Madison events to connect entrepreneurs with investors

Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium and MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum aim to connect emerging companies with interested investors

According to the third quarter report by Thompson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), the level of venture capital funds raising money has fallen to the lowest level in the U.S. since 1994. During the third quarter of 2009, 17 funds raised about $1.6 billion – during the third quarter of 2008, 63 funds raised almost $8.5 billion.

“Many limited partners are still determining their long term strategies in wake of the past year’s financial crisis and that slows the process down considerably,” said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA. “We expect commitment levels to remain modest for the remainder of 2009 with gradual increases beginning in 2010.”

Paired with low levels of available venture capital, many start-up companies may find banks unwilling to lend. However, two events to be held in Madison next month may give start-up companies some alternatives.

The annual Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, presented by the Wisconsin Technology Council, will be held Nov. 10-11 at Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Dr., Madison.

The MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum will be held Nov. 11-12, also at Monona Terrace. The annual event, dedicated to startup companies and investors in the health care and bioscience sectors, is held in a different city each year. This is the first time Wisconsin has hosted the event.

Both events are designed to connect entrepreneurs and their startup companies with angel and venture capital investors.

In light of the lower levels of venture capital raised and the challenging banking environment, startup companies looking for private funds could improve their chances by attending the events, said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

“These events are an example of being in the right place at the right time for Wisconsin companies seeking private equity,” he said. “VC investments have been down and it’s important for companies to avail themselves to get in front of investors.”

The Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium will include presentations from more than 80 companies seeking early stage funding. Although no other companies will be able to make formal presentations, other firms seeking funding are encouraged to attend, Still said.

“Other companies would likely want to be there because there will still be time and networking events that will allow them to meet investors,” he said.

The Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium will include seminars on:

  • “Top 10 mistakes made in business plans” by Bill Joos, principal of Go To Marketing Consulting.

  • “Are investors being unreasonable” featuring Greg Lynch of Michael Best & Friedrich, Tim Keane of Marquette Angels and Ralph Kauten of Quintessence.

  • “How do you prepare for an elevator pitch?” workshop.

  • “Managing current portfolio companies and co-investment strategies” by Joe Kremer of the Wisconsin Angel Network.

  • “Coming to terms with your term sheet” with Paul Jones of Michael Best & Friedrich and Sal Braico of Flex BioMedical.

  • The Elevator Pitch Olympics

  • WAN Early-Stage Investor Presentations

The MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum will include presentations on health care reform, how to stimulate public markets to invest in health care companies, what corporate investors are looking for in the health care field, and more.

Speakers at the two-day forum include representatives from bio-science firms, private equity investors, health care device manufacturers, pharmaceutical developers, health care providers and financial service providers.

Although the events are about one month away, registration is already strong, Still said.

“We’re encouraged – there may be something getting ready to break (in the investment sector),” he said. “The number of attendees scheduled for MidAmerica is nearly three times as many as last year.”

For information on the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, visit

For information on the MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum, visit


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