MADISON – Leaders of emerging
companies can apply through 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26 to pitch their venture during the
2014 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, to be held Nov. 12-13 at
Madison’s Monona Terrace Convention Center.
The annual symposium, known by
different names over the past 30 years, has been a premier event where
companies gained visibility among investors, other entrepreneurs and business
leaders. Many companies have gone on to raise substantial funding rounds
and grow their businesses to the level of some of the largest acquisitions in
state history, or grown to hire hundreds here in Wisconsin.
“The contacts you make at the
event will be just the beginning of your capital-raising journey,” said former presenter
Jan Eddy, whose first company, Office Solutions, pitched in 1984. “Years down
the road, as you reflect on the path you followed in funding and growing your
business, don’t be surprised if it all leads back to that first introduction at
Office Solutions was one of
several companies in the inaugural conference that went on to raise venture
capital, and was eventually acquired. The list of presenting companies over
time reads like a “who’s who” of Wisconsin technology success, with examples
such as Mirus Corporation, Sonic Foundry, Prodesse, TomoTherapy, NimbleGen,
Nerites, Virent Energy, Idle Free Systems, Sologear – even Madison biotech
This year’s application process is open to early stage
companies representing an array of industries, including biotechnology, medical
devices, health care, advanced manufacturing, information technology, social
media, software and others. For more information on how to apply, visit www.wisearlystage.com.
This year’s conference, with a theme of “30X10,” will
celebrate a rich history dating to 1984. Originally the Madison Venture Fair,
the event has been called the Wisconsin Venture Conference, the Wisconsin Life
Sciences & Venture Conference – and for the past 10 years – the Wisconsin Early
Stage Symposium. More than 480 companies have presented during the conferences
in one format or another.
There are two
separate presentation levels at the Early Stage Symposium: the Wisconsin Angel Network Investors’ Track and the Elevator Pitch Olympics.
Wisconsin Angel Network Investors’ Track – Wednesday, Nov.
A total of about 20 companies from
the Midwest will present to investors at two separate WAN presentation tracks.
Companies selected for the WAN tracks will have many opportunities to interest
investors: the seven-minute presentation, networking receptions, an executive
summary published in the investor-only program and an opportunity to exhibit
where investors may speak directly to presenting companies. Companies selected
for the WAN tracks are also invited to participate in a pre-conference practice
session with a group of mentors.
Elevator Pitch Olympics – Thursday, Nov. 13:
Companies selected for the 10th annual Elevator Pitch Olympics, a crowd favorite, will have the opportunity to give a
90-second pitch in front of conference attendees and a panel of six to eight
investors. The investors will score the presenter on a scale of 1 to 5,
focusing on whether the pitch was compelling
enough to arrange a follow-up meeting, and will offer immediate feedback.
About 15 companies will be
selected for the Elevator
Pitch Olympics. In past years, these have been companies seeking a smaller
investment round or planning to do so within the next year.
All applicants will be eligible
for a discounted conference registration rate of $169. Companies selected for
the Wisconsin Angel Network track presentations will receive a complimentary
individual Wisconsin Innovation Network membership for one year (a $100 value). Team members of
these companies will also be eligible to attend the conference at a special
Speakers and highlights will be announced in
coming weeks. The conference will also feature:
n A dozen panel discussions or plenary sessions featuring leading
entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.
n “Office Hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts
on a variety of topics in small discussion groups or one-on-one.
n SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past
n The inaugural “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award
n The annual “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based
n Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.
n A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other
networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.
conference is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners. To register, go to www.wisearlystage.com.
“Early bird” registration is open through Oct. 21. Hotel rooms are available at
a discounted group rate
through Oct. 12.