August 19 - 23 • 2024

Forward Fest 2021

Launch, Learn and Pivot: Madison Startup Stories

Hear from innovative startup founders with unique business models and stories.
  • Hosted by UW–Madison Innovate Network
  • Online
  • Free


Thursday, Aug. 19th, 2021 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM


Every startup has a story, from creating the product or service to finding product-market fit, launching the business, and learning and pivoting along the way.

Hear from founders of innovative Madison startups, each with a unique business model, including Georgia Allen, Co-Founder & CEO, Soaring Independent Cooperative, Kit Chow, co-founder and CEO at Boosted Chews, Ian Oestreich, founder at Curbside Bicycles, and Erin Vranas, founder, Yips Yogurt Chips and co-owner, Parthenon Gyros restaurant. Each founder utilized UW–Madison and community resources such as the Small Business Development Center, WARF Upstart program, UW-Madison Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, or Merlin Mentors to support their entrepreneurial journey.

This panel is for anyone interested in entrepreneur stories, starting a business, and learning about organizations and programs that can help. Presented by the UW–Madison Innovate Network.


Georgia Allen, Co-Founder & CEO, Soaring Independent Cooperative

Georgia Allen co-founded Soaring Independent Cooperative, a worker-owned home care agency in Madison, in 2019. She is also a program manager with United Way of Dane County’s Corporate & Community Engagement department, and volunteer director on two local boards. Her most important and fulfilling role is being a mother to her seven-year-old daughter Ázaryah.  Georgia’s professional and volunteer roles reflect her passion to contribute to initiatives and solutions that promote thriving communities of color and single parent homes.

Kit Chow, Co-Founder at Boosted Chews

Kit Chow is the Co-Founder and CEO at Boosted Chews.  Since becoming involved with the startup community, he has continuously strived to encourage student entrepreneurship throughout Madison. Kit worked in biomedical and tech startups and interned at several food manufacturing plants as a process engineer before founding Boosted Chews in 2019. He graduated with honors from UW–Madison in 2021 with a degree in Biological Systems Engineering. In his free time, he likes cooking, reading, and videography.

Ian Oestreich, Founder at Curbside Bicycles

Ian Oestreich founded Curbside Bicycles in April, 2020, when he discovered an unmet need for bike repair services exacerbated by the pandemic.  Ian set up neighborhood pop-up bike repair shops with same-day turnaround all around Dane County, and more recently, launched a second business, Dockside Detailing, which provides mobile boat detailing services. Ian has a UW–Madison degree in Kinesiology, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, and was previously a personal trainer, a yoga instructor, and a coach at Orangetheory Fitness.

Erin Vranas, Founder, Yips Yogurt Chips and co-owner, Parthenon Gyros restaurant

Erin Vranas is co-owner of Parthenon Gyros, an iconic 50-year-old restaurant on State Street in Madison that specializes in house-made gyros. She’s also the Founder and Head Yipster of Yips Yogurt Chips, which is disrupting the traditional refrigerated yogurt category with the world's first yogurt chip. Erin was named a 2021 Young Restaurant Leader to Watch by QSR Magazine and InBusiness Magazine’s 40 Under 40 class of 2019, sits on the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Board of Directors and takes business classes at UW–Madison.

Moderator: Cecily Brose, Discovery to Product (D2P), UW–Madison

Innovate Network Host: Heather Ferguson, Program Manager, Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the UW–Madison School of Business

  • Workshop
  • General


Registration for this event is closed.