Meet the Mentors

Below is a list of some of MERLIN’s mentors. It is not inclusive of its entire membership.

Terry Sivesind

Terry Sivesind has been active as an entrepreneur and angel investor in the Madison area biotechnology industry since starting as one of the early employees at Promega Corporation in 1985. Since that time, Terry has been involved with the creation of several companies including PanVera, Mirus, Metabiologics, Renovar and Cellectar. He is also the co-founder of Wisconsin Investment Partners, Wisconsin’s first angel investor network. Sivesind is also the founder of the Silver Lining Foundation. Along with serving on the Board of various companies, Terry is also a member of the UW School of Business Dean’s Advisory Committee, the UW-CALS Dean’s Life Science Committee, the Badger Angel Capital Network, and the Board of the Cambridge State Bank. He holds a B.S. and a MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Matt Younkle
Matt Younkle is a successful serial entrepreneur. He and his projects have been featured in USA Today, Popular Science, The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, CNN, CNBC, FOX News, Chicago Sun Times and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Matt is most famous for inventing the TurboTap, a device that pours draft beer faster and with less waste that’s used in pubs and sports stadiums worldwide. Prior to TurboTap, he developed technology to grow the first food in space, and he helped pioneer streaming audio and video on the web. Presently, he is charting the path for the future of music collecting as the CEO of Murfie, the best place to collect, buy, sell and trade music online. Younkle is a graduate of UW-Madison and recipient of the University’s Entrepreneurial Achievement Award.

Toni Sikes
Toni Sikes, founder, is the visionary behind The Guild. She started the company in 1985 as a publisher of sourcebooks for design trade professionals to help artists find greater markets for their work. In 1998, she founded the website and catalog as a way of bringing artists’ work directly to consumers. For 22 years, Sikes served as CEO of The Guild. She continues to serve on the company’s Board of Directors, as well as the boards of Craft Emergency Relief Fund (an organization committed to supporting the careers of craft artists throughout the United States), Aid To Artisans (an international craft organization focused on economic development), the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, the Wisconsin Technology Council, and the Chazen Museum of Art. Sikes is also active in Wisconsin economic development organizations and has authored several books in addition to The Artful Home. Today, Sikes serves as Senior Advisor to Gruppo, Levey & Co., a New York investment bank providing M&A, financial and strategic advisory services to the direct marketing and e-commerce industries. Sikes heads the Gruppo, Levey initiative to help young Internet companies raise venture capital. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Alabama and an M.S. in Market Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mike Sanders
Mike is a technology executive with experience in enterprise sales, marketing, business development, product management and team building. He’s led customers and teams through major market transitions caused by disruptive technologies. He’s led the buildout out of sales and technical operations in competitive markets and was a member of the senior leadership team during a major recapitalization and company sale. He’s currently leading sales and operations for Rosh Review, an EdTech company providing medical education. Sanders is a UW Madison graduate.

Laura Strong
Dr. Laura Strong is the President and C.O.O. at Quintessence Biosciences, Inc. She was the first employee of Quintessence and wrote the business plan for commercialization of five proprietary technologies licensed from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The plan was instrumental in raising initial capital from angel investors in 2001. After recruiting a President and CEO in 2002, Dr. Strong has supported additional fundraising campaigns for a total of more than $13 million. Dr. Strong’s primary responsibility is the development and execution of strategies to advance the company’s proprietary cancer therapies through human clinical trials to the marketplace. Dr. Strong manages the company’s Scientific Advisory Board as well as the intellectual property portfolio. As a National Institutes of Health pre-doctoral fellow, Dr. Strong earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Strong is co-author of twelve publications and co-inventor on three issued patents and multiple patent applications. She has completed Executive Education coursework at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Business School in Financial Management, Project Management, and Business Planning.

Dennis Barnum
Dennis Barnum has over thirty years’ experience in the high-technology and services industries, primarily in computer software and services. He holds a master’s in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and participated in the MBA program at the University of Minnesota. He began his career at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. He subsequently spent several years with Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis in a variety of management positions in the domestic and international software and services divisions. Since 1986, Barnum has been involved in either high-tech startups or recovery of high-tech companies. He has founded several technology companies, and has led turnarounds of several others. He is active in the Merlin Mentors program and currently Director of Operations for Thalchemy, a UW-Madison inspired startup.

Tim Burland
Tim Burland has 25 years experience in biotech management, product development, marketing, and life science research. From 1997-2002 he was VP & General Manager of DNASTAR, and from 2003-2010 he was President and Chief Executive Officer of GWC Technologies. At GWC, Tim was responsible for raising capital and developing and implementing the overall business strategy. In total, he raised over $1MM for GWC in the form of debt, equity and SBIR grants. Tim has extensive direct marketing and selling experience, achieving over $2MM in product sales since joining GWC. He is currently President of his consulting company, ParagraphLab. He has been a member of MERLIN Mentors since its inception.

Roy Elkins
Roy Elkins is a well-known music technology entrepreneur who has been leading industry innovations for over twenty years. Roy is the Founder and CEO of Broadjam Inc., serving independent musicians and industry giants such as the Academy of Country Music, Warner/Chappell, Peavey and others., the company’s popular independent website now hosts over 70,000 artists and 350,000 songs. The site is known for its musician-friendly services, including website hosting, artist profiles, reviews, contests, transmit mechanism, charts, download sales and deliveries to radio, film, tv and advertisers. Before founding Broadjam, Roy was the Vice President-Sales and Marketing for Sonic Foundry and held several Director-level positions with Ensoniq Corporation. He maintains a database of over 5,000 music industry contacts including executives at virtually every company in the music industry and past and/or present clients such as Les Paul, D.J. Jazzy Jeff, the Beach Boys, the Allman Brothers, BoyzIIMen, Joe Walsh, ELP, Yes, Journey, Skid Row, Randy Jackson, Will Smith and many others. He is a musician and songwriter who thoroughly understands the musician’s world.

Peggy Hedberg
Peggy Hedberg serves as the CEO of Renovar, Inc. In 2006, Peggy joined Renovar to lead the development and commercialization of its Biomarkers for kidney disease. She raised $1.3 million to fund additional clinical research and the development of a strategic plan to move the clinical research into clinical use. Peggy managed clinical studies to provide additional data that correlated the use of the biomarkers to the detection of acute kidney rejection. With that research and the approval of several Renovar patents. Peggy completed a licensing deal with Invitrogen to manufacture, distribute and market part of its IP to the transplantation market. Renovar continues to research other clinical uses of its well-protected IP portfolio. Prior to Renovar, Peggy was CEO of Lab Safety Supply of Janesville, WI. She graduated from Carthage College.

Barbara Israel
Dr. Israel is an experienced entrepreneur with many years of experience in technology management and administration. In 2000, she co-founded Platypus Technologies, a bio-nanotechnology company developing liquid crystal based diagnostics and chemical sensors. As CEO until 2007, she successfully brought products to market, raised $3.2 million in private equity investment and approximately $17 million in Federal SBIR awards and DOD contracts. Dr. Israel serves on the Board of Directors of Platypus Technologies and as a consultant to the company. Dr Israel holds a PhD in Medical Microbiology and was a senior scientist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 14 years. She has a significant record of publications and grant awards and is an inventor on 5 patents. She is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Dept of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a frequent lecturer in both science and business classes. Dr. Israel is also a member of the Wisconsin Regional Economic Development Committee and frequently serves on NIH SBIR review panels.

Pete Johnson
Pete Johnson has a variety of engineering, sales and marketing experience in the software and electronics industries. Pete is VP of Business Development at Atomm, Inc., founder of 5Elements, Inc. and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Sonoplot, Inc. Previously, he was the Director of Worldwide Marketing for Xpedion, acquired by Agilent Technologies. Prior to Xpedion, Pete was in marketing for Sarvega, an XML router company, which was acquired by Intel and was an associate with TeleSoft Partners, a venture capital firm in the software and communications space. He also held various engineering, marketing, applications and sales roles at Escalade Corporation up to its acquisition by Mentor Graphics and LSI Logic. Pete received his MBA from the University of Chicago and holds a BSEE from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jon Alling
Jon Alling is an engineer and product designer with over 15 years of consumer product design experience. He has worked in a consulting capacity for a range of companies from inventors and small startups to global market-leading corporations. He also founded and ran an innovation incubator at a major fitness equipment manufacturer.  He has been named as inventor on 10 patents, has traveled to China and Taiwan extensively supporting design and manufacturing, and has been certified as a Six Sigma Green Belt.  Most recently he founded his own product design and consulting studio.

Scott Little
Scott Little is the President and co-owner of Spectral Systems LLC, an infrared optical manufacturing business serving the analytical instrument and military markets. Prior to starting Spectral Systems in 2012, Scott was a leader of high technology analytical and medical instrument companies with over 35 years of experience. As founder of Focal Point International, Scott provided consulting services in the area of Product Development Processes and Project Management.  With Nicolet Instrument Corporation, Scott led the company’s new product development activities for over 15 years. As part of Thermo Electron, he served as President of Spectronic Unicam, successfully merging two UV-Visible Spectrometer companies into one highly integrated business. Most recently he was the President of PIKE Technologies, a world leader in optical sampling accessories for molecular spectroscopy. He was on the Governing Board of Directors for the Coblentz Society and has been a Merlin Mentor since 2009. Scott received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.

Thomas “Rock” Mackie
“Rock” Mackie is a UW faculty member in the Departments of Medical Physics, Human Oncology and Engineering Physics. He has co-founded two UW spin-off companies, Geometrics Corporation and TomoTherapy Inc. Geometrics Corporation is now part of Philips Medical and develops radiation therapy treatment planning products in Fitchburg. TomoTherapy is publically traded (NASDAQ:TOMO). TomoTherapy manufactures and distributes radiation therapy delivery systems worldwide, and Dr. Mackie is the Chairman of the Board. He works part-time for a TomoTherapy spin-off company, the Compact Particle Accelerator Corporation. He is a member of the Wisconsin Investment Partners, a local angel investment firm. He is also a member of the boards of two local companies, Cellectar Inc and BioIonix Inc.

Deven McGlenn
Deven McGlenn is CEO of NeoClone and has been involved with the company since inception in 1999 and full-time since April of 2002. During his tenure he has grown the business to $4M+ in revenues, 13+ FTEs and raised over $1.4M in equity. Prior to NeoClone, he was a management consultant for Arthur Andersen where he helped Fortune 500 companies develop a strategic view of their risk profiles. Before Andersen, he was the founder and CEO of an environmental remediation firm headquartered in the Midwest. Deven has a B.S. in Political Science with a minor in Business Administration from Marquette University.

Dan Olszewski
Dan Olszewski is the Director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business. Prior to joining the UW, he was CEO and Chairman of PNA Holdings where by growing Parts Now! and acquiring Katun Corporation revenues increased from $26M to over $400M during his tenure. With the assistance of Private Equity sponsors, he also led the successful buyout of the founder in 1999. Before joining Parts Now! Olszewski was a consultant at McKinsey and Company. He has also worked for IBM, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance in Tokyo. Olszewski graduated from UW-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in economics and computer sciences, and he received an MBA from Harvard. Olszewski serves on the board of directors of World Data Products Inc and Sologear. He is also on the advisory board of Cascade Asset Management and the Henry Vilas Park Zoological Society.

Matt Peterson
Matt Peterson has applied information and communications technologies to the needs of media and healthcare enterprises, engineering and creative professionals, and the public. Operating at the nexus of technology and business, he has launched new products, services, and businesses, opened new markets, and created value within within a wide range of businesses and markets. Matt’s endeavors are informed by the range of his work from founder (SWI, MyWeather) to executive with publicly-traded companies (Computervision, Dynatech, Mediware) and by his global perspective: he has lived and worked overseas, managed international operations, is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s International Strategic Marketing Management program in Europe, and serves on the Board of the Madison Committee on Foreign Relations. Matt is currently work on early-stage projects with mobile devices and with clean-tech and on his consulting and transitional executive practices. Matt serves on the MDC Venture Debt Advisory Board.

Derrick Van Mell
Derrick Van Mell is the Principal of Van Mell Associates, a business and project planning firm. Derrick developed to provide an alternative to traditional “strategic” planning that is built on systematically asking questions and distilling them into a 1-page summary of the year’s goals and tasks. He leads all VMA assignments by facilitating the discussions, coordinating the technical work, and presenting the recommendation. Like many executives and directors, he brings different experiences and perspectives to bear on his clients’ issues. Local project planning assignments have ranged from Epic Systems and Johnsonville Foods to Group Health Cooperative and Genetics Computer Group. Derrick lectures at home and abroad. He is the author of the books Question-Based Planning and Buildings Matter. He has a B.A. in economics from Tufts University, an MBA from Loyola University and an M.A. from Northwestern University. He Belongs to Rotary, the AIA, and several community groups.

Irv Williamson
Irv is the owner of Growth Guidance Solutions, an organization devoted to providing C Level services on a part-time basis to smaller companies.   Irv’s background includes CFO and CEO positions a series of small to mid-sized companies.  He currently serves as CFO to two technology consulting firms and is on the advisor board of several early stage companies.  His interests are in helping start-ups develop best practices in managing their financial and accounting functions.

Don Wolf
Don Wolf is a product design engineer with 25 years experience designing scientific equipment. Don has designed products for five different companies, and was also one of the founders of a Madison-based scientific instrumentation company. Don has spent extensive time working with customers, and has experience with many aspects of product design and manufacturing. Don received his Bachelors Degree and his Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Bob Wood
Bob has been active with Wisconsin Investment Partners (WIP) since its inception in 2000 and serves as a co-manager. WIP is an angel investment group whose 75 members have to date invested in 35 early stage companies. Bob’s background includes the start-up through sale of Space-Metrics, LLC, a manufacturing firm specializing in commercial and residential cabinetry, store fixtures, and office furniture. His prior experience includes involvement in the start-up of American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin. His on-going interests in urban re-development include the mixed-use projects at ‘Capitol Point’ and ‘Nolen Shore’ in central Madison. His experience includes managing a medical device start-up company through funding, product development to the start of clinical trials, and recruitment of a permanent CEO. He currently serves on several Boards, entrepreneurial conference committees, and through Wood Investment Services assists start-ups with business development, funding, and project management.