UW entrepreneurial awardees model innovation, shape Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem
Four outstanding innovators have received the 2023 Chancellor’s Entrepreneurial Achievement Awards. Established in 2011, the awards recognize individuals with ties to the University of Wisconsin–Madison who further the Wisconsin Idea through outstanding accomplishments in entrepreneurship. Honorees have achieved entrepreneurial success that contributes to economic growth and social good, offers models for the UW community and inspires the campus culture of entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurship has a pivotal place in UW–Madison’s culture and our execution of the Wisconsin Idea,” said Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin. “This year, we celebrate how UW alumni, students and faculty shape the entrepreneurial ecosystem and drive the economy in our state and beyond. From a pair of student founders who created the country’s fastest-growing digital rewards and marketing platform; to an electrical engineering PhD who built a far-reaching career as an entrepreneur, executive and small business advocate; to a lawyer whose teaching and service influenced a generation of entrepreneurs, these exceptional individuals are models for our campus, alumni, and community.”
The Office of the Chancellor, in partnership with the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, recognized the 2023 recipients of Chancellor’s Entrepreneurial Achievement Awards during the annual awards event on April 27. The honorees are:
WINSLOW L. SARGEANT, PhD’95
CEO, Purple Team Technologies, Inc.
Senior Advisor for Globalization and Head of Capital Markets, Genaesis, LLC
Chair, International Council for Small Business
Winslow L. Sargeant is an electrical engineer who has built an exceptional career with global reach, bridging entrepreneurship, technology, venture investing, small business advocacy, education, and service. Sargeant is on the board of trustees for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the Morgridge Institute for Research and Northeastern University; and he’s on the advisory council of Madison’s Center for Black Excellence and Culture. He is a Kauffman Fellow (Class 11) and visiting scholar with George Washington University.
As Senior Advisor for Globalization and Head of Capital Markets for Genaesis, Sargeant syndicates opportunities with unaffiliated third-party capital partners. As Board Chair of the International Council for Small Business, he educates government and nonprofit leaders on sustainable ecosystems for small businesses. He provides leadership to startups as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Purple Team Technologies, an early-stage supply chain informatics company, and as board chair for several other companies. He was previously a managing director for Madison-based Venture Investors, before serving as Senate-confirmed Chief Counsel for Advocacy with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“[Winslow]’s easily seen as a black role model, but he’s a role model to engineers, period. To thought leaders, period. To PhD recipients, period. Because of his level of integrity and his commitment to his scholarship,” said Alex Gee, CEO of the Center for Black Excellence and Culture.
CEO and Founder, Fetch
TYLER KENNEDY ’13
Senior Vice President-Operations and Co-Founder, Fetch
Fetch has earned its place in history as a Madison “unicorn” — a privately held startup valued at $1 billion or more. Co-founders Wesley Schroll and Tyler Kennedy met through the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization and entrepreneurship classes, leveraged their UW–Madison education, student organization involvement, and alumni network, along with entrepreneurial drive, skill, and teamwork, to create a high-growth company with staying power.
Launched in 2013 with the cash, office space and other prizes Schroll and Kennedy earned through business plan competitions, Fetch is now the fastest-growing digital loyalty and marketing platform in the U.S., with 17 million users, a valuation of nearly $3 billion, more than 700 employees, and offices in Madison, Chicago, New York City, Boston, and Birmingham. The company’s community involvement includes initiatives, scholarships, and grants at One City Schools and Goodman Community Center in Madison.
“We have many fantastic entrepreneurs and great outcomes and companies in the Madison community, but Fetch Rewards really stands out as a company that achieved unicorn status in an incredibly fast period of time,” said Jon Eckhardt, Associate Professor at Wisconsin School of Business. “And this has provided great encouragement to our students and our venture community and entrepreneurs in the city–that it’s possible to start with a basic idea, and what it requires is perseverance and execution to bring it to fruition.”
ANNE SMITH JD’83
Co-Founder, Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, University of Wisconsin Law School
Anne Smith has devoted her career to bringing people together to imagine and build big new things through teaching, mentorship, and innovation in law and early-stage business. Her efforts have impacted a generation of lawyers and entrepreneurs and left a lasting mark on Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial landscape.
In 2009, Smith co-founded the UW Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, which engages law students to provide free legal services to early-stage Wisconsin companies. Since its founding, the clinic has worked with 2,500 businesses across 30 Wisconsin counties, which combined have raised hundreds of millions in venture capital. It serves approximately 300 clients annually in sectors from medical devices to information technology to food carts, and from UW startups to community entrepreneurs. It also has become one of UW Law School’s most popular skills-course offerings.
Smith is a founding board member of StartingBlock Madison, a thriving entrepreneurial hub, and she co-founded the Madworks Seed Accelerator. Its 125 participating startups have raised more than $7 million since 2014.
“Today, in my day job, I run across so many individuals or firms who somehow intersected with Anne or with the Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic,” said Troy Vosseller, a former student of Smith’s who co-founded Gener8tor and worked as a Clinical Assistant Professor and Supervising Attorney for the Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic. “It just touches so many facets of not only the Madison and Wisconsin entrepreneurial ecosystem, but well beyond.”