has developed the first and only online trading platform to buy, sell and trade RV’s with other dealers. They provide frictionless transactions directly from a dealer’s DMS to delivery of that vehicle.
Safepro Technologies (Whitewater, WI)
70% of active shooter events last less than five minutes. Safepro has developed a patented integrated laser projection and shot detection system that determines the location of the threat, alerts occupants, guides them in a safe direction via dynamic graphic directional images, separates them from danger, and directs first responders to neutralize the active shooter.
SeedLinked (Viroqua, WI)
Hoping to revolutionize specialty seed development and distribution while improving feedback loops between seed developers and growers. Seedlinked raised a $500k seed round from Titletown Tech and an Angel Investor earlier this year.
Sift Healthcare (Milwaukee, WI)
The firm helps healthcare providers gain holistic visibility into their payments data using machine learning to improve workflows to better allocate resources, accelerate cash flow and improve payment outcomes. The company also landed a strategic partnership with State Collection Service one of the country’s largest leading healthcare receivables companies and raised a $2.8 Million in funding round which included participation from Rock River Capital and Winnebago Seed Fund.
SimpleMachines (Madison, WI)
The company founded by a UW-Madison Computer Science professor released Mozart, a next-generation semiconductor chip in October. The new chips the company is developing could advance the development of AI and machine learning.
SMARTcare Software (Eau Claire, WI)
Has developed a comprehensive software platform for home care management has had a busy year which included completing a Funding Round (homecaremag.com) led by the Idea Fund and Rock River Capital with participation from Pablo Capital, MUKC Fund I, and the Chippewa Valley Angels Investment Network. The investment will be used to further support SMARTcare’s transformative home care software platform as the company continues its market expansion.
Socialeads (Milwaukee, WI)
The insurtech startup has onboarded Northwestern Mutual and TruChoice Financial as customers of their insurtech field sales product driven by AI and Data Science. The company announced a $1.75m funding round including existing investors Northwestern Mutual and Winnebago Seed Fund and new investors Cameron Ventures, Rock River Capital and Silicon Valley’s Plug & Play Ventures. The company intends to use the funds to grow the sales and client success teams to meet the demand for its platform.
Speakfully (Eau Claire, WI)
The company has launched a private platform that empowers people and organizations to confidently navigate uncomfortable workplace culture issues, such as harassment, bias, and discrimination by providing them with tools for documentation, emotional support and reporting. This is one of the few SaaS platforms which helps business leaders monitor the organizational risks posed by workplace mistreatment in real-time. The company was co-founded in 2018 by Zach Halmstad (co-founder of JAMF), Jana Morrin (who’s experience with an uncomfortable workplace situation shaped the vision for the company’s product) and Nandini Easwar who is the company’s tech leader.
Spin Live (Madison, WI)
Founded by serial entrepreneur Brian Wiegand, the company launched their interactive shopping platform this summer which encourages product discovery and impulse purchases through live-streamed content. The company also released the first app in the Shopify App Store, that allows merchants to sell products directly via live shoppable videos created by leading influencers.
Synthetaic (Delafield, WI)
Through the combined use of high-fidelity 3D modeling and novel, generative AI, Synthetaic is able to grow large and high-quality datasets sufficient for machine learning. In doing so, the company is able to extend AI into industries where data constraints have prevented previous applications of the technology. The company announced they had closed a $3.5M seed round led by media mogul James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems with participation from Betaworks Ventures as well as Titletown Tech.
Understory (Madison, WI)
The company which offers parametric insurance products that cover severe weather risks launched a new hail insurance product for automotive dealerships in five states. Understory was also named “AgTech Insurance Product of the Year” by AgTech Breakthrough.
VasoGnosis (Milwaukee, WI)
This startup has the potential to save your brain! VasoGnosis is developing an AI-powered diagnostic and surgical planning software for brain aneurysms and other cerebrovascular diseases. Earlier this year, VasoGnosis was awarded a $225K National Science Foundation STTR in collaboration with Medical College of Wisconsin to conduct R&D on the development and validation of noninvasive high-fidelity serial aneurysm diagnostic software.
VibeTech (Sheboygan, WI)
The company has leveraged NASA developed technology to provide safe and accessible physical and occupational therapy. The company is currently looking to crowdfund the launch of their commercial rehabilitation chair, VibeSit Pro.
Xena Workwear (Milwaukee, WI)
This company continues to make women’s workwear and personal protective equipment more stylish, a truly unique opportunity which has led to great growth. The company launched a new style of fashionable work boot as well as the “Everywhere Blazer” combining the functionality of a utility jacket with the stylish looks of a professional blazer. Xena’s Founder, Ana Kraft was even recently featured in Forbes.
Zizzl (Milwaukee, WI)
Utilizing the newly available Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement (ICHRA), zizzl has launched “Zizzl Health” a new product that makes it easy for businesses to give employees pre-tax money to purchase their own health insurance plan. Zizzl also announced the close of a $630K funding round to fuel the growth.
I expect Wisconsin startup activity to only accelerate as we head into 2021. Data shows that new businesses are being formed at a record pace. Some of these new businesses are tech startups in Wisconsin. We must ensure Wisconsin’s policy environment enables tech startups to grow and thrive, this is why the work the Wisconsin Startup Coalition is doing advocating for Wisconsin’s startup founders is so important, join the movement today!