Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management in the Life and Engineering Sciences (SMILES) E-Newsletter


To: Alumni and Friends of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management in the Life and Engineering Sciences (SMILES) Programs:

The last two months have been very busy with many great speakers visiting campus and a majority of our students going to Chicago where we met with some alumni, advisory board members, and had the opportunity to visit a variety of successful entrepreneurs and see their businesses up close.

It has also been a very busy time for our students in business plan competitions where both graduate and undergraduate teams have been successful and continue the long tradition of proudly representing Wisconsin.

We hope you have a wonderful spring and enjoy the newsletter update.

Table of Contents

Center/Specialization News and Events
WAVE and Weinert Advisory Board Updates
Faculty/School News
Alumni Updates


Students Visit Entrepreneurs in Chicago

Albert, McVicker, and Fourcher

Weinert Board Member, Andy Albert, Svoboda Capital; Alum Marsha McVicker, Errand Solutions, and Alum Mike Fourcher, Purely Political Consulting; joined the Entrepreneurship/SMILES students for dinner on Thursday, March 5, to speak about their entrepreneurial experiences. Thanks for taking the time to share lessons learned with us!

Picture with Stopher Bartol

Stopher Bartol, President and CEO, Legacy.com, shared his vision for Legacy and how it began and has grown into one of the most visited sites on the internet. Thank you, Stopher!

Picture with Tom Lubin

Tom Lubin, NextWave Media, shared the story of how his background in English and Law degrees led him to become a serial entrepreneur and develop NextWave Media as his most recent start-up. Thank you, Tom!

Picture with Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs, Vice President and Partner, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, was the final site visit in Chicago. Marc met us at Foodlife and shared his experience in the restaurant industry and the management philosophy that is at the core of their success. Thank you, Marc, for sharing your wisdom and treating us to dessert!

Students Participate in the Burrill Competition

Numerous students from across campus competed in this year's Burrill Business Plan Competition. With a record number of entries, entrepreneurship students were on several of the winning teams:

1st Place -- Thomas Carmona (2nd Year E-ship) -- City Dictionary -- (Web destination for city-specific language and culture info)

2nd Place -- Corey Capasso (Undergraduate Eship) -- Add the Flavor -- (High-tech, flavored plastics)

4th Place -- Ryan Palmer (2nd Year E-ship) -- Cultured Kids Immersion Schools LLC -- (Deep immersion culture and language pre-school centers)

Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community (ERLC) Choice Award -- Jesse Davis (Undergraduate E-ship) and Nathan Lustig -- VirtuWill (Estate planning service to manage digital assets)

Social Impact Award -- Erin Byrd (1st Year E-ship) -- A+ Mission -- (Tech-based education tools for after-school tutoring)

The full list of entrants and presenters, can be accessed at the following: http://bus.wisc.edu/degrees-programs/non-business-majors/burrill-business-plan or for more information, please check out:


Neil Peters Michaud, Founder and Owner, Cascade Asset Management, served as the guest speaker for the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition 2009.

Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Competition Finalists

Out of 326 entries, four of our alums have moved on to the final round of competition. Out of this record number of entries only 21 were selected to be finalists. Current student Tom Carmona (City Dictionary) will be joined by alumni:

Scott Daigger (2007) and Todd Wendrick (2007), Sandbox International

Mike Miller (2008), NxtMile

Kyle Montgomery (2006), AquaMost

The final competition takes place at the Entrepreneurs Conference in Milwaukee on June 9 & 10. Please join us in wishing all of the teams the best of luck and congratulations on their accomplishments. For the complete list of finalists, please see: http://www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/Newsroom/index.aspx?ID=729

Entrepreneurship Student Recognized in InBusiness as "Top Talent"

Tom Carmona, second-year entrepreneurship student, was nominated and selected as InBusiness' pick of area talent in their "40 Under Forty" column. For the complete article, please see http://www.inbusinessmagazine.com/directory/profile?id=30416

Tom also competed in the San Diego State Venture Challenge this past month as well as the Stuart Clark Venture Challenge in Manitoba, having gained additional experience to further improve his CityDictionary business.

Students Participated in "The First-Ever UW System Entrepreneurship Summit"

Kavi Turnbull, second-year entrepreneurship student, moderated and Erin Byrd, first-year entrepreneurship student, served on a student panel regarding the best practices of entrepreneurship education. Overall, the summit was a success and a strong demonstration of the university’s belief in fostering entrepreneurship. The summit took place at UW-Stevens Point and is one of the activities of the campus wide Wiscontrepreneur initiative. For more information please see http://www.wiscontrepreneur.org/

Entrepreneurship Association

On March 3rd entrepreneurs listened to Secretary of Commerce Dick Leinenkugel and Executive Assistant of Department of Commerce Zach Brandon, who shared their extensive entrepreneurial experiences. The secretary worked as the VP of Sales at Marketing at Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, a family business. Mr. Brandon was involved with three start-ups among which Laundry 101 topped USA Today's Best places to do laundry in 2003.

Aaron Kennedy, Founder of Noodles & Company, Past Chairman & CEO, was the guest speaker at the April 23 EA meeting. The company opened their second restaurant here in Madison and now has more than 200 locations in 17 states. Aaron discussed his decision to leave the corporate world and set out on his own, described the "innate traits" he believes led to entrepreneurial success and provided some insight on his new venture (Commotion Fresh Foods, an enterprise that will make "delicious, nutritious food for kids that is easy and affordable for mom and dad"...branded items sold at retail). The majority of the EA full-house session was Q & A with Aaron where he discussed the leadership challenges and strategies deployed in the launch and early growth years of Noodles & Company. Thanks again, Aaron!

To watch for upcoming events, please go to http://www.uwea.com/index.php


Dan Olszewski, Jack Lavin, Ray Aldag

Dan Olszewski, Jack Lavin, Ray Aldag

Jack Lavin, President of Javlin Partners, LLC, and former CEO of Arrow Financial Services visited campus March 9 and addressed the Entrepreneurship and SMILES students regarding the history behind his passion for entrepreneurship. Students listened to him share his story and advice regarding entrepreneurship in today's tough economy. Jack fielded other questions concerning students who are interested in starting their own business as well as going to work in the financial industry. Special thanks to Jack for taking the time from his busy schedule to speak to our students.

Board Member Regional Winner for the 2009 Small Business Champion Award

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced Wisconsin regional winners of 2009 Small Business Champion awards, including four in the Madison area.

Laurie Benson, chief executive officer of Inacom Information Systems in Madison, was announced as winner of the Woman in Business Champion award. She will advance to the National SBA Awards to be presented in June. Congratulations, Laurie for this well-deserved recognition! To read the complete article, please go here http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/biz/441940

Aaron Kennedy Spends Day with the Weinert Center

Aaron Kennedy with students

Aaron Kennedy, Founder of Noodles & Company and Weinert Board member, participated in many activities during his visit to Wisconsin for the Dean's Advisory Board meeting. He led Professor Jon Eckhardt's entrepreneurship class through a case study of his business, served as a judge for Professor Phil Kim's entrepreneurship class, met with various entrepreneurs himself and participated as a guest speaker for the Entrepreneurship Association. Thank you, Aaron!


Undergrads Compete in Entrepreneurs International Challenge (EPIC) 2009

Amy Maier, Kyle Bender, Byron Shannon, and Ash Gupta

On February 23-27, undergraduate students Amy Maier, Kyle Bender, Byron Shannon, and Ash Gupta participated in The Entrepreneurs International Competition at the London School of Economics & Political Science and were selected as one of the seven finalist teams. The competition was "Apprentice" themed so most of the days they completed different missions like buying challenges, selling challenges, negotiating challenges, etc. They were trailed by a camera for a commercial to be played in taxis and/or TV promoting LSE. The students had an excellent time meeting some of London's most famous entrepreneurs, learning some key entrepreneurship tips, and representing the UW. The team placed 5th out of 50-plus schools.

Undergraduate E-ship Class Project Gets Cited in Popular Science Magazine

Popular Science has selected entrepreneur Ben Hobbins' company, IronClads-Lake Resources Group, Inc of Waunakee, for inclusion in the June Popular Science Top 10 Inventions issue. Prof. Phil Kim's undergraduate entrepreneurship students helped write the original business plan that finished in the Top 10 for Advanced Manufacturing in the 2007 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest. The company also effectively interfaced with the UW's Polymer Engineering Center in producing Alpha prototypes shown only weeks later at ICAST50 in Las Vegas where it also won an award. PopSci has a long history of highlighting new and innovative technology. This is the first time a PopSci award has been awarded for sports fishing.

Undergrad Receives University Book Store Academic Excellence Award

Bryon Shannon (2009 BBA) received the University Book Store Academic Excellence Award for his business, Wisconsin Relics (http://www.wiscrelic.com/home/). The award recognizes senior undergraduates who completed an outstanding independent project, including the creative arts.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Entrepreneurs' New High-Tech Business Incubator

Metro Innovation Center recently opened on Madison's east side. This is believed to be the first foray into this part of the city. For a complete review and to see pictures, please see http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/local/445582


Tony Escarcega (2005) moved to Portland, Oregon and has relocated his running supplement company, PR1pak, with him.

Mike Miller (2007), CEO/Co-Founder, NxtMile, has opened up new office space on Anderson Street in Madison.

Sara VanderLind (2006) is relocating to Michigan leaving her position as Product Manager at Fiskars Brands to stay home with her son, Asher.

Featured Alumni

Image of Alumnus

Susan Pschorr

2001 Graduate

Director of Human Resources, Suttle-Straus, Inc.

The WAVE program, where I partnered with Brad Ricker and Yaron David to consult with Platypus Technologies when it was in the pre-startup phase, was the jumping off point for my post-MBA career. Our team wrote a business plan, strategic plan and financing plan, and put together a valuation to support the founders’ first round of angel financing. After graduation in 2001, I joined Platypus as Director of Finance & Human Resources. I was the fifth employee to join the company, and the first non-scientist. It was very exciting working at a start-up company, setting up business processes and learning about the biotech industry. During the five years I worked there, the company grew to 25 employees, and from occupying a few hundred square feet of incubator space in the MG&E Innovation Center to 8,000 square feet of custom designed space as the initial tenant on the Fitchburg Technology Campus. I enjoyed the multi-disciplinary aspects of my job at Platypus, from budgeting, to payroll, to benefits administration, to launching new products, to pricing and order fulfillment, to negotiating the lease and helping design the new office and lab space. I was involved in every facet of the business.

My interest in human resources began at a grassroots level, before business school, when I was a Producer/Director at WISC-TV Channel 3. There was no HR department, but I worked with other employees on human resource-related issues to improve processes and the workplace. That initial interest in making the workplace better for employees so that they can be productive for the company has come full circle.

Today I am Director of Human Resources at Suttle-Straus, Inc., a graphic communications company with 235 employees. Suttle-Straus is located in Waunakee, and my staff includes a Payroll Administrator and an Employee Development and Safety Administrator. For most companies, payroll is the single largest expense. Hiring the right people and developing them to capitalize on their strengths is a key component of productivity and profitability. In my current position, I am responsible for compliance matters such as Workers Comp, OSHA, FMLA, and the ADAAA. But the most important role of the human resources department is to build value for the organization by offering service and support to all the other departments, managers and employees. We do this through hiring, training, education, employee development, promoting a clean and safe work environment, payroll and benefits administration, and providing opportunities to recognize employee accomplishments. Our HR practices have earned Suttle-Straus the Printing Industries of America’s Best Workplace in America award for nine straight years, five of those as a “Best of the Best” award winner.

In addition to more traditional HR activities, as a member of the executive team I have the opportunity to work on a number of other exciting projects. For example, last year we launched a formal continuous improvement (CI) initiative. The Executive Steering Committee facilitates the choice of major projects to undertake, and supports the solutions that the employees on the CI teams come up with. The program is producing measureable results and empowering the employees closest to the work to develop solutions to improve processes and service to our customers.

Human resources is at the heart of a company. It touches every area, yet in many companies it is severely undervalued. I am fortunate to work for a company whose leadership truly values its people, and the role of human resources management, because it means I have a very interesting and rewarding career.


Your continued support for our programs is greatly appreciated. Anyone wishing to financially support the programs can do so at the following:

Entrepreneurship Program: http://bus.wisc.edu/centers/weinert/give
SMILES Program: http://www.bus.wisc.edu/SMILES/support

Best Wishes,

Dan Olszewski
Director, Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
Director, Strategic Management in the Life and Engineering Sciences
Director, Weinert Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship (WAVE) Fund
4429 Grainger Hall
975 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 265-3959

Ramon (Ray) J. Aldag
Executive Director, Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
Glen A. Skillrud Faimly Chair in Business
3112 Grainger Hall
975 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 263-3711

Anne S. Miner
Executive Director, Strategic Management in the Life and Engineering Sciences
Executive Director, Initiative for Studies in Transformational Entrepreneurship
5252 Grainger Hall
975 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 263-4143

Janet Christopher
Academic Specialist
Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
4425 Grainger Hall
975 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 263-2882

Rebecca Buckman
University Services Program Associate
Wisconsin School of Business
3340 Grainger Hall
975 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 263-4161