Center for Entrepreneurship

The mission of the Madison College Center for Entrepreneurship is to strengthen communities through education, innovation and collaboration. We strive to plant the seeds of entrepreneurial thinking and to foster a culture of entrepreneurial action across all of Madison College. Our goals are to:

  • Assist in the creation of new businesses within our district.
  • Assist in the retention of businesses within our district.
  • Provide tools for startups to launch and for early stage businesses to improve planning and to achieve growth.
  • Focus on providing resources to underserved populations within our district such as women and minority entrepreneurs.

Our Center seeks to leverage the talents of our distinguished faculty and our world class campus infrastructure to add value to our regional entrepreneurship ecosystem while collaborating with existing organizations and promoting what others do best.  

Never miss an event. Subscribe today and our events will be sent to your inbox.Entrepreneurship Center Madison College


The Center for Entrepreneurship provides a variety of workshops and events designed to provide hands-on information and planning tools for both novice and experienced entrepreneurs. This ongoing series covers topics from the exploratory stage of learning what entrepreneurship is, through the fundamental elements of putting together a business plan. 

Entrepreneurs from communities surrounding Madison, Wisconsin are encouraged to attend. 

Attendees can park in any marked stall in the student parking lot. View our campus map.

Fall 2019 Schedule

To Hire or Not to Hire?

Presenters: Todd Starkey and Sharon Egan

Tuesday, December 3
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
South Campus – Room 118


Congratulations!  Your business is growing to the point where you may be considering a regular staff person or people to help.  How do you know when that is?  What is there to consider?  Your first hire is critical to your vision.  What about a Contractor?  Hiring Family or Friends?  Todd Starkey and Sharon Egan of The QTI Group’s HR Services Team will talk about things to ponder, walk through some scenarios and the pitfalls to avoid. 



Lunch & Learn – Presentation Tips

Presenter: Shana LaFore

Tuesday, December 10
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Truax Campus – Room 1874


Have a fabulous product or service, but it feels like people just don’t “get it”? Need to make a pitch or present an idea, but are unsure how to even begin? During this lunch and learn Shana LaFore will share tips on how to present yourself and your work in a compelling and impactful way to attract attention and compel viewers to take action. The session will cover both visual presentation techniques as well as how to talk about (and ultimately sell) your work.  





Chef Series

Events will be hosted in our new Culinary Arts demonstration kitchen, located at the Truax campus in Madison, Wisconsin. The Chef Series is free to Madison College Culinary students, $5 for Madison College students and $35 for non-students. 

Kyle Cherek

Don't miss these exciting talks and culinary presentations for the 2019-20 Madison College Chef Series, presented by The Vollrath Company and hosted by Kyle Cherek - culinary historian, food essayist, and 11 year host of the Emmy Award-winning television show Wisconsin Foodie on PBS. For over a decade, Kyle has chronicled regional food stories, exploring where our food comes from and how it shapes who we are.


2019-20 Chef Series Dates

Graham Elliot 

Graham Elliot

Petite Harvest & Coast

Wednesday, December 11

5-8 p.m.
Truax Campus - Diane's Dinner (B1285)

Graham Elliot is an award winning chef, television personality and cookbook author.

Elliot, a self-proclaimed "Navy brat" who has traveled the world and all fifty US states, has accrued many prestigious accolades including multiple James Beard Foundation Nominations. At age 27, Elliot became the youngest four-star chef to be named in any major U.S. city and was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2004. In May of 2008, Elliot opened his eponymous restaurant, Graham Elliot, which went on to become one of only 15 restaurants in the U.S. to be awarded two Michelin stars.

In 2016 after 10 seasons with the MasterChef & MasterChef Jr. franchise, Chef Elliot left the show to join Bravo’s Emmy Award winning hit cooking competitions, Top Chef as a full time judge alongside Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, and Gail Simmons. Graham is also the host and star of Bravo’s digital series, “Going Off the Menu.” Graham recently completed filming the new series Family Food Fight, alongside cohosts Ayesha Curry and Cat Cora, which aired this summer on ABC.

As a life-long baseball enthusiast, Major League Baseball has recently tapped him to be the host of their MLB Grub Tour as well as their Culinary Correspondent.

Elliot, an avid music lover and guitarist in his own right and has been Culinary Director of the Lollapalooza music festival, an honor he’s held for the past decade. His first ever restaurant project in Asia, Coast in the new MGM Cotai, opened in February 2018. His newest project, Petit Harvest, opened this summer on the famed Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA.

Chef Elliot lives in Chicago with his three sons Mylo, Conrad and Jedediah. Graham firmly believed in the idea of giving back and is an active member of the community and board member of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and is also extensively involved in multiple charitable organizations including Share Our Strength, b by the American Heart Association and Smile Train to name a few.


Phillip Foss

Phillip Foss 

El Ideas

Wednesday, January 29

5-8 p.m.
Truax Campus - Diane's Dinner (B1285)

Phillip Foss, Chef and Owner of EL Ideas, turns preconceived notions of elite dining upside down with his restaurant hidden on a dead-end street and next to a train yard in Chicago’s Douglas Park neighborhood. The twenty-six seat dining room opens to the kitchen, and guests are invited and encouraged to visit and interact with the chefs preparing their dinner. The relaxed atmosphere beguiles the precision and attention given to each course, where classical cooking techniques are combined with innovative ideas. EL Ideas received its first Michelin-star in 2013, received three stars from the Chicago Tribune, and was also named a Chicago Magazine “Best New Restaurant” and Chicago Reader’s “Best Restaurant of 2011.” 

Foss began his career in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a short order cook. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1991, he moved to New York City and honed his skills in New York Times four-star restaurants such as Lafayette in the Drake Swiss Hotel, The Quilted Giraffe, and most notably, Le Cirque Restaurant. The only culinary holdover in the move from the original Le Cirque to the second incarnation, Chef Foss had the honor of being able to cook for several presidents, countless dignitaries and celebrities, and Pope John Paul II. 

Upon departing Le Cirque, Foss began what could best be described as a nomadic culinary existence. His first stop was in Vence, France where he fulfilled his dream of staging in a European kitchen, and did so under the wings of Michelin two-star chef, Jacques Maximin. Foss returned to America as the chef of Bistrot Margot in Chicago, where he spent the next two years. From there, Foss spent the better part of a year in Brazil, and the next two years on the island of Maui at the Four Seasons, Wailea. From here, Foss jumped the globe and spent the next two years in Israel as the chef of the fine-dining La Regence in the King David Hotel. A quick stop at the 5 diamond Newport Room in Bermuda, brought Chef Foss back to Chicago, where he landed at the yet to open Lockwood Restaurant in The Palmer House. Since parting ways with the corporate structure, Foss went on to pioneer the burgeoning Chicago food truck scene with his Meatyballs Mobile. Less than a year after launching the food truck, he opened the one-of-a-kind, EL Ideas in the very kitchen he was using for the food truck. 


Zach Engel

Zach Engel  


Wednesday, February 26

5-8 p.m.
Truax Campus - Diane's Dinner (B1285)

Zachary Engel is the Executive Chef and Owner of Middle Eastern restaurant, Galit, which debuted in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in April 2019. Previously, Zach was the Chef de Cuisine at Shaya Restaurant in New Orleans, where he led a talented team to take home the 2016 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, a culminating triumph at the end of a year of many “Best New” accolades. In 2017, he followed with winning the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year.  

Since opening Galit, Engel’s cuisine has garnered praise from respected outlets like Food & Wine, People Magazine, and Forbes. His ability to bring forward delicious Middle Eastern flavors using local and seasonal ingredients has led the restaurant to remain at the top of Chicago’s culinary hit lists. Galit also received a glowing review from Chicago Tribune food critic Phil Vettel, calling Galit “a Middle Eastern masterpiece”. 

His career includes time spent in the kitchens of Zahav in Philadelphia, Catit in Tel Aviv and Michelin-starred Madrona Manor in Sonoma County. Zach’s time growing up in a Jewish household as the son of a rabbi and his many trips to Israel are the grounding elements of his modern Middle Eastern cooking. He lives close by Galit with his wife, daughter and dog. 


Lisa Ludwinski

Lisa Ludwinski 

Sister Pie

Wednesday, March 11

5-8 p.m.
Truax Campus - Diane's Dinner (B1285)

Lisa Ludwinski spent her childhood in Milford, Michigan making too-salty cookies and directing her neighbor friends in home movies. She studied Theatre Arts at Kalamazoo College before moving away to Brooklyn, NY to pursue dreams of directing. Naturally, the vibrant food culture of New York led to distraction that resulted in a low-budget cooking show called Funny Side Up that Lisa filmed in the many tiny apartment kitchens she inhabited over the course of her six-year stay. In 2012, she moved back to Michigan with dreams of opening a bakery with a big-hearted mission: make delicious food and treat your community (employees, neighbors, partners) well. Lisa launched Sister Pie out of her parent's Milford kitchen and began to build the business piece-by-piece, with the help of many supporters and a whole lot of dancing. She and a small crew of passionate women opened the doors to the Detroit pie shop in April 2015, and they've been hustling ever since. Lisa currently lives with her pup Ruby Thursday in the West Village of Detroit - an approximate six minute walk away from Sister Pie.  

Author credit: EE Berger 


Gavin Kaysen

Gavin Kaysen  

Wednesday, April 15

5-8 p.m.
Truax Campus - Diane's Dinner (B1285)

There is nothing quite like the frenetic and fleeting seasonality of the upper Midwest to inspire a soulful cook. For Chef Gavin Kaysen, an old soul at heart, this idea beckoned him back home to Minneapolis to open Spoon and Stable, a 2015 James Beard Award Finalist for Best New Restaurant, in the North Loop neighborhood in fall 2014. 

Further planting his roots in Minnesota in early 2017, he opened French-inspired bistro, Bellecour, in Wayzata, MN. His second restaurant is a nod to his friends and mentors, Chefs Daniel Boulud and the late Paul Bocuse, and their time spent together in Lyon, France. “Cooking is very emotional for me; I have to cook how I feel,” Kaysen says. “There’s something to be said for how you feel emotionally as one season gives way to the next, when it snows, rains, or is sunny. I never thought about that growing up here, but coming back, I see that now.” The chef refined his dexterity in contemporary American fine dining by dedicating time to some of the world’s best restaurants. After graduating in 2001 from the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT, Kaysen worked at Domaine Chandon in Yountville, CA; L’Auberge de Lavaux in Lausanne, Switzerland; and the famed L’Escargot in London, before becoming executive chef at El Bizcocho in San Diego, where he was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs. In late 2007, he joined Chef Daniel Boulud as chef de cuisine of Café Boulud in New York City, where he later earned the James Beard Rising Star Chef award and a coveted Michelin star. While there, he discovered so much more than tangible, technical skills. “It was like getting my master’s and Ph.D. with Daniel and his organization,” he explains. “I learned so much about hospitality, about the business, cooking—but more importantly, I learned a lot about soulful food. When he cooks, it’s all about spontaneity, which I have discovered is how I really thrive, too.” In 2018, Kaysen took home the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest. 

Today, Kaysen helps the next generation of young culinarians refine their skills in the kitchen. He is one of the founding mentors of the nonprofit ment’or BKB Foundation (formerly Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation), for which he currently serves as Team USA’s head coach in preparing for the famed biennial culinary competition that showcases the world’s best up-and-coming chefs. Kaysen brings an intimate knowledge of the Bocuse d’Or competition, as he proudly represented the U.S. in 2007. In 2015, he successfully led Team USA to a record-breaking Second Place victory, the first medal and podium placement for the United States. 2015 set the stage for future success, and in 2017 Team USA claimed first place for the very first time. 

Kaysen lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons. In his spare time, he is attending his sons’ sports games, cooking dinner at home, and keeping up to date (with the help of his kids) on all Minnesota professional sports. 


Tony and Cathy Montuano 

Wednesday, May 6

5-8 p.m.
Truax Campus - Diane's Dinner (B1285)
Cathy Mantuano

Cathy’s Bio 

A sought-after expert on wine and food pairings from New York to San Francisco and a contributor to Chicago television and radio, Mantuano helps restaurants around the country create distinctive wine lists. 

Mantuano got her start working in the dining room of a prestigious Milwaukee restaurant during college. There she met a young chef, Tony Mantuano, with a remarkably similar passion for all things Italian. The two went on to work in several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy—she in the dining room, he in the kitchen—including the three-star Dal Pescatore in Mantova and Da Romano on the Tuscan coast in Viareggio. 

They then took their experience and passion to Chicago, where they helped turn Spiaggia into one of the world’s premier Italian restaurants. Cathy Mantuano has since gone on to open and operate a number of successful restaurants, teach classes on wine and wine-and-food pairing, and co-author both The Spiaggia Cookbook and Wine Bar Food with Tony Mantuano. 

Tony Mantuano

Tony’s Bio 

Internationally regarded as an influential culinary force, multi-James Beard Award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano has been a trailblazer of defining authentic Italian cuisine in the United States for over three decades. In addition to his role as chef-partner at one of the country’s leading restaurants, Michelin-starred Spiaggia, and its more casual sister restaurant, Café Spiaggia, Mantuano is the chef-partner at River Roast, situated on the Chicago River; Terzo Piano, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago; Terralina Crafted Italian, a waterfront Italian restaurant located in Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida; and Maddon’s Post, an Italian and Polish-inspired restaurant in partnership with Joe Maddon located in Chicago’s iconic Wrigleyville neighborhood.   

One of Chicago’s most decorated chefs, Mantuano has received a myriad of awards and accolades including the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef, Midwest. He has also dedicated his career at Spiaggia to mentoring and growing a class of powerhouse culinary talents, considered today to be amongst the most revered chefs in Italian cuisine, like James Beard Award winner (Best Chef, Great Lakes) Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde, James Beard Award winner (Best Chef, New York City) and a Food & Wine Best New Chef (2010) Missy Robbins of Lilia/Misi, and Top Chef Season 15 winner, Joe Flamm.   

Amidst all his awards and recognitions, one of Mantuano’s dearest honors was when long-time Spiaggia guest, President Barack Obama, celebrated his presidential election victory at Spiaggia in 2008. Mantuano was also asked to cook for First Lady Michelle Obama at the famed Art Institute of Chicago and for the final state luncheon under the Obama administration. In April 2009 he and Cathy Mantuano were honored with the keys to San Martino in the Italian region of Molise for serving authentic Italian cuisine in America. In September 2012, he was named part of the American Chef Corps and a 2012 State Chef by the U.S. Department of State and its new Culinary Diplomatic Partnership program. Mantuano has also been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit and Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and has also appeared on popular television segments like “Nightline,” “The Today Show,” “The Early Show,” "CBS This Morning," “The Dish,” “Martha” and the Hallmark Channel. He also served as a judge on Bravo’s beloved "Top Chef” series in 2009, and participated in season two of "Top Chef Masters.”   

Mantuano’s other projects include co-authoring two cookbooks with wine expert and wife, Cathy Mantuano. Their first book, The Spiaggia Cookbook, was lauded by Food & Wine magazine as one of the top 25 cookbooks of 2004. In 2008, the duo released Wine Bar Food, which has been the inspiration for WINE BAR FOOD outposts at the US Open Tennis Championships in New York.   


Resident Entrepreneurs

Meet with the experienced and knowledgeable Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) and learn about our workshops and events that will prepare you for success as an entrepreneur in a rapidly evolving business world, or schedule a one-on-one consultation to talk about your business idea.

Office hours: Walk-ins available, however appointments are encouraged. Please email us at or contact on of the EIR's directly to set up an appointment

2019-20 EIR's

Genia Stevens


Genia Stevens is the owner of Belwah Media, an integrated marketing communications agency and founder of Belwah Strategy, a strategic planning agency. Genia’s also a design thinking practitioner who helps organizations develop strategies that focus on success through collaborative problem-solving. Her agency Belwah Media has been awarded the LGBT Business of the Year Award and is also part of the Forbes Agency Council, an invite-only organization for successful and diverse executives in marketing, PR, media, and advertising. Genia’s areas of expertise are strategic planning, marketing strategy development, social media marketing, marketing analytics, business plan development, and community outreach and engagement.

Genia is a Forbes columnist and you’ll also find her writing on, Social Media Today, and Business 2 Community. Currently, Genia is serving as a board member of Collaboration for Good and the Foundation for Madison Public Schools. She volunteers 10 hours each month coaching and training nonprofits and social enterprises on marketing, volunteer recruitment and retention, and improving their fundraising strategies. She’s also currently volunteering as a coach for the Social Good Accelerator, a collaborative initiative with the purpose of building ways and means for individuals and organizations that intentionally operate to address inequalities and expand prosperity.

Genia received her Bachelor’s degree from Beloit College (Beloit, WI) and her MBA from Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee, WI).

Please contact Genia at or Click here to schedule an appointment with Genia.

Scott Kohl

Scott Kohl

Scott Kohl is a serial entrepreneur, public speaker and product designer who has 20+ years’ experience advising fellow startups and consulting with F500 enterprises on innovation, engagement, business model creation, and organizational development. He believes in the power of failure, discomfort and small data as means to develop trust, empathy, relationships and innovative cultures.

Scott is a UW Alumni with MBA from UW Madison and bachelors in Economics. He’s certified in project management and has trained in lean startup from Intuit Alumni of the 100 startups in 100 days initiative. Recently his company, ThirdSpace, was a finalist for the most innovative company in Madison.

When he’s “not riding the white lightning” of startup life, he enjoys landscaping, outdoor hikes, building legos and playing Minecraft with his 5-year-old son.

Please contact Scott at


Brian Lee 

Brian Lee

Brian Lee, APR, is the president of Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media, an integrated communications agency he founded in January 2011.

In addition to serving as an entrepreneur-in-resident at Madison College, Brian is a part-time lecturer on social media in the School of Continuing Education. He also is an instructor in the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s UpStart program for female and minority entrepreneurs.

Brian earned his Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) in 2011 and a certificate in reputation management in 2017. In 2015, he was selected for the State of Wisconsin’s Business Intelligence Team (a part of the National Center for Economic Gardening) as a digital marketing specialist who works with second-stage companies throughout the state.

A serial entrepreneur, Brian is the editor-in-chief of Madison Startups, an online publication that covers startup news in town. He also runs, a restaurant and bar guide that is searchable by amenities, as well as Revelation Events, a corporate events planning business.

Brian graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in journalism and major in strategic communications.

Office hours for Brian are: 9-11 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Traux and 9-11 a.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at West campus. Please contact Brian directly to schedule one-on-one meetings outside of these hours.

Please contact Brian at


Madison College Libraries

  • Resources on Entrepreneurship

  • Creator Studio The Madison College Libraries Creator Studio is a place that encourages innovative thinking and creative exploration for group and individual learners. It is designed to build community and self-discovery by providing tools that offer hands-on experiences and learning.

WiSys Technology Foundation

Madison College has a formal technology transfer agreement with the WiSys Technology Foundation. If you are a Madison College student, faculty or staff with an idea or product in development WiSys may be able to help you protect your intellectual property and/or commercialize your product. WiSys works with innovators with discoveries from all disciplines and stages of development.

For more information on how to access WiSys resources contact

American Family Dream Bank

The American Family Dream bank offers valuable talks and events for entrepreneurs.  View their current offerings.


#Faces of Founders: A discussion of entrepreneurship, race, place and gender. 

American Bar Association

ABA guide to starting a new business. This resources explains the fundamentals of funding a small business, typical laws and regulations that impact small businesses and issues that are unique to home-based businesses.



Please join us on social media to stay up to date and learn more about Madison College Center for Entrepreneurship!