Following in the footsteps of a nearby Michigan group, the Wisconsin Venture Capital Association is coming back to life, and next week will hold its first meeting since 2008.
For nine years, the Wisconsin Venture Capital Association was basically nonexistent, a victim of board member retirements and a decline in the venture capital sector as a whole.
But the 2107 environment is a whole lot different, and WVCA, which started in 2002 and went dark in 2008, is coming back in full force—and part of the reason for that was the work a similar statewide group was doing.
Venture Investors, LLC—which has offices in both Madison, Wisconsin, and Ann Arbor, Michigan—has a managing director, Jim Adox, who serves on the board of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. Seeing the success the Michigan group was having, the company restarted the conversation around WVCA, convincing 24 members to sign up. Steve Button, also a managing director of Venture Investors, emphasized the group would work to improve the state of venture capital in Wisconsin—which ranked dead-last nationally in a state-by-state assessment of startup activity within larger states last year.
“This is a relationship business,” Button told Xconomy. “Part of [the] goal here was really to make sure that all the players in this state know each other, and what kinds of deals we’re interested in.”
Bobby Franklin, the president and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association, welcomed the revived WVCA, adding that it played into the national association’s efforts to encourage geographical diversity.
“Not everybody’s going to be Silicon Valley, but everybody has unique opportunity,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think what’s going for Wisconsin is you’ve got (a) great research university there that does great work, and that can lead to a lot of great commercial successes.”
Franklin will attend the revived group’s first meeting, taking place March 31.