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Any entrepreneur or business leader will tell you, it is not easy to build something that lasts. To be frank, it is damn hard. Perhaps it should be. What innovation has influenced a generation, redefined an industry, or driven change in a community that did not require the work and resilience it took to create it?

That same work is necessary when it comes to building an industry ecosystem. The foundation of a successful ecosystem requires all aspects to be connected and serve a purpose in some way to support the function of the system. The inter-industry connectivity and community within Madison is one of our greatest strengths as a growing startup city.

Entrepreneurial growth through community collaboration is the foundation of 100state’s mission. This balanced focus on both community and company development across a wide span of industries is an uncommon practice in the coworking world.

To us, it makes perfect sense. To start and scale a company requires a diverse array of skill sets. Expecting any one person or even a small team to have a mastery of the variety of skills necessary could be detrimental to the growth of the company. At 100state, by developing a community of entrepreneurs, problem solvers, and creators with different backgrounds and professions, our membership utilizes the community to expand their network of peers and mentors, to innovate boldly, and to approach challenges through a variety of perspectives.

The community aspect of 100state has been a key piece in the success of many companies started by members, as evidenced by the more than $75 million dollars in funding raised and over 200 jobs created since our founding in 2013.

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To call Madison’s startup ecosystem exciting does not even begin to cover the thrill of potential when discussing the creation and evolution taking place. The thought leaders represented in these profiles span a gamut of industries; from Ionic’s world-leading mobile development platform to SafetyNet’s insurance innovations that provide financial safety to workers in unexpected times of need. Madison companies are changing the way we engage with our community, with our city, and with our world.

That said, with the opportunity of creation comes a responsibility to the community and city we are collectively building. Women, people of color, individuals with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ population are all dismally underrepresented in the entrepreneur and tech community. This is not singularly a Silicon Valley problem or a “Big Tech Hub” problem. Just look at the companies represented here. Yes, these companies and so many others in Madison are brilliant and are making incredible strides to improve our communities and drive Madison forward. Are they diverse? Maybe in their hiring practices, but what about their founders, their boards, their executives?

I ask these questions not to make an example of anyone, but because it is important to consider as we grow, who is reaping the benefits of success in the long term and the implications that can have on future opportunities. Equity, education, intentional investment, and the development of generational wealth are instrumental to creating change in every part of our community, making us stronger as an ecosystem.

At 100state, we challenge ourselves to look beyond what has already been accomplished in favor of expanding what is possible for our community. The results are unparalleled and our community continues to expand, welcoming a host of new possibilities. Madison’s startup ecosystem is no different.

As we look to Madison’s successes and to our future, we should embrace it with excitement and pride. I know I certainly do. However, that does not mean we should not also demand to be better. We can learn from the successes and pitfalls of other startup cities to navigate our own growth. In this community of leaders and innovators, I do not see the next Austin or the next Boulder, I see an opportunity to do something greater.

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