EntrepreNews Fall 2014


A Message from the Executive Director

The 2013-14 academic year was an important year for entrepreneurship programming and scholarship at the Wisconsin School of Business. A few highlights include:

  • Enrollment in entrepreneurship courses reached 1,189 students
  • We continue to train many more students through our non-credit programs such as the Burrill Business Plan Competition and the Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Boot Camp
  • Our well-attended weekly entrepreneurship lunch with students and practitioners is being continued this year under a new name, the Distinguished Entrepreneurs Lunch. Neider & Boucher is graciously sponsoring the program for the 2014-15 academic year
  • Our faculty and Ph.D. students continue to be recognized as thought leaders in entrepreneurship
  • Recent alumni have successfully leveraged local and national resources to start, fund, and grow enterprises
  • Our Global Entrepreneurship Event—sponsored by Paul Reckwerdt and Ellen Rosner and the Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community (ERLC)— attracted over 500 participants and involved alumni and friends from all over the United States
  • We launched the Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic, which provides students with an opportunity to fuse academics and practice by assisting faculty entrepreneurs and area businesses. The clinic is run as a joint venture with the Law School and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
  • We moved into a fantastic new suite, 5110 Grainger Hall

I continue to be inspired by the caliber, integrity, and commitment of our students, faculty, and staff. Every year the success of our programs and ultimately our students, is driven by the involvement of our alumni and friends who serve as advisors, mentors, teachers, and sponsors. Thank you in advance, for what you will do this year to contribute to the success of our activities and students.

If you are interested in sponsoring an activity or program of the center, please contact myself, or Dan Olszewski. I hope to see you in the Weinert Center soon.


Student News

Read about our impressive students and some of their accomplishments.

Grace Michaud Fellowship

Jean Spellman, MBA in Brand and Product Management and a Fellow in Enterprise Development, is the recipient of the Grace Michaud Fellowship for the 2014-15 academic year.

Outstanding Entrepreneurship Student in WAVE Class

For the first time ever, two students tied in the voting to be named the outstanding entrepreneurship student in the WAVE class. Fellows Peter Oppermann and Todd Pilcher shared the award, as well as praise from their classmates.

Peter Oppermann, WAVE Class of 2014
One student had this to say about Peter: "Peter is passionate about entrepreneurism and it shows with the depth of insight in every comment and recommendation he has for his fellow classmates. It is clear that he is well-versed in a range of entrepreneurial literature and strategies and also understands the importance of customer interaction and utilization of a feedback loop."

Todd Pilcher, WAVE Class 2014
One student had this to say about Todd: "Todd has consistently provided valuable feedback to everyone in the class. His comments have helped us in both refining our ideas as well as in improving the presentation of our ideas."

Fellow in Enterprise Development Program Awarded MBA Impact & Innovation Award

We are thrilled to share that Fellow Lizzy Tomber has been awarded the 2014 Wisconsin MBA Impact & Innovation Award. The award is presented to a second-year MBA student who has developed a program/event or created a significant impact on the Full-time MBA Program. Lizzy has contributed to the Wisconsin MBA Program, the Wisconsin School of Business, and the world at large in myriad ways throughout her two years in the program, most notably through her passion for diversity and inclusion in business. Congratulations Lizzy!

Fellow in Enterprise Development Program Part of a Winning Team in 2014 Rice Business Plan Competition

A team from UW-Madison representing Microbe Detectives won first in the challenge round and was honored with the Courage Investment Award totaling $26,000. Fellow Brent Sugimoto led a team of engineers with no case competition or pitch experience, and he assisted in framing their business case and coaching/prepping the team through the sessions. The team exceeded expectations by winning the investment for the startup.

Two Fellows in Enterprise Development Program Selected as Consultants for the Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic

Brian Plunkett Chris Van’t Hof

Brian Plunkett, MBA in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking, and Chris Van’t Hof, MBA in Operations and Technology Management, will be consultants along with Mike Williams, faculty associate, to assist clients in the Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic. Congratulations to both Brian and Chris!

Two Entrepreneurship Undergraduates Receive Scholarships

Tenzin Wangdhen, BBA in Management and Human Resources (Entrepreneurship track) and Real Estate, received the Alan C. Filley Integrity Mutual Scholarship. He graduated in May 2014 and is currently working at Spectrom LLC, a new startup.

Joe Schulz, BBA in Finance, Investment, and Banking, received the Paul J. and Marnie A. Stoiber Scholarship. He has been managing his own business, Langdon Co. LLC. Joe will be working this summer in a new startup, Flux Mopeds, and will graduate in May 2015.

Fellowship in Enterprise Development Program

Eight MBA students have been selected for our second class for the Fellowship in Enterprise Development Program. The Enterprise Development program is comprised of a comprehensive academic curriculum that explores the startup process spanning venture creation, entrepreneurial management, and startup finance. Jean Spellman, an MBA student from the Center for Brand and Product Management, had this to say about the Fellowship program:

"I really see the fellowship as a fantastic opportunity to integrate and apply all the fundamental concepts I’ve learned in the Wisconsin MBA Program. The other Enterprise Development Fellows and I are excited not only to develop stronger ties with each other, but also to expand our networks with the Weinert Center Advisory Board and the greater startup community in Madison and the Midwest."

Fellows for the 2014-2015 academic year are:
Michael Haberle, MBA in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking
David Hanley, MBA in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking
Chris Maramba, MBA in Operations and Technology Management
Andrew Mullvain, MBA in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking
Chris Peters, MBA in Operations and Technology Management
Brian Plunkett, MBA in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking
Jean Spellman, MBA in Brand and Product Management
Chris Van't Hof, MBA in Operations and Technology Management

WAVE Students Win the 2014 Qualcomm Innovation Prize

Four engineering students Mehdi Shokoueinejad (WAVE ’14 and Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp (WEB) ’13), Yei Hwan Jung (WAVE ’14), Akshay Kumar (WEB ’13), and Sarah Sandock (WAVE ’13) invented a bandage that uses LED technology for light therapy healing. Read more.

Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Boot Camp

The 2014 Wisconsin School of Business’ Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Boot Camp (WEB) was held during the second week in June. More than 60 graduate-level students participated in this intensive, hands-on week of learning focused on technology entrepreneurship and exploring how business startups can create both economic and social value. The students represented almost 40 majors across the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Throughout the program, students learn basic concepts and tools to assess product ideas, form and fund a technology-based startup, and understand and use financial analysis. Case analyses, a site visit to a local business, networking social events, and expert panels help students make links between concepts and practice. The program exposes students to the many resources available in Madison and on campus and helps them learn how to use those resources effectively.

Among the key instructors for this event included Wisconsin School of Business faculty Jon Eckhardt, Phil Greenwood, Larry (Chip) Hunter, Anne Miner, Chad Navis, Dan Olszewski, John Surdyk and Mike Williams. 

Top field experts included G. Steven Burrill, Burrill & Company; Dave Linz, consultant for the Center for Technology Commercialization; John Neis, managing director, Venture Investors; John Philosophos, partner at Great Oaks Venture Capital; Chad Sorenson, founder & principal, RedSpark Ventures; Becky Splitt, CEO of Study Blue; Michael Falk, Carl Gulbrandsen and Laura Heisler from the Wisconsin Alumni Association Research Foundation (WARF). Community members play a key role in panel and case discussions throughout the week.

View more photos from the week.

UW Recognized in New Book on Top Entrepreneurship Programs

The Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community (ERLC), the WAVE Program and other UW-Madison entrepreneurship programs were recognized as some of the best programs in entrepreneurship. In the book Entrepreneurship Programs and the Modern University by Morris, Kuratko & Cornwall, Dan Olszewski, director and Jon Eckhardt, executive director, were asked to submit a section on student venture funding to the authors and their edited version appears in the book under ‘Best Practice University-University of Wisconsin and Venture Funding.’ This book on academic entrepreneurship offers one of the most comprehensive approaches to understanding the framework and strategies for building effective entrepreneurship programs within universities today.

Faculty/Staff News

Introducing New Faculty Member

We are excited to have Sarada join the faculty in the management and human resources department. Her main research focus is on the economics of entrepreneurship. She received her undergraduate degree at UW-Madison in economics and statistics and completed her Ph.D. in economics at the University of California-San Diego. Welcome Sarada!

Phil Kim Receives 2014 Award of Excellence from Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO)

Donny Lavrenz, president of CEO, presents assistant professor Phil Kim with the Award of Excellence saying:

Donny Lavrenz & Phil Kim

"Assistant professor Phil Kim exemplifies all parts of a CEO's mission both inside and outside of the classroom. He is a passionate educator who artfully mixes traditional teachings in entrepreneurial concepts with broader skills needed for success no matter what goals a student may have. With an emphasis on real-world examples, live case studies, guest speakers, and student-driven discussion, assistant professor Kim creates a classroom culture which is both challenging and highly rewarding.

The central theme of his class following one’s entrepreneurial passion has pushed students to become the best they can be as individuals in life, as well as challenging them to make a broader impact on the global stage. Due to his ability to deliver a diverse entrepreneurial curriculum, provide networking opportunities, and spark a passion among his students, assistant professor Kim is more than deserving of the UW-Madison CEO Award of Excellence."

Jon Eckhardt Receives Wisconsin Naming Gift Distinguished Service Award

During the Wisconsin School of Business Length of Service, Retirement, and Awards Ceremony, Jon Eckhardt received the Wisconsin Naming Gift Distinguished Service Award for his many contributions to the School and the entrepreneurial community. Congratulations Jon!

Chad Navis Receives NSF Grant

Chad Navis, assistant professor in management and human resources, along with co-PI Akbar Sayeed from Electrical and Computer Engineering, received an NSF grant. This grant will support research and benefit students in both Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Wisconsin School of Business. Congratulations Chad!

Jon Eckhardt Speaks at Founder’s Day Event

Jon Eckhardt gave a talk on building the Entrepreneurial University at the University of Wisconsin Founder’s Day Event in Milwaukee on April 30, 2014.

Phil Kim Leaves for Babson College

We extend our best wishes to Phil Kim who left the Wisconsin School of Business this summer to join the faculty at Babson College. We thank Phil for his dedication, commitment, and hard work. Read Phil’s departing message.

Dear Weinert Center friends,

I will be leaving Madison and its vibrant 77 square miles this August for Boston to join the faculty of Babson College as an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship. I’d like to express my appreciation for the many good memories my family and I take with me to the East Coast. I thank my colleagues in the Weinert Center, Management and Human Resources Department, Wisconsin School of Business, WARF, and others parts of the campus for their support throughout my time here in Madison. I appreciate the many board members, alumni, and other Center friends who have participated in my classes and enriched the learning environment with insights from their life experiences. Finally, I thank my students who pursued the challenge of finding their entrepreneurial dreams and living out their "whole life plans." I learned a lot from all of you and became a better entrepreneurship scholar and educator from our interactions.

Please stay in touch via LinkedIn and let me know if you visit the Boston area! I look forward to hearing about your success stories.


Center Support

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

  • Mark and Lori Meester, WAVE board member and friends of the Center.
  • Neil and Jessica Peters-Michaud, WAVE board member and friends of the Center.

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

Jon Eckhardt, Dan Olszewski, Russ Coff, Phil Greenwood, Phil Kim, Stefan Koehler, Chad Navis, Sarada, John Surdyk, Mike Williams and Lisa Collins


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  Wisconsin School of Business | 975 University Avenue | Madison, WI 53706
  Phone: 608-263-2882