How Did You Do That?

How Justin Beck Built A Mobile Game Studio That Partners With Disney

Oct 28, 2019
Courtesy of Justin Beck

When Google and Microsoft came calling with the type of jobs many young computer engineering graduates look for, Justin Beck turned them down. The 2009 graduate of UW-Madison wanted to stay in town and build the gaming studio PerBlue, which he started with his business partner, Andrew Hansen.

Tierney /

A native of Bombay, India, Jignesh Patel never touched a computer until he went to college. But he knew that computer science was an exciting area where a lot was happening, so he chose it as his major.

How Craig Culver Built A Thriving Restaurant Chain

Aug 27, 2019
Courtesy of Craig Culver

After years of working day and night in his family’s businesses, Craig Culver decided he wanted to get out of the restaurant industry. But a four-year stint at McDonald’s corporate headquarters — first as a management trainee, then store manager — got him interested again.

How A Wisconsin Spine Surgeon Became A Successful Entrepreneur

Jul 23, 2019
Titan Spine

Pete Ullrich was a young spine surgeon in Neenah, Wis., who wasn’t satisfied with the available tools. So he came up with a new one: a titanium spacer to put between vertebrae during spinal fusion surgery.

"We really thought we saw an opportunity for an unmet market need," notes Ullrich. "And another thing is I knew nobody else was going to do this, and the patients were doing significantly better."

How Andy Nunemaker Went From Corporate Executive To Serial Entrepreneur

Jun 27, 2019
Tim Keane

Milwaukee native Andy Nunemaker studied electrical engineering and business at some of our country’s top universities and held high-level jobs at two of its biggest companies. He got an undergraduate degree at Valparaiso and a master's degree at Georgia Tech, both in electrical engineering.

After running major operations for GE Healthcare, first in Australia and New Zealand, then for all of Southeast Asia, Andy was deep into a career as a very successful corporate executive. But then came a moment when he was presented with a life-changing decision.

How Kevin Conroy Transformed Exact Sciences With Three Guiding Principles

May 28, 2019
kwanchaift /

After successfully growing and steering the $582 million sale of Madison-based Third Wave Technologies, Kevin Conroy went looking for another company to run. He found Exact Sciences — a struggling, publicly traded Massachusetts company with a DNA-based test for colon cancer that hadn’t been approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

How Mike Harris Jumped From No. 2 Job To Successful Entrepreneur

Apr 22, 2019
Harris Advisors

Mike Harris was a middle-class kid from Racine with no family history of entrepreneurship. He played it safe at UW-Parkside by studying accounting, then got a job as an auditor with Ernst & Young and became a Certified Public Accountant. However Mike’s appetite for risk grew when he got a job at Wind Point Partners, the venture capital fund led by the Johnson Wax family at the time.

How CEO Bob Atwell Created One Of Wisconsin's Largest Banks

Mar 25, 2019
Nicolet National Bank/Facebook

Bob Atwell’s critical career decisions can be summed up in one word: contrarian.

Unlike most of his classmates at Yale School of Management, Bob came back to the Midwest to find work. Secure in a coveted commercial lending job at a big Milwaukee financial institution, Bob decided he would rather be in a smaller town at a smaller bank. At that smaller bank in a smaller town, Bob found a stable job with a great deal of responsibility. Then, despite having 10 kids and an 11th on the way, Bob quit.

Mitch Teich

A chemistry whiz who grew up in Poland, Michael Major left his job as a tenured professor when he was in his early 30s to immigrate to Milwaukee for a job as a chemist at Aldrich Chemical. Two years later, in 1992, he moved to Cambridge Chemical, where he rose to vice president of research and development. When Cambridge Chemical’s owner passed away, leaving his widow with all the equity in the company, it underlined for Michael what would eventually become a life-changing reality: he needed to start his own business.

How Craig Dickman Used Entrepreneurship To Solve Real Problems

Jan 22, 2019
Mitch Teich

Craig Dickman got his first computer, a Radio Shack TRS-80, in 1977. That purchase, a few coding classes and a lot of self-teaching (combined with two business degrees), sparked a career that landed Craig a job at Schneider National Inc., one of Wisconsin's biggest companies.

How Todd Dunsirn Grew His Company From The Ground Up

Dec 22, 2018

Todd Dunsirn grew up in an entrepreneurial family. His grandfather, father and brothers have all started and owned their own businesses. So, it was no surprise when, two years after graduating from UWM with a mechanical engineering degree, Dunsirn decided corporate jobs weren’t for him. The fourth startup he founded, called True Process, was the one that would lead to a big payday.

Todd started True Process in 2004 and after 14 years running the business he sold it in two parts to two different global companies this year.

How Ed Ward Created The World's Largest Celtic Festival In Milwaukee

Nov 19, 2018
Milwaukee Irish Fest /

Ed Ward has experience in the Peace Corps, the military, politics, law and investing, but it's in the not-for-profit world that he made his mark as a successful entrepreneur.

From Musician To Experiential Marketing: Entrepreneur Gary Reynolds

Oct 22, 2018
GMR Marketing

Gary Reynolds started out as a musician, left for the West Coast to try songwriting, then followed his entrepreneurial instincts back to Wisconsin. His idea of connecting emerging bands with big company sponsors got him his first client, Miller Brewing. His idea of using his band support network of 300 representatives on campuses across the country to market tech products got him his second client, Apple Inc.

Entrepreneur Sue Marks On How Companies Can Win In The War For Talent

Sep 17, 2018

From a very young age, Sue Marks has valued entrepreneurship and a strong work ethic.

After her grandparents immigrated from Germany in 1919 with nothing, her grandfather built a life for them in Milwaukee as the owner of a small printing business.

Sue married at 19 and finished college at night, earning a BS in Business Administration from Marquette University. Like her grandfather, she never stopped working.

From Health Care To Hospitality: Entrepreneur Kyle Weatherly

Aug 27, 2018
Frontdesk LLC

Kyle Weatherly took over his mother’s compression garment business in 2006, grew it by 30 percent a year and sold it 10 years later — all without a relevant degree. In fact, he started out wanting to be a lawyer. Solaris had five employees when Kyle started and 120 employees when it was acquired by Lohmann & Rauscher International GmbH & Co., a European conglomerate of medical device and product companies.