Gives advice to investors, entrepreneurs at conference

Jeff Rusinow figures he has reviewed more than 2,000 startup decks and met for hundreds of coffees with Wisconsin entrepreneurs over the past 19 years.

Rusinow founded Milwaukee’s first angel network, Silicon Pastures, in 2000. At the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference put on by the Wisconsin Technology Council in Milwaukee this week, he revealed for the first time the returns he got on his angel investments in Wisconsin companies.

Rusinow made 45 angel investments, most of which were in Wisconsin companies. Eight of those companies were sold or went public, providing him with a return on his investment. Rusinow calculated his all-in internal rate of return was about 37%.

But there are peaks and valleys to investing in startups, he said.

“While I’ve had the eight exits and have had obviously some successes, of those eight exits one was a successful … IPO, three of them were sales to Fortune 500 companies. And that’s the good news,” Rusinow said. “There is some not good news, though. I hit a low point earlier, toward the end of last year, where two startups I am very involved in, one of them I was on the board, one I was chairman of the board, I had put $1 million in each of those. Both of those went bankrupt in December.”

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