2021 Program

The 2021 Badger Startup Summit returns August 12 in two virtual events

The Live Summit format will return in 2022

The Badger Startup Summit is all about building networks. For seven years this live event brought the myriad participating and supporting entities that comprise Madison Startup Ecosystem into one room, at one time.  The live Summit will be back but this year we continue our collaboration with 5 Lakes institute.  The Summit opens with the 5 Lakes Chat @Badger Startup.  This Keynote session is aimed at startup teams already on the path to growth with customer traction and investor backing.  We focus on the significance of scalability to any startup venture.   The following second session shifts to  the other end of the entrepreneurial spectrum with our signature Pitch & rePlay aimed at entrepreneurs who are at the earliest stages of testing out their ideas while refining their pitching skills.  For this virtual two-part Summit if you don’t gain new insights or make new connections today, we aren’t delivering.



12:00 noon  – 1:30pm  5 Lakes Chat @ Badger Startup Summit

The significance of scalability in building a successful venture

We partner again with with the 5 Lakes  Institute  for a discussion on the importance of scale and how it is integral to the growth of any emerging venture.  Three scale-up experts will discuss the role that early attention to scalability makes the difference between billion-plus valuations and modestly successful companies that never dominate their markets.  The discussion will be moderated by John Byrnes and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Kathleen Gallagher.  Please join Kathleen and these three UW-Madison alums who have spent their careers scaling companies for this conversation on what it takes to successfully scale a business.

John Byrnes: Chairman, 5 Lakes Institute, is a lawyer and private equity investor who earned a highly respected reputation in commercial banking, corporate finance, and venture capital during his 40-year professional career in the financial services industry. He is Founder, retired Chairman and Executive Managing Director of Mason Wells, a top-tier, Midwest-focused private equity firm.

Mike Splinter: Chairman of the Board of NASDAQ, General Partner at WISC Partners and retired executive chairman of Applied Materials,  a leading supplier of semiconductor equipment.  An engineer and technologist, Mike is a 40-year veteran of the semiconductor industry. Prior to joining Applied Materials, he was a long-time executive at Intel Corporation. Mike was elected to the National Academy of Engineers in 2017.

Ramu Sunkara: CEO and Co-Founder of Alan AI, Inc, the technology leader for voice assistant deployment in mobile and web applications. Prior to Alan, Ramu co-founded Qik, the live mobile video service, in 2006. Qik was acquired by Skype for $150M in 2011 where Ramu led mobile video products and innovations for Skype. Ramu is a graduate of the UW-Madison in Computer Sciences. He serves on  the UW-Madison Computer Science Board of Visitors and was instrumental in helping form the new School of Computer Data and Information Sciences (CDIS).

Stephen Turner: Stephen founded Pacific Biosciences (formerly Nanofluidics) and in 2004 and secured its Series A funding. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Physics by Cornell University in 2000, where he studied the behavior of biomolecules in nano-fabricated structures. His work there led to the technology now employed by Pacific Biosciences.  Pacific Biosciences business focuses on design, development and commercialization of innovative tools for biological research. Stephen earned his BS at the UW-Madison, in Applied Mathematics, Electrical Engineering and Physics. He is the author of over 50 scientific papers in fields ranging from DNA sequencing technology and biophysics to genomics and epigenomics.

Kathleen Gallagher: Executive Director, 5 Lakes Institute. Kathleen is a writer and published book author with expertise in business and science communications.  During her more than twenty year tenure as a reporter at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she won several awards covering business, technology and science; including journalism’s highest honor a Pulitzer Prize. Kathleen is a regular columnist at BizTimes.com and co-host of WUWM’s “How Did You Do That” a popular radio talk show featuring interviews with successful entrepreneurs.

Bring your Lunch, pull up a chair and join us

(Did you miss last year’s Chat? Click HERE to replay)

1:30 pm Break

(close out of the 5 Lakes Chat Zoom and sign in to Pitch & rePlay.  NOTE: you must Register separately for each event)

2:00 pm The MERLIN Pitch and Re-Play

Welcome and Introduction Susie Younkle— MERLIN Mentors

Logistics and Expectations Dennis Barnum—MERLIN Mentors

Our signature pitch session returns in partnership with MERLIN Mentors as a virtual experience. We will use gener8tor’s Mentor Swarm model (big thanks to gener8tor’s Madison g-Beta team) to rotate entrepreneurs sequentially through virtual

rooms where they meet and pitch to attendees. Entrepreneurs start simultaneously, each in a different room of 5-10 attendees eager to hear your story.Entrepreneurs rotate to the next room every 15 minutes

3:45 pm Pitch Wrap-up  Dennis Barnum

4:00 pm  Adjourn

Next up:

The High Tech Happy Hour celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary Aug 12 5-7 PM.  …and there is more…  Don’t miss the rest of the 2021 Forward Fest.

The 2021 Summit is Aug. 12

Registration is free but required

Click the Buttons below to sign up

Note: The Summit is included with Forward Pass purchase but registration is still required.

Find it

Not at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery this year

Watch your email for the links to the virtual session  arriving shortly prior to Aug 13


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