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starting block virtual fundraising map

StartingBlock's crowdfunding campaign encourages donors to purchase a "virtual block" for $25.

Donors can buy themselves a piece of the entrepreneurial hub StartingBlock — virtually, at least.

StartingBlock, slated to open next year on Madison’s near east side, launched a crowdfunding campaign Wednesday to meet a $1.5 million fundraising goal.

The campaign is selling $25 “virtual blocks” on the space’s 50,000-square-foot floor plan. Donors can upload a logo or image to display in the block. When the space is built, the virtual mosaic of donor images will be projected on the wall of StartingBlock’s entryway.

“This is an opportunity for anybody to get involved in the StartingBlock project,” said Scott Resnick, executive director of StartingBlock. “Just like startups require time and dedication, they take a certain personal investment. Anybody can help create the momentum and help close the fundraising gap.”

Once built, StartingBlock’s anchor tenants will be local makerspace Sector67, industry group Capital Entrepreneurs and startup incubator gener8tor. Smaller tenants will include startups Beekeeper, GrocerKey, WeightUp Solutions and MobileIgniter. Resnick announced earlier this month that the space expects to be at 80 percent capacity at opening.

“This is a very Madison-focused project,” Resnick said. “It’s really about how to help build and grow small businesses here in Madison.”

Individual blocks cost $25. Donors are guaranteed a ticket to StartingBlock groundbreaking and, if they choose to give more, are eligible for “prizes” like stickers, T-shirts or — for $700 worth of blocks — having their name laser engraved on a piece of furniture in the space.

StartingBlock has received previous contributions from American Family Insurance, Madison Gas & Electric, the City of Madison, and the Evjue Foundation.

Resnick said StartingBlock is, in addition to the crowdfunding campaign, looking to close the fundraising gap by seeking additional local corporate sponsors and grant funding.

Construction is expected to begin on the building that will house StartingBlock in November or December, with a tentative completion date in winter 2016.

They hope to finish fundraising by late this fall.