Tech town square

Meet everyone in the startup community at Forward Fest

By Nathan J. Comp, Isthmus

badger-startup2Among the annual events aimed at raising Madison’s profile as a hub of one kind or another is Forward Fest, a multi-day federation of events relating to entrepreneurship, from ideas and inspiration to investment and innovation.

“If you attend all eight days, you will meet everyone in the startup community that you need to meet,” says festival co-founder Matt Younkle. “Forward Fest is where it’s at.”
Since its launch in 2010, Forward Fest has grown from just three events to more than 40 for this year’s extravaganza.

Aside from a few core events, like the GLS Conference and the Business Bar Camp Networking Happy Hour, anyone is free to host an event as long as it is open to everyone and can be tied to entrepreneurship.

“The outcome is always very interesting,” Younkle says.

While Forward Fest, which runs Aug. 18–25, may be where it’s at for entrepreneurs, is Madison the place to start a business?

In June, a study published by the influential Kauffman Foundation, which studies the nation’s “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” showed Wisconsin startups that manage to survive the first few years in business don’t see much growth compared to those in states with similar populations.

Even more disheartening, Wisconsin ranked dead last in the foundation’s Kauffman Index, an annual ranking of the best states for starting a business.

But Madison has largely gone against this trend, and bucked its reputation as having a mostly public-sector employment base. In 2014, between 80% and 90% of Madison’s job growth occurred in the private sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read more …

Tags: , , , , , ,