Inside StartingBlock Madison

By Allison Geyer, Isthmus

StartingBlock MadisonUW-Madison graduates Justin Beck and Forrest Woolworth worked out of Beck’s 700-square-foot college apartment for  two years after founding PerBlue, a mobile and social gaming company.

The business launched in 2008 — a few years before Madison’s startup scene began booming. At that time, there were no coworking spaces, no truly tech-focused business incubators and few spaces where young tech entrepreneurs could connect with mentors, Woolworth says.

As the company grew, PerBlue experienced “early-stage office space issues,” moving its headquarters five times by 2014 as the company’s needs evolved. Now, boasting about 30 employees and a portfolio of games played by more than 10 million people, PerBlue is preparing to move again — this time into the new StartingBlock Madison entrepreneurial hub slated to open on East Washington Avenue next winter.

PerBlue will serve as an anchor tenant in the 50,000-square-foot space along with other previously announced tenants, including apartment searching service Abodo, data reporting and analytics software company Beekeeper Data, “Internet of Things” company MobileIgniter and weightlifting wearable tech company WeightUp Solutions. Fledgling health care IT company Redox Engine is also planning to move into StartingBlock.

Woolworth says “things would have been a lot different” for PerBlue if StartingBlock had existed back in 2008. “It potentially would have accelerated our growth and company.”

“This is something that will take the startup community to the next level,” Woolworth says of the project. “It’s definitely an exciting piece of long-term infrastructure that we can build off of and a really compelling anchor in keeping tech [companies] here in Madison.”

StartingBlock will cater to high-growth companies — dynamic startups that require flexible leases and office space as they add employees and evolve operations. In addition to the tech startup office spaces, StartingBlock will also house “makerspace” Sector67; gener8or, a startup accelerator; and industry group Capital Entrepreneurs. Read more …

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