WAVE/Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship E-Newsletter


Table of Contents
Center News and Events
WAVE and Weinert Advisory Board Updates
Faculty/School News
Alumni Updates

To Alumni and Friends:

It has been an exciting time with lots of news to share regarding our current students, alumni and the Weinert Center.

  • Regarding our current students, we have seen continued growth in students studying entrepreneurship with record enrollment of business and non-business students in our classes and an expansion of entrepreneurship activity across the UW campus. 
  • Our current WAVE class is made up of half MBA students and half PhD students from outside of the Wisconsin School of Business.  The diversity of perspectives has made for great discussions and the continued refinement of business ideas. 
  • In addition, 4 WAVE students have made the final round of the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Competition which is limited to approximately the top 10% of all entries from the entire state. 
  • The Burrell Business Plan completion is also taking place later this week and has a record number of entries which is a great example of the reputation of the competition and the interest in entrepreneurship across the campus.

Earlier this semester the School also announced that Prof. Ray Aldag would be handing off the Weinert Center Executive Director baton to Prof. Jon Eckhardt. On a personal note, it has been a pleasure working with Ray over the years and I know we all appreciate everything he has done to make the Center a success. He will be continuing in his role in the Management department as the Glen A. Skillrud Family Chair in Business. 

It is also my pleasure to welcome Jon as the new Executive Director. Jon is known to many of you since he has been part of our entrepreneurship faculty since he started at the UW in 2002. He designed the undergraduate major in entrepreneurship and has been actively involved in teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level. His PhD, research and teaching are all focused on entrepreneurship so he is a great fit with the Weinert Center. A personal message from Jon follows.

In addition to all of this exciting news we have some great alumni updates regarding big funding rounds, successful exits, promotions and competition victories. Enjoy!


Greetings from Jon Eckhardt

Hello everyone,

I am looking forward to working closely with Dan, Dean François Ortalo Magné, our alumni, our advisory boards and other units on campus in my new role as Executive Director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship.

I have had the pleasure of teaching some of you, and learning from many more of you, over the years. I'm looking forward to working with you to help build entrepreneurs, facilitate the formation of new firms, as well as the development of existing companies.

I am currently on sabbatical until the end of May, so am easing into my new role with our Center.  Nonetheless, since February I have been:

  • Reviewing our programs and capabilities
  • Working on coordinating our programs with entrepreneurial activities across campus
  • Working to build a closer integration between our classroom content and applied learning opportunities

Thank you for your involvement over the years. The entrepreneurial spirit of our campus starts with our alumni and friends.  I appreciate your involvement and am hoping to see you on campus soon.

Please feel free to contact me at:  jeckhardt@bus.wisc.edu

Jon Eckhardt

Center News & Events

WAVE/Entrepreneurship Alumni Summit - 2011

While the recap of the 2011 Alumni Summit was covered in our last newsletter, a video has been created recapping some of the event, please view this at http://bus.wisc.edu/centers/weinert/alumni

WAVE/Entrepreneurship Alumni Summit – 2012

Mark your calendars for October 26, 2012 for the next Alumni Summit! Details to follow!!!

WAVE Class in Full Force

This semester 10 students are participating in the WAVE class. They come from a variety of backgrounds, including:

  • 5 MBAs (2 Brand & Product Marketing, 1 Arts Administration, 1 Supply Chain, 1 Operations & Technology Management)
  • 5 PhDs (2 Electrical Engineering, 1 Computer Science, 1 Electrical and Computer Engineering, 1 Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences)

Stephen Ranjan, Andrew Maxfield, Stuart Solomon, Alexander Kubicek, Kendra Hill*,
Micah Erickson*, Dan Ludois*, Brett Hoerz*, Ozcan Ilikhan, Wanjun Zhang.

*These four are on finalist teams in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Competition.

WAVE Students Place in Qualcomm Wireless Innovation Competition

Kendra Hill and Alex Kubicek (2012) placed in the Qualcomm Wireless Innovation Competition on April 18th with their start-up Winstruments, an Internet enabled, personal, wireless weather station.  The team includes Alex Kubicek, Bryan Dow, Elise Garms and Kendra Hill.  Please read the complete article here: http://www.news.wisc.edu/20580

Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC)

The 2012 VCIC team attended the February 8-10, 2012 event in Boulder, CO.  Students had a great time competing and meeting the other teams, VCs, judges and entrepreneurs.

Team members included:

Richard Gross, 2012 MBA Candidate, Applied Security Analysis
Marcus Ly, 2012 MBA Candidate, Applied Security Analysis
Kyle Nakatsuji, 2012 JD Candidate, Law & MBA Supply Chain
James Leonard, 2012 JD Candidate, Law
Stephen Ranjan, 2012 MBA Candidate, Operations & Technology Management

Phil Greenwood advised and coached the team.


WAVE and Weinert Center Advisory Board Updates

Dan Neely, CEO, Networked Insights, had the distinction of being named one of World’s 50 most innovative companies in the February 14, 2012 issue of Fast Company’s magazine.  They were considered Number 3 in Advertising and 39 across all industries.  To read the complete article, please see: http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2012/full-list

Toni Sikes, General Partner, Calumet Venture Fund, received the prestigious 2012 Entrepreneurial Achievement Award from Interim Chancellor David Ward at a reception on April 25, 2012.  She is the founder and the visionary behind The Guild and has been a leader in the entrepreneurial community across the state and nation.  Please read her bio at:  http://bus.wisc.edu/centers/weinert/advisory-boards

Faculty & School News

UW Social Media Entrepreneurs Visit Campus

Professor Jon Eckhardt and Sally Theiler (MBA 2013) coordinated a visit to campus by social media entrepreneurs and alums Corey Capasso (BBA 2009), Andrew Ferenci (BBA 2009) and Dan Reich (BS EE 2008). The trio presented their story on their start-up, Spinback. This highly successful digital commerce and media analytics company was acquired in May 2011 by digital media powerhouse Buddy Media.  The event was sponsored by the Weinert Center, the Initiative for Studies in Transformational Entrepreneurship (INSITE), the UW Entrepreneurship Association, HUB, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), and the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization. 


(Top left: Dan Voell, Corey Capasso and Andrew Ferenci)

The group spent a few days at the University where all this began for them.  They spent time talking to faculty; meeting with clients; addressing a group of 150 students, faculty, staff and interested entrepreneurs; visiting the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and Union South; visiting local entrepreneurs; sharing their experiences at lunch with undergrads; and speaking in classes just to mention a few things in their 3-day whirlwind schedule.  Thanks to the group for sharing their experiences with us!

Faculty Member Serves on Panel and Interviewed on Radio Station

Professor Jon Eckhardt made a trip to Washington DC to serve on a panel that is advising the National Science Foundation on the Microbusiness Innovation Science and Technology (MIST) project, which is a new initiative designed to track innovation and entrepreneurship in the US Economy.  He was also interviewed on April 17 on the UW Radio station WSUM on how stock market fluctuations might impact entrepreneurs.

Announcing VentureLab Program Coming to Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Entrepreneurs’ Resource Clinic (ERC) has partnered with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) to bring the VentureLab program to Wisconsin. This accelerated program is for motivated innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs who are ready to commercialize their venture. More information and the web-based application form are available online: http://invention2venture.org/venturelabwisconsin/ or watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX9ZOC0RNLA

Online applications will be accepted through May 15, 2012, with VentureLab Wisconsin scheduled for August 13-17, 2012 at the University Research Park in Madison, WI. For further information please contact Troy Vosseller at tevosseller@wisc.edu.

Entrepreneurial Undergrads Win Competitions

Eric Ronning (MHR 422 Fall 2011), won First Prize of the 2012 Schoofs Prize for Creativity ($10,000).

Scott Johanek (MHR 322 Spring 2012) won the 2012 Tong Prototype Prize ($2,500).

For details, see http://www.engr.wisc.edu/news/archive/2012/Feb10.html

We wish them well and hope they can turn their innovations into successful businesses.

Professor Guests on Bloomberg TV’s “Money Moves” re Facebook Goes Public

Professor Jon Eckhardt discussed the Facebook’s $5 billion IPO and how it will affect the social landscape.  To view the full video, please go to:  http://bus.wisc.edu/update-facebook/

Center Director Quoted on New Ways of Investing

Dan Olszewski, Director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship, was recently interviewed by the Journal Sentinel on “crowdfunding.”  To read the full article, please see http://www.jsonline.com/business/a-new-way-of-investing-opens-to-businesses-gg505i1-147866515.html

Alumni Updates

Sam Adams (2004) CEO, Echometrix, is conducting a human clinical study on the ulnar collateral ligament, which is commonly torn in baseball pitchers requiring "Tommy John's" surgery, in partnership with a professional baseball team and the editor-in-chief of the of the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.

They were also recognized with their playing ball in the tech and biotech industries.  To read the complete article, please see:  http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/technology/biotech/tech-and-biotech-playing-ball-with-echometrix/article_a0997354-5f52-11e1-b162-001871e3ce6c.html?mode=story And, in addition, they have closed on a $500,000 funding round:  http://tinyurl.com/7a9t3u2

Aga Agnieszka (2007) has accepted a position as Senior Manager, Installed Base Marketing, with Accuracy.  Accuracy acquired TomoTherapy last year.  She will be responsible for marketing of TomoHD.

Craig Andler (2003) has co-founded a new internet company in Madison - Hopster.com.  They are planning on a summer launch with a mission to reinvent the Sunday coupon circular.  Watch for updates!

Jane Bills (2007) of Let There Be Bite (http://lettherebebite.com) recently filmed four videos about local, organic, and sustainable food in San Diego. They are currently using them to pitch a television series with Jane as host to networks in New York. Watch videos: http://www.youtube.com/lettherebebite

Katie Krueger (2011) is proud to be part of Spill LLC and the winner of a Global Social Venture Competition award.  To see complete recap, see http://www.jsonline.com/business/madisonbased-spill-wins-social-venture-competition-4954uop-148697345.html Here is their announcement regarding their winning:

BERKELEY, CA (April 23, 2012) – Spill Inc. won first place, beating over 600 entrants from 50 countries in the 2012 Global Social Venture Competition, receiving a $25,000 prize.  Founded by Heidi Allstop (BA, 2010) in 2009, Spill is the "Premier source for online empathy and analytics on human vulnerability, offering students the chance to vent (spill) about any issue they are going through and receive empathetic, confidential responses from peers in 24 hours.  Katie Krueger (MBA, 2011) joined Spill as the first full-time employee in 2011 and together with Allstop, represented Spill at the international competition, being the only team from the United States represented in final round of judging. 

Spill Inc. started on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and was awarded “Most Investment Ready” in the 2010 Burrill Business Plan competition.  In 2011, it was chosen to participate in the highly selective TechStars business incubator in Boston, MA and raised its seed round of over $300,000.  Spill is currently used by students on over 30 campuses in the US and Canada, and has intervened on 19 potential suicides. Spill is one of the only places online collecting data on vulnerability and is sold as a tool for engagement in online communities including, but not limited to, institutions of higher education.  Spill has been featured in the NY Times, MTV, TechCrunch, Wisconsin State Journal, and GigaOm.

The Global Social Venture Competition’s (GSVC) mission is to catalyze new sustainable ventures that address significant social issues, build awareness of the social entrepreneurship field and educate future leaders.  It identifies promising social enterprises and introduced early-stage entrepreneurs to the venture capital community, creating a new generation of sustainable social ventures.  The competition was hosted by University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. 

Ankur Malhotra (2001) announces that his record label, Amarrass, was recently featured on NPR's Weekend Edition. The story had been reported by Michael Sullivan with whom they spent a week in the field in Rajasthan this past October. Thrilling news and timely as they get busy with production work on the concert recordings from the Desert Music Festival held in Delhi in November last year and with their next album (Banko Ghodo is volume two of field recordings from the Indian desert and is Kickstarter funded). Please check out the link to the show at: www.amarrass.com.  Recently he has had an exhibit with select works on display (and on sale) at the Earth IT offices in Madison.  Some of the works can be seen at http://www.aneyeful.com Ankur thanks you for reading and bookmark those sites and promises more music and pictures to come your way.

Neil Peters Michaud (1999), Cascade Asset Management, recognizes successful businesses are the ones that have the best employees, and the businesses with the best employees provide those employees with incentives to stay loyal.  Foreign-born workers of Cascade Asset Management in Madison, Wis., can take English as a second language classes on site at no cost.  They were recently cited in the Las Vegas Review Journal.  For complete details read:  http://www.lvrj.com/special_sections/it-s-not-just-about-the-money-143090696.html?ref=696

Evan Sengbusch (2011) Director of Business Development at Phoenix Nuclear Labs (PNL) announced that PNL closed a fundraising round of $590,500 in April, the primary investors being Wisconsin Investment Partners (WIP) and Knox LLC, the investment arm of Wisconsin-native super angel Fred Mancheski.  Furthermore, in May PNL is moving to a new 14,000 square foot facility in Monona.  It will share the space with its spin-off company and partner, SHINE Medical Technologies, and the new lab space and radiation bunkers will allow PNL to further advance their core neutron generator and medical isotope production technology.

Adam Sorkin (2011) wants you to know that he is alive and well in his Product Marketing role at Ford. As a Ford employee he can offer a limited number of "Friends and Neighbors" discounts to my Badger buddies. The discount is not huge (varies by vehicle and timing), but it does guarantee a no-haggle price on nearly all Ford/Lincoln vehicles. People can find his email address through the alumni directory.

Andy Strunk (2007) has been promoted to Program Director, Innovation Lab (iLab) at Wolters Kluwer Health in its Clinical Solutions division.  The iLab serves as the research arm and intrapreneurship center of the division and in his new role, Andy is responsible for pilot site recruitment nationally, on-site implementation services, and assistance with product requirements and workflow consultation.  For the past year, he has led a cross-company team that is developing a new product to decrease patient death caused by sepsis in the hospital setting.  Sepsis is a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria and that has a high mortality rate.  Of the 750,000 cases each year, upwards of 40% of patients die from the condition, costing the US healthcare system $17 billion annually, and is the leading cause of death in non-cardiac ICUs. Andy joined Wolters Kluwer Health when the healthcare software company he was working for, Pharmacy OneSource of Bellevue, WA, was acquired.  Coincidentally, Pharmacy OneSource co-founder, Keith Streckenbach (1999) was also a Weinert Center graduate!

Troy Vosseller (2009) is happy to announce Sconnie Beer recently launched their beer on draft in mid-April at ten downtown Madison accounts. Shortly after the draft rollout, the beer will expand distribution citywide (Madison) in both draft and 16 oz. cans. "Like" Sconnie Beer at facebook.com/sconniebeer or visit their website: sconniebeer.com

Undergrads Sell Start-Up Business Developed in the Business School Library

Nathan Lustig and Jesse Davis Co-founders of Entrustet, announced that their company was acquired by SecureSafe.  Links to their blog posts and the press release can be found here: 




They commented that “It's great to have big supporters of entrepreneurship in Madison. We've come a long way in both miles and experience since we started Entrustet in the business school library!” Congratulations! 

Featured Alumnus

Steve Royko
Royko Enterprises LLC
Co-Founder, I’m Organic 
2001 Entrepreneurship Graduate 

I was born in Wisconsin and have lived in the Madison area since 1980. I graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the UW-Madison. I spent three years as a Gallo wine salesman for General Beverage, a wholesale distributor in Madison. I then decided that I could benefit significantly from an M.B.A., so I applied and was accepted to the UW-Madison M.B.A. program.

After starting there I was immediately attracted to the WAVE program. I was tremendously impressed by the faculty and students in the program and found the notion of applied learning very attractive. My WAVE team was fortunate enough to work with TomoTherapy during the company’s early stages of development. In addition, I participated on teams that won and placed in national business plan and venture capital competitions. These extracurricular activities were invaluable.

While I knew I was interested in entrepreneurship I did not have a specific business idea in mind. However, while in school I was lucky enough to secure a part-time job with the law firm of Michael Best and Friedrich, writing business plans for their clients who were seeking venture capital. I had no idea at the time how valuable the experience and contacts from this work would be, nor how impactful it would be in influencing my career path. After I graduated in 2001, I was able to parlay this experience into my own practice writing plans for clients as well as a business development position with a financial education software startup called Precision Information. I stayed with Precision Information for three years, where most of my compensation was “sweat equity”, and continued to consult for startups in the Madison area. The CEO and co-Founder of Precision Information was another UW M.B.A. grad named Joe Saari. Joe still runs the company, which is now in San Diego, and he, his family, and the company are doing well.

After my wife gave birth to our first child in 2004, my risk profile briefly changed and I went out to get a “real job” for the security it might provide. However, while I performed well and liked the organizations and people I worked with, it became clear to me that some form of entrepreneurship and business ownership was what I was best suited for, regardless of the perceived risks.

In 2007, I became a merger and acquisition (“M&A”) advisor, targeting companies ranging in $1M to $30M in annual revenue. I became interested in this profession while working with Michael Best and Friedrich, where I often worked with the attorneys focused on M&A. This work also dovetailed perfectly with my business planning work, so that year I formed Royko Enterprises LLC, which I continue to operate today. My current practice is comprised of M&A advisory and business planning services. Most of my business planning work is for startups seeking debt or equity financing. As an M&A advisor, I represent sellers and buyers in their efforts to either sell their existing business or purchase another. As an example, when I represent a company on the sell-side, I work with a prospective seller to determine the company’s target value, identify prospective buyers, develop the materials used to market the company, engage and secure letters of intent from prospective buyers, lead negotiations of the letter of intent, and then work with the seller and his/her advisors through due diligence, negotiation of the purchase agreement, and eventual closing of the deal.

While I started in the M&A industry at a very difficult time in our economic history, the work has proven as interesting, challenging, and exciting as I hoped it would be. My company has had three straight years of growth and I have been involved in over $15 million of transactions in the last 2+ years.

Finally, I have been fortunate enough to increase my ties with the WAVE program in a way I did not anticipate. In 2009, I was made aware of a business for sale called I’m Organic. The business had two components: 1) an organic retail apparel and gifts line targeting young families and 2) sustainable and eco-friendly promotional products targeting businesses. The business immediately interested me because of the space it is in and because I had a college friend and fraternity brother named Kevin Scharnek who owned a company called 14 West that offered similar services in the conventional market, suggesting there would be synergies with his fulfillment and marketing capabilities. While Kevin had interest, neither he nor I had the time to run this business. I then approached Dan Olszewski to find out if any WAVE students might be interested joining Kevin and I in the venture, while making it part of his or her WAVE project in the process. As a result of contacting Dan, we were fortunate enough to have Justin Hajny join us as the company’s president. Justin personally invested in the acquisition of the business in 2009 and wrote the business plan for our growth strategy which he presented to the WAVE board for financing, which was approved. Our greatest success thus far has been in the promotional items segment, where many organizations are proving interested in adding environmental sustainability to their internal values and external messaging. As a partnership, we are very pleased with Justin’s performance and optimistic about the future growth of the company.

Going forward, I plan to continue to work on growing my businesses, to have fun doing it, and to enjoy as much time as possible with my wife and three children. I have benefited a great deal from my relationships with faculty, board members, and fellow alums while in the program and after. I look forward to continuing those relationships and building new ones with past, current, and future participants.


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

  • Andrew Albert, Weinert Board
  • Cailin Mani, 2006 Alum
  • Marcel Petrutiu, 2010 Alum
  • Prabhu Ramamoorthy, 2009 Alum
  • John & Tashia Morgridge, Friends 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