Investments in early stage Wisconsin companies totaled more than $128 million in 2013, a new report said, but that’s a drop of 21 percent from the previous year when $163 million was invested.
At the same time, though, more startup companies were able to draw investments than the year before. Eighty-six companies raised capital in 2013, ranging from $25,000 to multimillion-dollar rounds. That represents a 16 percent increase in the number of startups funded from 74 companies the year before.
The figures are disclosed in the Wisconsin Portfolio report, compiled by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its Wisconsin Angel Network, and are likely to be among the topics for discussion at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference next week in Madison.
Dan Blake, Angel Network director, said the drop in overall funding should not be a big cause for concern.
“In Wisconsin, we’ve seen large deals over the past several years that have caused the numbers to go pretty high,” he said.
“Typically, Wisconsin tends to move in pretty lumpy fashion, based on the size of some of the rounds.”
In 2013, of the top five investment rounds, at $4 million or above, all but one company was in the Madison area:
$38.3 million — Nordic Consulting, Madison, an Epic health information technology consulting firm
$9.3 million — StudyBlue, Madison, creating interactive study tools
$8 million — Wisconsin Brewing Co., Verona, a craft brewery
$7 million — Propeller Health, Madison, technology to monitor and report asthma attacks
$4 million — Montage Talent, Delafield, video interviewing
“Although we saw fewer big-dollar deals in 2013 than in some of the past years, there are new pieces of the puzzle coming together in building a more robust venture capital ecosystem in Wisconsin,” said Tom Still, Wisconsin Technology Council president.
That includes the formation of a new $25 million state of Wisconsin “fund of funds” program; the $30 million 4490 Ventures fund, financed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board; and BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, created through charitable contributions from philanthropists.
Sessions about Wisconsin’s investment landscape; resources for entrepreneurs; building a management team; and finding customers are among the panel discussions planned at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, at the Alliant Energy Center’s Exhibition Hall.
One highlight of the event will be presentations on Tuesday from the 13 finalist companies vying for prizes in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan contest, and the announcement of the winners on Wednesday.
Still said he expects at least 500 people to attend the two-day conference, including about 40 investors from around the Midwest and beyond.