Entrepreneur in Residence Program

The Research Park created an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program that hires local experienced technology entrepreneurs to provide monthly consulting to new startup ventures and prospective technology entrepreneurs. By sourcing this talent from the local region, the program selects peers that have faced similar challenges in commercializing research/early stage technology and are able to provide advice on their own path to successfully attracting investment, revenue, and industrial clients. 

The EIRs are available via appointment for any Research Park client or University of Illinois faculty, staff, or student entrepreneur to receive business consulting, strategy assistance, marketing and communication help,  investor preparedness, or other startup consultation needed. The EIR program also has monthly training events for technology entrepreneurs based on topics identified in client counseling as areas of need and to cover basic fundamentals most entrepreneurs face such as: intellectual property basics, business development and sales, SBIR/STTR grant writing, and investor options and negotiations. 

To receive consultation from one of our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, submit an online request form. Entrepreneurs may select an EIR or have one assigned by the EnterpriseWorks staff based on the subject matter and availability of the team. 

The Entrepreneurs in Residence

Craig Vodnik

Craig is a Mentor at 1871 and member of Hyde Park Angels. He is also a co-founder and VP Operations for Chicago; Cologne, Germany; and Tokyo, Japan based e-commerce company, cleverbridge. Craig has worked at companies in the financial services, e-commerce, banking, and publishing industries, starting with his first job as the webmaster at the Chicago Tribune, where he led the technical efforts to launch the newspaper online in 1996.

Karin O’Connor

Karin is a member of Hyde Park Angels and has invested in over a dozen early-stage companies. She has experience advising entrepreneurs across the financial services, business services, technology distribution, health care, and manufacturing industries. She is also the founder of Perimeter Advisors, an advisory firm that assists owners of promising mid-market companies with planning and execution of value enhancement strategies.

Chad Stiening

Chad Stiening of Mentor Management is a University of Illinois graduate (Class of '99, B.S. Biology, B.S. Finance) who is currently running a medical diagnostic device company, Kypha, Inc., located at the BioGenerator Accelerator Labs in St. Louis. He has been involved in the St. Louis community in building their biotech cluster.  He has a PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Arizona, and previously worked as a business development executive at the University of Louisville-affiliated Research Park and Innovation Center, NUCLEUS.  He is passionate about University of Illinois and helping entrepreneurs with the practical work needed to advance life science start-ups and technology commercialization, from market analysis and regulatory planning to early-stage financing and growth strategies. His partner at Mentor Management is Harlee Sorkin, who worked as an EIR at EnterpriseWorks from 2009-2012 and currently works as the Vice President of Business Development at Appistry in St. Louis. Harlee spent seven years with Traco Labs, Inc in Champaign, IL, a leading supplier of active ingredients to the nutraceutical & pharmaceutical industries. At Traco, Sorkin was the Chief Operating Officer and helped capitalize the growth of the business while overseeing a successful exit to Munich, Germany-based Degussa AG. 

Lori Patterson

Lori Patterson co-founded Pixo in 1998, an information technology company located in Urbana, IL focused on website and mobile application development. She grew the staff from 5 to 21 people, and annual gross revenue has increased forty-fold. A Mechanical Engineering graduate from the University of Illinois, Lori brings the experience of working in corporate management to the entrepreneurial adventure of being the business mind behind a team of bright, bohemian artists and software engineers at Pixo. She worked in several corporate positions before becoming an entrepreneur, first working for Andersen Consulting as a systems consultant, then at Caterpillar heading up a 20 person product development team, and then worked at Solo Cup for 5 years as a Project Manager. She specializes in loosening the stuffy, grounding the chaotic and turning good ideas into profitable, sustainable entities. 

Tim Hoerr

Tim is the CEO of Serra Ventures and also serves as CEO of Cbana Labs. He also provides consulting for several local technology ventures located in the Research Park. Tim served in the capacity of Chief Executive Officer of iCyt through 2008, and grew the company from a startup to one that employed 54 people and produced double-digit millions in product revenue. Tim spent nearly all of the first 15 years of his professional career with RSM McGladrey in Illinois and San Diego, leading teams of consultants focused on serving middle market clients. Tim is also a Shareholder and Vice President of Gameday Spirit, the sports apparel store for Illini fans in Champaign, IL.

Dennis Beard

Dennis is a Principal with Serra Ventures and also serves as a Partner and CFO for Open Prairie Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm. Dennis currently serves on the Board of Directors of ISSI, an Open Prairie Ventures portfolio company. Dennis is a CPA, has been involved throughout his career with businesses of all sizes as a Manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Controller for SLM Aminco, CFO for Segno Communications, CFO and CEO for the Home Recovery Group of Companies, and Partner with Blakeman and Beard, LLC, CPA’s.