Cap Times insiders discuss Madison’s growing startup scene

By Laurel White, The Capital Times

100state2_webLighthouses and force fields are perhaps unexpected references at a panel discussion about startup communities.

But both made appearances at Tuesday evening’s Cap Times Talk, “What Madison does well — and could do better — for startups.”

The hour-long panel, held at downtown coworking hub 100state, covered a variety of topics, from the identity of Madison’s startup scene to its relationship with government, but discussions of inclusiveness and retention of talent dominated the conversation.

For the panel, “inclusiveness” meant drawing minorities into the Madison startup scene, as well as reaching out to other entrepreneurship communities in the state.

“There are many people in this community who aren’t in the ecosystem now,” said Amy Gannon, co-founder of The Doyenne Group, a local entrepreneurship organization that focuses on supporting women-run businesses. “There are plenty of potential ideas and people that need to be supported.”

Madison, like many other startup communities, has been called out for its lack of gender and racial diversity.

“I do think, the more inclusive we are, the better we are as a community,” agreed Willie Hakizimana, founder of Export Abroad, a startup currently operating out of 100state.

The key to fostering an inclusive culture, panelists agreed, is to encourage cross-programming and interaction between Madison industries, institutions and startup organizations, like 100state and the as-yet-unopened Starting Block. Read more …

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