Two young companies — both launched in Madison in 2012 and graduates of the gener8tor tech accelerator in Madison and Milwaukee — have landed a total of nearly $3 million in funding.
But one company is no longer in Madison, and the path it has taken may raise some questions about how well the state is preparing for a variety of new industries — beyond tech startups.
Abodo is all about abodes — helping people find a place to live by listing apartments for rent. Formerly called MoveIn, Abodo has nine full-time employees and one part-timer, and recently moved into bigger offices at 551 W. Main St., a few blocks from its previous location at 151 W. Wilson St.
Madison was Abodo’s first city. Then came Milwaukee; Green Bay; Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. Raleigh, North Carolina, joined the fold on Thursday, and Portland, Oregon, comes online next week.
Abodo.com has 80,000 listings at this point, said CEO Alec Slocum. “We’ve been having incredible success,” he said. “Our new cities are growing even much faster than Madison did.” He said Abodo expects to be operating in 25 to 30 cities by the end of 2014.
Co-founders Slocum, Adam Olien and Chad Aldous, all 26, are from New Richmond; Slocum and Olien are UW-Madison alums. The $945,000 they’ve raised so far is only part of the current funding round, which they expect to top $1 million. Abodo also received $325,000 from investors in 2013.
Focusing on medium-size cities, Abodo will soon launch an app so would-be renters can “walk around” a neighborhood and look at interior photos, prices and other information on apartments before they step inside. Slocum said he’s waiting for word on when Apple’s App Store will make that available. There’s no date yet for Android release.
Understory, formerly Subsidence, has developed a new system for collecting weather data that, CEO Alex Kubicek says, is more real-time and thorough than any current system.
“We build weather-sensing grids,” Kubicek said. Weather stations, each about two-feet tall and one foot in diameter, can be installed on cellular towers or billboards, every mile or two within a metropolitan area.
They are in such large clusters that they act like live radar and provide updates every 5 seconds, Kubicek said. “You can get a fluid picture of weather moving across the city,” he said.
Beyond that, the devices give wind information that’s three-dimensional, not just north, south, east or west, but also showing updrafts and downdrafts.
“You can understand the energy exchange between the air and a thunderstorm and see if (the storm) is going to grow or shrink,” Kubicek said. The upshot of that, he added, is much better prediction of potential tornadoes.
Understory was founded by Kubicek, 26, who grew up in East Troy and has degrees from UW-Whitewater and UW-Madison, and Bryan Dow, 24, a native of nearby Oregon who is about to earn his master’s from UW-Madison. They are two of Understory’s three current employees, but the company should be up to a staff of 10 by year’s end, Kubicek said.
Madison-based American Family Insurance Group is Understory’s first customer, with a pilot project set for the Kansas City, Missouri, area.
But Understory is no longer based in Madison. One of seven companies chosen from 850 applicants for the Bolt accelerator program in Boston last August, Understory has decided to stay there. “The mentorship we’re getting here is the reason why,” Kubicek said.
Understory’s seed-round funding is led by True Ventures, of Palo Alto, California, with investments from RRE Ventures, New York; Vegas Tech Fund, Las Vegas; SK Ventures; and Andrew C. Payne.