100 State and former Epic start-ups

Niko Skievaski started his company, 100 State, with two friends just months after he left Verona-based health care software giant Epic Systems in spring 2013.

Now, Skievaski has about 150 members and is working to develop a new community of tech-savvy entrepreneurs in Madison. Skievaski said the “start-up ecosystem in Madison” is becoming a network of experts, mentors and other supporters, in which projects like 100 State can thrive.

“When I left Epic, it felt great to be in a community that has a lot of this support system built into it,” he said. “What we want to do at 100 State is make that community more powerful.”

Skievaski said 100 State operates as a common ground for many different types of projects. The only revenue comes from membership fees paid by other innovators.

The business branches off into several other different projects too, Skievaski said, such as 100 Health, 100 Civic, which deals with the city, and even programs to impact the way education is done. Skievaski teaches microeconomics at Madison College as part of a 100 State program.

Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said 100 State is just one of many Epic spin-off companies Madison has seen in the last couple years.

Nordic Consulting and Blue Tree Network are also businesses started by former Epic employees, the latter of which shared office space with 100 State.

“I think we’re starting to build an ecosystem where tech companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs can survive,” Resnick said.

In 2013 alone, Skievaski said about 1,200 of Epic’s 7,000 employees left the company, and the majority of those were ready to pursue their own start-up dreams.

Of the 150 members at 100 State, Skievaski said at least one-third of them worked for Epic previously.

What makes the former employees unique, he said, is that they are in their mid-20s, they have worked in “one of the most complex industries to have ever existed” and they have some expendable income. These former Epic workers, like Skievaski, are ready to take risks on the ideas they are passionate about.

“People leave Epic because they want to do something new in their careers,” Skievaski said. “That’s what you need to start a company, to do something bigger than yourself and have that sort of that vision.”

Epic and Apple

Recently, Epic has been working with larger corporations, specifically Apple, to develop health-related personal applications for the iPhone. Epic Development Executive Sumit Rana said their company has worked closely with Apple to produce an app for their new health care platform HealthKit.

Epic has worked with Apple to update an application known as MyChart, which lets users track different aspects of their health, such as blood pressure. “What we’ve done is we’ve updated it, so patients can share information with their providers,” Rana said.

Rana said that this is especially useful in cases of patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or congestive heart failure. Normally, these patients would have to wait months between doctors visits and important developments could be found too late.

With Epic’s new developments to MyChart, Rana said the doctor will be notified more immediately if there is a rapid change, such as a sudden weight gain in a patient with congestive heart failure or abnormal trend of glucose levels in a patient with diabetes.

Rana is hopeful these developments will lead to “more engaged patients” and doctors who “prescribe” apps to keep their patients healthy on a day-to-day basis.

A start-up community with potential

Epic is one of the Madison area’s biggest businesses, along with American Family Insurance and Oscar Meyer, but Resnick said he and others at City Hall would sleep better if they could get another major tech start-up to thrive like Epic has.

“I think that we do need to always look at how we can diversify our economy,” Resnick said.

Resnick said Epic is “something special” when it comes to how businesses can succeed, citing hard work and perseverance as the main factors in the company’s success.

“Just for what their product is and their ability to capture the market share, there are many other companies that strive to execute and capture that market share, but only Epic has been able to accomplish that,” Resnick said.

Fortunately, Resnick said, the new talent and capital in the region shows plenty of room for growth.

However, Madison area investors, Skievaski said, are not used to investing in rapid, fast moving technology businesses. More investment would spark more growth, but successful projects like 100 State and others are grabbing the attention of younger, more involved investors, he said.

As for 100 State, Skievaski said he thinks they are proving to be a sustainable business, and they have shown that they can constantly “reinvent themselves” to adapt to changing business models.

The future of Madison’s tech scene is bright, he and Resnick agreed.

“It’s not that we have all the pieces in place right now, but I think that everyone sees that we’re getting there,” Skievaski said. “We’re all excited to be a part of that movement towards it.”