Still on the fence about attending the annual Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison? Here are 10 reasons to drop in Wednesday and Thursday for one of the Midwest’s premier events for entrepreneurs and investors.

Register through 12 p.m. Tuesday at Or register Wednesday and Thursday at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive, in downtown Madison. Why should you be there?

1. You’ll hear some powerful Wisconsin stories: Sue Marks is a serial entrepreneur who runs Cielo, a recruitment process outsourcing firm with more than 500 employees in Brookfield and another 800 worldwide. She’ll lead off the conference Wednesday morning. Semi-conductor legend Mike Splinter is a Horicon native and UW-Madison graduate who led Applied Materials. He’ll talk about his life and times mid-day Wednesday. Zach Halmstad is a UW-Eau Claire music major who wrote the score for JAMF Software, a firm with 450 workers and a unique approach. He’ll speak Thursday morning. Scientist, entrepreneur and teacher “Rock” Mackie will receive the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education award Thursday mid-day. (Plus, we’ll welcome a special guest Thursday).

  1. You’ll watch new companies make their pitch to investors: Talk about pressure! Twenty-eight companies were picked by our steering committee to make five-minute presentations Wednesday. They range from medical devices to software to new ways for seniors to order food. On Thursday, another 17 startups will pitch to a panel of investor judges during the annual “Elevator Pitch Olympics.” It’s a lightning round – 90 seconds per pitch! We’ll also unveil campus-based innovations from Milwaukee, Madison and beyond at our “First Look Forum.”

    3. You might bump into a seasoned investor: Investors registered so far represent groups such as: 4490 Ventures; American Family Ventures; Angels on the Water; BELLE Capital; Baird Capital; BrightStar Wisconsin; Capital Midwest Fund; Cedar Road Capital; Chicago Ventures; Chippewa Valley Angel Network; CW Technologies; DaneVest Tech Fund: Golden Angels Investors; Great Oaks Venture Capital; Harbor Street Ventures; HealthX Ventures; Inventure Capital; Madison Development Corp.; MATH Venture Partners; Mercury Fund; Midwest Health Ventures; NEW Capital Management; Northwoods Angels ORCA Equities; Phenomenelle Angels; PhiloFive Angels; Pritzker Group Venture Capital; River Cities Capital Funds; Silicon Pastures; Silicon Valley Bank; Stateline Angels; the State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Sun Mountain Capital; Three Oaks Venture Capital; Venture Investors; Venture Management; Volition Capital; the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Investment Partners; Wisconsin River Business Angels; Wisconsin Super Angel Fund; and WISC Partners. Also present: Leading banks, credit unions, individual angels and corporate investors.

    4. You’ll learn from successful entrepreneurs: In addition to investors and other experts, our list of panelists and seminar leaders includes: Katie Brenner, bluDiagnostics; Mark Gehring, HealthMyne; Robert Hopton, Health eFilings; Matt Howard, EatStreet; Brian Jensen, Fishidy; Laura King, Elucent Medical; Andy Nunemaker, Dynamis Corp.; Daniel Lawton, Promentis Pharmaceuticals; Scott Cooper, Marketing Engine Group and more.

  2. There’s no lack of program choices: The program features 14 panels or workshops spread over two days, all organized around questions entrepreneurs and early stage companies need to ask – and answer. Wednesday’s luncheon honoring winners of federal Small Business Innovation Research grants is its own learning experience with a glimpse at 39 Wisconsin companies that captured $31.2 million in funding. Consult our online agenda to learn more.
  3. You can visit with experts during our “Office Hours” segments: Back by popular demand is “Office Hours,” a series of six small-group discussions at which entrepreneurs can discuss specific issues with experts and their peers. Scheduled during the conference’s opening day, the 30-minute sessions will focus on corporate structures, how to obtain state Qualified New Business Venture status, protecting your intellectual property, documents needed for investor meetings, how traditional lenders can help emerging companies, as well as compensation, classification and covenant best practices.

7. Act now to reserve a seat for a special pre-conference event: The inaugural Wisconsin WOMEN Reception (Women, Opportunity, Mentors, Entrepreneurs & Networking) is Tuesday evening at the Madison Club. Register for the full conference and you may attend via reservation at no additional cost; $50 for separate registration.

  1. You won’t leave hungry: Two luncheons, a reception and two breakfasts are included in your registration fee. It’s hard to go wrong on that alone!

9. You’ll be flooded with useful info: Our 56-page program manual is a storehouse of information. Plus, we’ll have a small army of students on hand to help drive the social media conversation.

10. You’ll be a part of a major networking event: Whether it’s over refreshments, during the panel discussions or in lobby conversations, you’ll meet hundreds of people who are building Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial economy. Join them!

Register or learn more by visiting