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 the Strategic Management in the Life and Engineering Sciences (SMILES) Programs

One of the highlights of the semester is the December WAVE presentations, where the students present their growth strategy projects for local companies. Like previous years, the variety of industries represented and the innovative ideas proposed were impressive. The industries ranged from a medical device, to mobile on-line gaming, to environmental sporting goods. The firms included UW faculty spinoffs, student startups, and a family business. The students did a great job and the advisory board provided useful insights and feedback. It was a great example of the wide variety to be found in entrepreneurship and the ability of the student teams to combine their various skills to complete the project successfully.

This spring the WAVE students are busy working on their start-up business plan or their job search. If you are potentially hiring a talented MBA graduate this spring, we would love to help connect you with some of our great graduating students.


Table of Contents

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


Current Student Making the News!

Dan Sarbacker (2011 grad) is currently preparing to captain the US Revolution team that will compete in the 2011 Australian Football League International Cup in Melbourne and Sydney, August 12-27. Current preparations for his third consecutive International Cup selection (2005, 2008) requires a stop in Austin, TX this February for the winter training and fitness camp. Hoping to improve on 3rd and 7th place finishes (respectively) in those tournaments, the Revolution looks to carry momentum from recent victories in Cincinnati and Toronto against the Canadians in 2009 and 2010 through to this year's tournament. With a few game day selections in Australia, Dan will collect his 25th career appearance with the Revolution in international competition.


To see more of Dan's involvement over the past summer, please see


Erica Gruen Joins Weinert Center Advisory Board

Erica gruen

Erica Gruen, Quantum Media, has joined the Weinert Center Advisory Board.
Erica has an impressive background which includes a UW degree and having masterminded televisions's biggest brands as President/CEO of the Food Network.  Her full bio can be found here

Welcome Erica!!

Laurie Benson Inducted into InBusiness Executive Hall of Fame

Laurie Benson

In case you missed the January 2011 edition of IB (InBusiness) magazine, you will see that Weinert Board member, Laurie Benson, was recognized for making an innovative mark on industry -- while finding time to contribute mightily to the community. This is a very well deserved recognition for a career that has been a stellar example of business success with a passion for making individuals lives better. Her mentorship of many students over the years is but one example of her many positive influences. Such a deserving tribute to Laurie! For full article, please see: http://www.ibmadison.com/best?id=789

WAVE Board Meeting

Wave board meeting

On December 10, 2010 board members listened to WAVE students present the projects they were working on for the semester and joined alumni, faculty and staff to celebrate the end of the fall semester.


Entrepreneurship and Innovation Certificates Launch Generates Interest

Students across the whole UW campus can now participate in two new grad certificates -- Entrepreneurship and Strategic Innovation - or in an undergraduate entrepreneurship certificate. Detailed emails went to university students describing the opportunity and generated a lot of interest. As this will be the first semester that students will be able to graduate with a certificate in hand, the entire Bus School certificate team from is busy working out and implementing this endeavor. Please check out the website here

Fifth Annual 100-Hour Challenge February 16-20, 2011

Mark your calendars for the fifth annual Wiscontrepreneur 100-hour Challenge, a contest open to UW-system students that challenges your entrepreneurial skills to create the most valuable, innovative or socially beneficial product or service — using materials from UW SWAP (Surplus with a Purpose). For details, please go here Fifth Annual 100-Hour Challenge February 16-20, 2011

Entrepreneur Association Presents Outstanding Speakers

On Wednesday, December 8, David Ramon, co-founder of Vaduz Partners, spoke to a full-house in Grainger Hall. The topic of his presentation was "Venture Capitalism and its Role in Today's Entrepreneurial Market."

The UW Entrepreneurship Association along with the Black Student Union hosted a bell ringing day for the Salvation Army Friday December 10 at Walgreen's on University Square. The Alexander Company, a national real estate developer, agreed to match all funds raised. This was a great opportunity to give back during the holiday season.

Professor Jon Eckhardt Continues Entrepreneurship Research

Professor Jon Eckhardt participated in a workshop at the Kauffman foundation in January designed on the topic of coordinating data collection on process and performance of business accelerators across the United States.

The National Science Foundation is currently in the process of creating a new survey, the Microbusiness Innovation Science & Technology (MIST), to track entrepreneurship and innovation in the United States. Professor Eckhardt provided feedback to the foundation on the structure and design of the survey in a workshop held in Washington.

Eckhardt recently participated in a panel on Entrepreneurship in the iPhone Economy at the annual conference of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). The panel earned third place in a workshop competition held at the conference.

Professor Anne Miner Publishes Article on Family Business

Family business shows the promise of becoming a respected scholarly field in research universities. However, success is not a given. The article is titled "The prospects for family business in research universities," written by Alex Stewart and Anne Miner. To see complete article, please click here.


Heather Hilleren (2005), Founder, Local Dirt, has been featured in numerous local and national media sites recently. This includes two articles in Entrepreneur magazine. Local Dirt is 'your place to find & buy fresh, local food directly from the family farm'. Please see articles here:

Joe Kremer (2000) is now CEO and Co-Founder of Power Designers USA LLC. Please visit http://www.powerdesignersusa.com/ for details. This is the company that he co-founded during the summer of 1998.

Ankur Malhotra (2001) (along with a few friends/partners) has launched an independent record label - Amarrass Records (www.amarrass.com). Based out of New Delhi, India and Madison, Wisconsin, they recently released their debut production called The Manganiyar Seduction – by Roysten Abel. This is the first release in a series featuring Rajasthani folk and Sufi music, and features over 40 musicians from the Manganiyar community of western India. The label/album was launched at a spectacular concert by the group at Purana Qila in New Delhi, India on 27 November, 2010 that was attended by over 4,000 people and received national and international media coverage. The show was featured as Picture of the Week on Time.com, The Guardian UK, and in leading Indian dailies. More details, including complete press coverage are available at www.amarrass.com. Also see what the press has to say at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio websites. The album is available in high quality 180gram double LP, CD and MP3 formats online and at select stores. The group has performed to audiences worldwide including the Lincoln Center in New York City, The Barbican in UK, and The Sydney Opera House in Australia. The Manganiyar Seduction perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. on March 19th and 20th this year. As part of this endeavor, they have also established the Amarrass Society to work with artists and artisans, such as instrument makers, to help preserve and promote music as a sustainable venture. Please write to amarrassrecords@gmail.com or call 608-334-0583 to speak with Ankur about how you could get involved.

Paul Pucci (2005), co-founder of Flatt Cola, was featured on http://www.thedieline.com. The direct link is here: http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2011/1/20/flatt-energy-cola.html As you can tell, they focus on products that have the best and most innovative package design. Congrats!

Troy Vosseller (2009), Sconnie Nation, was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal with his innovative designs for the Green Bay Packer in their Super Bowl year. To see complete story please see, http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/article_775383b3-8202-58ca-96b1-d3c20075fac2.html

Entrustet, a company run by Undergraduate major alum Jesse Davis and UW alum Nate Lustig, and MBA alum Eugene Yang (2007) was recently profiled in a cover article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. You can read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/magazine/09Immortality-t.html?_r=2. To follow the company, http://blog.entrustet.com/.

Featured Alumnus

Scott Tucker

Maple Leaf Farms

December 2001 Entrepreneurship Graduate


In 1999, I made the momentous decision to leave my family’s business to pursue an Entrepreneurship MBA at UW’s business school. Having worked in numerous roles during my 13 years with the company, I had developed a deep desire to learn more about how to effect change and motivate staff in the midst of a volatile global business environment.

As I reflect on my experience a decade later, I readily acknowledge that I am fortunate to have chosen UW to broaden my perspective on business management in a global marketplace. I headed to Madison with a desire to learn more about how entrepreneurs effectively lead their businesses through an ever-changing business environment. When I left, I had a better understanding of this, a deeper appreciation for proactively managing change while still appreciating our company’s rich heritage, and a well-developed business network that I still call on today.

Following the completion of the program, I rejoined Maple Leaf Farms and stepped into the Co-President role along with my brother, John. Maple Leaf Farms (http://www.mapleleaffarms.com) is my family’s vertically integrated poultry business. As North America’s leading duck producer, our core business is selling high quality duck products to the foodservice trade and retailers throughout the United States. However, we also export many duck products to markets throughout the world and capitalize on the value of our down and feather by-products by manufacturing bedding items or marketing raw feather materials through a subsidiary, Eurasia Feather Company (http://downinc.com/index.html).

While my father focused on creating a vertically integrated structure for our poultry business after he took over the company, my brother and I have focused on capitalizing on the strengths this structure affords us, in addition to growing our traditional business, since we began leading the company. Because Maple Leaf Farms is vertically integrated, we do not rely on outside suppliers for our breeding stock, feeds and many health management tools. Instead, we have developed our own programs and technology through extensive studies and research testing over the years. This has allowed our company to improve duck health and performance while reducing production costs. Considering how meaningful these improvements are to our own domestic business where we market 12-15 million ducks each year, we made the strategic move to begin marketing our breeding stock and expertise to regions of the world, like China, where they consume billions of ducks each year.

Maple Leaf Farms INDUX™ System (http://mlfduck.com/) cultivates business alliances around the world, bringing opportunities for duck producers outside of North America to access the latest and most advanced technology in duck production through the services and products we provide. The system is fully integrated and includes genetics, nutrition, diagnostics and research, biotechnology, food safety, farm and hatchery management technologies, and consulting services. The results for some of those using our system have been a 36% improvement in feed conversion, a 45% increase in rate of gain, and an increase in breast meat of 8.5%. At the same time they have realized these benefits, they have also seen improved flock health.

Since I rejoined the company, we also formed MLF Biotech (http://www.mlfbiotech.com/) to market the proprietary natural health products and testing programs we have developed to ensure the health of our birds and safety of our products. Several other livestock and pet food companies utilize our ToxiScreen™ testing to ensure the safety of their ingredients or finished products or rely on Liv-Pro™ probiotic products to counter disease-causing bacteria that can negatively impact animal health.

The decade-long journey I have taken since leaving UW and heading back to my family-owned business has been very rewarding and challenging. I am honored to have been chosen to share a few of my experiences as a featured alumnus and cannot thank the UW staff enough for the outstanding experience I had while pursuing my MBA. It has played a pivotal role in my career development and has certainly shaped the approach I take to leading my family’s business.


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

Andy Albert, Weinert Board
Scott and Mary Braucht, WAVE Board
Sean Ebert (2008 Alum)
Eric Olson (2005 Alum)

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://www.bus.wisc.edu/weinertcenter/support.asp
SMILES Program: http://www.bus.wisc.edu/SMILES/support