Need a break from tracking vote counts in “battleground” states around the country? Want a safe distraction from dreary COVID-19 reports? Here’s a checklist of reasons to drop in virtually Tuesday and Wednesday for the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium. one of the Midwest’s premier events for entrepreneurs and investors.


  1. You’ll watch new companies make their pitch to investors: The heat is on! Twenty companies were picked by our steering committee to make five-minute presentations, which are recorded and available for your review. They range from healthcare to consumer products to advanced materials and more. On Wednesday, another 17 startups will pitch to a panel of investor judges during the annual “Elevator Pitch Olympics.” It’s a live lightning round – 90 seconds per pitch!
  2. You may only be a keyboard click away from meeting with an investor. Participating in the 2020 event are 4490 Ventures, Atlene, Baird Capital, Bascom Ventures, Bold Coast Capital, Brightstar WI Foundation, Capital Innovators, Chippewa Valley Angel Investment Network, CMFG Ventures, Cream City Venture Capital, Dundee VC, Golden Angels Investors, Great North Labs, HealthX Ventures, Hyde Park Ventures, Idea Fund of La Crosse, Inventure Capital, Iron Forge, Lancaster Investments, Lewis & Clark Ventures, Lightbank, Lightship Capital, M25 Capital, Madison Development Corporation, MaSa Partners, Matchstick Ventures, Midwest Wealth Ventures, N29 Capital, NVNG Investment Advisors, Oshkosh Corp., Plymouth Growth Partners, Rock River Capital Partners, Sandalphon Capital, Silicon Pastures, Stateline Angels, TASC Ventures, The Ardent Group, Tundra Angels, Venture Investors, Winnebago Capital Partners, Winnow Fund, Wisconn Valley Ventures, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Wisconsin Investment Partners, WISC Partners and Ziegler.
  3. It’s the next best thing to live. Attendees will use a top-ranked virtual platform to experience speakers and panel discussions, watch the company pitches, network among themselves and compete for door prizes. The vFairs software-as-a-service platform adopted by the Wisconsin Technology Council for this conference was recently ranked No. 1 in its class by Webbiquity.
  4. Did we mention prizes? The robust nature of the vFairs platform means sponsors and others were able to create highly interactive exhibit booths. Visit thoset booths, download materials and chat with sponsors to earn points. Track your progress on the “Leaderboard” page. The top 10 will be entered in a drawing to win some great prizes, such as an Amazon Echo Show 8, a Ring doorbell, and more! You must be present during the Elevator Pitch Olympics to win a prize.
  5. You’ll walk away with lots of useful info: Our 53-page program manual is a storehouse of information. View our partners’ take-home resources by clicking on our “Resource Center” sign. Add these documents to your “Swag bag” and easily email them to yourself at the end of the day.
  6. There’s no lack of program choices: A dozen panels, workshops or presentations are spread over two days, all organized around questions entrepreneurs and early stage companies need to ask – and answer. The conference theme of “Crossing the Coronavirus Chasm” ties it together by focusing on tech trends that are making a difference.
  7. You’ll get to take part in a video premiere! This year’s winner of the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education award is Lorrie Keating Heinemann, who will speak about her experiences working with ‘treps, investors and others over time. That will be followed by a 15-minute video on rising stars around the state – the next generation of mentors.
  8. We’ll open with a national figure who has helped companies large and small. Jon Jacques will explain how social media can boost marketing and sales for all kinds of companies. With more than 1 million followers and 100 million social media views, Jacques has worked with firms such as Disney, Kate Spade, Sony, Starwood, AT&T and Anheuser-Busch to increase revenues. He has been featured by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, BuzzFeed, TechCrunch, Mashable, and more.
  9. It won’t break your Venmo account. General admission is $109 and lower rates are available in many cases, such as special rates for returning veterans and students. You can sign up by calling Julie Johnson at 608-442-7557, ext. 1.
  10. You’ll be part of a major networking event: Whether it’s in our virtual Auditorium, Exhibit Hall or through our Networking tab, you’ll meet hundreds of people who are building Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial economy. Join them!