By JOHN TORINUS
Special to the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Dec. 11, 2004
It isn’t a shortage of venture capital that’s holding back Wisconsin business start-ups, it’s a flow of deals that comes in drips, not gushers.
In the hot deal areas of the country, venture capitalists have a steady flow of companies to screen in search of winners. But even in places such as Silicon Valley, Boston and San Diego, picking winners is still a risky business.
Put another way, the funnel through which deals flow is backward in Wisconsin, says Lane Brostrom, managing director of TechStar, an organization created to accelerate start-ups in the Milwaukee area. By putting too much emphasis on venture capital and not enough on the early stages of business creation, he believes, the state puts itself at a disadvantage.
The prototype in the venture world, he said, is 100 deals coming in the front end of the process, and two or three coming out the end that qualify for venture capital. Brostrom and TechStar (I serve on the board) have a bias for more activity on the front end and have been lobbying to create a seed and early-stage fund.