Jim Schultz, Open Prairie Jim is the Founder of Open Prairie. Now Chairman, he was the Managing Director of Open Prairie Ventures I and II. A fifth-generation agribusiness and banking entrepreneur, he leverages experiences gained while operating his family’s various international agribusinesses and syndicating the investment of 13,000 acres of Midwest farmland between 1980 and 1997. He earned a BA in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University, a JD from DePaul University, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is also a graduate of the Venture Capital Institute. Jim is the Open Prairie deal lead for Vestaron Corporation, Flow Forward Medical, and Metactive Medical.
Paul Karch, Husch Blackwell Paul, an attorney and member of Husch Blackwell’s Food & Agribusiness industry team, has led legal project teams in transactions creating and winding up research and marketing joint ventures and in sales of seed and other agricultural input companies. Paul’s legal and executive experience informs his practical and strategic advice to cooperatives on governance, contracting and compliance; to business owners on development and implementation of ownership and management succession plans and transactions; and to ongoing businesses on successful operations and growth.
Tera Johnson,teraswhey®/UW AG Tera Johnson is a serial entrepreneur whose mission is to create the next generation of environmentally and economically regenerative food and farming businesses. The founder of teraswhey® and host of the Edible-Alpha™ podcast, Tera participated in the full arc of creating a successful investor-financed company. Now the founder of the Food Finance Institute at UW-Extension and winner of the Chancellor’s 2017 Wisconsin Idea Award, Tera is a frequent speaker, teacher and financial consultant to sustainable food and farming businesses, social venture funds and investors.
Jim Wessing, Kondex Jim is President & co-founder of Kondex Corporation, a manufacturer of engineered agricultural components. Wessing grew up on a dairy farm and has been active in various agriculture associations and initiatives.
Bram Daelemans,Wisconsin Tech. Council Bram connects companies, angel networks, funds andcorporate strategic partners and provides investor training programs around the state.
Jason Graham, Golden Angels Investors Jason is the Associate Director at Golden Angels Investors and a former public company finance executive with deep expertise in M&A, financial modeling, VC & equity fundraising and capital allocation. Jason received his Bachelor of Science degree from Marquette University and is a certified public accountant.
Craig Heim, QBCO Craig is a partner on the Corporate Financial Partnerships team at Quandt Berndt & Company, LLC (QBCo). He provides strategic and investment advisory services for private companies owned by venture capital, private equity, and individual investors. Craig has over 15 years of investment, finance, and transaction advisory experience and joined QBCo after spending 10 years with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation where he was a portfolio manager leading the foundation's private equity, venture capital, and startup investment portfolios. In this capacity, Craig led the foundation's investments in companies including Cellular Dynamics (acquired by Fujifilm), Elucent Medical, FluGen, Healthmyne, Madison Vaccines, NeuWave (acquired by Johnson & Johnson), Silatronix, and Tissue Regeneration Systems. Craig previously was a vice president at Grace Matthews providing transaction advisory services for public and private companies. Craig holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Tim Keane, Golden Angels Investors Tim is the director of Golden Angels Investors. He is President of Keane Consultants, was the founder and CEO of Retail Target Marketing Systems (RTMS), now a unit of Fidelity Information Services (NYSE: FIS). He is a limited partner in several venture and private equity funds. RTMS pioneered the use of consumer data (data analytics) to increase marketing efficiency for large, national retailers, including Boston Stores, Bon-Ton, Sears Canada, Kohl’s Department Stores, GNC, Kay’s Jewelers and other national and regional brands. Through an acquisition on 1999, RTMS expanded its offering to hundreds of financial institutions. Today Keane Consultants specializes in growth strategy for revenue stage companies. He led entrepreneurship programs and taught MBA classes at Marquette University, a private midwest school, for 15 years.
Pat Fitzgibbons, Cargill Milwaukee Patrick is a longtime livestock professional who served as Procurement Manager at Cargill’s Milwaukee facility for 25 years. In addition he has held leadership roles in various non-profit organizations and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Livestock and Meat Council.
Ben Hoogland, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures Ben is an Associate at Cultivian Sandbox. Prior to joining Cultivian Sandbox, he was an investment banking analyst at Lazard Frères, where he provided advice on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions for large-cap corporations in the industrial, agribusiness and consumer industries in the Midwest. Ben holds a BBA in Finance from the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary and a secondary major in History. As an undergraduate, he competed on the men’s varsity tennis team, where he was named co-captain for his junior and senior seasons.
Matthew Bell, Cultivian Sanbox Matt Bell is a Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox and has been with the firm for 5 years. Prior to that Matt spent almost 10 years with the Office of Technology Transfer with the University of Michigan’s Office of Technology Transfer where he was directly involved with the formation activities of over 20 startup companies out of the University. Matt spent over 10 years in the Agriculture industry working for several production Ag supply companies including Growmark Incorporated where he was involved with their highly regarded precision farming services group. Matt has two degrees from the University of Illinois in Agronomy and a Masters of Business Administration and spent some of his early career as a professional grain farmer on the family farm that he grew up on in Central Illinois.
Dr. Johnny Park, Spensa Johnny is the Founder and CEO of Spensa Technologies. Spensa offers hardware and software solutions to help growers and trusted advisors better protect their crops from pests such as insects, weeds and disease. Spensa gathers high-resolution data, models that data to reveal insights, and clearly presents the findings to help make the most informed decisions possible. Spensa was named by Forbes as one of the Top 25 Most Innovative Ag-Tech Startups in 2017. Spensa was acquired by DTN in March 2018. Before Spensa, Johnny was a faculty in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University where his research spanned various topics on robotics, machine learning and sensor networks. Johnny received his BS, MS and Ph.D. degrees all from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.
Chris Prestigiacomo, SWIB Chris has been a member of the team at SWIB since 2001. His responsibilities include the origination, monitoring and disposition of direct senior and mezzanine debt investments. In addition, Chris is responsible for the monitoring and disposition of venture capital limited partnerships and side-by-side investments throughout the U.S. Chris oversees a combined portfolio valued at over $1.4 billion. For 10 years prior to joining SWIB, Chris was vice president in the wholesale banking division of a large regional bank. Chris has an undergraduate degree in economics and international relations from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA with a concentration in accounting from Edgewood College.
Greg Robinson, 4490 Ventures Greg has over two decades of operating and venture capital experience. Prior to 4490 Ventures, Greg spent over a decade at Peninsula Ventures investing in early stage software companies. Greg was also a co-founder and COO of Cogent Technologies, which was acquired by Brightstar. Greg has a Master of Business Administration from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and a Bachelor of Sciences in Economics from Arizona State University.
Mark Miller, Commerce State Bank Mark Miller has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer at Investors Community Bank since January 2014, as well as Counsel of the Bank since 2011. He is Secretary of the bank’s holding company, County Bancorp, Inc., since March 2014. Previously Mark was the chief executive officer and a shareholder of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C., a full-service law firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 2001 to 2009 and from 1994 to 2009, respectively. He was also President of Miller Implement Company, a farm equipment dealership, from 1992 to 2008. Mr. Miller holds an A.B. degree in History from the University of Chicago and a juris doctorate degree from Marquette University Law School.
Andy Kadlec, Golden Angels Investors Andy is a physician-scientist-in-training and a member of Golden Angels Advisors. Prior to starting medical school, Andy spent two years doing full-time clinical research. Andy received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin.
Steve Visuri, PHD, Golden Angels Investors Steven is a biotech leader with a broad background in development and commercialization of medical devices, clinical diagnostics, and nutritional products. He actively supports the start-up community in Wisconsin as an instructor, mentor, and investor.
Matthew Walker, S2G Ventures Matthew Walker is a Managing Director at S2G Ventures. His efforts are focused on sourcing and evaluation of potential investment opportunities, and contribution to business development efforts of portfolio companies. Before joining S2G Ventures, Matt was an investment banking Associate at Perella Weinberg Partners in New York focused on M&A and restructuring transactions across a range of industries. Prior to that role, he was a securities attorney in the Funds, Regulation, and Equity Derivatives practice at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, LLP in New York. Matt has an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Sean Mannion, Golden Angels Investors Sean's experience includes positions in market analysis and operations in venture capital and private equity-backed companies. He specializes in data analysis for growth-stage companies by marrying sophisticated data analysis with individualized marketing strategy. Sean has a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
Rob Dongoski, EY Rob leads EY’s Agribusiness sector globally and focuses on strategy, innovation and M&A for many of our clients in the Agribusiness and Food sectors. As EY’s global leader, he is at the forefront of industry issues and works directly with client executives to optimize their approach in the global markets. He also serves as the lead partner on several global accounts ranging from seed/chem, Agri-retail, grain processing, and meat processing. Rob’s experience ranges from growth strategy to operating model design to digital innovation across the Agri value chain. He works directly with client executives in the design and implementation of the appropriate operating model for their business, including strategy/portfolio management, marketing/merchandising, digital agriculture, operational areas and backoffice efficiency. Rob has also worked extensively to foster innovation and digital adoption across the industry with corporate clients, private equity and venture capital communities.
Aaron Knewtson,Compeer Financial Aaron Knewtson joined Compeer Financial in 2004 and has provided both public and private financing. Aaron also represents Compeer’s leadership role in developing junior capital funds licensed under the USDA’s Rural Business Investment Program. Aaron’s background includes working with agricultural and financial derivatives including time spent on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. Aaron received a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University and an M.B.A. from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.