Melissa Turczyn, Partner at Michael Best & Friedrich, joined the WAVE Advisory Board this spring. With extensive experience working with entrepreneurs and investors through the firm’s Venture Capital Practice Group and Start-up & Emerging Businesses Practice Group, we are pleased to have Melissa’s expertise and passion represented on the board.
A double Badger with both her BBA and JD from UW-Madison, Melissa says she fell into the entrepreneurial space after starting her career in mergers and acquisitions. During the economic downturn of 2008, there was little M&A activity for the firm so Melissa started working with the venture group. As a junior associate, Melissa was closer in age to many of the new entrepreneurs and was able to grow with them along with their business and legal needs.
One of Melissa’s first clients was EatStreet. Melissa has been with them since their early pitches and has seen their needs grow and expand as the company has taken off. Staying updated with the changing legal landscape, Melissa crafts strategies with clients to anticipate changing regulations. For example, EatStreet’s decision to employ delivery drivers instead of using independent contractors was a strategy not many in the industry follow. Melissa works to understand her companies and what is on the founders’ minds so that she can be an advocate for their business and help them create a safe path forward as their business grows.
Melissa has established herself in the startup community assisting early stage, high-growth companies with corporate matters of all kinds. Working closely with entrepreneurs, Melissa has a strong track record helping to organize, finance, and build early-stage and emerging growth companies. Her broad experience focuses on all aspects of IT including medical devices, clean tech, and mobile apps. She also represents venture capital funds, angel funds, and other investors.
Her advice to new entrepreneurs: get legal guidance before problems arise. It’s a lot easier to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your business’ legal needs. Even in the early stages, investors expect documents prepared in a certain way and your attorney can help make sure you are not giving investors a reason to say, “no.” Doing things correctly from the beginning can save time and money. You do not need to have everything in order before seeing an attorney; they should be your partner through your startup journey.
In her new capacity as WAVE board member, Melissa is looking forward to the opportunity to help students as they navigate the early stages of starting a company. Resources for entrepreneurs continue to grow in Madison, a result of passionate entrepreneurs and businesses that are committed to making it a great place for startups. Melissa suggests reaching out to people in the community and start asking questions early. The Madison startup ecosystem is extremely approachable and happy to connect entrepreneurs to resources and people.
We are so grateful to have Melissa’s knowledge and dedication to the Wisconsin startup community on the board and look forward to continuing our relationship with her.