Pressure Chamber

Pressure Chamber

Pressure Chamber is back and will coincide with neXXpo, Startup Showcase and Forward Fest on August 25, 2015, at Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center!

Pressure Chamber Returns to our Biggest Stage Yet!

Last year, the Chamber introduced Pressure Chamber, a multi-faceted entrepreneurial initiative that offered greater Madison’s promising early-stage companies exposure to the region’s business community and top investors from across the country. With participation from nearly twenty investment firms, including global investors like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, Mohr Davidow and others, companies had the ultimate platform to promote their business.

For Fishidy, the 2014 winner of Pressure Chamber, the experience was especially rewarding:

“The Pressure Chamber competition was a game-changer for Fishidy. Not only did it help us secure and close an outside financing round, but it gave us valuable experience in pitching in these types of settings. As a result we were selected to other prominent pitch events including the Rise of the Rise Tour and Collision 2015.” – Brian Jensen, CEO, Fishidy

The Pressure Chamber initiative culminated with a trip to Palo Alto last summer. As the contest winner, Fishidy received a free spot on the Chamber’s delegation of Madison-area startups for meetings with some of Silicon Valley’s top investors. In addition to investor meetings, the trip also included a special event with UW-Madison alumni and other Bay-area firms with Wisconsin roots, offering additional opportunities to strengthen networks and provide connections between both regions.

And for one participating company, the meetings also led to a seven-figure business deal with a new strategic partner!

and in our second year, we are just getting started!

On August 25, 2015, Pressure Chamber will be held in coordination with neXXpo, Startup Showcase and one of the largest Madison-area entrepreneurship events of the year!

Held at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, the Forward Technology Conference is a signature program of Forward Festival, an eight-day celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation. Conference programming will take place throughout the day on the main floor of the convention center. In the lower exhibition hall, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce will present neXXpo, a reception hosted by Zendesk and two business pitch events: Pressure Chamber and Startup Showcase. The density created by having all of these popular events together will create a unique experience, bringing hundreds of entrepreneurs, business, civic and education leaders together in celebration of all of the innovation happening in greater Madison.

For Madison-area early-stage companies, there are three opportunities to participate:

1. Exhibit at neXXpo – Pressure Chamber and/or Startup Showcase applicants can receive up to 50% off a neXXpo booth!
(booth discounts are limited to first-come, first-served)

2. Pitch at Startup Showcase – Presented by Capital Entrepreneurs and Accelerate Madison
The Forward Festival Startup Showcase features an evening of startup pitches from some of Madison’s most compelling emerging companies. Five to seven startups will be selected to give a 5- minute “demo day” style pitch. In addition, several Startup Showcase alumni from past years will take part in a lightning round of 1-minute update pitches. The Startup Showcase is a high energy stage that celebrates and showcases what’s next in Madison’s startup ecosystem.

3. Pitch at Pressure Chamber – Presented by the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Michael Best & Friedrich, with support from the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, American Family Ventures, Baird Capital, Lindsay Stone & Briggs and HealthX Ventures
Pressure Chamber provides Madison-area early-stage companies valuable exposure to investors and the region’s business community. Applicants go through a screening process that may include presentations with prominent Wisconsin investors. From there, a select number of companies will be chosen to pitch in front of a panel of out-of-state investors, business executives and a live audience at the Pressure Chamber event during Forward Fest. The winning company is decided based on a combination of judges scoring and audience votes. In addition to receiving the coveted golden suitcase, the winning company will also receive an all-expenses paid spot on the Chamber’s exclusive Madison-area startup delegation to Palo Alto in October for meetings with top Silicon Valley investment firms. Whether your company is currently raising or planning to raise investment capital in the future, Pressure Chamber is a valuable platform to tell your story and make new connections across the country.

Both Pressure Chamber and Startup Showcase are open to any industry, as long as the company meets the following requirements:

  1. Must be a member of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce or Capital Entrepreneurs
  2. Must be located in Dane County or plan to locate to Dane County by August 25, 2015
  3. Must have raised at least $25,000 in private equity (excluding personal investment by company founders)
  4. Application must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7, 2015

*For more information on the Chamber’s new membership package designed especially for startups, contact Amy Golackson.

For all other questions, contact:

Kevin Little
Managing Director, Economic Development
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce
(608) 443-1949

To be eligible for the Pressure Chamber, companies must:

  • Be a member of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce or Capital Entrepreneurs
  • Be located in Dane County or plan to locate to Dane County by August 25, 2015
  • Have raised at least $25,000 in private equity (excluding personal investment by company founders)
  • Submit application by the end of business day on Tuesday, July 7, 2015

 pressure chamber application 2015

Pressure Chamber finalists include:

Stay tuned! Announcements coming in August!


The Pressure Chamber is presented by Michael Best & Friedrich.

With support from the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, American Family Ventures, Baird Capital, 4490 Ventures, HealthX Ventures, Lindsay Stone & Briggs, Three Oaks Venture Fund, Venture Investors and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

What Others Have Said

  • Kudos to the Chamber and the Small Business Advisory Council for the creation of the Road Construction Survival Guide. It connects the affected businesses with the city departments and the construction company in charge. The regular meetings and contact with the correct people makes a huge difference in coping.

    Teena Browder, Cork ‘n Bottle
  • My small business has a voice in local politics with the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, I have a voice here. We’re all business people and we look at the bottom line. The return on investment from my Chamber membership and the advocacy it provides is far above what I get from other organizations.

    Tim Lightner, Owner, Two Men and a Truck
  • The Chamber has worked tirelessly to promote the interests of the local business community, and to create and preserve the conditions that allow businesses to thrive, for the good of the entire community. I can think of no organization that is better equipped to guide us through this time than the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, and we all owe it our full support, to our mutual benefit.

    David Stark, President, Stark Company Realtors
  • The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has been an excellent resource for my small business. The Chamber provides multiple channels for business awareness, networking opportunities and helpful educational programs. Being a member of the Chamber has really made a difference in helping expand my business visibility, growth and development in Dane County.

    John Vardallas, CAE, Founder/CEO, The American BoomeR Consulting Group