ENTREPRENEURS' CONFERENCE

June 7-8, 2016 - Alliant Energy Center in Madison

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The 14th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference was held June 7-8 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. 

The two-day conference is one of the Midwest’s premiere “how-to,” hands-on events for entrepreneurs of all ages and experience levels. Attendees range from ‘treps who are still developing their ideas to emerging company leaders who have already attracted angel and/or venture funding. These businesses cover a broad span of categories, from information technology to cleantech, from advanced manufacturing to the life sciences, and from business services to consulting.

View news coverage of the event HERE.
View event photos HERE.
View the full attendee list HERE.
View Evan Absher’s presentation HERE (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation).

Patrick Quirk, a UW-Madison graduate and software expert whose companies have been involved in more than $10 billion in exits over time, kicked off the conference on June 7 as he looked back at “36 years and 10 companies: The good, the bad and the ugly.”

Mark GehringMark Gehring, a serial entrepreneur who has founded and grown a series of medical imaging and digital health companies, received the 13th annual Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” award at noon Tuesday, June 7. The award, which celebrates entrepreneurial leaders who have been crucial to Wisconsin’s economic growth, is named in honor of the late Ken Hendricks, a Beloit businessman and 2006 “Seize the Day” award winner who died in an accident in late 2007.

Additional conference highlights included:
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  • Presentations by the “Diligent Dozen” in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest
  • 15 Panel discussions and seminars for emerging companies on how to “Launch, Grow and Succeed”
  • Innovation Showcase featuring more than 40 companies from around the state
  • Awards ceremony for the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, featuring the 2016 Wisconsin YES winner
  • Plenty of chances to connect with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors over food and refreshments!

 

2015 Entrepreneurs' Conference

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The 13th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference was held June 2-3 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. More than 540 people attended the event from across the state and beyond.

Post conference materials:
– Final list of attendees (by last name) (by company)
– Summary of media coverage
– Gallery of event photos

The two-day conference is one of the Midwest’s premiere “how-to,” hands-on events for entrepreneurs of all ages and experience levels. Attendees range from ‘treps who are still developing their ideas to emerging company leaders who have already attracted angel and/or venture funding. These businesses cover a broad span of categories, from information technology to cleantech, from advanced manufacturing to the life sciences, and from business services to consulting.

A panel of four experts from the worlds of venture capital, medicine and digital health kicked off the conference on June 2. The plenary session, titled “Driving quality up and costs down: Health IT in the age of accountability,” discussed the importance of Wisconsin’s health-tech industry, as well as trends and challenges facing the industry and its benefits for people, communities and health-care institutions at home or abroad.

The 2015 Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” award recipient was Jim Berbee, of Berbee Information Networks Corp. Berbee spoke during the luncheon on June 2. The annual award honors an innovative leader who has demonstrated the ability to take hold of business opportunities and transform them into successes through vision, courage, adaptability, persistence and resourcefulness.

Jerry Jendusa joined the conference as one of the keynote speakers. As co-founder and CEO of EMTEQ, Jendusa led the aerospace company from a basement startup to an international business with seven locations in four countries, more than 630 employees and more than $100 million in sales. EMTEQ was sold in 2014. Jendusa was named 2014 EY Midwest “Entrepreneur of the Year” in advanced manufacturing. As co-founder of STUCK LLC, he focuses on business coaching, investing and giving back to the local community. Additional speakers to be announced in the coming weeks.

Other conference highlights included:

  • Presentations by the “Diligent Dozen” in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest
  • Fifteen panel discussions for emerging companies on how to “Launch, Grow and Succeed.”
  • Innovation Showcase featuring more than 45 companies from around the state
  • Plenty of chances to connect with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors over food and refreshments!

The Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council, the independent, non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the Governor and the Legislature. Its members include leaders from tech companies, early stage funds, all levels of education, research institutions, government and law. The Tech Council serves as a catalyst for the growth of Wisconsin’s tech-based and entrepreneurial economy.

2014 Entrepreneurs' Conference

The 12th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference was held June 3-4 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

The conference is one of the Midwest’s premiere “how-to,” hands-on events for entrepreneurs of all ages and experience levels.

Attendees ranged from ‘treps who are still developing their ideas to emerging company leaders who have already attracted angel and/or venture funding. These businesses cover a broad span of categories, from information technology to cleantech, from advanced manufacturing to the life sciences, and from business services to consulting. The 2014 conference drew more than 500 people, including entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, economic development partners, researchers, educators and more.

The annual Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” awards luncheon honors an innovative leader who has demonstrated the ability to take hold of business opportunities and transform them into successes through vision, courage, adaptability, persistence and resourcefulness. The 2014 award recipients were Craig and Lea Culver, co-founders of Culver Franchising System Inc.

Other conference highlights included:

  • Opening keynote speaker Jack Lynch of Wisconsin Rapids’ Renaissance Learning
  • Presentations by the “Diligent Dozen” in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest
  • 15 panel discussions for emerging companies on how to “Launch, Grow and Succeed.”
  • Elucent Medical was named the 2014 BPC Grand Prize winner
  • Presentation from Dave Lambert of Internet2
  • Innovation Showcase featuring more than 50 companies from around the state
  • Plenty of chances to connect with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors over food and refreshments!
2013 Entrepreneurs' Conference

The 11th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, held June 4-5 at the Marriott West in Middleton, was a great success! Thanks so all the sponsors, speakers, panelists and attendees for making it such a productive event. We had more than 500 attendees this year, which included entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, service providers, economic development partners and state agencies.

The full 2013 Attendee List is available here. 

See photos from the event on the Tech Council Flickr account here.

Here is a brief recap of some of the 2013 highlights:

  • Jason Lucash, co-founder of OrigAudio, kicked off the conference on Tuesday morning by sharing his story and some advice for his fellow entrepreneurs. His presentation was titled “Some phone calls and a couple of crazy ideas can launch a business.” Read the Wisconsin State Journal’s coverage of his keynote here.
  • Roy Thiele-Sardiña, managing partner of HighBAR Partners, opened the Wednesday plenary session, “California Badgers: A view from the coast,” with a look at the first venture capital deal (Christopher Columbus) and an update on venture investing. He was joined by fellow Badger alums Norman Koo (Liberty Global Inc.), Mark Reinstra (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati) and Sanjeev Chitre (The U-Group) for a  discussion of the opportunities and challenges in Wisconsin’s tech sectors. Read the Wisconsin State Journal’s coverage of the session here.
  • The “Diligent Dozen” from the Governor’s Business Plan Contest squared off with 7-minute presentations in front of 30 judges and the conference attendees. The 2013 Grand Prize was awarded to Madison-based NitricGen Inc., represented by Fred Montgomery.
  • The 10th annual Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” Award was given to Fred Fosterfrom Electronic Theatre Controls Inc. in Middleton.
  • 15 panel discussions involving more than 60 entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders offered advice for emerging companies on how to “Launch, Grow and Succeed.”
  • The Wisconsin Innovation Showcase featured more than 50 companies and organizations, including BadgerBOTS, Death’s Door Distillery and Karben4.
2012 Entrepreneurs' Conference

The 2012 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conferencewas a great success! It was held June 5-6 at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

The 10th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference was one of the Midwest’s premiere networking and educational events for entrepreneurs. Business leaders, investors and others made connections as they learn how to crack into today’s emerging markets. The 2012 two-day attendance was 427 people, and the winner of the 2012 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest was RoWheels, led by Rimas Buinevicius and Jan Moen of Madison. The 2012 Seize the Day Award winner was Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Networks.

Keynote speakers included:

Julie Wainwright, former CEO of Pets.com; founder/CEO of TheRealReal.com

Bob Dorf, co-author of The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step by Step Guide for Building a Great Company

Dave Berkus, founder and president of Berkus Technology Ventures

 

2011 Entrepreneurs' Conference
2010 Entrepreneurs' Conference