Message from the Directors  

All of us in the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship hope you had a wonderful and relaxing holiday season and that 2014 is off to a good start! We hope our newsletter finds you in good spirits and good health.

The fall semester proved to be an exciting time for us! We offered unique programming to help students increase their knowledge of and interest in entrepreneurship. Highlights from the fall semester include:


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Our program continues to grow rapidly. During the 2013-14 academic year, enrollment in our courses will reach 1,000 students. This enrollment number does not include students who participate in our non-credit training opportunities, such as the G. Steven Burrill business plan competition and the Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.
  • The The Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic is off to a great start (Read More »).
  • The first cohort of students in our Wisconsin Fellowship in Enterprise Development program started this fall. This is a training program for MBA students focused equally on building and starting enterprises
  • Business community involvement in our training program remains strong. We piloted two very different events to engage the community in helping to train our students. First, the center hosted a Global Entrepreneurship Week event which attracted more than 550 people and involved entrepreneurs from across Wisconsin and the United States. Second, the center hosted an Entrepreneurs in Residence program for businesses and students from other majors.
  • Our annual alumni summit included presentations by our MBA students, alumni, a board meeting, and a presentation by Alumnus Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of IntercontinentalExchange, which recently acquired the New York Stock Exchange. Jeff gave an outstanding talk.

The quality of the programs offered by the center—and the preparation of our students for their careers—greatly benefits from the involvement of our alumni and friends. To those of you who are actively involved, we thank you for your support.

If you are looking for ways to become more involved consider:

  1. Advise a student. Many of our students seek one-on-one mentoring from business professionals like you.
  2. Volunteer to serve as an entrepreneur in residence. (Read More »).
  3. Serve as a judge or outside expert on one of the many panels we hold during the academic year.
  4. Make a gift. We are currently operating beyond our current resource base and welcome your support. You can contribute online here: bus.wisc.edu/centers/weinert/give or by contacting the Weinert Center directly.
  5. Advise the leadership team. Dan, Jon, and Lisa always welcome feedback that you have for us.

If you are interested in any of the above, please send Lisa Collins (lcollins@bus.wisc.edu) an email to learn more.

If you are one of our students, we hope you will continue to work hard to live up to the reputation of the Badgers who preceded you. If you are an alumnus or friend of the center, we thank you for your involvement and hope to hear from you soon.

On, Wisconsin!

Jon Eckhardt, Dan Olszewski, and Lisa Collins

 Center News and Events  

Global Entrepreneurship Week
Wednesday, November 20, 2013, was a night to remember! A room of 550 people, including board members, alumni, friends of the Weinert Center, faculty, staff, and students from all disciplines across the UW-Madison campus attended our event as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the world's largest celebration of entrepreneurship. This event helped recognize and celebrate the contributions made by all entrepreneurs. In addition to entrepreneurs from both coasts, we included many local entrepreneurs from the Madison community.

Our featured speakers on customer-focused entrepreneurship were:

  • Corey Capasso, NOMI, New York, New York
  • Joe Kirgues, gener8tor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Andrew Sather, SPAN, San Francisco, California
  • Troy Vosseller, Sconnie Nation, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Krista Ward, Hooray Puree, Chicago, Illinois

Our expert entrepreneurs who participated in the speed networking event where students could ask business, career, or startup questions included:

  • Sam Adams, Stealth Therapeutics/Entrepreneur in Residence, WCEPS
  • Chad Aldous, Abodo.com
  • Craig Andler, Hopster, Inc.
  • Kelly Ehlers, Evoke Brands
  • Mark Gehring, Propeller Health
  • Phil Greenwood, Wisconsin School of Business
  • Ian Gurfield, Ian's Pizza
  • Justin Hajny, I'm Organic/Revolve Promotions
  • Tyler Leeper, Brittingham Boats/Wingra Canoe & Sailing Center
  • Eric Martell, Eatstreet
  • Sarah Marty, UW-Madison Continuing Studies
  • Kara Murphy, Eatstreet
  • Kyle Nakatsuji, American Family Insurance
  • Anne Nimke, The Good Jobs
  • Adam Olien, Abodo.com
  • Dan Olszewski, Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Paul Reckwerdt, Scientist/Entrepreneur
  • Steve Royko, Peak Stone Group
  • Henry Schwartz, Mob Craft Beer
  • Krista Ward, Hooray Puree
  • Matt Younkle, Murfie.com

The Global Entrepreneurship Week event was made possible by the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship, Paul Reckwerdt and Ellen Rosner, and the Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community.

Click here to view the full photo gallery »


Fellowship in Enterprise Development Program
By Lizzy Tomber

Since 1940, my family has owned and operated a small business. Growing up, almost every single family dinner turned into an impromptu board meeting. I feel lucky to have been involved with entrepreneurship at such a young age. While it was my family that inspired me to be an entrepreneur, it is the Weinert family that is empowering me to realize that dream.

I am fortunate to be in the inaugural class of Weinert Fellows and utilize all of the amazing resources that the Weinert Center has to offer. The center's greatest asset is undoubtedly the community of alumni, board members, faculty, staff, students, and community partners. I can't begin to count how many times someone affiliated with the Weinert Center has said, "Let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help you." This level of support has given me the skills and confidence to transform what was an idea a year ago into a new business I launched this month (TheYogiMBA.com, if I am allowed a shameless plug.).

This type of above and beyond support was so evident when I met with my selected mentor, Steve Royko. Regardless of the fact that he was in the midst of closing a major deal, he took almost two hours to learn more about my goals, give me specific feedback, and guide me to helpful resources. He even had me leave his office with one of his favorite books. While it is a book he used often, he wanted me to have it because he thought it would help me better understand how to work with yoga studio owners. He saw this book as a useful tool for me to build my consulting practice and didn't hesitate to give it away. I was so impressed by his selfless desire to help inspire and prepare the next generation of Wisconsin School of Business entrepreneurs.

In addition to the constant offers of personal support, I have also been so impressed by the number of people willing to give of their time, knowledge, and experience to our fellowship cohort. In addition to the great guest speakers who have visited our entrepreneurship classes, the Weinert Center is connecting us with even more accomplished professionals through the Entrepreneur in Residence program. Each week, we have honest and open conversations with entrepreneurs from various fields. They have talked candidly about successful exits, working with their spouses, and even times when they thought success was impossible. These conversations have given us a glimpse into the real life of entrepreneurs. We get to see what really happens beyond the nice-looking PowerPoints they show to investors. I know I will use these lessons throughout my career.

The Weinert community has also provided me with concrete feedback on my venture. During the Alumni Summit, I was able to present my business plan to alumni, board members, and community partners. Everyone in the room was ready and willing to ask intelligent questions, give constructive feedback, and suggest improvements that would make my business plan more viable. Being able to present my idea and get feedback in such a welcoming environment helped me better prepare for communicating my venture to others.

In addition to the support from the alumni, board, and community partners, I have also greatly benefited from my time working with Jon Eckhardt, Dan Olszewski, and Lisa Collins. During our weekly class, Dan and Jon share their vast experience and great expertise with our group to help us explore new trends, understand the competitive climate, and drive our ventures forward. To me, the most valuable part of this fellowship is that their expert teaching and mentorship is once again being utilized within the MBA program.

Click here to view the photo gallery »


Weinert Fellows Visit Chicago
By Peter Oppermann

On November 21 and 22, the Weinert Center led an applied learning trip to Chicago, Illinois. The group included six Weinert Fellows and two computer science students, accompanied by Dan Olszewski and Jon Eckhardt. After a night in Chicago and a chance to socialize and network, the group had a packed day learning about Chicago's entrepreneurship scene.

Friday began with a visit to Svoboda Capital. There, the fellows met with Weinert Advisory Board Member Andy Albert and his colleague Rick Harper to learn about Svoboda's investment strategy and portfolio companies. The visit was also an opportunity to meet Ben Albert (Andy's son), an entrepreneur who recently built and sold a company called Care Team Connect, which provides a software tool that enables population care management for health care providers and organizations. Hearing Ben speak candidly about the challenges and excitement of growing his company was the highlight of the trip for many of the fellows.

Later in the day, the group shifted focus to earlier-stage companies and investments. John Philosophos, partner at Great Oaks Venture Capital, showed us around 1871, a popular co-working space in the Merchandise Mart. We also visited Catapult Chicago, another co-working space for more established startups. Here, we met with the founders of two Catapult companies: a social media management company for healthcare organizations and a startup that is creating a technology to perform eye exams over the internet. Hearing the perspective of these founders was fascinating! Finally, the day wrapped up with John Philosophos sharing insights about major trends, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and the world of venture capital.

Overall, the fellows found the trip to be an insightful glimpse into entrepreneurship in Chicago. Special thanks to Andy, Rick, Ben, and John for taking time to share their stories and expertise with us!

Click here to view the photo gallery »


Entrepreneur in Residence Program

This fall, The Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship piloted a weekly Entrepreneur in Residence program where local experts on entrepreneurship hold open office hours. The sessions occurred during the lunch hour from 12:15-1:30 p.m. and were held most Wednesday afternoons during the fall semester.

The office hours were advertised to undergraduate and graduate students studying entrepreneurship across the campus, including business school students. Some students were freshmen and sophomores taking their first entrepreneurship course with us, others were quite advanced both in their academic training and business experience.

Our local entrepreneurs provided advice on a wide range of issues facing the students. Students also shared their ideas and got a chance to meet others from across campus who also had an interest in entrepreneurship.

We had a different entrepreneur in residence each week. We thank Tyler Leeper, Sam Adams, Troy Vosseller, Neil Peters-Michaud, Joe Kremer, Laurie Benson, Joe Kirgues, Susan Healy, and Ralph Kauten for serving as entrepreneurs in residence this semester. If you are interested in participating in the spring, please send Lisa Collins an email at lcollins@bus.wisc.edu.

Click here to view the photo gallery »


Greg Lynch Recognized as a Super Lawyer

WAVE Board Member Greg Lynch, an attorney and partner with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, was recognized in the 2013 edition of Wisconsin Super Lawyers. His practice specialty area is securities and corporate finance. Congratulations, Greg!


Joe Kremer Moderates an Entrepreneurons Speaker Series

On Thursday, December 5, Joe Kremer (1997), CEO of Isomark, moderated a panel on early stage financing as part of WARF's Entrepreneurons Speaker Series. Mark Reinstra, partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, was the featured keynote speaker along with panelists Dan Blake, director of the Wisconsin Angel Network; Scott Button, partner, Venture Investors; Weinert Board Member Toni Sikes, general partner, Calumet Venture Fund; and Patricia Struck, administrator, Department of Securities, Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.


Brendan Rice joining Venture for America (VFA) program

Brendan Rice, this past summer's recipient of the Paul J. & Marnie A. Stoiber startup internship scholarship, was accepted into the Venture for America (VFA) program. VFA trains top college graduates and sends them to work at startups in one of their more than eight cities, based on their skills and preferences. They spend two years growing these companies and learning how to become entrepreneurs. For more information, please contact Brendan directly at bdrice@wisc.edu.
Congratulations, Brendan!


Fei Ma Simplifies Ride-Sharing for Students

Fei Ma, a WEB 2013 alum and geography graduate student, has created a new mobile application called Oso Ride that seeks to simplify ride-sharing for students in Madison.


Chris Meyer's Sector67 Provides Hands-On Engagement

Chris Meyer, WEB 2009 alum and a winner in the 2010 G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition for Sector67, was featured in Inside UW-Madison, the news and information source for faculty and staff. Sector67, a non-profit collaborative space in Madison, provides an environment to learn, teach, work, build, and create the next generation of technology.


Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship Mentioned in Wisconsin State Journal

Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council and the Wisconsin Innovation Network, mentioned the Weinert Center in his Sunday, December 1, 2013, Wisconsin State Journal article, "State's Tech Industry Defined by New Trends." He discussed campus entrepreneurism and how Wisconsin campuses offer more entrepreneurial educational programs than a decade ago.


Scott Braucht Writes Book About Depressive Disorders

Scott Braucht, WAVE Board Member and President of Scott Braucht & Associates, LLC, wrote a new book entitled Into the Light: A Middle-Aged Man’s Recovery from Depression. This is a firsthand account of Scott’s slow journey through depressive disorders. For more information on his book, click here.

 
 Upcoming Events  

Mark your calendars! The WAVE Reception is on Friday, May 9, 2014, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Please plan on joining us for great conversation, networking, and celebrating the achievements of our WAVE class!

 

 
 Faculty/Staff News  

Jon Eckhardt, executive director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship, and Troy Vosseller (MBA 2009) were named to Madison Magazine's 2013 M List for their work with gener8tor "to turn business ideas into great business models."


Dan Olszewski, director of the Weinert Center, moderated two panel discussions in November. The first panel was for the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium on Wednesday, November 6, at Monona Terrace, entitled "If you want innovation, learn to pivot" with panelists Randy Cortwright of Virent Energy, John Neis of Venture Investors, and Matt Gonnering of Widen Enterprises.

The second panel was for WARF's continuing Entrepreneurons Series. "Get on Board" took place on Thursday, November 21, at the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery with keynote speaker Kevin Conroy, president and CEO of Exact Sciences, along with panelists Lorrie Keating-Heinemann of Brightstar Wisconsin Foundation, Scott Resnick of Hardin Design & Development, and Paul Wrycha of Foley & Lardner.


Phil Kim, assistant professor of management and human resources, teaches in our entrepreneurship program and recently had his co-authored paper, “The Tortoise Versus the Hare: Progress and Business Viability Differences Between Conventional and Leisure-Based Founders,” accepted in the Journal of Business Venturing. Their study findings have both theoretical and practical implications for the evaluation of venture performance when the rate of progress is considered to be a leading indicator of new business viability
Congratulations, Phil!

 

We have added a new section to our e-newsletter on the Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic to provide you with updates throughout the year on our collaboration with the Law School.

 Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic  

By Mike Williams, Faculty Associate, MHR Department

This fall, through funding by WARF and the Wisconsin School of Business, and in coordination with the Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic, the Business and Entrepreneurship Clinic started providing free business services to select local nascent entrepreneurs. The mission is to expand support for early stage entrepreneurs in the local community and to expand applied learning opportunities for business and law students at the intersection of their respective fields. One company the clinics helped launch in January 2014 was already featured on the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Share the Health (www.sharethehealthwi.org) will start providing no-cost gynecological care to women that cannot afford health insurance. They have already raised nearly $2,000 in cash donations and nearly $50,000 of in-kind donations. Dr. Katherine O'Rourke and Dr. Mary Landry with the UWHealth System had a vision and a clear mission, and they are tirelessly putting in the needed work to get Share the Health off the ground. We are extremely happy to be able to help this incredible startup!

Dr. Katherine O'Rourke stated, "...we really appreciate the services the Entrepreneurship Clinic is providing. Although we learn how to care for patients during medical school, we do not learn about the business of medicine, and we would not have been able to get Share the Health off of the ground without your support!"

We are extremely happy to be able to help this incredible startup!

 
 Entrepreneurship Guest Speakers, Fall 2013  

We are incredibly grateful that many of our local entrepreneurs are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with our students in the classroom. Thank you to all the entrepreneurs that visited our classrooms during fall semester.

  • George Arida, Venture Investors
  • Atlas Improvisation Troupe
  • Justin Beck, Per Blue
  • Tania Burke, Trek Travel
  • Scott Button, Venture Investors
  • Aaron Everson, Shoutlet
  • Matt Howard, EatStreet
  • Dave Lohrentz, Madison Sourdough
  • Michael McFall, BIGGBY COFFEE
  • Chris Meyer, Sector 67
  • Steve Royko, Royko Enterprises
  • Richard Schifreen, WARF
  • Jon Seaton, Venture Investors, Morgridge Institute for Research
  • Alec Slocum, Abodo.com (formerly Move-in-Madison)
  • Chad Sorenson, RedSpark Ventures, LLC
  • Laura Strong, Quintessence Biosciences
  • Troy Vosseller, Sconnie Nation, Sconnie Beer, co-founder of gener8tor
  • Paul Wrycha, Foley and Lardner
  • Matt Younkle, Murfie
 
 Alumni News/Updates  

Keith L. T. Alexander (1998) has written Forgery of the Month Club, a memoir that is out in paperback on Amazon.com where it has received rave reviews. Also check out www.forgeryofthemonthclub.com.


Craig Andler and the team at Hopster are continuing to reinvent the grocery coupon. Hopster is now the 2nd largest online destination for grocery coupons and has partnered with over 60 consumer packaged goods manufacturers including Kimberly-Clark, Rayovac and Barilla. Visit Hopster to check out their current offers.


Adam Bock (1999), Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh Business School, will be spending the year completing an honorary fellowship at the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies at UW-Madison. Read more from his talk at the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery here.


Attorney John W. Schuster (2006) of Young, Schuster & Maslowski, LLP was named to the Super Lawyers Rising Star list for his work in business law and startups. Each year, no more than 2.5% of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Congratulations, John!


Harsha Tipirneni (1998) and his wife welcomed Agastya, the newest member of our Badger family. Congratulations!

 Featured Alumnus: Sean Ebert  

By Peter Oppermann

Sean Ebert never thought he would one day be working in operations. A Weinert Center graduate in 2008, Sean has applied his MBA in a number of roles at Therma-Stor, a technology-driven manufacturing firm in Madison. Sean was hired into product management for Therma-Stor's commercial brands after graduation in 2008, choosing the company over another more typical entrepreneurship option because of the connection he had with management. "My strengths are in young and growing companies, which aren't necessarily startups," Sean noted. Further encouraging his choice was the memory of a discussion in his WAVE class led by Mary Burke, former Trek Bicycle executive and Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce. Noting the hundreds of small- to mid-sized manufacturing companies in Wisconsin, Mary encouraged students to explore opportunities locally.

Sean quickly grew his role, first, by taking over management of residential brands, and in 2010, through a promotion to senior product manager. Currently, he is vice president of operations for the company, a position he has held since mid-2012. One of the more attractive parts of his career so far, says Sean, has been the combination of "roll your sleeves up and do the dirty work, along with long-range market analysis." This has led him to do everything from on-site demonstrations of bed-bug mitigation in hotel rooms to leading discussions with oil exploration companies on using Therma-Stor's technology to keep key fluids from freezing during fracking.

Citing his MBA experience as particularly helpful in guiding his decision-making process, Sean pointed out that Therma-Stor is an "incredibly entrepreneurial" company that "embraces taking chances and pursuing opportunities." For example, early in his career, Sean spent several months conducting a feasibility analysis for a new opportunity facing the company. The further he got into it, the more he realized "this is a no-go", and he cited his background in entrepreneurship as a key factor in helping him recommend that the company walk away. "It's that 'pivot or persevere' mentality," Sean said, pointing out the benefits of working "in an environment where you have the freedom to say something isn't working without fear of killing someone's sacred cow (or your own career)...Being able to confidently say a particular opportunity wasn't going to work allowed us to jump onto the next opportunity without wasted time or money."

Sean sees himself continuing to grow in his role at Therma-Stor for the foreseeable future. "There's still a lot of work to be done," he said with a smile.

 Center Support  

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

  • Andy Albert, MBA 1969
  • Erin Q. Byrd, MBA 2010
  • Katie Krueger, MBA 2011
  • Noah M. Kunin-Goldsmith, MBA 2011
  • Chad, MBA 2011, and Sara Mack
  • Paul Reckwerdt and Ellen Rosner, Friends of the Center
  • Dr. Evan R. Sengbusch, MBA 2011
  • Paul and Suzanne Shain, Friends of the Center
  • Joseph Ypma, MBA 2012

Your continued support of our programs is greatly appreciated. Anyone wishing to financially support the programs can do so by visiting bus.wisc.edu/centers/weinert/give.

EntrepreNews is produced by the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship.

Weinert Center For Entrepreneurship
 

Executive Director: Jon Eckhardt
Director: Dan Olszewski
Associate Director: Lisa Collins

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  Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
  Wisconsin School of Business | 975 University Avenue | Madison, WI 53706
  Phone: 608-263-2882
  bus.wisc.edu/centers/weinert