Three venture capitalists who follow deal flow across the Midwest, including the diverse technology sectors in Wisconsin, will anchor a panel discussion on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 11, during the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

The conference will be spread over parts of three days and has already attracted about 50 investor groups. The conference is in a virtual format with registration open by clicking here.

Candice Matthews Brackeen of Cincinnati’s Lightship Capital, Jonathan Ellis of Chicago’s Sandalphon Capital and Ron Watson of Dundee Venture Capital, which has offices in four Midwest cities, will give their views on the state of venture investing in the Midwest during the 9 a.m. plenary panel discussion. John McDonald of Godfrey Kahn will moderate.

  • Brackeen is a general partner with Lightship, which recently launched a $50-million fund to invest in underrepresented founders in the Midwest, from racial minorities to the LGBTQ and disabled communities. Lightship is reported to be the only fund dedicated to backing minorities in the Midwest, as well as the largest fund launched by a Black woman to date.
  • Ellis is the founder and managing director of Sandalphon Capital, which made 24 investments in its first fund and about 30 angel investments previously. Before founding Sandalphon in 2016, Ellis was a senior vice president in Macquarie’s Principal Finance Group.
  • Watson joined Dundee Venture Capital in 2020 is responsible for sourcing and managing deals, fundraising and leading its St. Louis, Mo., office. Other Dundee offices are in Omaha, Minneapolis and Chicago. Before joining Dundee, Watson was a principal with Lewis & Clark Ventures, a $129 million venture fund in St. Louis.

“The perspectives these investors will bring to the Early Stage Symposium cuts across sectors, fund sizes and geography in one of the nation’s up-and-coming regions for emerging companies,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “It also embodies the wide interest in the conference being shown by investors who are close to home as well as across the country.”

Young companies will have three chances to pitch virtually to those investors or to meet them in brief virtual meetings. Company presentations will be announced later in October.

Here are investor groups so far participating in the Early Stage Symposium: 4490 Ventures, Atlene, Baird Capital, Bascom Ventures, the BioIndustrial Institute of Manufacturing Excellence (BIIOME), Bold Coast Capital, Brightstar WI Foundation, Capital Innovators, Chippewa Valley Angel Investment Network, CMFG Ventures, Cream City Venture Capital, Dundee VC, Golden Angels Investors, Great North Labs, HealthX Ventures, Hyde Park Ventures, Idea Fund of La Crosse, Inventure Capital, Iron Forge, Lancaster Investments, Lewis & Clark Ventures, Lightbank, Lightship Capital, M25 Capital, Madison Development Corporation, MaSa Partners, Matchstick Ventures, Midwest Wealth Ventures, N29 Capital, NVNG Investment Advisors, Oshkosh Corp., Plymouth Growth Partners, Rock River Capital Partners, Sandalphon Capital, Silicon Pastures, Stateline Angels, TASC Ventures, The Ardent Group, Tundra Angels, Venture Investors, Winnebago Capital Partners, Winnow Fund, Wisconn Valley Ventures, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Wisconsin Investment Partners, WISC Partners and Ziegler.

The conference will also feature:

  • A variety of insightful keynote speakers, including recently announced entrepreneur and viral influencer Jon Jacques and targeted panel discussions featuring leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech and investor sectors
  • A previously announced presentation on a new Wisconsin partnership involving the international Creative Destruction Lab
  • The 7th annual “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award presentation
  • Virtual sponsor exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 innovative Wisconsin companies.

The Tech Council produces the conference. Sponsors so far include: 100state, Aberdean, Advanced Materials Industrial Consortium, Alliant Energy, American Family Insurance, American Transmission Co., AT&T, Aurora Health Care, Baker Tilly, Baird Capital, Baker Tilly, BDO, C.D. Smith Construction, City of Fitchburg, Concordia University Wisconsin, CUNA Mutual, Dane County Regional Airport, Dedicated Computing, DeWitt, Exact Sciences, Findorff, First Business Bank, Fluno Center, Godfrey & Kahn, Google, HealthX Ventures, Husch Blackwell, Idea Fund of La Crosse, Insperity, Kimberly-Clark, KW2, M3 Insurance, Madison Gas & Electric, Makin’ Hey Communications, Michael Best, Mobile 22, Morgridge Institute, N29 Capital Partners, Neider & Boucher, Northwestern Mutual, One City Schools, Oshkosh Corp., Quarles & Brady, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, RSM US, Signature Bank, Skyward, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Summit Credit Union, board member Susan Healy, TASC, University Research Park, UWM Research Foundation, UW-Madison Computer Sciences, UW-Madison Office of Business Engagement, Venture Investors, Versiti, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing Productivity, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Whitewater University Technology Park, WIPFLi and Ziegler.