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Background

An Idea By Entrepreneurs, For Entrepreneurs

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. Their 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.

Team

StartingBlock was founded by nine Founding Members and has three Board Members. These members and other collaborating partners meet weekly to advance the project, led by project facilitator George Austin. The project team includes serial entrepreneurs, younger leaders within Madison’s entrepreneurial community, and several key support institutions:

Scott Resnick

Executive Director

Scott Resnick

Scott is the COO of Hardin Design and Development. The company focuses on web and mobile applications for Fortune 500 companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Coleman Camper and FedEx. He primarily oversees new business development, account management, and portfolio investments. Scott is a former member of the Madison City Council.

Terry Sivesind

Director, President of the Board

Terry Sivesind

Terry is a Madison-entrepreneurial leader, having been involved in numerous biotechnology companies in the Madison region, including Promega, PanVera, Mirus, Takara Bio USA, Metabiologics, Renovar, Poseidon Probes, and Cellectar. Terry co-founded Wisconsin’s first angel network, Wisconsin Investment Partners, and MERLIN Mentors, a mentoring group for entrepreneurs.

Pam Christenson

Director, Treasurer

Pam Christenson

Pam is the Economic Development Director at Madison Gas and Electric (MGE). Prior to joining MGE, she was the Director of the Bureau of Entrepreneurship and Technology at the Department of Commerce, and the Director of Public Affairs for the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Pam is co-owner of a family-owned restaurant on Madison’s Lake Waubesa.

Chandra Miller Fienen

Director, Secretary

Chandra Miller Fienen

Chandra is founder and principal of KIBO Consulting, providing assistance to startups and nonprofts. Previously, she has served on the Wisconsin Department of Commerce’s executive team, where she worked to improve the state’s entrepreneurial community, and the executive team of BIOARRAY Therapeutics, a Boston-based biotechnology company.

Peter Gunder

Director

Peter Gunder

Peter Gunder joined the American Family Insurance Group in 2008. In January 2013, Peter was named Executive Vice President responsible for product management for home and auto insurance, enterprise strategy, mergers and acquisition, investments and innovation. In January 2014 he was named Chief Business Development Officer. He is the executive responsible for AmFam Ventures, American Family’s venture capital fund. He is a board observer for startups SNUPI and CoverHound. Before joining American Family, Peter was co-founder, chief investment officer and managing director of Cardinal Investment Advisors in Chicago. He began his career at Procter & Gamble and Atlantic Richfield (now BP, plc). Peter earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, later receiving an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Peter is a chartered financial analyst (CFA).

Troy Vosseller

Founding Member

Troy Vosseller

Troy is the co-founder of gener8tor, a startup accelerator that invests its community, capital, network, mentorship and expertise in early-stage startups. Troy earned his BA, MBA and JD from the University of Wisconsin. As an undergraduate, Troy founded the apparel company Sconnie Nation. Sconnie Nation markets a line of clothing that focuses on celebrating the Wisconsin lifestyle. Troy is also an experienced business attorney, having worked as an Assistant Clinical Professor for the UW Law School’s Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, a program providing free legal services to startup businesses and entrepreneurs.

Anne Smith

Founding Member

Anne Smith

Anne is a co-founder and Director of the Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School. She previously served as the General Counsel for Winterthur U.S. Holdings Inc. and Promega Corporation. She runs a small family business and has served on a variety of nonprofit boards of directors.

Forrest Woolworth

Founding Member

Forrest Woolworth

Forrest is a co-founder and the director of Capital Entrepreneurs, a group dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship in the Madison area with more than 200 member entrepreneurs. He is also an original team member and COO of PerBlue, a mobile and social gaming startup in Madison. He previously worked for Cisco Systems and GE Healthcare, and graduated with a double major in computer engineering and computer science from the University of Wisconsin.

Rob Gottschalk

Founding Member

Rob Gottschalk

Rob is Principal of Economic Positioning at Vandewalle & Associates. Rob specializes in rebuilding cities and helping regions and communities retool by developing place-based innovation capacity and centerpoints for emerging economies. Rob is currently working with the City of Madison to reposition and redevelop the Capitol East District – the largest redevelopment effort in the city’s history.

Eric Englund

Founding Member

Eric Englund

Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic

Preston Austin

Founding Member

Preston Austin

Preston is the co-founder and COO at Murfe Music. Murfe is an online music marketplace and community for buying, selling, trading, downloading and streaming CDs. Preston also operates Horizon CoWorking and runs imby – in my back yard and 3x5 Software Inc. He previously worked for GoalKards, Clotho Advanced Media Inc. and the University of Wisconsin.

Michael Gay

Collaborating Partner

Michael Gay

Michael P. Gay, CEcD, is Sr. Vice President of Economic Development for Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) and manages the region’s economic development programming. Michael has served as the Director of the Center for New Ventures (CNV) at UW-Platteville and the City of Madison’s Business Development Coordinator, where he focused on technology transfer, innovation and the creation of new economy employment centers and business incubators, including BioAg Gateway, the Madison Public Market, and Capital East District projects. Michael is a Certified Economic Development Professional (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

Tim Cooley

Collaborating Partner

Tim Cooley

Tim is on the board of directors of Sector67, a consultant to Madison Region Economic Partnership, former Director of Capital Development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Director of Economic Development for the City of Madison. He's been involved with developing fast-growth companies and entrepreneurial ecosystems in California and Wisconsin for more than 30 years.

George Austin

Project Facilitator

George Austin

George is the principle at AVA Civic Enterprises.