MADISON – Zach Brandon, a former deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce who previously launched angel-backed businesses in Ohio and Wisconsin, will begin work April 18 as director of the Wisconsin Angel Network.
The Wisconsin Angel Network is a project of the Wisconsin Technology Council, working with a mix of public and private partners. Brandon will succeed Joe Kremer, WAN’s director since its inception, who recently became president and chief executive officer of Power Designers LLC, Madison.
“We’re excited that Zach will join our team at the Tech Council and help us continue the growth of the Wisconsin Angel Network, which has played a major role in connecting private equity investors and entrepreneurs in Wisconsin and beyond,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.
“As an entrepreneur, I know firsthand the power of angel investment to ignite innovation and I am driven to create the same opportunity throughout Wisconsin,” Brandon said. “I am excited to lead this critical organization and the effort to propel entrepreneurial growth by building connections to early-stage investment capital. It is vital. Entrepreneurism is the spark and early-stage investment the fuel of Wisconsin’s recovery.”
Brandon served as deputy secretary of Commerce from April 2010 until January 2011, serving previously as the agency’s senior policy director and executive assistant. His duties at Commerce included enhancing the state’s investor tax credits program, helping launch two other tax credit programs for small and mid-sized businesses, and orchestrating the state’s trade and business development strategies.
Part of the leadership team of three entrepreneurial start-ups, Brandon was president and chief executive officer of Laundry 101 in Madison until joining Commerce in August 2008, and was previously a partner and vice president of the 101 Group in Kent, Ohio. Brandon secured $1.84 million in bank and angel financing for his companies, which grew to nearly 20 employees.
Brandon was a candidate for Dane County Executive in the February 2011 primary election, and had served previously as a member of the Madison Common Council. He was a member of the council’s Board of Estimates, which is its budget-writing committee, and the city Economic Development Commission. He is a graduate of Kent State University. He and his wife, Cori, have three children.
The Wisconsin Angel Network serves as a “network of networks” for angel investors in Wisconsin. Created in late 2004, it has grown from a handful of established networks to 23 in locations across Wisconsin. Other members include venture capital firms, corporate strategic partners and investors outside Wisconsin who sometimes co-invest in state deals.
Angel network activity in Wisconsin has grown from 11 deals worth $1.7 million in 2003 to 56 deals worth $22.1 million in 2009. Angel network activity for 2010 is still being calculated, but venture capital investments in 2010 totaled $121 million, the second-largest total in Wisconsin since records have been kept.
WAN does not operate a fund or make recommendations on investments. It operates a password-secured “Deal-Flow Pipeline” for entrepreneurs who post their executive summaries for review by potential, accredited investors, provides resources for entrepreneurs and investors, and assists angel investors through education efforts and networking. It publishes the monthly eVestor as well as The Wisconsin Portfolio annually.