CC021: thinking big, fearing less, and listening deeply in Madison // a Coffee Chat with Scott Resnick (StartingBlock Madison)

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Scott Resnick 0:00
I think that fear is one of those pieces that are such a core element. Even when I have a ton of confidence, there are times where I might be laying in bed saying, How are all the ways this project could go wrong? Certainly we all have those types of self insecurities. So what we said is about to talk about fear and fearing less is embracing that fear understanding it’s an emotion, but looking at ways to overcome

Jay Clouse 0:29
the startup investment landscape is changing. and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them, talk with them and discuss the upside of investing in them.

Welcome to upside.

Hello, hello. Hello, and welcome to the upside down podcast first podcast finding upside outside of Silicon Valley. I’m Jay Clouse and I’m accompanied by my co host, Mr. eight minute voice memos himself. Eric Hornung.

Eric Hornung 1:10
Oh Jay you had to bring it up. That’s gonna I know that that’s going to come back to bite me someday, listeners little insight here, Jay and I are preparing for our one year anniversary not to each other, but to the podcast, which I guess is kind of like to each other, and also

Jay Clouse 1:28
aired last week,

Eric Hornung 1:30
and also aired last week. So this is a little bit of a time warp here for you a little bit of a Tarantino intro. Last night, which is like many weeks ago, in your head, I drank a few bottles of wine and wrote the first draft of what is man, this is hard with the time. This is hard with the time, but it is the first draft of our one year episode.

Jay Clouse 1:51
A few bottles of wine?

Eric Hornung 1:54
well, I finished a little bit that was left in a bottle. And then I finished another bottle of wine. And then I started on the third. So really, it’s two bottles of wine. But if you look on the counter, you’d see three bottles of wine. So it’s a whole thing.

Jay Clouse 2:10
Eric has a propensity for sending me unrequested thoughts. And he’ll do that in a lot of different ways. Sometimes in the form of a voice memo that has no structure is very free flowing. And can range from probably a minimum of three minutes to a maximum of eight minutes. And the problem with voice memos are they come through is just like this. M4A file I think on my iPhone. And so even if I want to listen to that voice file, in full, I have to keep my screen illuminated because if it goes to sleep, it goes back to the beginning and I have no idea how far I made it through that voice file. So it’s objectively the worst way to send me thoughts and ideas. And that does not stop this man.

Eric Hornung 2:59
It doesn’t because you know sometimes Jay I just need to I just need to let it out there and typing sometimes just doesn’t do just doesn’t do it. You know, sometimes I need to be exasperated. You can’t be exasperated about typing or sometimes I need to be I just need to like churn through some words. And that’s not going to make any sense to you. If I if I write it out. And most of the time what I send you is completely worthless. So that’s the that’s the best part about this.

Jay Clouse 3:23
Well, I hope the wine was good, Eric what goes well with wine

Eric Hornung 3:28
oof just about everything, but I will say hmm I go with some cheese, maybe some cheese curds. And where can I get some good cheese curds? Oh, I would head up to Wisconsin because they have the best cheese curds.

Jay Clouse 3:42
Well, that’s where we’re going today. Eric, we’re headed up to Madison, Wisconsin to talk with Scott Resnick, the founder and former executive director of starting block. starting block Madison is a 50,000 square foot entrepreneurial hub, which opened in 2018. Scott led efforts to raise millions of dollars to build starting block particularly around technology spurred by the University of Wisconsin, starting block connects startups to corporate partners clustered in healthcare, manufacturing, insurance and gaming industries, and provides the links to mentors and Capital Partners. Eric, we reached out to our network and said, Who should we meet in Madison, Wisconsin, and they said Scott Resnick is your guy.

They did. I think one of the things that we took away in our first year is that when someone gives you a extremely pointed recommendation to meet somebody, that’s the person you want to meet with. That’s the person you want to talk to. And that’s what happened here is Scott.

He’s got a different background than most community builders we have on the show. He was a two term member of the Madison Common Council, which I believe is their city council. And before getting starting block off the ground, even ran for mayor, so should be some new content insight in this interview.

Eric Hornung 4:51
Yeah, getting a little political Jay, I remember early on you were excited about the legislative branch. This is a more of an executive branch type situation, we’re really going to hit all three eventually.

Jay Clouse 5:02
If you guys have any thoughts as we go through this interview, please tweet at us at upside FM and do not send us voice memos. You can also email us however

Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Resnick 5:16
Thank you for having me this morning.

Eric Hornung 5:18
Scott, we’d like to start on upside with the background of the guests. So if you tell us about the history of Scott,

Scott Resnick 5:25
yeah. So originally from Wausau, Wisconsin, which is a northern part of the state came to the University of Wisconsin in 2005. So put yourself whatever you were doing 2005, my co founder, and I had this idea that folks who want to be able to watch TV online.

Jay Clouse 5:44

Scott Resnick 5:45
Sure enough, it might take off. We ended up working through essentially a startup out of our dormitory to build an online broadband TV company. In the end, we were not successful at that, although we had some great episodes of freely distributed content, including Popeye and episodes of I love. I Love Lucy, as well as the Japanese show Naruto, who also we happen to get a licensing agreement for. But in zoom, that company did not work out. But by essentially sophomore junior year business team came back together, we ended up creating what is now hardened design and development, which is essentially a consultancy that builds out other startups and subsidiaries for fortune five hundreds. So our clients include FedEx, mercedes benz, Toyota, Coleman campers, a handful of other great organizations. We’ve been at it for about 12 years and going strong.

Eric Hornung 6:43
Jay, what were you doing in 2005?

Jay Clouse 6:44
Well, I think I was really trying to make the starting lineup of a football team and very self consciously trying to talk to girls.

Scott Resnick 6:54
See, we were trying to do that. Apparently we did that plus a startup all unsuccessfully.

Eric Hornung 7:02
Yes, failure across the board

Scott Resnick 7:03
failure across the board. You know, apparently the 5’8 5’9, 160

or so pound safety was not going to make it in the NFL. But harden, which is our company is done okay for ourselves.

Jay Clouse 7:17
Is this in zoom product of yours? That was pre YouTube, but similar to YouTube, except not user created content?

Scott Resnick 7:24
Not user, I mean, so really the the day we knew that some of our journey was was going to be a true not a you know, every every startup is an upward battle. But then you have that moment where you just truly feel deflated. Ours was during the Super Bowl when we saw Alec Baldwin pitching a new product called Hulu. And as we were having some conversations with NNBC the network distributor of NBC content, you know, we realized this was going to be a game that would be very, very difficult for us to win.

Eric Hornung 7:56
How did you come up with the idea for hardened design off of the back that?

Scott Resnick 8:00
Yeah, so I’ll tell you, we are not necessarily the most creative when it comes to naming and nomenclature. So harden is the last name of my business partner, we were getting ready to pitch it at the consumer electronic trade show a new protocol, which was UPNP technology, which allows you to essentially take from your mobile device control objects in your home. So again, now something that we can all imagine back in 2006, 2007, 2008,

that was quite new. We basically had a broker of ours who said, we need to change, you guys need to change your name from our original name and tele computing. They said, All right, we’ll come up with a name. They my business partner, not available, pardon D not available, hardened DD, we ended up grabbing that URL snatched it up. And that’s how we became design and development.

Jay Clouse 8:55
Nice backed into it. I like it, what you haven’t mentioned so far, and what I want to spend a a little bit of time talking about is starting block, because you were referred to us as the guy to talk to in Madison, Wisconsin. And I believe that was tied to the work he did with starting block. So I’d love to hear when that came into play.

Scott Resnick 9:13
One you just haven’t met enough folks in Madison, that’s really the bigger issue here. But you know, fast forward apso, tech startups going well decided to run for public office, ended up winning my first election, my second election and then lost my third one, actually, four years ago today was my was my last loss

Jay Clouse 9:32
Happy anniversary.

Scott Resnick 9:33
Yeah thank you. Or commiseration date, I don’t know how to celebrate it, my wife is thrilled. But this I served on Madison City Council for that time, and was at one point, the youngest elected leader from any large metropolitan city, that the ranking By the way, when you’re the youngest of anything that you slowly lose, and then you realize, wow, I’m getting old. So I no longer I lost that title almost immediately. But you know, starting block was the idea was what happens if we, as Madison has been growing in a technology space? 10 years ago, I would say, we were pretty nascent startup community, there were a few biotechnology companies that were doing well. But when you’re thinking about like that soft tech soft it ecosystem, we performed, you know, pretty low in many rankings and about 20 million or so in venture capital raise as a collective the ecosystem, you know, fast forward 10 years, it’s about, it’s closer to the 200 million range. So when you look at it, we are saying what is next for the ecosystem, what can be our beacon for the Midwest, and that became the starting block project, which is a 50,000 square foot tech incubation center, and essentially Super Hub that contained inside there, there is three separate accelerators, one focused on women entrepreneurship called the Doyenne group generator, which is more standard tech accelerator there national headquarters, as well as bunker labs focused on Veterans, we have about $25 million worth of venture funds that are inside the building itself, as well as 37 additional startup companies. And that’s after about six months of operation.

Eric Hornung 11:14
You said our idea, our mission? Who was this? Who put all this together? Like is there like a little core team? Or is it the community as a whole? Is it? How does it How does it like this thing come together?

Scott Resnick 11:26
Yeah, there was a core team of roughly nine individuals, we met at my office every two weeks, for nearly five years. So you see the building that you now get to go to? Yeah, everyone gets excited, like, wow, you know, you built this. And it really was a what I would say, a team effort. So we had representatives from the university, from private institutions from large fortune 500 companies, as well as startups. So it really was that merging of what I would say is your traditional players in the community, your institutional money, as well as essentially those young 20 or 30 somethings startup leaders to build a really fantastic center.

Eric Hornung 12:09
What competitive advantages did Madison have that other places didn’t when you were kind of creating this idea.

Scott Resnick 12:15
So what we lack in true population size, so Madison’s a community of, you know, 250 quarter million in the in the city, half a million in the metro. And you can look at a number of communities, I mean, we’re still quite significantly smaller than an Austin, or Boston, or Silicon Valley, well we make up for that is in is in the density of our community. So you can essentially take a five mile walk, and in that, or even within a one mile radius, or the capital square, and in that one mile radius, you’ll find 25 startup companies that have raised venture capital dollars, you can sort of you can essentially at one coffee shop, find someone in government, someone in the startup community and someone in the venture finance community, you know, literally sitting next to each other. And that kind of density is only found in a few other cities nationwide. You know, Raleigh comes to mind, Provo, Boulder, and essentially Madison.

Eric Hornung 13:17
and you guys have spotted cow, which is awesome. That’s a big win.

Scott Resnick 13:21
spotted cow. Very illegal to bring on airplanes and or particularly to sell across state lines may have some experience about that firsthand. But yeah, one of our true commodities spotted cow by new Glarus, one of the best beers out there.

Eric Hornung 13:36
I never once living in Chicago ever Absolutely not. Took spotted cow across the border when I was visiting Milwaukee and driving back down. Definitely not sure, sure.

Jay Clouse 13:46
Scott, I want to hear about your time in public office was small business and startups a big part of your platform.

Scott Resnick 13:56
So the Madison city council had 20 alders or city council persons. And in that time, really, it was about how do you introduce innovation to City Hall. And that comes in the form of regulatory innovation, as well as essentially bringing process innovations, you know, to, you know, a long standing legacy institution. So some of the issues that were front and center to tackle were the legalization of issue of groups like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft. That very much was, you know, existing special interests and try to figure out how does that mesh with new startup innovation? On the flip side of that, we would also talk through the, you know, regulatory processes just to communicate with constituents. How does the city deal with Twitter or blog accounts, Facebook posts? How can you be able to tweet in a problem to city hall or even communicate that there’s a new building going on across the street, no, very often came down to how should we regulate new businesses, things like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft. Many of these Silicon Valley based startups that were you know, wanting to enter the Madison based market and understanding both the incumbent players as well as trying to create a fair and balanced ecosystem for everyone to thrive. So I will say that background and understanding of both what it takes from a startup to get off the ground, as well as the understanding of a venture community gave me a very unique perspective as I was in public office,

Jay Clouse 15:35
what made you want to run for the Office of mayor.

Scott Resnick 15:38
So what I will say is, there isn’t very few and other than to serve in the military a higher calling than to serve others. And City Hall is one of those places where if you want to tackle some of society’s biggest problems, so think about homelessness, poverty, education gap, wealth gap, the opportunity gaps that we have in society, look, City Hall, and essentially the mayor’s office as a multi million dollar nine figure budget where you’re charged to do well. And unless you can experience that in the social impact space, I haven’t found any other outlet for that energy and activity. So I certainly loved my opportunities to serve in the public space, I assume I will run again. But it was it was quite the experience to serve. And now it’s given me a a true understanding and a larger under a better understanding of the true needs of all of our residents, not just those who can afford the most recent tech products,

Eric Hornung 16:39
knowing what you know, now having been in and out of public service, if you were going to run again, what would you run for? Would it be mayor? Or is there something that is more impactful?

Scott Resnick 16:50
It’s truly how you can impact in a positive the quality of life of of residents. So as of right now, I’m a new father. So I have a 10 month old I have been your listeners may not know this, but it’s about 11:50am. Right now, I have been up since about 4:15am, which is when my son woke up. So right now I’m thinking about him and how I persevered through family life than the next office that I would be seeking. But I still do truly love serving. It was a highlight of my professional career so far,

Eric Hornung 17:28
I’m sure that taking care of him is definitely impacting the life of a Madison residents.

Scott Resnick 17:33
Yes, a very small one. I just really wish he would sleep a little more at night.

Jay Clouse 17:39
So you guys announced starting block, after your mayoral campaign run? How did the idea really get started? And how did you decide like, we’re going to take over this giant space? Like what what were the phases of figuring out what that space was going to be and how it would actually get started?

Scott Resnick 17:56
You know, what I will say is it was a, you know, 5 plus year journey. So there were certainly different roadblocks in between, we thought originally we were going to buy and remodel a space. And after three years of perseverance, we realized that just wasn’t going to happen. So it was going to be building a new building alongside our partners of Fortune 500 company called American family insurance, who became our local power utility, MG&E became our partners in this endeavor. They were at it from the very beginning, but still let the entrepreneurs lead the project. But you know, what I will say is these projects don’t happen overnight. And there were a series of various setbacks. But it was a core team that had a vision that this was what was right for Madison in our ecosystem. And if you think about that boulder going up a hill, we just continued to try to make progress every single day. And, you know, five, six years later, we have a building we can walk it to,

Jay Clouse 18:57
and I’m sure had to take a lot of private investment, even get the space and get it ready to go. Was there any public investment that like the city put in on this,

Scott Resnick 19:06
it was public philanthropic, and private financing, as well as some some fantastic sponsorship. So we had $1.5 million of city financing. We also had the EDA, which the Economic Development Agency for the federal government also put in money to help us with operations, state of Wisconsin put in money. So what I will say is, the private sector led the charge, but certainly the public sector was the one who closed the gap from a finance standpoint.

Jay Clouse 19:37
Let’s say that I’m a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I really want to accelerate our entrepreneurial ecosystem. And I’m thinking I’m looking at starting block and saying that’s a model I want to follow. How would you advise me to actually get this started and start building that thing?

Scott Resnick 19:52
Well, I would, I will say is starting block became the pinnacle to a to a larger conversation, it was once we reached critical mass. And you see, these centers are, you know, all across the country, whether it’s capital factory in Austin, Texas, whether it’s 1776 in Washington, DC, 1871 In Chicago, all of those communities are the common theme is critical mass. So we felt it was time considering the number of startups that were in the ecosystem, the number of ones who have had success. And it was partnering together to essentially create a nonprofit and have a figure out a way to pay it forward. So where these centers go astray, is when you’re just trying to simply try to draw profit. But it’s when you have a larger mission at hand, you can really see how they can amplify your ecosystem as well.

Eric Hornung 20:45
I want to talk a little bit about the starting block mission through the starting block motto, think big, fear less, listen deeply, I can kind of get my head around think big, that one seems pretty on point. But why we’re fear less, and listen deeply chosen.

Scott Resnick 21:01
So when you think about the entrepreneurial journey, there are so many naysayers, not only the ones, whether it’s a venture capitalist who’s told, you no, whether it’s a family member who is sort of is that, are you sure you don’t want to stick with your full time job, instead of trying this thing called a startup? I know that’s where my parents were at. So when you come to that, even your personal and psychological fears about choosing to do a new endeavor, to try to take a bold step, to try to take on the risks that it takes to be a startup, I think that fear is one of those pieces that are such a core element. Even when I have a ton of confidence, there are times where I might be laying in bed saying, How are all the ways this project could go wrong? You know, certainly we all have those types of self insecurities. So what we said is, is about, you know, to talk about fear and fearing less, is, you know, embracing that fear under standing, it’s an emotion, but looking at ways to overcome. And then listening deeply is about that element of feedback. And the number of times where I have, you know, tried to either mentor a startup company or worked with a friend to say, Wow, you have a great idea, you just might need to pivot like this small change. And wow this idea is going to take off, and sure enough at times, you know, it might either be our stubbornness, or our our ability only only want to listen to ourselves, you know, taking that kind of constructive criticism is so important for an entrepreneur. So that’s where the listen deeply element came about.

Eric Hornung 22:40
How connected is Madison to other communities,

Scott Resnick 22:43
it depends on the community that you’re talking about. So Madison, is still a relatively small community, all things considered. So much of our capital is imported. So and the communities that we’re importing from very regularly, it’s New York City, Silicon Valley, as well as the the city of Chicago, we’re sort of that hidden gem for many investors in Chicago. So similar to how Denver investors will invest in in Boulder, Salt Lake City will take a look at Provo, in so many ways. Chicago, you know, feeds off of Madison, and it becomes a symbiotic relationship for those investors who get a little bit of an edge by going across state lines. And for Madison based companies, we’re seeing some fairly impressive rounds on some innovative ideas that are, you know, competitive, not only in the Midwest, but all over the world.

Eric Hornung 23:38
What’s the relationship between Madison and Milwaukee in terms of the startup communities?

Scott Resnick 23:43
So what I will say is, is, you know, Madison’s a little bit further along in the startup community timeline, because of our density, and sort of the history and culture of our community, Milwaukee is starting to not only catch up, but having some really innovative companies and ideas spur in the Milwaukee area. There’s also more fortune 500 companies. So you know what I would say it’s a very similar relationship that Austin may have to Dallas, for example, or to Houston or San Antonio, of a city that is, you know, coming into its own, you know, following it sort of ages of prominence,

Jay Clouse 24:20
where do the entrepreneurs who are starting the venture backed companies in Madison tend to come from is it mostly homegrown? Are they coming in from out of town being drawn, for some reason,

Scott Resnick 24:30
two large theaters, one, which is the University of Wisconsin, so still, having one of the top computer science and federal research labs in the country is certainly a benefit. The other is epic systems, which is the largest healthcare EHR company in the world, also located in Madison. So epic is fantastic at hiring the best and brightest, who will come to Madison, maybe not find the right opportunity at epic, but fall in love with the city and community and determine and stay here, very similar to what Dell did for Austin. We hope that epic will do for for Madison.

Jay Clouse 25:09
Yeah, epic has been around for a while, and I know they employ thousands of people. Is that difficult for the startups to hire from the same talent pool? Or at that point? Does it seem that people are looking for a smaller company experience and just kind of spin out

Scott Resnick 25:25
10 years ago, it was so cool to say that you ended up getting a job at Facebook, Amazon, maybe not my space. But I mean, there were plenty of those up and coming startups were the hot place to be. Now the exciting place to be is is with a young, new company. So I mean, it was a student that I mentor, a former intern of ours, when he announced that he was not going to take his job at Facebook, my jaw dropped to say I would rather pursue a startup endeavor than that take the safe job. So what I will say is many of our startup companies have been competitive to pick up talent. And one of the reasons why Madison is growing is that essential surplus of programming talent coming from the university and some of our major employers,

Eric Hornung 26:17
what isn’t Madison good at right now?

Scott Resnick 26:18
So we’re not going to be consumer community, if you have a brand new social media site, and you know, you need to launch it in one community. And that’s where you’re going to gain your prominence, it likely isn’t Madison, it’s not going to have the population density of a New York or San Francisco. And there’s certain consequences to that. But we lean into our strengths. What I’ll say is we don’t try to cluster too many companies, it’s not that we want to be known for one type of technology or service area its more of an agnostic community. And you know, because of that, when you look at like venture capital dollars per capita, we’re one of the top 15 in the nation. And you know, that year that gives you pause, you know, like, there’s so much activity in Madison, it’s because of the density levels. But you know, if Madison grew to a population of 2 million overnight, I think that would take away what’s actually truly special about our community. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we’re a, you know, small but pack a pretty big punch.

Jay Clouse 27:28
What are some of the funding partners in Madison? You know, do you guys lean towards seed funding? Do you lean towards series A Do you have all of those institutional partners, what’s the landscape look like?

Scott Resnick 27:40
So as I mentioned before, we’re still reliant on external capital, but we do have several prominent both venture capital funds that are homegrown as well as corporate venture funds. So 4490, which is a local fund, as well as rock river capital and health X, which are very active in the health related spaces primarily spun off of epic systems. We also have a number of corporate venture arms, so American family insurance, kuna mutual and QB, all have funds primarily related into the financial services and insurance industry. We’re seeing task ventures, which is a new corporate venture arm. So we’re seeing, you know, essentially, that time lineage of investors investing, seeing major exits, and then reaping the rewards and putting it back into the community. The best example of that would be amfam ventures, who was a very early investor in a company called rain, which we know sold for essentially a unicorn exit to to Amazon. So I see a number of positives happening in the ecosystem. And as you have a few success stories, it’s amplifying that success.

Eric Hornung 28:49
Who are the most wealthy families in Madison? Like I think every city has a couple of like, really wealthy families, and how involved are they in this kind of startup and innovation initiative or not.

Scott Resnick 29:03
So Madison is still a relatively young town, I mean, our if you look past in our, in our lineage, we’re a state capitol. It’s why most third graders can sometimes you know, name the where the city of Madison is, is because they know that that mitten shapes, you know, Madison is the capital of that of that state. So you know, because of being a very dependent on our university and our state capital, we don’t have the larger institutional family wealth that you might find in a York, Pennsylvania or Louisville, or or Tulsa for, for that matter. But what we do have is, you know, New Wealth that’s been created by several startup investments. But the two most notable both female entrepreneurs being Pleasant Rolen, who sold a company called them to Mattel, her company was American Girl doll. And then Judy Faulkner, of epic systems to you very prominent entrepreneurs in their both of right, they have been philanthropic stewards of our community, not as necessarily engaged in the startup community yet. But whether it’s the art center or other philanthropic activities, they’re critical to our ecosystem, let alone just the jobs that those individuals have had most interesting from both of those entrepreneurs, actually both shared the same office and desk dating back to the to the 80s, which I think is just a pretty impressive feat that one entrepreneur gave her desk to the other entrepreneur, and both to create companies of 100 plus million and billion dollar companies.

Eric Hornung 30:43
So if I’m a founder and I want to create a company, and I’m living in Madison, do I have to go through starting block channels to be successful?

Scott Resnick 30:53
Absolutely not. And this is one area that the ecosystems actually get wrong, where they try to build the one central repository that was going to be the gatekeeper to all entrepreneurial activity. and and the the true matter is, that’s not what a startups about. Fundamentally, it’s about disrupting an ecosystem. It’s about being gaining your competitive advantage. It’s about, you know, risk taking, but also being scrappy in that way. So we offer our guidance and resources primarily for free, whether it’s our mentorship programs, whether it’s our access to capital. And what I love more than anything else, is when an entrepreneur tells me that I’m wrong, that I looked at their idea and their business model and said, there’s nothing I can do to help. This isn’t an idea that I think will take off. And then they come back two years later and say, Look, you are wrong. So I don’t truly, truly believe in having one gatekeeper the community. And you know, truly in that way, I don’t believe starting block is that single point of entry. But we do try to be a welcoming and inclusive family sort of stray.

Jay Clouse 32:01
By the way, Thanks for answering all these, we’re trying to get a sense of like this ecosystem and as fast as we can. And you’re given us a ton of a ton of great touchpoints. So I appreciate you taking our peppering of questions. If I’m a founder, and I’m coming to Madison, Wisconsin, and just visiting, let’s say I have an early stage company, I’m thinking about moving it somewhere, what would be a like 24 hour itinerary that you would recommend that founder do on a visit to Madison.

Scott Resnick 32:29
So this is what I do. When I visit any city, I try to find who are some of the individuals who are active in the community. And you don’t always need to find your chamber of commerce president or your mayor, or the superstar entrepreneur. But it’s those who are really on the ground, doing a meetup group and hosting a meetup group or the that is blogging regularly about the community. It’s the Doer, I try to find that individual it might be someone like myself, or forest Wolworth, Amy Gannon Troy Bosler, I could continue the list. But those folks who have dedicated You know, there’s free time is to help other entrepreneurs, meet with that person and get a feel for the community. And then otherwise, just try to dive in and enjoy yourself. You know, so often as a community, you know why an entrepreneur will pick one city over another is it’s where they can build connections and have a good time doing it. So what I would say is go to a local restaurant, go check out the lakes, beyond the union and have a spotted cow or a tea at collect TiVo, really embrace the beauty of the community. And that’s not just for Madison, I think it’s for finding whatever is special about any of our communities, we have found, you don’t just need to be in Silicon Valley to have a successful startup. There’s something unique about every single community, I think Madison is no exception. What we’ve just been able to do is crack the nut of how to bring that all that density into one place around startups.

Eric Hornung 34:04
Jay were you looking for like a Yelp, a personalized Yelp recommendation there for?

Jay Clouse 34:09
I’m saying I’m saying if you’re going to stack the deck and make an all star visit where you know, that person is going to leave and be like, Damn, Madison has some stuff going on, when it comes to entrepreneurship, you know, what are those stacking the deck type stops?

Scott Resnick 34:23
Well, it’s the, it’s the accessibility of some of our, of our founders our entrepreneurial founders. And you know, it’s one thing when you when you show up to a community, and you meet one or two early stage founders, it’s another thing when someone who’s raised, you know, anywhere between 10 and 100 million has an open door policy that you can meet with in the next day. And that’s what you get with this community of a quarter million. That’s what you get with a capital square. That’s the where you don’t have to leave more than eight blocks on the Capitol Square, which essentially a walking or scooter dist, you know, distance to meet and see, almost everybody that you need to to get to know. So I think that’s the area that is is particularly special about Madison, that even in my travels, I haven’t necessarily found in other communities.

Eric Hornung 35:11
You mentioned earlier that it back in 2008 or so there was this wrestling with Okay, how do we regulate this technology? How do we regulate this innovation? How do we have people tweet at us and have their problems resolved? Essentially, how do we utilize this new technology? What from the public sector now in medicine is being wrestled with?

Scott Resnick 35:33
We still wrestle with how do we use our data and our public spaces. So let’s say you have a new startup and your startup is going to be a robotics technology that is going to a robot will drive down the sidewalk and deliver me a meal? Well, my robot, because I haven’t been able to figure out all the kinks of it is actually 10 feet wide by 10 feet in length, and is a giant battery, well, that actually takes up a large percentage of that sidewalk. And what happens if there’s an individual in a wheelchair who’s trying to also get by what happens if there’s a family with kids that also are trying to pass by the robot, the robot, by the way, wants to drive as fast as possible. So it’s decided that its max speed is going to be 15 to 20 miles per hour on the sidewalk? Well, is that acceptable, you know, use of essentially taxpayer space. And you can take that same scenario and introduce that to, you know, drone technology in in certain visual technologies. I believe the next one that cities are going to struggle with is how do you deal with cashless communities. So right now, I don’t carry around cash, I venmo, I don’t actually know what my ATM pin number is, because I just haven’t had a meaning for cash. And communities are trying to struggle with that, because there are individuals at the lowest end of our socio economic level, who still reside on a cash based economy. How do you tackle whether your supermarket might want to go cashless, great for me, not necessarily great for our most vulnerable residents. So these will be I think, the real true value of technology, you know, startups, this has been great for my family, because of a startup that I helped create, my son will live a better life than I did. I had financially, you know, financial security. However, it’s trying to figure out how these tech innovations can be enjoyed by our entire population, and not just a select few.

Eric Hornung 37:34
What’s the most exciting thing that’s going to happen in Madison in the next six to 18 months?

Scott Resnick 37:39
Oh most exciting? You know, when you’ve asked a good question, that’s when like, I like someone has to pause on that

Eric Hornung 37:48
it only took us the entire interview to get there.

Scott Resnick 37:52
I believe that we’re at a pinnacle, where we are now experiencing certain technologies and augmented reality, in virtual reality, in facial recognition that these technologies will start being played out in small scale environments. Everything from driverless on forward, testing those technologies in a large major metropolitan community has drawbacks. But when you’re able to test in a fairly well educated community, I see those types of technologies coming to Madison in the near future. Being that space for innovation is is one of the things that I look forward to. And and I would say sort of in this sort of next year to two year period, as this becomes the next boulder or Austin is sort of in our cards.

Jay Clouse 38:45
Awesome. Scott, thank you so much for joining us and giving us a lowdown on what’s going on there in America’s mitten, Wisconsin, and specifically Madison, Wisconsin. If people want to learn more about you, or the work that you do, where should they go?

Scott Resnick 38:59
Sj Resnick on Twitter is probably the best way to find me or search me on LinkedIn. I’m the one who doesn’t have a profile picture. I realized I was on LinkedIn so early. It was before their algorithms of images were sorted out. So if anybody can fix that from LinkedIn that happened to be listening to this podcast, I’ve been trying to fix my profile picture for years now. Hopefully someone can give me a helping hand.

Eric Hornung 39:27
All right, Jay, we just spoke with Scott Resnick from Madison, Wisconsin, you know, what I’m not gonna say he’s just from starting block, because he is a man of the people.

Jay Clouse 39:37
He’s a man of the people. He’s an entrepreneur in residence, he is kind of your consummate community builder, and maybe even more. So you know, not a lot of community builders go to the lengths of creating a 50,000 square foot hub in their city. It’s clear that he’s proud of Madison and everything available in Madison, it’s also clear that he recognizes and respects what other cities around the country are doing. You know, he’s not saying Madison is the only place to be for a company that is not based on the coasts is very proud of what they can do there. He’s very proud of their density, but also very realistic about their strengths.

Eric Hornung 40:16
And their weaknesses. I think I think that he understands what Madison can be, he understands that Madison can be an amazing place to start a company without having to ever be or compete with Chicago, it’s or whatever else in the Midwest, its own little kind of gem. And you know, I won’t lie, I want to take him up on going up there, because I have heard that that city in the summer is incredible.

Jay Clouse 40:41
I’m also interested in checking out the epic campus, because I’ve heard a lot about how big the campus around epic systems is up there, and how how you know how many people they employ in the area, and what it’s like to be in there. I’ve also worked in the healthcare industry little bit, and had some awareness of epic from that standpoint. And I just want to kind of create the patchwork in my mind or complete the patchwork in my mind. But it’s a huge resource to have in a city like Madison, drawing in all kinds of technical talent and maybe in some cases, keeping technical talent that’s coming out of the University of Wisconsin, just a resource that not a lot of cities across the country have.

Eric Hornung 41:23
Yeah, we can head up there, man, we can go up there this summer. I’m thinking we get some cheese curds, we get some spotted cow, we have an epic experience. You know, maybe go out on the lake. I know sounds like could be a fun little time.

Jay Clouse 41:34
I do know that we certainly have to get a company on the podcast from Madison and hear from their perspective, what Madison has meant to the growth of their company and what they think of the city and what they think the strengths and weaknesses are. So dear listeners. If you are aware of a good preferably pre series, a company in Madison, Wisconsin, please tweet at us at upside FM or email us

Interview begins: 05:12
Debrief begins: 39:24

Scott Resnick is the founder and former executive director of StartingBlock Madison.

StartingBlock is a 50,000 sq foot entrepreneurial hub which opened in 2018. Scott led efforts to raise millions dollars to build the “beacon for Midwest startups” particularly around technologies spurred by the University of Wisconsin.

The organization connects startups to corporate partners clustered in the healthcare, manufacturing, insurance and gaming industries, and provides links to mentors and capital partners.

StartingBlock Madison’s motto: Think big. Fear less. Listen deeply.

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