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:

I hope everyone is having a great summer. As you can see by the length of this newsletter, it continues to be a very busy time for our students, alumni, advisory board members and faculty. We are especially happy to share the news that Jon Eckhardt was named an Associate Professor and granted tenure. Jon has been an active member of the entrepreneurship faculty and an award-winning classroom instructor who was also the driving force in creating the undergraduate major in entrepreneurship. This is just one of the many exciting accomplishments you will find in this quarter's newsletter.

Have a great rest of the summer.


Table of Contents

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


Graduating Students Honored at Board Meeting

Students at the Board Meeting

On May 7, Center students attended the WAVE Board meeting and made presentations of their "start-ups" to wrap up the semester. Congratulations to all the graduates!

At the WAVE board reception, several students were recognized with the following awards presented by Director Dan Olszewski:

  • James J. Weinert Outstanding Graduate -- Erin Byrd
  • Outstanding WAVE Student -- Justin Hajny
  • Outstanding MBA Class of 2009 member (voted by classmates) -- Doug Henry
  • Assistant Professor Phil Kim presented the Alan C. Filley Outstanding Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Student Award to Aaron Larner.
  • Professor Anne Miner presented the Robert W. Pricer Ph.D. Award (given to an outstanding Ph.D. student studying entrepreneurship) to Jay O'Toole.

INSITE G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition

Ryan Fields won the Green Venture Award for his start-up, Buffalo Shoals, at the April 23 Burrill competition. To view all the presentations, please see: http://www.bus.wisc.edu/burrill/

Entrepreneurship Students Present at Biofuels VC Showcase

Duncan Basson and Justin Hajny presented at the first UW-Madison Biofuels VC showcase. The event was sponsored by WARF and gave venture capitalists from across the country the opportunity to learn about two biofuel breakthroughs.

As part of a WAVE project, Duncan and Justin worked with Professor Ronald T. Raines, Henry Lardy Professor of Biochemistry, on a new biofuels technology developed in his lab. At the showcase the students presented some of their work regarding industry and market opportunities for this new technology.

Entrepreneurship Guest Speakers - Spring 2010

We would like to extend a sincere thank you to all the speakers who participated in the entrepreneurship classes this past semester and gave students the opportunity to combine the teaching of academic theory with the lessons of real-world application. Speakers this past semester included:

Pehr Anderson, NBX Case

George Arida, Venture Investors

Laurie Benson, Co-Founder Inacom

Adam Bock, Ph.D. candidate at Imperial College London, Visiting Lecturer at UW-Madison and Author

Joe Boucher, Neider & Boucher

Rimas Buinevicius, Sonic Foundry

Tom Carmona, CityDictionary.com

Bill Checkovich, Angel Investor & Executive-in-Residence

Michelle Collins, Founder, Svoboda Collins

Jesse Davis, Entrustet.com

Theresa Esser, Capital Midwest Fund II

Tim Gill, Shopbop

Mike Gotzler, QTI Group

Matt Halprin, Omidyar Network

Craig Heim, WARF

Jeremy Kruk, Badger Painting

Dan Leonard, Scientific Commercialization

Greg Lynch, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

Doug Malmquist, Angel Investor & Vilas Zoo Commission

Neil Peters-Michaud, Cascade Asset Management

Mike Miller, Nxt Mile

Kyle Montgomery, Aova Technologies

Dan Neely, Networked Insights

Jeff Peterson, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

Kay Plantes, Plantes Company

Paul Pucci, WARF

Paul Reckwerdt, Founder of Tomotherapy

John Schuster, YS&M Law Firm

Chad Sorenson, Sologear

David Van Sickle, Asthmapolis

Kavi Turnbull, DriveAlternatives.com

J.J. Vosskamp, Cascade Asset Management

Chuck West, UWEX

WAVE Investment Shares Fundraising Update

Ratio, Inc. announced a successful current round of funding. Tony Escarcega, our featured alum (2005) in this newsletter, was a co-founder of Ratio and discusses his entrepreneurial venture. See article: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100719006422/en/Ratio-Drug-Delivery-Fundraising-Update


Andy Albert Inducted into the Weinert Center Hall of Fame

Andy's induction into the Center Hall of Fame

Professor Ray Aldag and Dan Olszewski presented Andy Albert with a basketball signed by Bo Ryan during the induction.

Andy Albert, Managing Director and Operating Partner at Svoboda Capital, received his BA from Washington University (’67) and his MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (’69). Andy previously held the positions of VP/GM American National Bank-London Office; Chairman, Co-CEO of Rittenhouse; and President and CEO of Nashua Corporation.

In addition to his very successful business career, Andy has been a great friend to the Wisconsin School of Business and the Weinert Center. He has been a great mentor to students, has spoken several times in the classroom, and has been a featured guest speaker at the UW. Andy always seems to find time in his busy schedule to meet with students and help them with their career goals. He joins a group of previous prestigious inductees who are included on the Weinert Center Hall of Fame.

WAVE Board Member John Komives Moves to Emeritus Status

John Komives

At the recent WAVE meeting on May 7, one of the founding advisory board members, John Komives, announced his retirement to emeritus status. In addition to providing wonderful insights at board meetings, John was one of the earliest researchers in the field of entrepreneurship. He is credited with organizing the first major academic research conference, a symposium on technical entrepreneurship in 1970. It was chaired by John and Arnold Cooper at Purdue University. (Library of Congress call Number 72177979 //r883).

Thank you John for all you have done, and we look forward to seeing you in the future.

Joe Boucher and his firm, Neider & Boucher, S.C., received an award on Friday June 18 at the Dane County Small Business Awards ceremony. The award recognized the company for the rewarding workplace environment and contributions to the Dane County community.


Entrepreneurship Faculty Member Promoted

Jon Eckhardt was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In May, Jon also received the Mabel W. Chipman award for Excellence in Teaching from the Wisconsin School of Business. He recently attended a conference on entrepreneurship research at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and was appointed to serve on the research committee of the entrepreneurship division of the Academy of Management. The Academy of Management is the oldest and largest scholarly management association in the world, comprised of 19,240 members from 102 nations.

Phil Greenwood Presents at Conferences and with News Media

Phil Greenwood presented on "Benchmarking, Comparative Analysis, and Financial Forecasting; Tools for Improved Decision Making" at the Manufacturing Matters conference held by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership in Milwaukee on April 20, 2010. See:http://www.manufacturingmatters.org/

Phil also appeared on NBC 15's Five O'Clock News with Leigh Mills discussing "Five Issues with Unemployment." And on June 6, he was a guest lecturer for the Wisconsin Supplier Council - Business Management seminar in Madison, presenting on "Financial Analysis and Benchmarking for the SME Supplier."

Anne Miner Receives Research Award

Anne Miner received the Business school's Gaumnitz Distinguished Research Award. Her work studies improvisation and learning in start-ups. She has a forthcoming commentary in Research Policy on the international diffusion of programs to promote university start-ups.

Summer Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp (WEB)
University of Wisconsin-Madison Offers Fourth "Crash Course in Entrepreneurship"

WEB Students at Waterwall

INSITE (Initiative for Transformational Entrepreneurship) and the Weinert Center jointly produce this summer boot-camp on behalf of the University as a whole. The fourth summer WEB Bootcamp was held June 20-25. The camp is offered to UW grad students in engineering, the sciences and law. Sixty-three Ph.D., masters and post doc students from several departments across campus attended the 12-hour-per-day camp.
In addition, nine students from the Netherlands participated, along with two of their advisors and one alum. The program introduced the students to tools, information, and concepts about how to initiate and sustain a technology-based start-up.

Industry leaders, UW-Madison experts and top faculty all played key roles teaching in the program. Anne Miner and Dan Olszewski (Wisconsin School of Business) acted as Masters of Ceremonies as well as instructors, along with Cisco's John Morgridge (UW Alum), playing key roles in the overall program design.

The WEB program thanks to John and Tashia Morgridge and other program sponsors and all those at Virent Energy Systems, Inc., who hosted the on-site trip. Thanks also goes to WEB alums Cabell Jonas (2009), Ankit Agarwal (2009) and speakers for the 2010 class Jeffrey Duncan and Gaurav Pranami, and staff members Eric Alborn, Janet Christopher, Joe Raffiee-Shirazi, Cheryl Vickroy and Cong Xu.

From the WEB Program -- Alumni News

2009 WEB alum Ankit Agarwal placed first in the INSITE Burrill competition for im-Bed Biosciences -- a wound treatment using bio-dressing imbedded with nano-silver particles. 2009 WEB alum Chris Meyer placed third in Burrill with Sector67 -- a membership-oriented hackerspace for product development.

Both went on to place in the Governor's Business Plan Competition. Out of 284 entries, they both made the 12-top finalists. Ankit Agarwal placed second in the life sciences category with im-Bed Biosciences-and Chris Meyer placed third in business services with Sector67.


Sam Adams (2004) was appointed CEO of Echometrix. Four years ago, Echometrix was a WAVE class project looking at commercial opportunities for the technology. For more information please read:

Scott Daigger (2007) has joined Mass Mutual's financial advisory team in its Madison office, working with professionals and small businesses in regards to their investment and insurance needs.

Lance Mikus (2004) won the global marketing excellence award for "Most Effective Global Marketing Campaign" at Life Technologies. The award was presented to him by both their president and CMO on May 25. Lance gave kudos to the great marketing teams that he works beside and said the award would not be reality without the teamwork. The other bit of news he wants to share is that he is engaged and getting married on Aug 7, at Ventura Beach, Calif. Congratulations to Lance on both accomplishments!

Mike Miller (2008), Founder NxtMile, LLC, was featured in the May 2010 In Business Magazine with his sport-specific shoe insoles. Mike's original idea behind his start-up has evolved from a custom running shoe for the 40-plus runner into an age-appropriate and sport-specific sport-shoe insole. To read the complete article, please see: http://ibmadison.com/startups?id=488

Andy Strunk (2007) has accepted the position of Product Manager at Seattle-based healthcare software company, Pharmacy OneSource. In this role, Andy is responsible for expanding the application of its flagship product, Sentri7, into the infection control market. The software will help practitioners identify contagious infections like MRSA early and assist them to properly isolate patients to reduce transmission in the hospital setting. Coincidentally, the co-founder of Pharmacy OneSource is Keith Streckenbach, who is a 1999 Entrepreneurship graduate from the Weinert Center!

Kavi Turnbull (2009) has launched a new iPhone application based on his start-up, DriveAlternatives, to help drivers find alternative fuel stations. To read the complete article, please go here: http://thelinemedia.com/innovationnews/drivealternatives071410.aspx

Elizabeth Wewerka (2001), founder of Lady Moxie, is moving forward to pursue other dreams. She sold Lady Moxie and is leaving it in the capable hands of others. Check out her new endeavors at: http://www.captainmoxie.blogspot.com/

Featured Alumnus

Image of Alumnus

Tony Escarcega

2005 Graduate

TSK, Inc.


Five years. That’s how long since it’s been since I graduated from the MBA program at the University of Wisconsin in the spring of 2005. It’s amazing how time can be altered, as sometimes if feels like I just graduated and I’m still a “new grad”. Other times it seems like I’ve been in the trenches for ten years and school is a distant, distant memory. Either way, I’ve definitely earned some experience in those five years, and hopefully you find the journey interesting.

A very quick summary of how I decided to go back to the university for an MBA. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin twice before, earning my MS in biomedical engineering in 1999. I accepted a job as a biomedical engineer at the UW medical school and began working in a pretty cool, relaxed environment. There was never really an “aha!” moment where I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but it became increasingly clear that I liked to do my own thing. It was a logical next step to gain some skills in business, and the MBA from Wisconsin was the obvious solution to get those skills.

I started business school in 2003 for only one reason, to learn how to start a business. Period. I had no interest in climbing the corporate ladder, no interest in learning how to interview better, and certainly no interest in going back to work for someone else. I knew my heart lay in being my own boss, and that is exactly what I got.

In my last semester in business school, I, along with an engineering grad student, wrote a business plan for a drug delivery technology that was developed at the UW. Earlier that winter, I had gone to WARF and found a few technologies that might have potential to start a business. This one struck me as having the most potential, and after meeting with one of the inventors (Dr. David Beebe), I picked that technology and the business plan started coming together for Ratio.

Now, I look back on that business plan and laugh a little (or a lot!). Knowing how much our core ideas changed, the silly projections that were made and the general lack of reality it conveyed. We were fortunate enough to win the Burrill business plan competition and it provided enough impetus to think it could actually be a real business.

At graduation time, I had no idea if I would start the business or not. There were still a lot of unknowns, particularly the fact that we had no money to start it. My advisor was Gerry George, the head of the WAVE program back then. He had a sit down talk with me, basically advising me NOT to start Ratio. It would take too much money, too long of a time to exit, and the technology was unproven. True. True. And true. But, I was still too naive and determined to try, so eventually we were approved by the WAVE board to get an initial investment into the company.

As much as I would like to share all the details about the story of Ratio, it would be far too boring and lengthy, so I’ll share some of the things we did right, and some we did wrong.


  • Highly underestimated the time to develop the technology - It was a very undeveloped technology, basically a lab experiment that showed promise. It took about 5 years to do what we initially projected to take 18 months.
  • Highly undercapitalized the business - To get the large amount of cash we really needed, the technology needed to be more developed. You can see the chicken and the egg scenario here.


  • Created a very low overhead structure - From the beginning, Ratio was a very lean company. It boggles the mind what we’ve done on so little, but that becomes easier if you don’t pay people much, or any. We also utilized grants as much as we could.

So, where is Ratio now? The company is just finalizing a Series AA round (July 2010) and has a partnership with a vaccine company, FluGen. Things are looking up for Ratio now, but it has been quite the roller-coaster ride.

I’m still involved with Ratio, albeit at a more distant level. An entrepreneur has to eat, so I eventually had to find some sort of employment. My current residence is in Seattle, WA and I work for a subsidiary of a Japanese company, TSK, Inc. TSK manufactures and sells oceanographic equipment, primarily to measure the conditions of the oceans. In this age of global warming and oil spills, business is doing well. In the recent gulf oil spill, NOAA is using our probes to measure the conditions of the ocean where the spill is the worst.

I lead the U.S. headquarters of TSK - America, Inc. and report directly to Japan. This is a great position for an entrepreneur, as I am given total control over the budget and I have one command, “Increase sales and stay profitable.” I’m traveling quite a bit all over the world, and it has been a nice change from the starving start up mode.

I’ll end with a question I get sometimes, and I guess I ask it to myself too. “Would I start Ratio again if I had to do it all over?” Things like opportunity cost and the knowledge of the history of the company come to mind. My advisor, Paul Reckwerdt, helped make my decision back then, and I think it is advice worth noting. He said, “You can’t learn to start a business without actually doing it.” This is so very true. So yes, I would start Ratio again. I had a lot of learning to do.


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

Robert A MacIntyre, Friend of the Center

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