27 Sep Starting a high-tech company? Hereï¿½s help
When I was writing my book, I found it helpful to attend seminars, lectures, workshops and conferences put on by successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and corporate lawyers. In my experience, each class, conference, and organization covered a slightly different piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle, and gave me insights that I could not find anywhere else.
The following list of seminars, classes, and financial services organizations is intended to provide a brief overview of the resources that are available to Wisconsin’s high-tech entrepreneurs.
Angel investment guru Adam Bock is putting on a seminar to teach entrepreneurs, business advisors, and key management how to obtain angel investment financing. The seminar will be held on October 5, 2004 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the MGE Innovation Center in the University Research Park, 505 S. Rosa Road, Madison, WI, Room 50. The $195 admission charge includes lunch.
The Technology Business Transfer Institute, a division of the University of Wisconsin – Madison school of Business, also conducts courses on a variety of other subjects, including:
- Business Planning for Scientists and Engineers,
- Acquiring Angel and Venture Capital Financing,
- Strategy Development for Technology Companies, and
- Sales Skills for Selling Technical Products.
Another organization, the Small Business Development Center, offers seminars that help would-be entrepreneurs figure out whether they have the right personality, skills, and life situation to start and manage a business.
Pavek Investments, Incorporated, an investment firm specializing in 1031 exchanges, is putting on a School for Entrepreneurs on Thursday, October 28th, 2004 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Hilton Inn on the River at 4700 Port Washington Road, Glendale, Wisconsin. The class will teach entrepreneurs how to organize a business plan and how to acquire start-up financing. The class is aimed at anyone who has an idea for a new business, or any entrepreneur who would like some help getting his business to the next level. Interested parties should contact Jeanne Pavek, secretary, at Pavek Investments, Incorporated, 2419 W. Brantwood Avenue, Glendale, WI. Phone: 414-352-4434. The $30 pre-registration fee ($35 at the door) covers lunch.
The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s College of Business Administration is offering a new entrepreneurship certificate program. The program will include coursework in venture financing, business-to-business transactions, marketing, and a variety of topics relating to entrepreneurship. The program is designed to help students assess new enterprise opportunities, obtain financial resources, market and start new ventures, and manage entrepreneurial ventures for growth and profitability.
The Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship at Marquette University’s College of Business is offering a new entrepreneurship major. Entrepreneurship majors will benefit from Marquette’s affiliation with The Golden Angel Network.
This organization brings successful business owners together with students in the classroom and provides early opportunities for start-up investment, mentoring and advising ï¿½ all of which are vital to future entrepreneurs.
Boasting a membership of more than 100 active investors, the Golden Angels Network looks for companies with innovative products and services that can occupy a dominant position in a growing market. They typically invest in corporations that need between $100,000 and $500,000.
Silicon Pastures, which bills itself as “Milwaukee’s premier private investing network,” seeks high-tech, Internet, and biotech investments, as well as manufacturing and service companies that use technology in innovative ways. Most of the group’s members expect to invest between $10,000 and $100,000 per year in early-stage high risk opportunities. Silicon Pastures has participated in deals ranging from $60,000 to $1.9 million.
Madison’s Venture Investors, LLC has provided seed and early stage venture capital to health care and information technology companies in Wisconsin and the Midwest since 1982. The group looks to fund strong entrepreneurs and world-class scientists who have the vision and ability to execute their plan. Their investments range from a small seed round to $2.5 million over time.
Another Madison group, Wisconsin Investment Partners, LLC, provides mentoring, strategic analysis, business planning, and general financial assistance to Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs. The group also works to match entrepreneurs with angel investors.
The Chippewa Valley Angel Investors Network, LLC invests in companies with compelling business plans, large market opportunities, proprietary technologies, strong management, and well-defined exit strategies. Before approaching this angel network entrepreneurs should make significant personal investments and raise cash from family and friends. The group’s minimum investments are in the neighborhood of $100,000.
Prairie Angels, a Chicago-based investment group, is committed to investing in early stage companies. Prairie Angels prefer to see deals after founders have already invested their own capital and taken money from family and friends. The group will consider proposals from both technical and non-technical high-growth corporations, provided that the businesses appear worthy of raising institutional VC financing at a later date.
Additional groups of angel investors with an interest in Midwestern corporations include The Great Lakes Angels, the Northern Illinois Angels, and the Origin Investment Group out of La Crosse.
Women and minorities who are seeking angel financing should check out Commons Capital, which bills itself as “venture capital for a sustainable future.”
The State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) is a state agency that invests the assets of the Wisconsin Retirement System, the State Investment Fund, and other state trust funds. As of March 31, 2004, the Board managed more than $72.1 billion in investments. The Wisconsin Private Debt Program focuses on “smaller companies that cannot get the attention of very large investors.” Both debt and mezzanine financing are available; however, SWIB’s smallest loans are in the neighborhood of $5 million.
Baird Venture Partners seeks to invest in early-to-late stage high-growth companies that focus on business services, life sciences and technology. Their typical equity investments range from $1 million to $6 million.
The venture capital division of Milwaukee’s Mason Wells invests in biomedical information technology, medical devices and biotechnology. Mason Wells can serve as the lead investor for seed, early, and mid-stage equity transactions that involve between $2 million and $30 million in total required capital, with each individual company putting in between $500,000 and $8 million. Mason Wells prefers to invest in entrepreneurs with proprietary or leading edge technologies that address large and growing markets and have a clear strategy for regulatory approval.
Teresa Esser is a contributing columnist for the Wisconsin Technology Network and author of the book, The Venture Cafï¿½. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.