Economic Trends: 20 Milwaukee startups to watch in 2020

This is Startup Milwaukee’s exclusive list of promising startups developing innovative solutions and disruptive technologies to watch in 2020.

It was tough to narrow the list down to just 20 as the startup scene continues to grow and evolve here in the metro Milwaukee region. The list this year features a diverse group of companies that are building brands and breaking industry barriers right here in southeastern Wisconsin.

Agricycle, makers of dehydrated fruit products, had a busy year in 2019. The company participated in the Target incubator, rebranded and raised seed capital. The company plans to launch three new products and continue its growth in 2020.

Alinea is developing patient engagement software for physical therapy practices. The firm secured a partnership with Casamba and continued to grow and scale in 2019.

Bright Cellars, the wine subscription company made its wines available in stores and restaurants through a partnership with General Beverage and closed an $8.5 million series A led by Revolution, AOL founder Steve Case’s venture firm.

Cloudux aims to simplify cloud development, allowing developers to write platform agnostic code for major public cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. The company was launched as part of gener8tor’s venture studio program in Milwaukee in fall 2019.

College Pads, the nation’s largest college housing marketplace, continued to grow at a rapid pace, launching a new program this year that helps colleges and universities digitize their off-campus housing options.

Fiveable, an Edtech startup that helps students study for AP courses virtually, moved to Milwaukee in early 2019 and recently closed a $615,000 seed round of financing led by Northwestern Mutual’s Cream City Ventures.

Frontdesk, which provides corporate travelers temporary housing solutions in more than 20 markets across the country, raised a $2.75 million bridge round in 2019. Look for Frontdesk to continue its rapid growth trajectory in 2020.

GenoPalate, which creates customized nutritional plans for individuals based on their unique genetic makeup, continued to iterate its product in 2019 and has started to raise a round of funding as it heads into 2020.

Ideawake, developers of software and solutions that help large companies such as ProHealth Care, HP and Advocate Aurora Health manage their innovation programs, continued to add new clients and raise funding to sustain global growth in 2020 and beyond.

IntelAegis is developing a unique IOT platform that enables educational institutions to create smart campus environments. The company raised funding and is poised for growth in 2020 as more educational institutions explore how to optimize security.

PAXAFE is building an internet-of-parcel ecosystem of complementary technologies that keep supply chains secure. Its hardware and software products aggregate critical, real-time parcel data from the supply chain to enable data-driven shipping insurance. PAXAFE closed a $915,000 seed round led by Rondo Ventures in 2019. They plan to finalize beta testing and commercialize their product in 2020.

Promentis Pharmaceuticals is developing innovative therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders. The company successfully conducted a 28-patient phase 2A behavior biomarker study and raised $2.5 million to study the impact of their SXC-2023 compound for treating trichotillomania, a neuropsychiatric disorder affecting about 1% of the U.S. population.

Safio Solutions has developed a proprietary sales analysis and forecasting platform that enables companies to better manage inventory, resulting in increased sales and, in turn, improved profits and optimal cash flow. Safio’s SaaS platform is already being leveraged by major companies around the country.

Scanalytics, which enables companies to collect and understand visitor data and audience engagements from their trade show exhibits, inked a major deal in 2019 to install their solution at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America.

Sift Healthcare, a healthtech company developing a software platform leveraging machine learning and AI to help providers manage their revenue cycles, continued to launch new features and gain national recognition for its product.

Socialeads combines social science, data science, and advanced technologies to analyze social networks to deliver transactional insights on-demand. The firm continued to roll out its solution to partner companies such as Northwestern Mutual and raise capital from investors such as Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play Tech Center.

SteamChain leverages blockchain to help machinery manufacturers deploy machine-as-a-service business models to create new revenue opportunities that are linked to the performance of their machinery. The firm plans to raise additional capital to fuel growth in early 2020.

Thermonator Holdings has developed and patented a delivery vessel technology that will allow your ordered food to be delivered to your home in the highest quality manner as if you are dining in the restaurant. As demand for food delivery continues to skyrocket, it will be interesting to see this Milwaukee area startup grow.

VRnacular is developing a language learning platform using virtual reality. The startup is backed by Titletown Tech. Founder Rebecca Mandich recently relocated to Milwaukee, where she hopes to build out a product development team as she works to pilot the solution with customers.

Vytal Health is a virtual functional medicine practice bringing health care into the future by taking the time to listen to patients and create comprehensive personalized plans to fix the root cause of their symptoms. The company is now able to serve patients in 34 states and will continue to grow and expand in 2020.

Xena Workwear went to market with its first steel-toed work boot for women in STEM fields in 2019. The maker of stylish workwear also closed on a $750,000 seed round led by Ezra Galston, founding partner of Chicago-based venture capital firm Starting Line. The firm looks poised for growth in 2020.

Matt Cordio is co-founder and president of Skills Pipeline and Startup Milwaukee. He can be reached at

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