We have 12 students that were admitted into the Weinert Center’s Wisconsin Fellowship in Enterprise Development program for the 2019-2020 academic year. We asked the Fellows to share how they got interested in entrepreneurship while providing some background on their past experience and future goals.
We hope you enjoy meeting the Fellowship Class of 2020!
After graduating from Edgewood College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry, I was determined to pursue a completely new interest -starting my own organic farm. Eventually this journey led to an entrepreneurial opportunity that combined my interests in science and agriculture. I became the first employee of a university-based startup whose goal was to commercialize a wastewater treatment technology that produces sustainable fertilizer. As their Commercialization Manager, I drove the scale-up of the technology, grew the company, and learned to direct cross-functional teams. As an Enterprise Development Fellow, I look forward to enhancing my leadership capabilities for scaling companies, directing new ventures, and managing innovation.
I have always been an explorer. Growing up in North Dakota, I roamed my town endlessly. I followed railroad tracks and tunnels just to see where they lead and would sneak into abandoned buildings, thinking about the people who had been there before and why it could have been left empty for so long. I would venture as far and wide as my bike allowed. But my mind wandered to places farther afield. I was curious about life in cities like New York, about remote islands and the people who sailed there, and about life outside of the United States. This curiosity led me many places and taught me many things. In high school it lead me to my first trip abroad, to Mexico, which was an eye-opener and a point which set the direction of my life going forward. Eventually I landed in Asia and this is where I stayed for most of my adult life. Here I taught English to all levels and ages, consulted foreigners on the startup process in South Korea, operated a restaurant and bar in northern Thailand, and lastly started, grew, and eventually sold a business communication and skills training company in Seoul. I am now here at the Wisconsin School of Business to learn the skills I will need to bring more complex businesses to life in a way that allows for scalability. To that end, I very much look forward to collaborating with my peers and mentors in the UW Fellowship in Enterprise Development.
I am thrilled to complement my specialized MBA degree in Operations and Technology Management with the Wisconsin Fellowship in Enterprise Development program. Prior to enrolling in the Wisconsin MBA program, I worked Epic and State Collection Service doing work in healthcare software implementation, business process improvement, and data analytics. As co-president of the MBA Healthcare Interest Club, I am working to bring innovation to the healthcare field and engage with our other professional degree programs on campus. As a fellow, I am excited to learn how to drive innovation within large organizations and how to identify new opportunity for growth within many different industries.I will be spending the summer of 2019 at Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine, CA. In my free time I like to read, watch the Mariners and Badgers, and go to spin class.
Arthur J. (AJ) Meinig
Since starting my MBA at UW-Madison and becoming a double badger after five years in pharma R&D, I have taken every opportunity to hone my entrepreneurial skill set. From product pitch competitions to meeting and learning from startup founders, there is so much that this campus has to offer. One of the true gems in the entrepreneurship space at this campus lies in the Weinert Center and I am thrilled to become part of their story as a Fellow in the Enterprise Development Program. Through the fellowship, I hope to provide support for other’s entrepreneurial dreams and gain the know-how to one day launch my own venture.After the MBA, I look to couple all of the skills earned through the Operations and Technology Management program with those learned through the fellowship and make a positive impact as a product manager in the tech industry.
I attended UW-Madison as an undergrad pursuing a B.S. in Kinesiology. While in school,I was also a member of the Men’s Basketball team. Following my four-year college career, I decided to leave school before finishing my degree. Basketball led me to Europe where I played professionally for five years in some of the top leagues in the world. My experience overseas opened my eyes to new ways of thinking as a player, and even more as a person. Upon retirement from my basketball career,I came home to finish my degree. At the same time, I had the fortunate opportunity to work with a venture capital fund focused on companies started by UW entrepreneurs. My interest was piqued, and I felt that my life experience could help give me a unique perspective in that industry. I returned to the Wisconsin School of Business seeking an MBA and the chance to put my experience into a new setting.I am excited to join the fellowship, not only to exercise my creativity, but also to see my peers bring their ideas to life. Entrepreneurship is an incredible tool that brings the best ideas to large audiences. Working alongside driven and passionate classmates will make all of us stronger business leaders.
Business ventures and management have always been an interest of mine, leading me to study finance and marketing as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.This education provided a broad base of business knowledge to leverage throughout my career. During this time I also served as the Manager and Chairman of the Board of a student-run business on campus where I had the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills. Following graduation, I began my career as a consultant with Baker Tilly in Chicago working on enterprise transformation projects in diverse teams, helping clients solve business problems and operationalize new programs. The Enterprise Development Program will allow me the opportunity to collaborate with, and learn from, the different perspectives of my classmates and alumni mentors. I will be able to build on my existing experiences and become a stronger business leader who brings an entrepreneurial approach to challenges. Furthermore, I look forward to practicing intrapreneurship at S.C. Johnson this summer and the growth to come in the program next year!
I completed my undergraduate degree in Hospitality Management at Penn State University, and from there headed to the west coast to work for Aramark as a Catering Sales Manager in convention centers. I managed a portfolio of clients and events and found a lot of joy and excitement in owning responsibilities and business. After spending a fun three years working in events, I decided to switch things up and pursue a role with a smaller company. I joined a startup in Madison, WI called AkitaBox, where I started on the sales team and later transitioned to a role in software implementation. It was very exciting to watch the company grow and change, and I developed an interest and love in designing business strategy, creating innovations, and making notable impacts.I have a strong interest in innovation and new product development and look forward to learning techniques to manage and bring ideas to life. After my internship in marketing management at Intuit this summer I am eager to come back next fall and join the Enterprise Development Fellowship class of 2020.
My interest in entrepreneurship started as a child, watching my father run a successful one-man operation as a professional photographer in addition to his full time job as an enlisted Airman in the United States Air Force. Even my mother was a small scale serial entrepreneur. I watched her start several businesses from day care, to music lessons, to house cleaning services and more; applying her skills in support of her family. My interests in pursuing entrepreneurship are twofold. Firstly, as a means to better understand how businesses work from the very inception up to Fortune 500 and beyond. I am particularly interested in innovation and new product development in larger firms and I think the skills and knowledge I learn from the entrepreneurship courses offered by WSB will help me in that goal. Secondly, I am interested in entrepreneurship in pursuit of opening my own side-business as marketing and research consultant to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Understanding entrepreneurship will not only help me in running and hopefully growing my own business(s) but in understanding the needs and challenges of my clients. I am very excited and grateful to be accepted as a Fellow and look forward to the future.
Coty (Lei) Song
Passionate about corporate strategy and operating innovation, I am excited to join the Wisconsin Fellowship in the Enterprise Development Program. After graduating from The University of Chinese Academy of Science with a master’s degree in Electronic Engineering, I worked in the Electronic industry for 7+ years in product testing, product management, and tech startup operation management. As a certificated PMP, Six Sigma Black Belt, and a startup co-founder, I had witnessed essential opportunities for business to improve the operational efficiency to survive in the changing environment, and thus found my career interest in operation excellence consulting. In the past four years, I practiced the data analytics skills and six sigma methodology in various industries, and successfully finished more than Six Sigma 30 projects, helping the companies save more than $5m. Curious about finding the solution to better integrating strategic planning and continuous improving method, I went to Business school and worked toward a professional process improvement consultant to help the business to enhance the operational efficiency, improve the quality, and lower the cost.
For the last seven years,I have worked with companies to communicate their brands through digital and traditional channels. While launching a Wisconsin-themed gift box company I had the pleasure to partner with many passionate entrepreneurs which enhanced my interest in how corporations embrace innovation and internal business development. From astroparticle physics to gift boxes and a bit of everything along the way, I have always prioritized relationships, innovation, and strategy. I am eager to collaborate with and learn from area entrepreneurs, researchers, and peers through the Wisconsin Fellowship in Enterprise Development while leveraging my past startup experience. Through the fellowship, I look forward to developing relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and gain skills to succeed in corporate entrepreneurship. My internship at Amazon this summer will be an exciting environment to learn about corporate innovation and enterprise development.
I had my first taste of entrepreneurship as a mechanical engineering student here at UW, when I started a student organization to compete in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition. It quickly grew to have over 150 members. Building a pod conveniently sized to fit an individual who is 6’2″ required a number of resources and we worked tirelessly to raise over $100k, in addition to securing a space to build our pod and store materials. Outside of school, I have worked in a number of manufacturing related roles, most recently in automotive as a JIT Seat Complete Engineer. I have also partnered with a number of non-profit organizations on community revitalization projects. I am looking forward to further developing my entrepreneurial skillset with my summer internship as a product manager at Intuit, and then throughout the second year of my MBA through the fellowship.
I am passionate about supporting entrepreneurship and innovation and am excited to be part of the Weinert community. Born and raised in Western Canada, I grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs and it has shaped my career, education and outlook. After graduating from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Arts (honors) in English and a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2012, I worked as an executive-level political advisor for five years –three as a policy advisor and two as a communications advisor. In these roles, I strove to find innovated policy solutions to meet the needs of the public and was continually endeavored to figure out how to do things better. In politics, I was passionate about understanding consumer behavior and responding to the insights gathered. Through the Fellowship program, I hope to better learn how to translate consumer behavior insights to products and services that meet consumer needs.