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 few months have been busy ones at the UW and in addition to the normal classes, business plan preparation and job search activity the E-ship and SMILES students traveled down to Chicago to visit three successful entrepreneurs in a variety of industries. The opportunity to meet with them and tour their facilities made it a very insightful experience.

In addition, earlier this year we were very pleased to see our entrepreneurship program named as one of the top 10 in their global rankings. Our newsletter covers both of these big events along with many of the other interesting activities and accomplishments from our students, alumni, faculty and advisory board members.



Table of Contents

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


Exciting News Ranking from Financial Times Report

The Financial Times released its annual business school rankings. We are pleased to announce that the Wisconsin School of Business MBA entrepreneurship program was ranked 9th among global business schools. We were #6 in the U.S. after Babson, Stanford, UCLA, Berkeley and MIT. In addition, the marketing program ranks 6th globally and the full-time MBA program ranks 38th among all business schools in the U.S. and 14th among public programs. All three of these rankings are improvements over the prior survey.

To view the entire Financial Times report, visit:

Director Attends USASBE Conference

Dan Olszewski, Director, recently attended the national United States of America Small Business Entrepreneurs (USASBE) 2010 conference in Nashville, Tennessee from January 14-17.

Venture Capital and Investment Competition (VCIC)

Students participated in a Mock VCIC seminar held on January 30. The session was led by Phil Greenwood, with alumni Tom Carmona (2009), Sam Adams (2004), and Steve Royko (2001) serving as the entrepreneurs and judges. VCIC team members Duncan Basson, Erin Byrd, Justin Hajny, Doug Henry and Oliver Richards participated in this exercise as well as the real competition in Colorado on February 13, 2010. The students represented the Center well and had a great experience at the Colorado competition.


Students Visit Entrepreneurs in Chicago

On Friday, March 5, 17 students embarked on a trip to Chicago to meet with entrepreneurs. It was difficult for the students to tell what the best part of the day was for them, as it was all such a tremendous experience. A special thank you to all who served as hosts.

Fulton Films

Stop 1:  Fulton Market Films

John Fromstein, UW alum, took us down a trip along memory lane with his making of the film "Being Bucky" and shared his advertising agency background experience. He also updated us on what they are doing now at Fulton Market Films and shared some video clips. In 2005 John founded Fulton Market Films LLC and has won several Effie Awards for his commercials, producing nearly 100 of them.

Stop 2:  Jayson Home & Garden

Jay Golz, writes Thinking Entrepreneur for the New York Times, and initially started a custom frame shop, Artists' Frame Service upon graduating from college. He then added Chicago Art Source and Jayson Home & Garden. He has been featured in Inc. magazine and has authored "The Street-Smart Entrepreneur." He has also written a monthly column for Fortune Small Business. Jay outlined his entrepreneurial experience and what it takes to be a true entrepreneur as well as gave us a tour of his current businesses.

Stop 3:  Smoque BBQ

Barry Sorkin, Founder of Smoque BBQ, treated us to his experience in the restaurant business. Smoque has been featured in the New York Times and on the Food Network. Barry spent over two hours with us, sharing his initial business plan, how the idea developed into fruition after several months of trying to figure out where, when and what they would be serving. Whatever it took, we can truly attest to the fact that he got it right! We also tried everything on the menu and it was Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!


Available Full-Time and/or Internship Students

We have several talented students who are looking for the right opportunity. We encourage you to read through their resumes, get a chance to know them, and take advantage of talent that could help your firm in either a summer internship or full-time role. For an electronic copy of the resumes, please email WeinertCenter@bus.wisc.edu. Please also pass this along if you know of anyone who is interested in hiring an MBA -- we'd appreciate it, as would our students. Thank you in advance.


InBusiness Recognizes Prominent Board Member

Laurie Benson, former CEO of Inacom, was presented with the Athena award on March 16 at the Monona Terrace. The award is given to an individual who:

  • Demonstrates excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession.
  • Provides valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community
  • Actively assists women in realizing their full leadership potential.

Congratulations on a well-deserved award. Second-year student, Erin Byrd, also attended the event.

Laurie was featured in a video series to help the growth of small businesses. To watch Laurie on Strategies for Growth: Profiles of Success, please see http://www.sba.gov/strategiesforgrowth/success/STRATEGIES_PS_VIDEO1.html

Madison Magazine Honors John Neis

John Neis, Venture Investors and WAVE board member, was recently recognized by Madison Magazine as a winner of the 2010 Best of Madison Business Awards. A luncheon was held at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center to recognize John who has also been recognized by Forbes as one of the top 100 dealmakers in the world.

Dan Neely Featured in Executive Q&A

Dan Neely, Networked Insights, was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal on February 20. Dan talked about the company history and social media plans going forward. For the full article, please read:

David Walsh Joins Executive Hall of Fame

David Walsh, Foley & Lardner, was recently featured in InBusiness Magazine for joining its Executive Hall of Fame. This award is given to people who have reached a level of performance beyond their industry and direct circle of influence, and who have also demonstrated leadership in building Madison -- both the business community and the community at large. Congratulations, David!

Board Members Move to New Ventures

Pete Zaballos, formerly with Frazier Technology Ventures, has accepted his next role at StudyBlue.com. Pete is the SVP of Marketing and Business Development.

Toni Sikes, founder of Guild.com, started as general partner of Calumet Venture Fund. For the complete article, please read:


Anne Miner recently had an essay titled "The Promise of Family Business as an Academic Field in Major Research Universities" accepted in Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence, and Growth, Volume 12 (Volume editors Stewart, G. T. family & J. A. Katz). The essay informally discusses challenges to the family business area as a domain for scholarly research. It considers other fields that have traditionally been seen primarily as an important outreach activity, but sometimes developed into fields with scholarly research as well. Miner offers several ways that the family business context may offer a place to develop novel theory, and that they represent a very important form of business activity around the world. She notes that there are a variety of ways that focus on family business that can enter mainstream research university academic programs. These include current researchers using the family business context to test theory, the development of centers that include a research mission and more formal long-term research programs.

Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp (WEB) Seeking Applicants

The Summer WEB has opened applications for this program being held June 20-25, 2010. If you know of any students interested in entrepreneurship currently enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the graduate and/or post doc level, in any of the sciences and/or law fields, please spread the word. More information can be found here: http://bus.wisc.edu/web


Heather Hilleren (2005) Founder of Local Dirt, recently received its first venture funding. Please read the article here:

Governor's Business Plan

Once again, alum Joe Kremer (1997) is helping organize the 2010 Business Plan Competition.

To view the details please go here

Paul Pucci (2005) is pleased to announce that Flatt Cola launched online Sales Platform through Alice.com. Read the press release here.

Susan Pschorr (2001), Suttle Straus, served on an Ethical Leadership Panel on March 15 for the Wisconsin School of Business.

Chad Sorenson (2002), Founder, Sologear, LLC, was Awarded Forward Under 40 (one of 12) for UW alumni: http://www.forwardunder40.com/40/?p=51 - Sologear. Updates on Sologear include the following points:

  • shipped its first 20,000 FlameDisks to Europe this month
  • started manufacturing its new FlameDisk Grill, a reusable grill developed just for the FlameDisk that will retail for $20 (including a starter FlameDisk)
  • received $1 million in state investment tax credits under Wisconsin's Qualified New Business Venture program, which provides investors a 25% tax credit on all new investment in the company,
  • closed on a $423,200 investment from DaneVest, a local investment group - filling out new vendor forms and developing merchandising for Costco, which will be a 5-pack of FlameDisks available in 2010.
  • FlameDisk is featured in this month's issue of Men's Fitness and will be in the June issue of Woman's Day.

Keith Steckenbach (1999) welcomed his fourth baby girl, Freya, this February. Congratulations to Keith and his family.

Kavi Turnbull (2009) founder of Drive Alternatives made the news for their local start-up. Read the complete article http://tech.mn/news/2010/03/20/minnesota-local-startup-spotlight-16-drive-alternatives/

Featured Alumnus

Image of Alumnus

Alexander Ehrnrooth

2000 Graduate

Virala Corporation



I was very glad to be presented with the opportunity to reflect back on the Entrepreneurship MBA I completed in 2000 at the height of the IT-boom. Many have asked me afterwards how I came to choose Madison for my MBA. As in ending up in the Entrepreneurship program, it was the result of many lucky coincidences – something we all need in everyday business life. During my time at Madison I gained great friends for a life time and also grew greatly both personally and professionally. Although it is hard to pinpoint the direct impact of my time in Madison hopefully a glimpse at my current professional life sheds some light on whether it helped or not!

Since I graduated I have been President and CEO of a family-owned industrial holding company, Virala Corporation. The two main owners are my brother and me. We are the lead owners of primarily publicly held companies with their management base in Finland. Our core strategy is to develop and grow our companies to become leaders in their respective geographical or product area while opportunistically looking at strategic opportunities along the way.

Our core holdings include Fiskars Corporation www.fiskarsgroup.com a leading global supplier of consumer products for the home, garden and outdoors. I serve as Vice Chairman of the board at Fiskars. Fiskars was one of the factors that brought me to Madison, since Fiskars at that time had its entire consumer products group run out of Madison. Today the company still has a significant presence in Madison and the Wisconsin area although some areas of responsibility have been transferred back to Finland. Fiskars is also the largest shareholder of Wärtsilä Corporation www.wartsila.com. Wärtsilä enhances the business of its customers by providing them with complete lifecycle power solutions. Creating better and environmentally compatible technologies, Wärtsilä focuses on the marine and energy markets with products, solutions and services. I also serve as board member of Wärtsilä.

Even before the MBA but particularly after that we also worked a lot with technology or service start-ups where the vast experience the MBA gave me was very helpful. From the portfolio that was invested in at that time we have divested for instance Hantro Products to On2 Technologies www.on2.com that is now being acquired by Google and just a few months ago we sold a leading wireless authentication company, Valimo Wireless, www.valimo.com to Gemalto the world’s largest SIM card manufacturer. We also recently merged our IT services business www.endero.com with Know-IT www.knowit.se of Sweden to become the largest shareholder there. Other businesses that we have successfully grown primarily through acquisitions and organic growth include on the largest listed, although currently just serving the Finnish market, Dental Clinic Groups Oral Hammaslääkärit www.oral.fi and a security services firm based in Finland, Turvatiimi www.turvatiimi.com, where I act as Chairman.


We would like to thank the following recent contributor to the programs:

Andy Albert (Weinert Board)

Sean Ebert (2008 Alum)

Alexander Ehrnrooth (2000 Alum)

Miles Gerson (2009 Alum)

Kurt Kober (2007 MBA and Friend of the Center)

Dan and Kathryn Olszewski (Weinert Center Director and family)

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

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
(608) 265-3959

Ramon (Ray) J. Aldag
Executive Director, Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
3112 Grainger Hall
(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
(608) 263-4143

Janet Christopher
Academic Specialist
Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
4425 Grainger Hall
(608) 263-2882

Rebecca Buckman
Student Services Coordinator
Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
3340 Grainger Hall
(608) 263-4161