Did you miss signing up for this year’s the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium because you were busy crunching election results or mourning the latest loss by the Green Bay Packers? Here are 10 reasons to drop in Wednesday and Thursday for one of the Midwest’s premier events for entrepreneurs and investors.

Register through noon Tuesday at www.WisEarlyStage.com. 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: Our speakers include three people with unique perspectives on what it takes to innovate: “AmFam Jack” Salzwedel of American Family Insurance will talk the rebirth of a legacy company; Lynn Allen-Hoffman of Stratatech will describe how her company is improving lives and creating opportunity; and Jan Eddy of Wingra Software, Office Solutions, BELLE Capital and other endeavors will talk about a lifetime of mentoring others. Eddy is this year’s winner of the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education award.

2. 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 21 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: 30 Ventures; 4490 Ventures; American Family Ventures; Angels on the Water; BELLE Capital; Baird Capital; Better Ventures; BrightStar Wisconsin; Capital Midwest Fund; Chippewa Valley Angel Network; CMFG Ventures; CSA Partners; Eckoma Capital; Golden Angels Investors; HealthX Ventures; Hyde Park Ventures; IdeaFund of La Crosse; Inventure Capital; Kegonsa-Sun Mountain; LDI Ltd.; Lewis & Clark Ventures; Life Science Angels; Madison Development Corp.; MATH Venture Partners; Mayo Clinic Ventures; MVC Fund; NEW Capital Management; N29 Capital Partners; PharmaSeek Companies; River Cities Capital Funds; Silicon Pastures; Silicon Valley Bank; Stateline Angels; the State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Symphony Alpha Ventures; Venture Investors; Venture Management; Winnebago Seed Fund; the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Investment Partners; Wisconsin River Business Angels; and WISC Partners. Also present: Leading banks, credit unions, individual angels and corporate investors.

4. You’ll feel the buzz from the state’s largest speed-dating event: During our “Investor Intros” segment, 27 funds or networks will meet with nearly 80 emerging companies in a series of seven-minute ice-breakers. With more than 380 speed dates in two hours, can’t you just hear the wedding bells now?

5. There’s no lack of program choices: The program features about 20 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 36 Wisconsin companies that captured $19.2 million in funding. Consult our online agenda to learn more.

6. 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, the state ExporTech program, 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 M# Insurance on John Nolen Drive. Register for the full conference and you may attend for $25; it’s $50 for separate registration.

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 60-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!