Madison Startup Fishidy To Reel In More Anglers With $1.5M Series A

Fishidy, a Madison, WI-based startup that built a mapping tool and social network for anglers, has raised $1.5 million in Series A funding from angel investors.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the news.

Chicago-based Hyde Park Angels led the round, marking its first lead investment in a Wisconsin company, said Fishidy co-founder and CEO Brian Jensen. Other participants included BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation; the Wisconsin Super Angel Fund; Milwaukee investors Jeff Rusinow, Don Layden, and George Mosher; and Braintree founder Bryan Johnson, among others. Fishidy had previously raised about $2 million in seed funds and in-kind services.

The company’s Web and mobile platform offers fishing tips, interactive maps that cover more than 8,000 U.S. waterways, and the ability for avid anglers to connect online.

The Series A money will help accelerate Fishidy’s business growth through product development and marketing efforts, Jensen said. The company intends to continue adding content, such as detailed maps and tips about lakes in the western U.S., where its current offerings are “fairly weak,” Jensen said.

He also wants to add more features to promote and support its business partners, which include bait and tackle shops and fishing lodges.

“For us it’s really about establishing our foothold as the dominant digital resource within the industry,” Jensen said in a phone interview. “I’m just excited to see what we can do over the next year.”

Fishidy, which uses a freemium revenue model, has 160,000 active users, including 4,000 paying members, Jensen said. The premium membership costs $9.99 per month or $49.99 for one year. Jensen thinks the service can exceed a million users in the next two or three years. Fishidy is pursuing a market of 60 million U.S. fishing enthusiasts who spend $42 billion annually, significantly more than recreational golfers, Jensen has said. One of the startup’s main challenges has been convincing older, less tech-savvy anglers why they should use Fishidy’s technology and engage on its social media platform, he said.

“So we have a learning curve with some of our customers,” Jensen said.

Jensen’s background is in software and geographic information systems (GIS). He enjoys fishing in his spare time. He co-founded Fishidy in 2011 and launched its platform last year.

The company has since grown to eight people, five of them in Wisconsin. Jensen said he will hire two more local staffers in the next month.

He’s also planning to raise up to an additional $500,000 from investors in the next month or two. Some of that money could potentially come from Silicon Valley investors whom Jensen will meet with later this month during a trip organized by the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. Jensen won a spot on the trip in a startup pitch contest in April at the chamber’s Madison business expo.

Besides giving Silicon Valley investors the opportunity to participate in the second part of Fishidy’s Series A funding round, the meetings will also “lay the foundation” for the startup’s eventual Series B round, Jensen said.

But Jensen emphasized that Fishidy’s Series A round shows it’s possible for startups to raise capital in Wisconsin. More than two-thirds of the round came from Badger State investors, he said.

“It’s kind of been going around like there’s no money in the state, and Wisconsin investors aren’t writing checks,” Jensen said. “It’s true to some extent, but we’re kind of an example that there are some investors writing checks. You can get money from Wisconsin if it makes sense for” your company.

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