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Launch Wisconsin
Lambeau Field Atrium
Green Bay, WI
2016 Dates Coming Soon

The Inaugural event was a huge success!
Thank you to all sponsors, participants, and attendees!
Video, stories and photos from the day, and more can be found on our Feed!


Launch Wisconsin:

Launch Wisconsin is Green Bay’s premiere event for startups, innovative corporations, entrepreneurs, and investors looking for exciting new opportunities and talent. Started by leaders in Green Bay, Launch Wisconsin came about because of the need to increase the connections between established businesses and entrepreneurial talent. While the Ewing Kauffman Foundation recently ranked Wisconsin dead last for new business start-ups among the 50 states, Wisconsin does not lack ambitious entrepreneurs or innovative corporations, but the environment does demand greater collaboration among the innovators and leaders.

The goal of Launch Wisconsin is to provide the platform and leadership to create connections and opportunities – a collaborative effort to support new startups, solve business problems, and drive a wave of new ventures, opportunities, and economic growth for Wisconsin.

Get involved! Engage, learn, and connect in Reverse Pitch, On Ramp, Keynote Speakers, Panel Discussions, and networking opportunities at Launch Wisconsin!

What You Missed in 2015



Marlene Williamson

Marlene Williamson is the Chief Executive Officer and Board Director of Watermark; an executive leadership organization focused on the value of diversity to drive economic growth in business. Previously Marlene was Chief Marketing Officer of a number of technology companies including Alfresco, BigMachines (sold to Oracle), and HGST (sold to Western Digital). She has also been named Innovator of the Year by Google, Outstanding Female Executive in Silicon Valley by the YWCA, and a Woman of Influence in Silicon Valley by the San Jose Business Journal.

Master of Ceremonies

Tom Atwell

Tom Atwell is a commercial lender at Nicolet Bank, working closely with businesses ranging from start-ups to well-established companies across all industries. Tom is a member of a Green Bay investment group, as well as a number of non-profit boards. Prior to banking, Tom was an analyst for a New York and Chicago based private equity firm focusing on US middle market buyouts, with a healthy mix of venture capital and international investments. He has degrees in History, Geography, and Business from UW-Madison, where he also was involved in emerging market finance, SRI (socially responsible investing), sweet corn genetics, organic agricultural development, and the Governor’s Office.


Read Tom’s thoughts on Launch Wisconsin and Banking for Entrepreneurs!

Panelists & Presenters

Craig-DickmanCraig Dickman

Craig Dickman is the founder, CEO and Chief Innovation Officer of Breakthrough Fuel, a company that manages the energy and information shippers use to move products to market. In less than a decade, Breakthrough Fuel has grown to become a partner to some of American industry’s leading brands, including Procter & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific, and John Deere, among others.

Mr. Dickman is the inventor responsible for two patents for energy management and has additional patents pending with the United States Patent Office. He is an experienced entrepreneur who is involved with more than 10 companies currently. He also serves on the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors; the Council of Trustees for UW-Green Bay and the Board of Visitors for the St. Norbert College Schneider School of Business and Economics.

Dan Reed

Dan Reed is the Managing Director of American Family Ventures, the direct venture capital arm of American Family Insurance. American Family Ventures invests in early stage companies focused on insurance, connectivity, and analytics. Dan has worked as a strategy consultant with the Boston Consulting Group and in various strategic roles at American Family.

Mr. Reed has experience as a principal in two start-up companies. Additionally, his work history includes hospital administration at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and a career as a professional baseball player with the Baltimore Orioles. Dan holds an M.B.A. with a concentration in Strategic Management from the University of Chicago and an undergraduate degree from Stanford University.


Read Dan Reed’s Bio and how to connect with him!

Paul-SummersidePaul R. Summerside, MD, MMM

Dr. Summerside currently is the Chairperson of Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a joint venture hospital of Aurora Health Care and BayCare Clinic. He also served as Director of Sports Medicine and Wellness at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

Dr. Summerside currently serves as the President of BayCare Joint Ventures overseeing the company’s external partnerships and related strategies. Dr. Summerside is credited with guiding BayCare Clinic’s inception and growth while simultaneously serving as a key resource for the organization’s physician relations and recruiting as well as quality assurance and managed care contracting during his tenure as Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Paul Summerside is a graduate of St. Olaf College, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He is also a graduate of the University of Iowa’s College of Medicine and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois. Dr. Summerside holds a Masters of Medical Management degree from the University of Southern California.

Allen J. DinesAllen Dines

Allen Dines has more than 30 years of experience at the executive level working at the interface of science and technology.  He is currently an Executive Partner at WISC Partners, a strategic operating capital fund founded by a group of Silicon Valley-based UW-Madison alumni. His passion is creation and growth of new ventures.  He is also active as a mentor and advisor with MERLIN mentors, 100State, Madworks Accelerator and MadVentures.  Allen holds emeritus status for service as Assistant Director, New Ventures at the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations, a position he left in Fall 2014.  During his tenure at UW-Madison he founded or provided original inspiration for many of the programs and events that today are mainstays in Madison’s startup scene.

In 2003 he founded the Midwest Research University Network (MRUN), an alliance of Midwest university commercialization managers and others focused on fostering startup ventures. He is currently President Emeritus of that organization.  Prior to joining UW- Madison, Allen was involved in three startup ventures, all in the biotechnology sector two of which he co-founded and all of which sold to leaders in their respective industries.  Prior to these ventures, Allen was an Associate with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc. in Bethesda, MD working with the Pharmaceuticals, Agrichemicals and Food practice.  Allen holds degrees from the University of Michigan including a B.S, a Masters in Natural Resources and an MBA.  Allen lives and works in Madison WI.

Matt Howard

Matt Howard is the CEO and co-founder of EatStreet, an online ordering platform that connects restaurants with diners. EatStreet offers restaurants custom websites, mobile apps, Facebook ordering, and digital marketing services. Founded in 2009, EatStreet has expanded to over 150 cities and 15,000 restaurant accounts under Howard’s leadership. His primary responsibilities include driving the strategic vision of the company, spearheading business development initiatives, and overseeing all expansion efforts. To date, Howard has raised $12.7 million in three rounds of funding. He leads an ever-growing staff of over 100 employees out of EatStreet’s headquarters in Madison, WI.

Howard received his undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin (Class of 2011). He is active in the Wisconsin startup community and enjoys helping Gener8tor as a mentor to its companies. Howard was named to Madison Magazine’s 2013 “M List” honoring entrepreneurial excellence.

Joe-KirguesJoe Kirgues

Joe is a Co-Founder of Gener8tor and serves as its full time managing director along with Troy Vosseller. Gener8tor is a premier startup accelerator in Madison and Milwaukee. Joe has worked with startups for nearly five years with a focus on seed and Series A stage companies.

Before choosing to have fun for a living, Joe worked at Quarles & Brady, where he focused his practice on private equity and venture capital. Joe received his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and Order of the Coif. Joe received his BA from Marquette University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Joe worked as a federal law clerk in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for the Honorable William E. Callahan, Jr., after graduating from law school.

Allan ZeiseAl-Zeise.jpg

Allan Zeise is the President and Founder of ZyQuest. He is an experienced executive with a proven track record of leading technology-based entrepreneurial ventures from launch to acquisition. With 30 years of experience in IT and expertise in a wide range of technologies and industries, Mr. Zeise has served the industry in a variety of capacities, from developer to CIO. His company, ZyQuest, was recognized by Inc. magazine as the 54th fastest growing privately held company in America. As an angel investor, he has funded, developed, and launched a number of successful technology based companies. His entrepreneurial endeavors have ranged from motor fuel tax compliance, supply chain management, GPS vehicle tracking, healthcare analytics, and gaming platforms.

Jon W. HopkinsJon-Hopkins

Jon Hopkins serves as the Director of the Milwaukee Institutes Center for Software Engineering.  Previously he founded Archiblox, a provider of software engineering tools.  He has been a founder of several other startups that provided technical computing products, including Rational Rose, the leading object-oriented software modeling and design tool.  Mr. Hopkins has served on the boards of numerous software startups and the Milwaukee Public Museum. 

He also serves as an adjunct faculty member and teaches classes in software engineering and software architecture. Mr. Hopkins holds both an MS and BS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Ben-DeBoerBenjamin DeBoer

Benjamin DeBoer is the Director of Corporate Development for Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, and is passionate about cultivating disruptive innovation and entrepreneurship in Wisconsin. In his role, his primary focus is supporting Jewelers Mutual’s long-term goals by developing and executing Corporate Innovation and Corporate Venture growth strategies. To accomplish this, he is charged with identifying and executing new (startup) business development, third party partnerships, joint ventures, alliances and/or mergers & acquisitions.

Prior to joining Jewelers Mutual in 2008, Ben had provided fortune 500 companies with project/program management leadership, user experience design, delivery and integration of core financial service solutions and e-commerce offerings. Ben is a graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin with a triple major in Finance, Management and Business. He also holds a minor in Aviation Science and is an active pilot.


Read Ben DeBoer’s Bio and Thoughts on Insurance and Innovation for Entrepreneurs and Ventures! 

Bob PaguioBob-Paguio

Bob Paguio is an experienced Strategy and Innovation Executive with a track record for driving new ideas to enable step function growth for global companies across multiple industries.  His breadth of experience includes a technical role as a Lead R&D Engineer and Program Manager for the Department of Defense working with both large High Tech and small Startups on emerging technologies, also a Management Consultant for IBM’s Strategy and Change group advising clients from Small Businesses to Fortune 500 companies on ways to diversify revenues, a Global Marketing Director for Teradyne (a Semiconductor OEM), driving corporate entrepreneurship by establishing a Strategic Marketing and Business Development organization to launch a new business, and currently as the Executive Director of Enterprise Growth for Appvion where he leads a team charged with corporate wide growth developing new products, new markets, and new business models.

Paul-JonesPaul Jones

Paul A. Jones co-chairs the Venture Capital and Emerging Company Practice Group, Venture Best, at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, a top 200 corporate law firm with offices across Wisconsin as well as in Chicago, Austin, Salt Lake City, and Washington DC.  Mr. Jones began his legal career in Silicon Valley in 1985, and between 1990 and his return to the Midwest in 2003, resided in the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina where he was a serial venture backed entrepreneur, active angel investor, and managing partner of a $26 million seed/early stage life sciences venture fund.  Mr. Jones is a member of the Investment Committee at Angels on the Water, a small seed/early stage venture capital fund based in Northeast Wisconsin.


Read Paul Jones’s Bio and learn how to connect with him on LinkedIn!

Ken Johnson

Ken Johnson is the founder and managing director of Kegonsa Capital Partners (KCP), and in partnership with Sun Mountain Capital, is the General Partner of the Badger Fund of Funds.  Prior to founding KCP, Ken was both a Wisconsin-based entrepreneur and an angel investor in Wisconsin. As an angel investor, Mr. Johnson invested in 12 portfolio companies over a five year period.  He was the founding entrepreneur of five companies and served as CEO of three companies.  Six of his angel portfolio companies have been acquired.  Mr. Johnson remains actively involved in early stage investing throughout the state.

Rob-RiordanRobert H. Riordan

Rob Riordan, Executive Vice President and member of the Nsight Board of Directors, has been a part of Nsight for 37 years. His wireless and telecommunications experience combined with his technical expertise have allowed Rob to speak on a number of topics all over the world. Rob is a member of the National Speakers Association, the leading organization for professional speakers. Rob lives in Green Bay with his wife, Cathy and has four children and three grandchildren.

Steve LaszewskiSteve-Laszewski

Steve Laszewski has over 25 years of experience in directing large interdisciplinary teams that solve water resource problems for clients with multi-million dollar environmental and liability exposures.  He was trained as a scientist, graduating from UW Madison with a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology. Over the past five years he has led the environmental business within Foth and today focuses additional efforts on leadership development with technical and business teams.

Manoli KulutManoli Kulutbanisbanis

Manoli Kulutbanis is the managing partner of UpScalability, an advisory and technology firm that works with executives to launch and scale venturing frameworks and transformative business models. He specializes in helping consumer brands discover technology-enabled innovations that can become a meaningful and key component of the brand proposition.  

Mr. Kulutbanis has extensive experience within the Consumer Packaged Goods industry having served senior management roles in corporate strategy, business development, acquisition integration and lean manufacturing for MillerCoors, SABMiller and Unilever. As an entrepreneur, he founded, built and successfully exited his own business that customized HR development and assessment technologies for clients that included Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestlé and Cadbury.

Mike Cove

Mike Cove is a veteran in the international specialty paper industry. He has spent over half of his career in his homeland England and the second half in the United States. He has over 35 years of experience as a prime mover in the thermal printing industry in a variety of technical, market, and strategic managing roles. In his current position as Strategic Portfolio Manager at Appvion, Inc., he is responsible for business growth through product and market development. Outside of the paper world Mike is a musician, recording engineer and producer.

Mark Hackl

Mark Hackl is the founder and CEO of Lanehub Incorporated. Lanehub is a collaborative platform for shippers, carriers and logistics providers. Mr. Hackl most recently directed Schreiber Food’s transportation team and participated on the board of directors for the Food Shippers of America. With over 20 years in the industry at Georgia Pacific, GENCO, Veriha, and Schreiber Foods working as a shipper, a carrier, and a third-party logistics provider, he has seen all sides of the logistics industry.

Tom Dewane

First-time entrepreneur Tom Dewane founded Jaystreet Technologies in response to a pain point he encountered while managing a high-volume orthopedic practice. Jaystreet’s software as a service platform is for high-demand healthcare providers that lose patient engagement and revenue due to last-minute cancellations. The patent-pending software uses text messaging to quickly and efficiently backfill cancellations while freeing office staff to focus on more pressing patient needs.  

Tom earned a Bachelors of Business Administration from Marquette University and, later, a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He has an extensive background in marketing and brand management having work on the HUGGIES diapers brand as well as Kohler pluming products.

adam-yaegerAdam Yaeger

Adam Yaeger is the Director of Innovation for Assurant New Ventures, a unit that drives growth and innovation for the Fortune 500 specialty insurer. Assurant New Ventures organically builds and tests new businesses while also doing early stage investment and partnerships with the start-up community to accelerate development. Adam has worked in Growth and Innovation for over 5 years and prior to that had a background in Technology and Finance. Adam holds an MBA and BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with focuses in Strategic Management and Information Technology respectively.

nathan-wernerNate Werner

Nate Werner is the Innovation Manager for Assurant New Ventures, a unit that drives growth and innovation for the Fortune 500 specialty insurer.  Nate has worked in New Ventures for over 2 years and has prior positions with Assurant in Product Management and Marketing.  Prior to Assurant, Nate was a Vice President of Product Management for U.S. Bank in Minneapolis, MN and Guaranty Bank in Milwaukee, WI.  Nate holds a BBA from Marquette University with focuses in Marketing and Finance.

john-robertsonJohn Roberston

John is a Senior Business Partner within Kimberly-Clark’s Information Technology Global Marketing organization.  His focus is on the discovery and realization of technology solutions that empower the company’s Research & Development, Innovation Pilots, and Digital Innovation Lab to bring the next generation of products to life. 

During his twenty-two year tenure at Kimberly-Clark, he has been a first-hand witness to the continued evolution of Information Technology from back-office applications designed to last for a decade to the new lean startup world where an ever-changing ecosystem of partners and solutions is an essential ingredient to success.  He’s had a wide range of experiences including eCommerce, social media policy development, architecture,  innovation, crowdsourced development, and startup relationships.   John is a Wisconsin native, holding a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Services from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

Ken Sarnstromken-sarnstrom

Ken Sarnstrom is the Global Information Systems Director of Innovation for Harley-Davidson.  He leads a team focused on innovation in the digital space which provides a channel for employees to test new ideas.  His team works with early stage companies as a customer, partner, or as an advisor, helping advance new ideas or technologies.  He leads a company-wide Digital Innovation Council that oversees the application of leading edge market research, proof-of-concepts, and pilots to pursue emerging technologies to further Harley-Davidson’s business.

Ken is an avid rider and has spent over 20 years at Harley-Davidson in various leadership roles including information technology, strategic planning, project management and innovation.  Ken holds Bachelors of Business Administration from University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and a Masters of Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch – Milwaukee.


Startup Ecosystems & Early Stage Investing

What support systems exist to boost startup culture? What makes ideas or ventures “thrive?” Why do Angel Investors matter? What does it take to be an early stage investor?

Joe Kirgues, Gener8tor
Paul Jones, Venture Best & Angels on the Water
Ken Johnson, Badger Fund of Funds
Moderator – Jon Hopkins, Milw. Inst. Ctr for Software Engineering

1:00pm Legends B-C-D

Real Life Entrepreneurship

How do you know when to make the leap to start a company? How to stay the course despite the setbacks? Learn from startups at various stages about the thrill & challenge of entrepreneurship.

Matt Howard, Eat Street
Tom Dewane, JayStreet Technologies
Mark Hackl, Lane Hub
Moderator – Allen Dines, WISC Partners

2:30pm Legends A

Corporate Innovation

How do leading companies foster innovation? Learn from executive leaders as they share their approaches and experiences employed internally and externally.

Dan Reed, American Family Ventures
Bob Paguio, Appvion
John Robertson, Kimberly-Clark
Moderator – Manoli Kulutbanis, UpScalability

2:30pm Legends B-C-D

Accelerating N.E.W. Startup Ecosystem

Local leaders from successful northeast Wisconsin companies describe their experiences growing businesses and their motivations for creating a new start-up model.

Craig Dickman, Breakthrough Fuel
Paul Summerside, Aurora BayCare
Al Zeise, ZyQuest
Moderator – Rob Riordan, Nsight

5:00pm Legends B-C-D

Reverse Pitch

Established industry wants innovative solutions from entrepreneurs and startups.

Corporations pitch to entrepreneurs what they are looking for that addresses their enduring pain points, blue sky ideas or emerging challenges.

The Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

  • Access corporate partnership and customer prospects
  • Gain insight into market-driven corporate strategies
  • Build networks with industry innovators

The Opportunity for Corporationscontent_biz_meet

  • Source solutions from startups that have unique capabilities
  • Foster talent for future projects and engagements
  • Support Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial community

Participating Companies Include

  • Appvion
  • Baytek Games
  • Foth
  • Harley Davidson
  • American Family Insurance
  • Jewelers Mutual Insurance
  • Assurant


GREENcell Interactive

Social Media, SEO, and Advertising for Launch Wisconsin Conference by Marissa Ryan, CEO of GREENcell Interactive Digital Marketing Solutions