article Fall 2016

From Ideas to Industry

By Emily Morzewski

Industrialism was the driving force behind the economy in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Now at the start of the 21st century, the growing industry is that of startups. Industrialism has become ideas and startups are at the core. Built on the idea that startups are our future and need the space and tools to grow, StartingBlock Madison was founded. Their motto, “Built by Entrepreneurs, For Entrepreneurs” encompasses their mission to scale-up and grow startups.

StartingBlock is a non-profit organization established in 2012 to drive the startup ecosystem in Madison. It was constructed to “replicate the density that drives startup success,” says Executive Director of StartingBlock Scott Resnick. The founders of StartingBlock looked to their counterparts in entrepreneurial hubs across the country, such as 1871 in Chicago and 1776 in Washington DC, when envisioning Madison’s hub.

With the idea of building and growing startups in mind, StartingBlock Madison will have a new 50,000 square foot building located on the 800 block of East Washington Avenue. The building will incorporate spaces for Gener8tor, Capital Entrepreneurs, and Sector67, all supporters of startups, as well as office spaces for startups. Sector67 is currently a space focused on creating and working with the next generation of technology. With its incorporation into StartingBlock Madison, it will gain more space to continue to learn, build, and teach about new technologies. In winter of 2016, they will break ground on the building and will be utilizing the space by next fall.

The mission of StartingBlock is to scale-up and grow startups, and improve business by establishing partnerships with other cities. With the startups being located at a single central position, this makes it easier for entrepreneurs to build connections and investors to find projects to support.

“Entrepreneurship doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Great ideas come from interactions,” Resnick says.

Another focus of StartingBlock is to improve business by establishing partnerships with other cities’ hubs for entrepreneurship. This will be obtained by StartingBlock being a place for startups to be created, housed, and financed in Wisconsin. StartingBlock is establishing its roots in an area of Madison that is declining due to changes in industry. “Entrepreneurship is critical to the future of our city. It’s the catalyst for our city’s potential,” Resnick says. As the shift from industry to entrepreneurship continues, spaces like StartingBlock Madison are essential in the continuous progression of our economy.

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