The People behind Venture Center

Amy Pietsch

Director

During her career Amy has been an entrepreneur and intrapreneur. Titles of Coordinator, Associate Director, Director of Next Generation Initiatives and Owner have come and gone from her business card. Through it all she has been working with people to launch and grow sustainable enterprises. From part-time, home-based, business owners to traditional small business owners to multi-million dollar entrepreneurial firms, Amy has helped them define their business model, develop strategic, marketing and business plans and access alternative, traditional, angel, VC and peer-to-peer financing. 

In 1999, Amy was part of a team at CAP Services, Inc. that created and launched Wisconsin’s first virtual business incubator, CAP's Virtual Business Incubator (VBI) was an innovative online resource for Wisconsin entrepreneurs, using the latest technology to connect them with the mentors, experts and resources to help them be successful.

In 2002 Amy was responsible for working to find the "best and highest" use for spent foundry sand. She was successful in working with the WI DNR to create an amendment to NR538, which enabled the use of spent foundry sand in golf course construction and renovation.

In 2004 Amy was recruited by Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) to join them in their pursuit of researching the need for and then developing the vision for the FVTC Venture Center, which launched in September 2005. Since that time Amy has worked to create an entrepreneurship and small business resource center that the College and the communities it serves could be proud of. The FVTC Venture Center and the core entrepreneurship training series, e-seed™ has served thousands of people, helped 300+/- businesses to launch and grow creating more than 1,000+/- jobs in the FVTC service area and throughout Wisconsin.

Along the way, Amy's work to drive economic development via entrepreneurship and small business creation and expansion has been recognized by organizations from around Wisconsin. In 2009 the MIT Club of Wisconsin selected the FVTC Venture Center as the recipient of their annual Innovation Award. Amy received the Woman of Distinction Award from Mid-Day Business and Professional Women in 2007, the Cutting Edge Award from Appleton Rotary in 2006; and, Amy was the recipient of the 2005 Alverno College Young Professional Achievement Award.

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Mark Burwell

Entrepreneur Outreach

Mark Burwell is an instructor for the E-seed™ Entrepreneurial TrainingPro-Seed™: Business Model Design session and several small business seminars. As a successful entrepreneur, mentor, author and small business leader, Mark draws on his 35 years of running various successful businesses and helping with over 2000 business start-ups. Mark received a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Public Address while becoming a collegiate All-American in Track. As President and CEO of a Wisconsin-based firm, Mark grew the company to a regional level from Minneapolis to Milwaukee and received national recognition. As President/Owner of Evolutions Business Group, he has studied, lectured and consulted nationally as well as internationally in Ireland, Montreal, Canada and Russia. 


Mark was chosen as Green Bay's Small Business Person of the Year, as well as one of the "Fabulous Fifty" as an evolutionary entrepreneur. He was honored as Wisconsin's "Small Business Advocate of the Year" by the U.S. Small Business Administration for creating a level playing field for small businesses. The University of Wisconsin-Stout awarded him the "Distinguished Alumni Award" of the year for his career, business and civic achievements. 

Mark currently leads as the National Executive Director for the E-Hub, where he has been the architect for the successful model. With wisdom and a strong dose of customer reality, Mark offers innovative ideas. A compelling author and speaker, Mark Burwell informs, challenges, inspires and leaves you with a new and powerful understanding of your business, the market and your customers.

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Kathi Drake

Adjunct Staff

Kathi Drake is an instructor for the E-seed™ Entrepreneurial Training Series and the Pro-Seed™ Business Model Design Session. Kathi holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration, as well as a bachelors degree in Accounting and Finance.

Having always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit, she has spent the past 25+ years working with small business in various positions. Kathi has been a financial consultant for small businesses, instructing them on the set-up of financial accounting software and the day-to-day aspects of small business accounting. Kathi also owned her own retail business for seven years specializing in women’s designer clothing. The love of fashion was then transferred to the direct-sell designer clothing industry, where Kathi spent the past ten years as a District Sales Manager, Regional Manager and Director of Training. This experience provided her with great experience and insight in sales and high-end customer service.

The love of training and helping small businesses grow and thrive have lead Kathi to her current and favorite position with Fox Valley Venture Center.

Kathi is also Certified Nx Level Instructor and on the Venturous Moms Advisory Board.

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Jeff Ebel

Adjunct Staff

Jeff is an instructor for the E-seed™ Entrepreneurial Training Series and the Business & Entrepreneurship Program. He is the founder and past president of Ebel Woodworking, Inc., an architectural woodworking company located in Scandinavia, Wisconsin. He has been in the woodworking and furniture industry for over 35 years and started Ebel Woodworking in 1989. After selling Ebel Woodworking in May of 2007, he took an eleven month sabbatical, working part time as a consultant and volunteering for a variety of non-profit organizations. He currently works as a Sales and Marketing Representative for SAINTS Health Services for Business, a Central Wisconsin occupational health services provider.

As a volunteer, Jeff is active in the AWI, Architectural Woodwork Institute, serving a second two year term as a member of the development council, assists the Chapter Development Committee with leadership training, and recently completed a two year term as President of the Wisconsin Chapter of the AWI. He is also a volunteer counselor for and Chapter Chair of the Central Wisconsin Chapter of SCORE, volunteers providing free counseling to small businesses. He is on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Stevens Point and serves as an ambassador for the Portage County Business Council. His association with the many organizations provides myriad opportunities to utilize his skills as a presenter and leader.

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Autumn Hill

Adjunct Staff

Autumn is an instructor for E-seed™ Entrepreneurship Training Series and several  small business seminars. Autumn is a serial entrepreneur and Co-Owner and Creative Director of Autumn Hill Creative, a full-service communications firm. Autumn and her team have helped hundreds of businesses target their markets and devise and implement marketing strategies across a variety of channels. Autumn and her business partner completed e-seed when they launched their business in 2004, and she has now come full circle, returning to share her knowledge and experience with aspiring business owners.

Autumn takes an active role in many business and community organizations and has been recognized as a Future 15 Young Professional by the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce in 2012, Woman of Distinction by Mid-Day Women’s Alliance, Outstanding Volunteer by Fox Valley Technical College, Community Volunteer of the Year by the Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Partner of the Year by B.A.B.E.S., Inc. Respite & Counseling Services, and is active in the New North Fast Forward initiative, enhancing regional economic development opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

 

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David Lindenstruth

Adjunct Staff

David is an instructor for the e-seed™ Entrepreneurial Training Series. David moved to the Fox Valley in 1999 where he used his electronics engineering degree to support product design, rapid prototyping, transition to global manufacturing sites, and sustained manufacturing, primarily within the medical industry. He later started his most successful company, Appetize, as a side-venture, while working full-time as a Project Manager. Appetize opened Wisconsin’s first HuHot Mongolian Grill restaurant in 2006.  Within five years, David grew the business to seven restaurants in two states, employing over 400 employees, servicing over one million guest visits per year, and donating up to $125,000 annually to its communities. Prior to being sold in December 2012, David and Appetize received recognition as the Rising Star (Fox Cities Chamber), Small Business of the Year (Post Crescent and Fox Cities Chamber), Franchise Owner of the Year (HuHot Mongolian Grill), Restaurant Neighbor of the Year finalist (National Restaurant Association) and Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year (National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship). A graduate of Fox Valley Technical College’s e-seed and Pro-Seed training series, David now aspires to help other business owners to realize their visions.

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Annilee Pietsch- Helbing

Adjunct Staff

Annilee is an instructor for the Fox Valley Technical College and Schneider National Business & Entrepreneurship Program, which introduces international clients to post-secondary career and entrepreneurship training opportunities and helps builds the skills necessary for success.

Annilee blends academic training in business administration and liberal arts with extensive sales and small business experience.

In 1999, Annilee worked with a local, nonprofit organization, CAP Services, Inc., to start and expand their housing program in Outagamie County. CAP Services’ First Time Home Buyer program offers education, financial counseling, and provides down payment, closing fees, and rehabilitation grants and loans to first time buyers to help them achieve the dream of homeownership.

In 2005, Annilee joined The Pietsch Team with Coldwell Banker TREG, Inc. and was instrumental in launching and creating brand awareness for a family owned real estate business venture.

In 2008, The Pietsch Team was recruited by Wisconsin’s leading real estate brokerage, First Weber Group. As President of The Pietsch Team at First Weber Group from 2008 to 2013, Annilee utilized her expertise in finance, marketing, operations, strategy, risk analysis, and planning to grow the business. Along with the strength and agility of a talented family team, sales and revenue were increased year over year in a depressed real estate economy. The Pietsch Team’s knowledge of the real estate industry, strength in negotiations and problem solving, ability to work within a team environment have been critical to their success in assisting in 1000 +/- transactions related to the purchase, sale, rental or trade of real estate. From 2005-2013, The Pietsch Team has received top annual awards for being market leaders in their industry.

Additionally, Annilee is active in her community and volunteers as a board member for the following organizations: Wautoma Public Library, Wautoma Historical Board, and Thrivent Financial.

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Jean Reimann

Adjunct Staff

Jean is an instructor for the Business Training for Directo Sellers Series. Jean is a successful direct selling professional who has been working in the direct selling industry for over 30 years.

Her passion is to enrich lives by sharing her extensive experience and exceptional business skills. Jean’s leadership skills have been recognized with many top honors in both sales and team building in her industry.

It brings Jean great joy to make a difference in other’s lives by passing on her knowledge. She is motivated to help you bring out the best by providing instruction and support to help you reach your career goals.

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Jill Seidl

Office Coordinator

Jill has held several administrative assistant positions including working for the City of Appleton and FVTC's Business and Industry Services prior to joining the Venture Center team. Jill as been working behind the scenes with the E-seed™ Entrepreneurial Training Program. Series since fall of 2003 and is currently the office coordinator for the Venture Center. She enjoys the energy of working with entrepreneurs and coordinating the events and services offered by the Venture Center—and is herself, a source of our team energy!

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Mick Walsh

Visual Recorder

Mick Walsh is a visual recorder for thePro-Seed™: Business Model Design session and Small Business Design, Plan and Grow series.Mick has spent over 35 years in the advertising, marketing, and creative arts industry. Mick has a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Northern Illinois University where he graduated with honors. He also completed graduate level courses in design, and photography from Northern Illinois University and educational marketing from the University of Phoenix. He has been a featured speaker and panelist at national and regional industry conferences and workshops presenting creative best practices. Mick has previously owned and operated his own design studio and advertising agency in Denver, Colorado. He was also Vice President of Creative for GEM, a global design agency with offices in 11 cities worldwide. He has created campaigns and projects for American Express, Boeing, 3M, Sears and Best Buy.

Mick has formed a creative services company called SketchBIZ, which provides clients with Visual Recordings, Whiteboard Videos and Storyboard Illustrations.

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