Some of the most active entrepreneurs, investors and service experts from Wisconsin and beyond will take part in informative panel discussions during the first day of the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison.

The in-person conference, which continues Thursday, Nov. 4 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, will also feature speakers, workshops, company pitches and an “Investor Intros” segment to connect emerging companies with angel and venture capitalists.

Learn more, check out our sponsors and register at Here are topics to be covered Wednesday, Nov. 3:

I know I need money: How do I find it?

Young companies can raise money in a variety of ways, from angel and venture capital to loans, grants, crowdfunding, in-kind trades, accelerators, lines of credit, venture debt and, of course, selling a product … perhaps the most overlooked strategy of all. We’ll examine a few case studies of how a blended approach can work for many entrepreneurs.

Moderated by Katie Schmitz, Ziegler, with panelists: Lorrie Keating Heinemann, Madison Development Corp.; Kyle LaFond, American Provenance and Michael Thorson, Inventure Capital/Wisconsin Investment Partners

How investors (and ‘treps) can protect themselves from scams

Defunct blood-testing startup Theranos may be the most storied example saga of Silicon Valley hubris, ambition and deception, but young companies and investors elsewhere aren’t immune from getting caught up in potentially fraudulent activity. Learn more about the warning signs and what to do if alarm bells sound.

Moderated by Tim Keane, Golden Angels Investors, with panelists: Mark Ehrmann, Quarles & Brady and Ryan Weber, Great North Ventures

Startup leadership: Building an ideal executive team from idea to exit

Having the right team in place is essential to young companies as they grow and evolve. It starts with you – the founder or CEO – but it can’t end there! Young companies need “do-ers,” people who understand sales and customer service, financial advisors and more. Learn how to build a diverse team for the right development stages.

Moderated by Ron Bote, Wipfli, with panelists: Ben Camp, RehabPath; Nora Roughen-Schmidt, StartingBlock Madison and Bob Wood, Wisconsin Investment Partners

Pathways to exit and recent venture success

Hear a case study about Curate, a Madison-based civic intelligence company recently acquired by Washington-based FiscalNote Inc. The company raised about $2.2 million over time for a half-dozen investors. Learn from a founder and an early investor on how the company did it.

Moderated by Bill Foley, Husch Blackwell, with panelists Jonathon Horne, Idea Fund of La Crosse and Taralinda Willis, Curate

How to navigate campus innovation in Wisconsin: What investors and companies should know

Wisconsin has some strong research universities and colleges, but how can investors and companies of all sizes work with them to find the most market-ready ideas? What are the steps needed to obtain intellectual property from academic institutions? How much ‘red tape’ can you expect? Meet and learn from technology transfer experts.

Moderated by Arjun Sanga, WiSys, with panelists: Scott Button, Venture Investors; Greg Keenan, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and Jessica Silvaggi, UWM Research Foundation

The financial returns angels and VCs need: What ‘treps should know

Hear some of the basics of raising capital from investors. How your idea is presented counts – especially if you anticipate some oft-asked questions from those who may risk money on your company. A solid business plan, a product-market fit, a differentiator from the competition and an exit strategy are among elements that help investors decide whether you’re worth the risk.

Moderated by Jonathan Fritz, CHIME, with panelists: Brad Bodden, Wisconsin Investment Partners; Dan Einhorn, Capital Midwest and Derek Matzke, BDO

The conference will also feature:

  • Thirty-eight company presentations and the “Investor Intros” speed-dating segment
  • Keynote speakers Nathan Herbst and Joel Fields, CEO and CFO of Paradigm, and founders of the Young Enterprising Society Khalif and Que El-Amin
  • A conversation with Joe Boucher, the winner of the “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award.
  • “Office Hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts on a variety of topics in small discussion groups or one-on-one.
  • A Nov. 3 evening conference reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.