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Just one Wisconsin company is presenting at this year's InvestMidwest Venture Capital Forum
, out of 30 companies from 12 states who will all be working a crowd of venture capitalists and trying to make the right connections.ZyStor
, a firm that was founded in Milwaukee just over a year ago based on technology developed in St. Louis, will be there to represent its work to treat a rare debilitating disease. The company was drawn to Wisconsin in 2004 by an $8.5 million investment from a syndicate led by Mason Wells
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Of this year's 30 presenters at InvestMidwest, 10 are from around St. Louis, where the conference is being held. Despite the local focus, companies are coming in from both the plains and upper Midwest regions.
Dan Broderick, a managing director of Mason Wells' venture funds and chairman of ZyStor, is expected to attend. As are investors from more than 35 venture firms.
"I was mainly looking for events I knew would be well attended by members of the Mid-America Healthcare Investors Network
," said Loren Peterson, CEO of ZyStor. This is his second trip to InvestMidwest. He previously went in 2003, when the event was held in Kansas.
Presenters at the forum are typically active in their search for capital both there and elsewhere. Organizers say a third of this year's presenters have already raised venture capital, totalling $67 million, and half have raised angel investments, totalling $23 million.
"These numbers illustrate the strength and viability of these companies as investment opportunities," said Chris Walsh, executive director of InvestMidwest. Walsh said companies are selected based on merit, not geography, but more applicants do come from the region where the conference is held.
The companies are divided into a life science track, which includes ZyStor, and a technology and general business track. They represent industries as diverse as healthcare, information technology, biotechnology, and fashion. Pitches are 10 minutes long.
Presenters are selected by a panel of judges who look at a company's business purpose, management team, products or services, marketing strategy, market opportunity and financial summary. The ideal company shows potential to generate $20 million in annual revenue growth within five years.