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. 10 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. 9:

How we funded our companies: Hear from entrepreneurs on their funding strategies
What funding path works best for you? How much capital do you need? How much equity are you willing to give up? Those are among questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves as they consider where and how they find sources of capital. We will hear how some young companies pulled it off … their own way.

Moderated by Katie Schmitz, Ziegler Link-Age Funds, with panelists Chris Fernandez, EnsoData; Chad Johnson, Tip a ScRxipt; and Carol Vance, Alinea

How do I know if I’m messing up? Finding the right advisors
Leading an emerging company can be a lonely job, and it’s easy to be misled by your personal “echo chamber” on what works and what doesn’t. Learn why availing yourself of strong advisors can help avoid turning little mistakes into big ones.

Moderated by Nick Myers, RedFox AI, with panelists Susan Healy, IAA Inc.; Derek Matzke, BDO; and Charles Neider, Neider & Boucher

Tech talent wanted: Tactics for finding who and what you need
Attracting, hiring and retaining the right people is essential for any organization, large or small, but the stakes can be larger when it’s a young company that cannot afford to make expensive personnel mistakes. Hear from companies that have devised strategies that are right for their stage and size.

Moderated by Lamarr Banks, Greater Green Bay Chamber, with panelists Rosalinda Fowlkes, Colorful Connections; Keith Fuller, All About EX; and Andrew Verboncouer, Headway

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 Michael Thorson, Inventure Capital, with panelists Mary Hannes, Golden Angels Investors; Jonathon Horne, Idea Fund of La Crosse; and Israel Squires, Midpoint Ventures

Navigating choppy waters: Lower valuations, down rounds and other tough seas
It can be tougher to raise money in today’s uncertain economy, especially if investors believe your company is over-valued. What’s in the fine print for term sheets these days, and what do tougher terms tell you about who’s going to be in control if and when a downturn comes?

Moderated by Ron Bote, WIPFli, with panelists Robert Hopton, Health eFilings; Eric Lauria-Banta, Foley & Lardner; and Jenni Le, Venture Investors

I’m not right for angel or venture: What are other money sources?
Young companies can raise money in a variety of ways, but angel and venture capital isn’t for everyone. There are 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 talk to some experts who have seen their share of alternatives.

Moderated by Danny Schmidt, RSM, with panelists Juan Gomez, Madison Development Corp.; Aaron Hagar, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; and Idella Yamben, Center for Technology Commercialization

The conference will feature many opportunities for young companies to learn:

  • About 40 company presentations in two different segments and the “Investor Intros” speed-dating segment.
  • Keynote speakers and targeted panel discussions featuring leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector making an impact nationwide.
  • The 9th annual Triple E award presentation from Joe Kirgues and Troy Vosseller, co-founders of gener8tor.
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 30 innovative Wisconsin companies.
  • A Nov. 9 conference reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.