MADISON – Investors from Wisconsin, the Midwest and beyond will share their expertise with entrepreneurs and others at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, to be held Nov. 5-6 at Madison’s Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. 


More than 35 angel groups, venture and private equity funds, as well as many individual investors, will take part in the symposium. Investors will participate in eight panel discussions during the two-day conference, which will also feature the ninth annual “Elevator Pitch Olympics” and the seventh annual Wisconsin Angel Network Investors’ Track. 


Other investor-oriented tracks include the annual “First Look Forum” for campus-based discoveries and networking events for accredited investors only. Investors will be able to attend 28 company presentations during the Wisconsin Angel Network tracks, and will serve as judges during the Elevator Pitch Olympics. 


A new feature this year is the “Reverse Elevator Pitch,” where five investors will talk about their early stage funds or networks, including the dollar size of a typical investment, targeted industry sectors and more. A panel of experienced entrepreneurs who have raised angel and venture capital will offer feedback. 


Investors registered so far represent groups such as American Family Insurance, Angels on the Water, Baird Capital, BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, Capital Midwest Fund, Chicago Ventures, Chippewa Valley Angels, Cornerstone Angels, CW Technologies, DaneVest Tech Fund, DFJ Mercury Group, Golden Angels Investors, Gopher Angels, Great Lakes Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Hyde Park Angels, Inventure Capital, Madison Development Corp., Marshfield Investment Partners, Native Capital Investment, NEW Capital Fund, Phenomenelle Angels, Plains Angels, RPX Group, Shamrock Partners, Silicon Pastures, Silicon Valley Bank, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Stateline Angels, Venture Investors, Venture Management, TechStars Chicago, Wisconsin Capital Partners, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Wisconsin Investment Partners, Yahara Angel Network, and banks. 


Here are the sessions that include investors as panelists or moderators: 


New kids on the block: Emerging funds in Wisconsin – For companies struggling to find early stage financing, there are options on the horizon. Hear the latest about the $25-million state-backed “fund of funds,” the $30-million 4490 Fund being launched by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, the $80-million Venture Investors Fund V and the Milwaukee-based BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation. 


Does angel or venture capital make sense for your company? – Not every startup or emerging company is a candidate for angel or venture financing. Hear from experienced investors and entrepreneurs on when you should seek angel or venture financing, and how much, or pursue other avenues to finance your company. 


What joining an accelerator is really like – Entrepreneurs who join accelerators gain access to valuable resources and learn quickly. But they also experience a difficult mix of highs and lows – and face tough criticism about their business plans. Do they risk being portrayed as “losers” if their companies don’t immediately take off? Hear from local accelerators and graduates about what it’s like on the inside. 


Investing in the I-Q Corridor: Perspectives from the region’s investors – Wisconsin’s investor tax credits are viewed as being among the best in the country, and the creation of a state “fund-of-funds” will reinforce the message. What trends, opportunities and challenges to investors outside Wisconsin see? 


Why large companies may have a stake in your success – Many large companies recognize the benefits of investing in startups or supporting them in other ways. It may help spark internal innovation, grow the size of their business and diversify their procurement sources. Some major companies are offering loans to startups, investing directly, helping them with marketing efforts or mentoring them. For ‘treps, working with a corporation can help a startup build credibility, improve its distribution options and branding efforts. It can also become a pathway to acquisition.  


Does Wisconsin have the “right” investors for the times? – Wisconsin has a number of angel groups and early stage funds, but do investment goals and expertise of those groups match with Wisconsin companies in the pipeline? 


If you want innovation, learn to pivot – Innovation is all the rage, but how do you know when to change direction? Learn when to stop planting seeds in hopes of a thousand flowers blooming and to focus on the most promising bouquets. 


What’s next for crowdfunding and the SEC’s rule changes? – There’s uncertainty all around for investors and entrepreneurs with rule-making for the federal JOBS Act. Learn the latest from experts close to the process. 


The conference is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners and sponsors. Visit to register or to learn more.