Investment Down in Wisconsin Startups this Year

After a record-breaking year for startup investment in 2021, Wisconsin has struggled to keep that momentum going in 2022 and 2023.

Investment in early-stage companies was down last year, but still higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to an annual report from the Wisconsin Tech Council. However, such investments so far this year have come in much lower.

This year, roughly $191 million in investment deals have been tracked so far, less than the $209 million tracked in all of 2015, according to Joe Kremer, director of the Wisconsin Tech Council Investor Networks program.

He said it’s unlikely the state will match the record-breaking $868 million raised in 2021 and the strong $640 million raised last year, but he’s still optimistic that investment could see an uptick before the end of 2023.

“A lot of deals happen in the fourth quarter,” Kremer said. “I saw this last year as well, where we were worried about the numbers, and it really picked up in October through November and December. So we’re anticipating that could happen.”

He also said “large deals” really drive the state’s total investments, pointing to Madison-based Fetch Rewards securing $240 million last year. That accounted for one-third of all investment capital raised in 2022.

“We haven’t had any of those significant deals yet, but I do see some brightness on the horizon here,” Kremer said. “We have had a number of deals that have raised $10 to $20, almost $30 million that are starting to grow to that point that hopefully they will start attracting larger rounds in future years.”

Additionally, 2021 may have been a bit of an outlier for the state, as much of the investment may have been driven by the economy coming back to life as the pandemic eased, Kremer said.