Seeding New Local Companies: It’s Startup Weekend in Madison

By Judy Newman
The Wisconsin State Journal

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Madison, Wisconsin will be a hub of entrepreneurship this weekend as Startup Weekend Madison gets underway. The 3 day marathon of exchanging ideas is in its 5th year now!  And who better than Angie Peltzer (CEO of AdmitSensei) to be one of this year’s featured speakers. Peltzer founded AdmitSensei at the 2015 Startup weekend. The company helps students counsel other students on how to get into business school (instead of expensive coaches). Great to see women in leadership inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The Wisconsin State Journal

Angie Peltzer had an idea, about a year ago: What if a company were created that would let students help other students get into their dream business school instead of paying consultants thousands of dollars to do the job?

It was little more than a concept when Peltzer attended last year’s Startup Weekend Madison, a three-day marathon of brainstorming ideas and transforming them into potential companies.

Today, Peltzer is CEO of AdmitSensei, a business she co-founded after meeting software developer Yeng Lee at the 2015 Startup Weekend, a business already promising enough to be chosen for the six-week mentorship program of the Madison and Milwaukee-based gener8tor business accelerator.

Peltzer will tell her story at this year’s Startup Weekend Madison, Friday through Sunday at University Research Park. It will be the fifth year for the event — part of a global activity to encourage entrepreneurship.

Over the course of 54 hours, participants will pitch their ideas, vote on the best ones, then form teams to transform each of those ideas into a nugget of a company and present it to a panel of judges.

“There’s no cash prize but there are certainly bragging rights. It’s such a learning experience,” said Amy Gannon, one of the organizers and interim dean at the Edgewood College School of Business.

About 40 people have registered, including five to 10 mentors, Gannon said. That’s down from more than 50 participants last year, but that could be because the UW-Madison is having its own startup activities this weekend, she said.

Those who attend Startup Weekend Madison generally fall into two categories, Gannon said: Those who have been thinking about starting a company but don’t know how and those who have been working intensely on a business concept and need a “creative break.”

“If you step back and look at other problems, you can get inspiration from that,” said Gannon.

Participants have ranged in age from early teens to early 60s. “They are learning, being creative, having fun, making connections, and having an entry point into the ecosystem,” she said.

Startup Weekend Madison will be held at the MGE Innovation Center in University Research Park, 510 Charmany Drive, from 5 p.m. Friday through about 8 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $99, or $49 for students, and meals are included.

On the UW-Madison campus, meanwhile, about 30 students will participate in 3 Day Startup Madison, for an intensive entrepreneurial weekend of “workshops, networking, mentorship and really just going out and doing it,” said Mike Fix, president of Transcend, the student organization hosting the event.

It’s more about learning what it takes to be an entrepreneur than actually launching a business, Fix said. “I don’t think the best way to start a company is to find random teammates and start it,” he said. “But if there’s already a team, it’s a good chance to meet mentors … and really have an excuse to work for three days on an idea.”

Scheduled Friday through Sunday, 3 Day Startup will be held at MadVentures CoWorking, 333 East Campus Mall, also includes meals and is free.

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