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 to play 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, health care and logistics.
The company’s platform enables users to easily create shareable presentations with narrated voice or video. The company recently raised a $3.4 million 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.
The company celebrated two major product releases this year. The launch of the ARGO Score
, a new field-level credit score that 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.
study of the Allergy Amulet’s consumer food allergen sensor confirmed its ability to detect allergenic ingredients in foods and raised a $3.3 million seed round
to manufacture beta units, help with product pre-orders and 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
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.
Blue Line Battery
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 $500,000 funding round with participation from Hendricks Commercial Properties, Lancaster Investments and Silicon Pastures.
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.
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.
Titletown Tech convinced the founder of this company focused on bringing transparency to the chemical supply chain to relocate to Green Bay from L.A.
this summer. The need for speed, service, and transparency in the $5 trillion chemical industry is a challenge that ChemDirect is meeting head on, and their value has been further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
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
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
The consumer-loyalty and retail-rewards company announced an $80 million 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
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
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.
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.
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 it will be interesting to watch if VR adoption in these spaces accelerates.
The EdTech startup has experienced explosive growth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The company raised $2.3 million in October to build an online social learning community to address socialization and motivation challenges for students
The short term rental company raised a $6.8 million Series A
in the 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.
With a SaaS platform that powers innovation programs at companies like Advocate Aurora Health and Sargento, IdeaWake continues to grow.
As the digital transformation of health care accelerates due to 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
Raising $2.7 million 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.
Founded in April by seasoned health care executives, this biotech startup offers rapid COVID-19 testing solutions. The company won WEDC’s “We’re all Innovating” contest
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.
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.
An innovative messaging app that enables B2B ecommerce. On Punch, wholesalers can receive orders, send invoices and receive next day payments from buyers.
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 $100,000 investment from the Idea Fund of LaCrosse.
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 $1 million in financing from various investors.
The company, helmed by former Harley-Davidson executive Paul Jones, has developed an 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.
Hoping to revolutionize specialty seed development and distribution while improving feedback loops between seed developers and growers. Seedlinked raised a $500,000 seed round
from Titletown Tech and an Angel Investor earlier this year.
The firm helps health care 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 leading health care receivables companies and raised a $2.8 Million in funding round
, which included participation from Rock River Capital and Winnebago Seed Fund.
This company has developed a comprehensive software platform for home care management and 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.
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 $1.75 million 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.
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.
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.
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 $3.5 million seed round
led by media mogul James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems with participation from Betaworks Ventures as well as Titletown Tech.
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 $630,000 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 that the Wisconsin Startup Coalition is doing advocating for Wisconsin’s startup founders is so important, join the movement today
Matt Cordio is the founder and president of Startup Milwaukee, the co-founder and president of the Wisconsin Startup Coalition, and founder and president of Skills Pipeline. You can follow him on Twitter at @MattCordio