Forward Fest connects startup entrepreneurs with business professionals

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MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's largest technology and entrepreneurship festival started Thursday. The festival is dedicated to helping people beginning in business connect with those who are professionals in it.

The festival, called Forward Fest, runs for eight days at different venues in Madison. Throughout 56 events, people can pitch business ideas to professionals, receive mentorship from Madison-area businesses and listen to spokespeople discuss a variety of topics.

"What the festival at large does is provide a canvas," said Forward Fest co-founder Matt Younkle. "Everybody has those silos that they sort of operate in. We break down those silos and give everybody a chance to see what everybody is doing."

Younkle said the fest is a way to see what fast-growing businesses are doing in what he called the entrepreneurial ecosystem. It's a way for technology and startup communities to focus on their work and receive feedback, he said.

Most of the events are free, and all are open to the public.