25 Milwaukee Startups to Watch in 2018

See the 2019 list here.

Milwaukee’s startup community gained significant momentum last year. There has never been a better time to launch a tech startup in Milwaukee.

Through this list we are shining the spotlight on 25 local companies founded within the past five years that are poised to grow and scale here in Milwaukee creating good jobs and moving our local economy into the 21st century. This group of companies has the potential to push Milwaukee’s startup community to new heights in 2018 and beyond, so read up!

TAI Diagnostics
The company which is developing a blood test to discover whether a heart transplant is at risk of rejection recently announced a $10 funding round that will help them bring their test to patients early this year. The company which spun out of Medical College of Wisconsin has now raised over $21 million.

2017 was a big year for the company, establishing partnerships with tech giants Cisco and Intel as well as receiving a $850,000 grant from the Department of Energy to study how to apply their floor sensor technology to increase energy efficiency of commercial buildings. It will be interesting to watch them build on the momentum in 2018.

Access HealthNet
Access HealthNet which negotiates bundled healthcare services on behalf of self-insured employers reducing their healthcare costs raised $4.75 million in 2017 from Wisconsin Super Angel Fund and Brightstar Foundation. The company also added key hires such as VP of Product & Technology, Chris Fitzpatrick as they continue to build their technology platform.

Exiting stealth mode at January’s Startup Milwaukee Emerge event, Frontdesk’s Jesse DePinto revealed that the company he and Kyle Weatherly founded in 2016 expanded to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2017 and they plan to launch in several other markets underserved by traditional hotel operators around the country in 2018.  

As demand for video interviewing technology continues to grow Montage raised $8.24 million in 2017, making it one of the largest VC deals in Southeast Wisconsin. The company also announced plans to move to a larger office in Delafield being developed by Hendricks Commercial Properties.

After developing a technology product that has increased the efficiency of Aurora Health Care’s emergency departments, Emopti raised $4.52 million in 2017 led by Golden Angels Investors. It will be interesting to watch the company continue to grow and serve other healthcare providers around the country.

Stonehouse Water Technologies
The company which has developed patent-pending technology for an energy-efficient water purification system raised $1.55 million in December 2017. The plan is to use that capital to manufacture the product.

Sift Medical Data
The company raised a $665,000 seed round in the Fall of 2017 from Winnebago Seed Fund and local Angel Investor, Jeff DeAngelis. The company plans to use the capital infusion to expand their data science team which is building a proprietary healthcare analytics platform powered by Artificial Intelligence. You can learn more about Sift Medical Data at Startup Milwaukee’s Emerge pitch event in March showcasing local HealthTech startups.

After gaining traction by helping Aurora Health Care crowdsource ideas for internal startups from their employees, IdeaWake was accepted into gener8tor’s accelerator program in the Fall of 2017. The company also added American Family Insurance and Kennedy’s and a major bank based in the Midwest as major clients in 2017. It will be exciting to watch IdeaWake take flight and add more customers in 2018.

Rent College Pads
2017 was a great year for Rent College Pads according to founder Dom Anzalone, the company expanded from helping students in 65 college towns find off campus housing to 100 markets in 2017. The company grew revenue by 96% in 2017 and may consider raising another round of funding in 2018.

Wantable is an online lifestyle service for busy people on the go. Had a solid 2017. The company ranked #223 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies (by revenue growth) in America in 2017. The ranking made it the fastest growing company in the Milwaukee area. Wantable also moved the company’s distribution center in Walker’s Point to accommodate their rapid growth.

Founded by Ray Seaver, who sold HR firm bswift to Aetna in 2014. Zizzl offers a product that helps small businesses tackle payroll and benefits. It will be interesting to watch the company grow and differentiate itself in what is a crowded space.

Founded by a team of experienced financial professionals, LeaseCrunch is developing a software product that make the lease accounting process more efficient and launch it this year. In 2017 the team added Ane Ohm, an experienced startup executive as CEO.

Shift Savings
The company which helps individuals save money incrementally participated in gBeta a pre-accelerator program run by gener8tor and scored some partnerships in 2017. It will be interesting to watch them grow in 2018.

There is no question that Blockchain is hot right now, every major company and several startups are trying to figure out how to leverage this distributed ledger technology. Milwaukee based SteamChain which was founded by two former Rockwell Automation employees, uses blockchain to help equipment manufacturers finance their equipment based on usage. The company participated in gener8tor in the Fall of 2018. Startup Milwaukee Emerge in February which will highlight SteamChain and other local startups leveraging blockchain, attend to learn more!

Scratch Digital + Data
According to Founder & CEO Mark Unak the firm raised $750,000 in 2017 and continued to score major partnerships with big tech companies around the world. The company has developed a tool that helps organizations look at complex data by using easier processes and simpler technologies. It will be interesting to see them continue to grow and land new partnerships in 2018.

Bright Cellars
While there was no major news related to Bright Cellars in 2017, it seems as though the company which moved from Boston to Milwaukee in 2015 continued to grow in 2017. It will be interesting to see what they have up their sleeves in 2018.

Interest in cryptocurrency has skyrocketed in recent months, this only helps Milwaukee based Coinigy which boasted over 20,000 paying users of their cryptocurrency trading platform when profiled by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in late 2017. It will be interesting to watch how the growth of the crypto space impacts the growth of Coinigy in 2018. Startup Milwaukee Emerge in February which will highlight Coinigy and other local startups leveraging blockchain, attend to learn more!

Launched by Medical College of Wisconsin Professor, Sherry Zhang the company has developed a test kit that helps consumers determine what they should eat based on their DNA. The company participated in gener8tor’s gBeta program and full accelerator in Milwaukee in 2017. It will be interesting to watch the company grow and differentiate itself in a crowded market in 2018.

ReadyList has developed a software product that helps hospitals and clinics improve patient safety, clinical staff satisfaction and overall efficiency. Brian Herriot, ReadyList’s founder, identified the need for ReadyList during his experience establishing operations for a new medical center campus at the University of California-San Francisco.

Sommelier turned entrepreneur Jessica Bell has developed a better way to drink wine on the go. HaloVino’s plastic wine glass gained a ton of local press attention in 2018, the glass is used by large Milwaukee area venues such as Miller Park, the BMO Harris Bradley Center and the Milwaukee Rep, it also is available on Amazon! It will be interesting to watch Bell grow the company outside of the Milwaukee market after recently securing some funding from M7.

Alinea Engage
Has developed a software product designed by private practice physical therapists to help small PT practices automate patient intake, monitor client compliance and assist with marketing. The company launched in 2017 and is gaining traction. You can learn more about Alinea Engage at Startup Milwaukee’s Emerge pitch event in March showcasing local HealthTech startups.

Launched in the summer of 2017 by BankMyBiz Founder, Michael Adam DocLaunch aims to help companies manage document flows with their technology platform built using Blockchain technology. The company was built in partnership with local accounting firm Wipfli.  Startup Milwaukee Emerge in February which will highlight Coinigy and other local startups leveraging blockchain, attend to learn more!

Venture With Impact
Has developed a unique program that enables you to do your job (with your employer’s blessing) from thousands of miles away, while volunteering your skills to help a nonprofit. Venture with Impact is looking to raise seed funding and launch a new program in Asia this year.

Moral Code
In 2017, footwear industry veterans Mark Kohlenberg and Laura Engerman launched Moral Code selling premium leather accessories and footwear for men. Moral Code claims their products match the quality of existing luxury brands at a lower price point. It will be interesting to watch Moral Code grow in 2018.

Other notable Milwaukee area startups we are watching in 2018 include Nobo, Snapifeye, Small Shops United, Sourcing USA & SpotLunch. Have a startup we haven’t mentioned that you are watching in 2018? Shoot an email to matt@startupmke.org we always want to hear the community’s input.