Startup fair showcases young, hungry companies

Feb. 6, 2014

by David Tenenbaum

Students eager to plunge into the startup culture got a chance to meet early-stage firms trolling for talent at the 2014 Madison Startup Fair, held Wednesday afternoon at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

“For students who may not like the idea of going to work for a big corporation, this is the place to be,” says Allen Dines, assistant director, new ventures, of the UW–Madison Office of Corporate Relations. “Companies are looking for talent, for developers of mobile apps, for people to write the code associated with their ideas. But it’s not just for IT; they are looking for marketing and communication help.”

Andy Nere, co-founder of Thalchemy, a software platform originated on campus that takes advantage of the many sensors now found in smart phones, says, “We have corporate partners, and we have more work, more interest in the company than we can handle now. We are certainly interested in finding students who can work for us for a few hours a week, but also in fulltime developers.”

“We want somebody ready to get right in, who’s excited about what they are doing, passionate, eager to make an impact.”

Matt Lea

Fie Ma, a Ph.D. student in geography and founder of Osoride, a ride-sharing matching service, says the attendees “were very interested in the idea. Five or six have given me a resume or business cards. We’re making connections.”

“We are looking for eager people,” says Matt Lea of Turis Building Innovation Systems, a startup developing ways to envision the structure of buildings. “We want somebody ready to get right in, who’s excited about what they are doing, passionate, eager to make an impact” on the construction industry. “It’s really cool to watch. They tend to push each other.”

The fair carried some of the “anything-goes” culture of the startup, says Dines. “We have some very smart students who are capable of adapting when they see an opportunity. One of the companies here said, ‘You name your position. Tell me what you want to do, and we’ll talk about it.’ What they really need is smart, motivated, impatient people who want to make the world a better place, and this pretty much describes our students.”

The Startup Fair was organized by Capital Entrepreneurs in cooperation with the Office of Corporate Relations, Advocacy Consortium for Entrepreneurs, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, TheHub, CEO, Transcend, UW Student Business Incubator, and the Physics Garage.