Wisconsin Startup Fishidy Wins Chance to Pitch Silicon Valley VCs

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California investors. He has already turned down some money from out-of-state investors who wanted Fishidy to relocate from Wisconsin.

“Fishidy will be here forever,” Jensen told me.

The Madison chamber is organizing the trip in late June, with expenses covered by law firm Michael Best & Friederich and a group of local organizations. Fishidy will be joined by four other Madison-area startups, which chamber officials will handpick in May, chamber president Zach Brandon said.

Those five lucky companies can thank the skepticism of a Silicon Valley VC for the opportunity. In a TechCrunch video last summer, Kleiner Perkins general partner Michael Abbott interviewed Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane and asked why his San Francisco-based company decided to open an office in Madison. It hired a handful of skilled employees who were originally going to relocate from Madison, but ended up staying there. Zendesk officials soon realized there was enough talent coming from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to warrant a location there, and the company intends to grow to about 100 employees in Madison, Svane said in the video.

“Mikkel gave a great answer, but Michael was clearly unconvinced,” Brandon told Xconomy. “I took the opportunity to reach out to him.”

Brandon offered to fly Abbott to Madison to meet with local startups. Abbott turned him down. Brandon’s counteroffer was to bring Madison companies to Abbott. He agreed, and the chamber lined up a handful of Silicon Valley VCs to meet with the Madison startups, Brandon said.

“Hopefully there will be some connections made,” Brandon said. “It’s important for [Madison] to be telling our story internationally. It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that people know what’s going on here. Instead of bemoaning the fact that we need more capital, [the chamber is] doing something about it.”

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Jeff Engel is Deputy Editor, Tech at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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