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Doyenne Group’s Spring Showcase features five women-led startups

Representatives of five female-led companies presented their business models at the Doyenne Group’s Spring Showcase.

This event was held Wednesday at the Yahara Bay Distillery in Madison, featuring tours of the facility, drinks and networking with members of the women’s entrepreneurship group.

The Madison-based organization is led by Executive Director Heather Wentler and Director of Operations Amy Gannon. Gannon has over a decade of experience working with startups, and Wentler is the founder of Fractal, an educational enrichment program for students.

The presenting companies were:

* Hinckley Productions, a video production company with a diverse staff and a history of being ahead of the game.

“We’ve been doing livestreaming for 10 years now; it’s been getting a lot of buzz in the last couple years because a lot of companies are jumping into it right now,” said company founder Natalie Hinckley. “Well guess what, we’ve been doing it for 10 years, and nobody else in Madison can claim that.”

The company provides a host of services including scripting, directing, HD video streaming, editing, voice-overs, graphics and consulting services.

“My favorite thing, I think the thing we’re really best at, is that authenticity, connecting with brands,” she said. “Everybody has a story to tell, and it’s just finding a way to get it out of somebody.”

Hinckley Productions was named LGBT Business of the Year in 2016 by the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

* 1myvote, a nonpartisan voter app started in 2015 that grew naturally out of Chief Design Officer Emily Kuhn’s tendency to educate friends and family about political races.

“I was a new mom in 2012, and by the time the next election came along, before that I was the go-to person,” Kuhn said. “All my friends came to me and said, ‘Hey, who’s running for office? Who should I vote for in a few days?’ I was like, “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but I’ll tell you who is running.”

She recognized the need for an app that provides free, straightforward information to voters about election candidates. Between January and November of 2016, downloads for the app shot up from 80 to over 2,000.

Now, the company’s 12-person team is working toward a goal of 12,000 downloads. The app is live in all 50 states.

* Curate Solutions, a company that uses public documents from cities, counties and school boards to track and find construction leads.

With over 7,000 new documents of this nature produced in Wisconsin every week, the company relies on AI software to scan minutes, agendas and other official documents, pulling out key words and concepts that indicate an upcoming project.

“We’re looking for using publicly available information to help our customers get to that best-case scenario,” said founder Taralinda Willis.

The company was started in November, 2016, and now has 12 customers -- a 40 percent growth month-over-month.

* mogamind, a service combining music and mindfulness training to help users feel more at peace.

Founder Corrina Crade, who runs the company with her husband Patrick, wants mogamind to act as “yoga for the mind.” They want to launch the app this year, and are currently seeking a technical product lead to help them get mogamind off the ground.

If their effort is successful, fees for the service would be “about the cost of a cup of coffee a month.”

Crade says the culture of Madison and the Doyenne Group in particular has been very supportive of her company’s growth.

“We’re really feeling supported and loved,” she said.

* Acme Nerd Games, an educational video game company led by Doyenne Group board member Mary Romolino.

She has worked as vice president of marketing for US Bank and led their Private Banking program in eight different states. She started Acme Nerd Games in 2015 with the goal of teaching self-efficacy to kids through learning games.

As part of her presentation, Romolino showed screenshots from the company’s game, “Houston, We Have Spinach,” which teaches nutrition literacy through a fun activity in which kids combine different foods to make more- or less-efficient fuels for a space-faring rocket.

“So, we’re all about building games that are good, that do good, that help people thrive while having fun,” she said, adding she was approached recently by a major grocery store chain about the possibility of a partnership.

--By Alex Moe


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