Pass It On: 2012 Forward Tech Festival

Calling all Wisconsin entrepreneurs (established OR aspiring!)—the 2012 Forward Technology Festival is taking place right now, right here in Madison, WI. One of the event planners is Matt Younkle (you know him as CEO & Co-founder of Murfie), so I asked him a few Qs about the fest and local startup communities in general.

Here are the As.

Sum up the 2012 Forward Technology Festival in 3 sentences or less.
FTF is the premier event series for Wisconsin entrepreneurs that has grown to 16 events over 11 days. The format encourages cross-connections across all areas of tech: software, web, biotech and nanotech. Many of the events involve free beer.

Who’s wearing their event-planner hat in order to make this year’s festival happen?
The best part about this event is that it’s organized by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. More than a dozen startup founders from around Madison are involved in making things happen, including Preston and myself here at Murfie.

Is there anyone in particular who should be psyched to attend the fest?
FTF is perfect for anyone who has founded a startup or is thinking about starting something.

Why do you think the Midwest, specifically Madison, is gaining steam as a hub for high-tech development?
It wasn’t that long ago that launching a tech company was incredibly expensive. In that environment, smaller markets like Madison were at a distinct disadvantage. Tools and techniques for launching companies are now widely known, and the capital required to launch a startup is as low as ever. Take away requirements for major capital, and Madison looks pretty attractive. We have the necessary IQ (Madison has the most graduate degrees per capita of any city in the U.S.) and work ethic required to succeed, without the attitude.

In your opinion, what are the key ingredients to building a robust tech scene?
An environment that fosters creativity, innovation and great ideas, and the talent and capital required to turn those ideas into reality.

Got any nifty tips for aspiring entrepreneurs? (Things at Murfie are going pretty darn well.)
Stay lean: involve real customers as early as possible in your product development process. And, start building your network now, so you’ll be ready when you need to raise capital later.