EARLY STAGE SYMPOSIUM

Nov 16 and 17, 2016 - Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center in Madison

 

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The 2016 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium will be held Nov 16-17 at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center in Madison. We anticipate close to 600 people will attend the conference from across the state and beyond and will offer more opportunities than ever before for companies to interact with angel and venture investors from Wisconsin and well beyond.

In addition to the Wisconsin Angel Network presentation track and the ever-popular Elevator Pitch Olympics, this year’s conference will debut a speed-dating segment — “Investor Intros” — that will allow entrepreneurs to introduce themselves and their ideas to investors. Don’t delay, however, in applying for one or all three opportunities to make yourself known to investors! In order for our steering committee to make selections, we’re seeking applications by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.

With questions about how to apply; please visit our “CALL FOR COMPANIES” page or contact Bram Daelemans at bram@wisconsinangelnetwork.com.

As always, the Early Stage Symposium will feature plenty of informative and inspiring speakers, panel discussions, networking and much more. 

More than 40 companies will have an opportunity to make presentations and meet with investors, along with other entrepreneurs and business leaders. Many firms have cited participation in the conference as a key factor for significant business growth. Nearly 500 companies have presented during this fall conference in one format or another over the years, including some of the largest technology companies that call Wisconsin home. Information on presenting companies coming soon…

The 2nd annual Wisconsin WOMEN Reception will be on Nov 15, and will kick off the full Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium the following morning.

The two-day event will also feature:

  • Presentations by more than two dozen companies selected for the Wisconsin Angel Network investors’ track. Investors from across Wisconsin and beyond attended.
  • NEW this year – a speed-dating style event called Investor Intros.
  • The 12th annual Elevator Pitch Olympics, which provided 90-second presentation opportunities for additional companies. A panel of experienced investors judged the pitches and offer feedback.
  • More than a dozen panel discussions + educational seminars featuring leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.
  • “Office hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts on a variety of topics in small discussion groups.
  • SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past year.
  • The 3rd annual “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award presentation.
  • The annual “First Look” Forum featuring selected campus-based technologies.
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.
  • A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.

See below for highlights from previous editions of the ESS.

The conference is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners and sponsors. 

2015 Early Stage Symposium

The 2015 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium was held Nov. 4-5 at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center in Madison. More than 570 people attended the conference from across the state and beyond.

–  Read news coverage of the event
–  View event photos

The symposium is designed to unlock Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial potential by providing the right combination of ideas, innovation, intellectual property and investment – as well as hands-on instruction and advice targeted to early stage companies ready to make the leap.

More than 40 companies had an opportunity to make presentations and meet with investors, along with other entrepreneurs and business leaders. Many firms have cited participation in the conference as a key factor for significant business growth. Nearly 500 companies have presented during this fall conference in one format or another over the years, including some of the largest technology companies that call Wisconsin home. For descriptions of all presenting companies, see the Presentations tab above.

Serial entrepreneur Sue Marks, the founder and chief executive officer of Cielo, spoke on the evening of Nov. 3 at the inauguralWisconsin WOMEN Reception in Madison, as well as kicked off the full Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium the following morning.

Mike Splinter, former CEO and chairman of Applied Materials, addressed attendees during the annual SBIR/STTR Awards Luncheon on Nov. 4. Splinter currently serves as general partner of WISC Partners, a strategic operating capital fund focused on building wealth and entrepreneurship in Wisconsin.

Zach Halmstad, founder of JAMF Software and UW-Eau Claire graduate, shared his story on the morning of Nov. 5. The company currently has 7 offices, more than 450 employees and more than 5,500 customers worldwide. Halmstad, along with JAMF co-CEO Chip Pearson, was named 2014 EY “Entrepreneur of the Year” from the Upper Midwest.

The two-day event also featured:

  • Presentations by more than two dozen companies selected for the Wisconsin Angel Network investors’ track. Investors from across Wisconsin and beyond attended.
  • The 11th annual Elevator Pitch Olympics, which provided 90-second presentation opportunities for additional companies. A panel of experienced investors judged the pitches and offer feedback.
  • More than a dozen panel discussions or educational seminars featuring leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.
  • “Office hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts on a variety of topics in small discussion groups.
  • SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past year.
  • The 2nd annual “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award presentation to Rock Mackie.
  • The annual “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based technologies.
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.
  • A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including aninvestors-only dinner.

The conference is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners and sponsors.

2014 Early Stage Symposium

The 2014 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium was held Nov. 12-13 at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center in Madison.

What is the Early Stage Symposium?
The symposium is designed to unlock Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial potential by providing the right combination of ideas, innovation, intellectual property and investment – as well as hands-on instruction and advice targeted to early stage companies ready to make the leap.

This year’s conference, with a theme of “30X10,” celebrated a rich history that goes back to 1984. That year, Wisconsin’s first annual venture conference was held in Madison, pairing high-growth companies with investors and other business leaders from across the state. 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. Nearly 500 companies have presented during the conferences in one format or another, including some of the largest technology companies that call Wisconsin home.

To view full interviews with past presenters, click on the links below:
Bill Linton, Promega (’84)

Jan Eddy, Office Solutions & Wingra Software (’84)

Ralph Kauten, Quintessence Biosciences & Mirus Corp. (‘
96, ’98, ’02, ’04, ’07)
Carl Gulbrandsen, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (video sponsor)

What did the Early Stage Symposium include?
More than 45 companies had the opportunity to make presentations and meet with investors, along with other entrepreneurs and business leaders. Many firms have cited participation in the conference as a key factor for significant business growth.

Featured speakers included Kevin Conroy and Graham Lidgard, who shared the story of Exact Sciences, a Madison company developing a home colon cancer test kit. The conference also featured Francois Ortalo-Magne, dean of the Wisconsin School of Business.

The two-day event also featured:

  • Plenary session on how research partnerships are driving innovation and economic growth with UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, UW-Milwaukee Interim Chancellor Mark Mone and Jacqueline Fredrick, president and CEO of the BloodCenter of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
  • Presentations by 28 companies selected for the Wisconsin Angel Network investors’ track. Investors from across Wisconsin and beyond attended.
  • The 10th annual Elevator Pitch Olympics, which provided 90-second presentation opportunities for 18 additional companies. A panel of experienced investors judged the pitches and offered feedback.
  • More than a dozen panel discussions or plenary sessions featuring leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.
  • “Office hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts on a variety of topics in small discussion groups.
  • SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past year.
  • The inaugural “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award presentation to Tim Keane.
  • The annual “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based technologies.
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.
  • A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.


Post conference materials

  • “30X10” opening video – highlighting history of the conference and past presenters
  • Footage of keynote presentation – Kevin Conroy and Graham Lidgard, Exact Sciences
  • Remarks by Tim Keane – 2014 recipient of the “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award
  • Summary of media coverage
  • View photos of the event
  • Final registration list – by company and by last name

The conference is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners and sponsors.

 

2013 Early Stage Symposium

The 2013 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium was held Nov. 5-6 at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center in Madison, Wis.

The Early Stage Symposium is designed to unlock Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial potential by providing the right combination of ideas, innovation, intellectual property and investment – as well as hands-on instruction and advice targeted to early stage companies ready to make the leap.

We had record attendance this year with more than 550 registrants over the two-day event. Attendees traveled to Madison from all over Wisconsin, the Midwest, and beyond. We introducedtwo new elements to the symposium – the “Office Hours” sessions and the “Reverse Elevator Pitch” panel – both earned rave reviews! Forty-four companies had the opportunity to present to investors during the WAN Tracks and the Elevator Pitch Olympics. Sixteen panel discussionscovered a wide variety of topics and engaged some of the region’s leading investors and entrepreneurs. Our featured speakers – Brad Feld and Mark Schmitz – filled the ballrooms to capacity and sparked some exciting conversations about reaching beyond conventional boundaries.


2013 Post-conference materials:

  • View photos of presenters, exhibitors and speakers here.
  • Read a comprehensive list of media coverage here.
2012 Early Stage Symposium

The 2012 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium attracted 488 attendees over two days. Thanks to all who participated! Click on the “Post-conference materials” tab above for the attendee list, speaker presentations and photos. To read and watch all the coverage of the conference, including interviews with conference speakers, stories on the prospects for a state-leveraged early stage investment program, and columns and features on presenting companies, click on the “In the News” tab above.

The symposium helps entrepreneurs learn how to pursue private equity and offers investor pitch opportunities. Early stage companies from Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest were professionally “coached” by venture and service professionals, as well as veteran company executives with stories to tell. In addition to hands-on instruction, the symposium provided platforms for selected early stage companies to present to investors, including the annual “Elevator Pitch Olympics.”

2012 highlights included:

  • Nationally known speakers: Larry Landweber and Greg Milman
  • Remarks from Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch
  • 26 company presentations to angel and venture investors
  • Eighth annual Elevator Pitch Olympics
  • Investors-only dinner hosted by the Wisconsin Angel Network
  • 16 panel discussions
  • “First Look” forum for university-based discoveries
  • Exhibit hall featuring 47 companies
  • First annual Tweet Pitch Contest
  • Receptions, lunches and other networking events

Click here to view the presentation by Larry Landweber, the keynote speaker on Nov. 13.

Click here to view the presentation by Greg Milman, the featured speaker during the 2012 SBIR Awards Lunch on Nov. 14.

Download a list of the 2012 attendees here.