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the state’s two largest cities, Milwaukee and Madison. The Wisconsin Angel Network held an event earlier this year in the southwestern Wisconsin city of Platteville to drum up interest in angel investing, and it’s planning another one in Green Bay, Blake says.
“We make sure people have a good sense of, if this is something people are interested in, how to go about getting involved,” Blake says. “We continue to press for that type of activity.”
The efforts of Blake’s organization come as new angel and venture capital funds are popping up in Wisconsin. In the past two years, they include 4490 Ventures, the $30 million Madison-based fund backed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Milwaukee-based CSA Partners, a fund established through a $10 million investment by Chris Abele, who also serves as Milwaukee’s elected county executive; the Wisconsin Super Angel Fund in Milwaukee; the nonprofit BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation; and the state-backed Badger Fund of Funds.
The funding environment is “definitely getting better” in Wisconsin, despite the generally conservative nature of investors here, WIP’s Shrago says.
“I’m quite bullish on everything that’s going on here,” Shrago says. “When we look back in five to 10 years,” people will see “quite a strong ecosystem in this early-stage space. The next step is having a handful of big exits to bring in a lot of money and create serial entrepreneurs. We’ve got a few of those, but I think we’re going to have a lot more five years from now.”