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Level Set by StartingBlock: Validate Your Business Model

Don’t navigate the startup world alone. StartingBlock’s Level Set program is an intense 6 week program designed to help you explore and validate a business model.  Offered 6x per year, we help you explore the pros and cons of different business models, model revenue and get real world feedback on your business ideas.

This program is for you if you:
— want to explore a business idea
— are thinking about starting a company
— have a side hustle you want to take full time
— are thinking about quitting your day job and going out on your own
— are a student with a great business idea
— a faculty member who has never thought about running a business

— February 21 – Mar 27 StartingBlock Wednesday 6pm – 7:30pm
— April 10 – May 15 Virtual Wednesday 6pm – 7.30pm
— June 1 – July 6 StartingBlock Saturday 9am – 10:30am
— July 24 – Aug 28 StartingBlock Wednesday 1pm – 2.30pm
— Sept 7 – Oct 12 StartingBlock Saturday 6pm – 7:30pm
— Nov 6 – Dec 18 StartingBlock Wednesday 6pm – 7:30pm

— Tolls and techniques to rapidly validate your business model
— Access to StartingBlock member benefits, including 90% discount on Hubspot CRM and over $1m in pre-negotiated discounts
— Regular access to StartingBlock staff and connections to their network of mentors and experts

Apply here

Photo by Richard Hurd

Lake Ridge Bank: 2024 Crop Insurance Info Meetings Help Local Farmers Understand Coverage Options


2024 Crop Insurance Info Meetings Help Local Farmers Understand Coverage Options
Meetings Held January 24 and February 9

January 17, 2024, EVANSVILLE, Wisconsin— The deadline to purchase or make changes to crop insurance for the 2024 growing season is March 15. To help local farmers fully understand their options, Lake Ridge Bank invites farmers to attend one of two Crop Insurance Info Meetings held in late January and early February.

Wednesday, January 24 at 10:00 AM

Rex’s Innkeeper, 301 N. Century Ave.


Friday, February 9 at 10:00 AM

Red Barn Tavern & Banquet Hall, 7530 N. County Rd M


This is a FREE public event and includes lunch. You do not need to be a customer of Lake Ridge Bank to participate. Each info meeting begins at 10:00 AM, with a complimentary lunch served after the presentation. Space is limited, so anyone interested should email or call 608-490-2225 to reserve a spot.

The meetings will be hosted by the Lake Ridge Bank Agricultural Team. Topics covered at each meeting include:

  • FSA Updates: Local FSA staff will share what’s new in government programs
  • 2024 Crop Insurance Updates: Tips for evaluating your coverage as the cost to grow a crop continues to rise, with information on how to customize your policy to fit the specific needs of your operation

In addition, each meeting will feature a local expert to provide a commodity update:

“Like most business owners, farmers appreciate guidance on how to best tailor benefits to fit their unique needs,” says Jessica Sarbacker, who leads the bank’s crop insurance team. “The program options can be overwhelming, so we are here to answer questions, share insights, and help farmers determine the best path forward for their farm business.”

Disclosures:  This entity is an equal opportunity provider. Insurance contracts are products of the Insurance Agency and are:

— Not FDIC Insured
— Not Bank Guaranteed
— Not a Deposit
— Not Insured by any Federal Government Agency

# # #

Lake Ridge Bank’s mission is to “create extraordinary banking experiences where everyone prospers.” For more than 100 years, this has meant getting to know each of our clients to offer personalized services to meet their specific financial goals. Lake Ridge Bank offers a full line of financial products and services. We focus on offering products and services to make your banking easy. Our business banking and mortgage lenders are trusted leaders in their field with the expertise to provide the right loan at the best rate possible for our clients. As a community bank, we are dedicated to reinvesting in, and making our communities great places to live, work and raise a family. Visit to learn more about how we can help you. Member FDIC

Lake Ridge Bank. Go Far. Go Together!

For additional information, please contact Mark Schellpfeffer at

Photo by Richard Hurd

StartingBlock Madison: Madworks Winter 2024 Applications Close FRIDAY!

January 17, 2024

There only 2 days left to apply for the Madworks Winter 2024 Cohort.

  • Applications are open through January 19th
  • We help founders create a strong, sustainable foundation for their growing companies
  • Get your strategic financials in order, learn to run an effective board meeting, tackle legal issues, build strategic financial acumen – all while working with experienced mentors and Madworks + StartingBlock staff
  • Companies must be based in WI


  • February 14 – April 25 (10 weeks of programming)
  • Weekly group meeting on Wednesday afternoons
  • Individual team meetings on Thursday afternoons


  • $6,500 in grant funding per participating team
  • 1 year membership to StartingBlock (24×7 access), with an exclusive space at StartingBlock dedicated to Madworks companies
  • Access to StartingBlock member benefits, including 90% discount on Hubspot CRM and over $1m in pre-negotiated discounts
  • Regular access to Madworks & StartingBlock staff and connections to their network of mentors and experts


StartingBlock, 821 East Washington, Madison


Expectations and further details are available on our website at Contact the StartingBlock Program staff with questions or to learn more:

Photo by Richard Hurd

Midwest Mujeres: Empowering Dreams and Forging Connections

At “Roscas y Reynas,” our recent event held at StartingBlock Madison, the air was inspiring as over 50 entrepreneurs of color gathered to connect, share their stories, and celebrate successes. The event was a unique blend of cultural tradition and networking and provided a platform for these vibrant entrepreneurs to showcase their achievements and discuss the challenges they’ve overcome on their journey.

Latina and Black women entrepreneurs from Wisconsin

Networking Beyond Boundaries

The heartbeat of “Roscas y Reynas” was in the vibrant exchange of ideas and experiences among entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. Attendees engaged in meaningful conversations, fostering connections that extended beyond the event itself. The room was filled with the energy of collaboration as entrepreneurs shared insights, advice, and resources, creating a supportive network that transcended industries and backgrounds.

Stories of Triumph and Resilience: Latina and Black women entrepreneurs

The highlight of the evening was the compelling stories shared by entrepreneurs of color who took the stage to talk about their challenges and triumphs. From navigating the complexities of entrepreneurship to overcoming systemic barriers, each narrative resonated with authenticity and resilience.

our speaker flyer highlight each speaker at our event

Gloria Reyes, the first Latina to run for City Mayor, shared her journey of breaking glass ceilings, while Shibon Evans, a Hip Hop artist and entrepreneur, spoke passionately about the power of creativity in business.

Sarah Branch talked about the evolution of her business and gave us a call to action for more unity between Black and Latinas in the community. Duha Jamal discussed how the war in Gaza provoked people to cancel orders for her catering business. Despite these challenges, she is determined to continue in her business.

A Spotlight on Success

Dean Health Care, and FoodFight, our event sponsors, played a crucial role in sweetening the evening. UNIDOS, a local non-profit organization working against domestic violence in the Latino community in Wisconsin, Melanie Hernandez, a local Latina author, and Alkeme Brand held space as community supporters. Photography was provided by Talia Photography.

The Hot Chocolate Bar with Roscas provided a tasty and cultural networking backdrop, adding warmth to the gathering. As entrepreneurs savored the delicious Kings Cake, connections flourished, and the room echoed with the spirit of celebration. We are thankful to Dulce from Paradise Ice Cream for making the chapurrado.

Latina women pouring champurrado

Dream Board: Aspirations Shared

our dream board

The Dream Board activity offered a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to visualize their dreams and articulate how they could contribute to others’ success. It became a collaborative space where dreams were shared, supported, and reinforced the sense of community that defines “Roscas y Reynas.”

Capturing the Moment

The event concluded with a group picture, immortalizing the shared moments of inspiration, collaboration, and connection.

We are very grateful for local media support like La Comunidad News and Madison365.

Conclusion: A Celebration of Diversity and Resilience

“Roscas y Reynas” transcended the traditional networking event, becoming a celebration of diversity, resilience, and shared dreams. The event’s success lies in the lasting connections formed and the stories that will continue to inspire future generations of entrepreneurs of color.

As we reflect on this unforgettable evening, we extend our gratitude to all the Brown, Black, International, Latina, immigrant, and new women entrepreneurs, sponsors, and supporters who made “Roscas y Reynas” a resounding success.

Together, we continue to build bridges, break barriers, and celebrate the richness of entrepreneurship in all its forms.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Wisconsin Union Theater: Contemporary Jazz Greats to Perform in Madison on Jan. 26 in Tribute to Historic Jazz Label Blue Note Records

Jan. 16, 2024

Contact Information:
Shauna Breneman, Communications
Phone: (608) 262-8862




MADISON – A concert celebrating the 85th anniversary of the longest-running jazz label in the world, called Blue Note Records, will come to Madison, Wisconsin, on Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Wisconsin Union Theater’s (WUT’s) Jazz Series.

The 90-minute Blue Note Records 85th Anniversary Tour event at Shannon Hall in Memorial Union will feature a collective of jazz stars that includes pianist and musical director Gerald Clayton, alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, vibraphonist Joel Ross, drummer Kendrick Scott, and bassist Matt Brewer. The collective’s tour performances around the country celebrate the label, which has a history that includes many music styles – including hot jazz and blues to cool jazz, bebop and fusion – and that built the bridge into today’s avant-garde jazz.

“Blue Note has been such a wonderful home for the community for incredible musicians, for creativity for all these years,” Clayton said.

The label that The New York Times called the most storied label in jazz tunes has been a label home for such jazz greats as Art Blakely, Wayne Shorter, Annie Lennox, Willie Nelson, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. In addition to the anniversary tour quintet artists, Blue Note Records artists currently include Anita Baker, Elvis Costello and the Roots, DOMi and JD Beck, Al Green, and Norah Jones.

“I urge everyone who loves music to come on out and catch the 85th Blue Note Quintet,” Blue Note Records President Don Was said. “What I love about all these guys is that, despite their incredible technical knowledge and proficiency, they all play from the heart first. They’re telling stories through their instruments.”

German Jewish immigrant Alfred Lion founded Blue Note Records in 1939 in New York with the mission to serve the uncompromising expressions of hot jazz or swing. His childhood friend Francis Wolff soon joined the endeavor. The duo built a reputation for supporting jazz visionaries and embracing new jazz styles. The founders declared a dedication to creating uncompromising music rooted in authenticity.

WUT and the student-led Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Performing Arts Committee (PAC) are co-presenting this performance and all of the WUT 2023-24 season.

Theater-goers can save 20% on WUT season events through the build-your-own subscription, with options of three to five events for 15% off or six or more events for a 20% discount.

Additional WUT season events include international music, jazz and chamber music.

Patrons can purchase tickets to the Blue Note Records 85th Anniversary Tour performance in Madison and other WUT season events online, at the Memorial Union Box Office or by phone at (608) 265-2787.


About the Wisconsin Union Theater

For more than 80 years, the Wisconsin Union Theater has served as a center for cultural activity in the heart of the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. The Theater hosts performances in multiple locations, including Memorial Union, and has an extensive history of remarkable performances. The Wisconsin Union Theater is committed to social justice and works to create an equitable, diverse, and inclusive place for all who engage with the Theater’s programming, events, and activities. The Wisconsin Union Theater is part of the Wisconsin Union, a membership organization that blends study and leisure to create unique out-of-classroom opportunities. Learn more:

About the Wisconsin Union Directorate Performing Arts Committee

The Wisconsin Union Directorate Performing Arts Committee is part of the Wisconsin Union’s leadership development program for UW–Madison students and supports the Wisconsin Union Theater’s mission of serving students through the performing arts. By helping to program the Theater’s annual season of performing arts presentations, the students learn about program curation, relationship-building, marketing, communications, budgeting, and production. Learn more: