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

Rob Schultz

Rob is a seasoned business executive with over 25 years of experience as a consultant, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Rob is a Managing Partner with Serra Ventures and Serra Capital. Prior to joining Serra Ventures, Rob was a Managing Director at Illinois Ventures, and is a founding member of the Illinois Emerging Technology Funds. At Illinois Ventures, Rob helped start and fund companies that commercialized technology invented at the University of Illinois and helped grow the firm from start-up to $70 million under management. Earlier in his career, Rob was the founding investor of ShareThis, as well as the founder and CEO of DigitalWork, Inc., an award-winning SaaS based marketing automation company that eventually went public and hired over 140 talented employees, acquiring over 10,000 customers and developing partnerships with companies such as AOL, Dell, and Wells Fargo.Rob began his career as a consultant with McKinsey and Company followed by Deloitte and Touche. Rob holds a B.A. in Economics from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. in Finance and Statistics from the University of Chicago. 

Craig Vodnik

Craig Vodnik graduated from the University of Illinois with a BS in Nuclear Engineering and is a member of the American Nuclear Society. Craig is a Mentor at 1871 and member of Hyde Park Angels and Economic Club of Chicago. He is also the 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. He was a finalist for the CEO of the Year in 2014, as well as Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist in 2013 and Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2014. 

Karin O’Connor

Karin O'Connor received her BA in Finance from the University of Illinois, where she graduated magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She then earned her MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, where she was an F.C. Austin Scholar and was elected to Beta Gamma Sigma. She has served on the Kellogg Alumni Council since 1999 and enjoys guest lecturing and judging student business plan presentations for the school's Entrepreneurship Program. She also received her Certified Financial Analyst Charter. 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 and president 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. In 2013, Chad also founded Common Place Holdings, a seed-stage investment fund focused on life science, health care and emerging tech start-ups.

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 is a seasoned business executive with over 30 years of experience spanning a variety of industries. He presently serves a number of high tech start-up companies in the disciplines of capital formation, business development and strategy. He previously served as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iCyt, a rapidly growing bioscience technology firm located in the University of Illinois Research Park, Champaign, Illinois. iCyt was acquired by Sony Corporation in late 2009. 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. In February, 2009, Tim received the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Management Award at the Innovation Celebration ceremony sponsored by the University of Illinois and Champaign County Economic Development Corporation.

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.

Alan Singleton

Alan Singleton provides legal services to business clients in the areas of corporate formation and transactions, intellectual property, securities law, and real estate. Alan earned a bachelor of science degree in Geology from the University of Illinois in 1988 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1991. Following law school and prior to founding Singleton Law Firm, he practiced with the Urbana law firm Webber & Thies as an associate and then shareholder. He has over 17 years of experience working with entrepreneurs to develop solutions to the wide variety of business and legal issues they face in establishing and growing their companies. Through his commitment to serving the needs of clients beginning with the selection of an appropriate business entity and continuing throughout their stages of development, Alan has established a reputation as one of the leading advocates for technology transfer and early stage companies in East Central Illinois. In recognition of his work, Alan was selected by the University of Illinois and the Champaign County EDC as the 2008 recipient of the Entrepreneurial Advocacy Award.

Jed Taylor

Jed provides consulting through JLT Tech Services and manages the Technology Entrepreneur Center at the University of Illinois. He was previously Director of Sales and Operations at Pattern Insight, which was located at EnterpriseWorks. He was Pattern Insight’s first employee when it started in 2007. Pattern Insight was started at EnterpriseWorks and recently had its technology and staff acquired by VMware in California. The company received VC funding by Venture Investors, an NSF Phase II SBIR award, and  made successful product sales to Cisco, Intel, Juniper Networks, Qualcomm, Telllabs, and NetApp. Jed was instrumental in the companies business development. Jed previously worked as a Project Manager at Honeywell Aircraft Landing Systems. He currently sits on the Board of Directors at the HDF Group and Phi Optics, as well as being the VP of Business Development at OceanComm. He has an MS in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, where he was a Siebel Scholar.