MADISON, Wis. – If snow on Halloween wasn’t scary enough, you’re in for another shocker if you miss this week’s Early Stage Symposium in Madison. Here’s a checklist of reasons to drop in Wednesday and Thursday for one of the Midwest’s premier events for entrepreneurs and investors.
Register online through 5 p.m. Monday or in person 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 a lot about success and failure: Our speakers have unique perspectives on what it takes to innovate: Jeff Schumacher of 55 Foundry has launched 120 companies, built a global investment platform and will talk about “the Internet of Value.” He’s a UW-Eau Claire graduate come home. Former professional footballer Marques Ogden made lots of money, lost lots of money and made some back. He’ll offer his perspectives on resiliency and the power of diversity and inclusion in every workplace. Anne Smith of the UW-Madison Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic will talk about the importance of mentoring others as she accepts the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education award.
2. You’ll watch new companies make their pitch to investors: The heat is on! Twenty-five companies were picked by our steering committee to make five-minute presentations Wednesday. They range from healthcare to consumer products to software to agriculture. On Thursday, another 18 startups will pitch to a panel of investor judges during the annual “Elevator Pitch Olympics.” It’s a lightning round – 90 seconds per pitch!
3. You will bump into a seasoned investor: Investors registered so far represent groups such as: 30Ventures, 50 South Capital, 55 Foundry, 4490 Ventures, Allos Ventures, Ardent Group, Arenberg Holdings, Atlene, Baird Capital, Bascom Ventures, Bold Coast Capital, BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, Chippewa Valley Angel Investor Network, Capital Midwest Fund, CMFG Ventures, Cultivation Capital, Doyenne Evergreen Fund, Golden Angels Investors, Great North Labs, Harbor Ventures, Health X Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Idea Fund of La Crosse, Independence Equity, Inventure Capital, Iron Forge, Kegonsa Capital, Lancaster Investments, Lewis & Clark Ventures, MaSa Partners, M25 Group, Madison Development Corp., N29 Capital Partners, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Rock River Capital Partners, Sandalphon Capital, Silicon Pastures, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Stateline Angels, TASC Ventures, Venture Investors, Winnebago Seed Fund, Winnow Fund, Wisconsin River Business Angels, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Wisconsin Investment Partners, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Ziegler. Also present: Leading banks, individual angels and corporate investors.
4. You’ll feel the buzz from the state’s largest speed-dating event: During our “Investor Intros” segment, about 45 funds or networks will meet with 85 emerging companies in a series of short ice-breakers. With about 440 speed dates in two hours, some meaningful relationships are on the horizon.
5. There’s no lack of program choices: A dozen panels or workshops are spread over two days, all organized around questions entrepreneurs and early stage companies need to ask – and answer. Wednesday’s luncheon will feature the Triple E award and a conversation featuring Smith and some of the young companies mentored by the L&E clinic. Bonus! This year conference is preceded Tuesday by the WARF Innovation Day, also at Monona Terrace.
6. You can visit with experts during our “Office Hours” segments: Back by popular demand is “Office Hours,” a series of small-group discussions at which entrepreneurs can discuss specific issues with experts and their peers. Scheduled during the two days are: “Understanding Wisconsin’s ‘Qualified New Business Venture’ process”; “Negotiating SaaS subscription agreements: The realities of dealing with enterprise customers”; “SBIR grants: Why these federal dollars are worth chasing”; “Numbers that matter: What entrepreneurs need to know” (two sessions); “Social media for savvy entrepreneurs of any size and budget”; “Incubator, accelerator or co-working space: What’s right for you?”; and “How to find (and keep) your first customers.”
7. Act now to reserve a seat for a special pre-conference event: Entrepreneur, coach and consultant Darcy Luoma will offer tips for achieving excellence at work and home. The Madison-based Luoma will be joined by fellow ‘treps Laura Gallagher and Cindy Poiesz during the Wisconsin W•O•M•E•N Reception (Women, Opportunity, Mentors, Entrepreneurs & Networking) Tuesday evening at Monona Terrace Convention Center. Register at the door beginning at 5 p.m. If you’re already attending the rest of the conference, you can come for free.
8. 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 68-page program manual is a storehouse of information. P.S. Bring your cell phones so you can engage in the social media conversation and take part in judging some of our pitches.
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!
Learn more by checking out our online agenda at wisearlystage.com.