About Us

MERLIN Grows Sustainable Entrepreneurs

The Madison Entrepreneur Resource, Learning and Innovation Network (MERLIN) is comprised of experienced business leaders who volunteer their time, knowledge and experience to help convert entrepreneurs’ ideas into developing companies.


The overall objective of MERLIN is to create a larger pool of viable entrepreneurs within the Madison community. MERLIN fosters growth in the number and quality of Madison area start-up enterprises by matching new entrepreneurs with experienced business people.


At the heart of MERLIN is the relationship between entrepreneurs and mentors. Participants who engage in the mentoring process learn much about forming a venture. Whether their ideas are practical for the marketplace or not, the knowledge they gain can be transferred to any venture they choose to create. An important side benefit of the mentors’ efforts is the creation of successful companies.


MERLIN was developed with the support and cooperation of various entities related to the University of Wisconsin-Madison: the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), University Research Park, the Wisconsin School of Business, and the Office of Corporate Relations.

Merlin Mentor Entities

MERLIN is guided by an Advisory Board, consisting of the following members:

  • Terry Sivesind, Executive Director, MERLIN
  • Aaron Olver, Managing Director, University Research Park
  • Susan LaBelle, Faculty Associate at University of Wisconsin-Madison,
  • School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Allen Dines, Executive Partner, WISC Partners
  • Richard Schifreen, WARF (Emeritus)
  • Jeanine Burmania, Licensing Manager, WARF
  • Dan Olszewski, Director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship, UW School of Business
  • Susie Younkle, Program Director, MERLIN