The virtualness of the accelerator program was a huge benefit because it allowed us as a company to participate in the program without having to physically being there.
CIO of Interactive Aerial Justin Bentsen
The biggest value AeroInnovate and Airventure has brought to Grypshon is their networking capabilities, now we have pre-orders, manufacturers, and distributors. Exactly what we were looking for.
CEO of Grypshon Industries Tom Burden
As a young growing company, comprised of all college students, the experience we bring to the table starting a company is limited. AeroInnovate offered the experience we needed to find clarity and direction on where we wanted to go. They helped get our proper documents in order and coached us through solid presentations. The large benefit AeroInnovate brings to the table is the contacts and resources they have available to them. Being in one of aviation’s largest hotbeds, they provided contacts we would have struggled and spent too much time on trying to attain ourselves.
Aeroinnovate was my first big break. I left for Wisconsin with a few hand built prototypes, some tools and little else. What I found was a community of people willing to help me, believe in me and give me a crash course in business. I count the people I’ve met through the program as some of my closest confidants and earliest advocates. Unlike many “Shark Tank” type pitch competitions, nobody is looking to shoot you down and you don’t just show up and pitch. The Aeroinnovate team helps you hone in on what will make your business successful and support you the whole way.- Nick Sinopoli ICARUS Devices
Founder of ICARUS Devices Nick Sinopoli
With the help of the AeroInnovate team and the individuals at Gener8tor, we were able to fine tune our investor pitch and overall approach to fundraising. Throughout the program we gained access to numerous potential customers and key individuals in the aerospace industry. We are very appreciative of AeroInnovate’s guidance, as well as the opportunities that have been presented to us as a result of our participation in the program.
Co-Founder of Enduralock Diana Greenberg
AeroInnovate was a fantastic help getting us formally on our feet. We had our idea for about 4 months before the accelerator program began in the spring of 2015, but hadn’t created anything like business plans, executive summaries, or even looked at funding models. The AeroInnovate team helped us work through all of those hurdles, building the foundation in which Interactive Aerial still functions on today. The Virtual Accelerator made things easy by allowing us to still operate in Michigan, but prepared us for the pitch night at Oshkosh during the summer. That pitch was the first public presentation we had ever given as a team!
Interactive Aerial CEO Christian Smith
Meridith Jaeger is a co-founder of AeroInnovate and served as its founding director for six years. She is currently the Executive Director for the Wisconsin Family Business Forum and holds more than twenty years professional experience in communication, marketing, business development, and project/event management. Meridith has also served as the Executive Director of the Council for Innovation and on the Fund Organizing Team for the Angels on the Water investment fund. She continues to provide resources to entrepreneurs and small businesses in her current role and is committed to building mutually beneficial partnerships and assisting organizations to meet their success.Meridith earned her Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in Corporate/Organizational Communication from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Science Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Kurt Waldhuetter, BA, MS has 20 years professional experience to share, the past 12 pertaining to start-ups and technology commercialization including strategic director, team building, IP portfolio strategy, product development, marketing and business development. He is a co-founder of AeroInnovate and is the Vice President, Business Services for the Aurora Research Institute.
Steve Slocum is the new director of AeroInnovate. He is a marketing and leadership professional with more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit, healthcare, telecommunications industries. Slocum’s interest in aviation runs deep thanks to family involvement in the U.S.Air Force, Federal Aviation Administration and the Experimental Aircraft Association. He graduated from University of Wisconsin Whitewater with a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations and from Concordia University – Wisconsin with a Master of Business Administration degree. As the director of AeroInnovate, Slocum is responsible for leading the AeroInnovate business accelerator program and developing and directing strategic and financial plans for all of our educational and economic development initiatives related to aviation.
EAA Vice President
Dave Chaimson joined EAA in February 2014 and is responsible for diverse areas such as sponsorship development and fulfillment for EAA programs and activities, including the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in; EAA publication and online advertising; and the creation of new opportunities for businesses to become partners within EAA’s mission of growing participation in aviation. He is also responsible for all of EAA’s marketing activities, as well as the organization’s digital and web content efforts.
With more than 25 years of marketing, sales and senior management experience, Dave brings a unique blend of aviation enthusiasm and extensive, successful business acumen to his role. Prior to joining the EAA staff, he was divisional vice president and vice president of worldwide marketing of Sony Creative Software, a technology arm of Sony Electronics. In those positions, he enhanced business development through launches of award-winning products and services, and led partner initiatives with other industry leaders, including Sony’s first corporate program with Goulian Aerosports. His other career experience includes extensive work and knowledge with commercial relations, branding, sales, and customer service.
Dave earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from the University of Arizona, and a Master of Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch University. He is a longtime EAA member, holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating and has also started his commercial pilot training. In addition, Dave has been very active with his hometown airport association in Waunakee, Wisconsin, just north of Madison.
Jonathan Hartman currently serves as an Advanced Concepts Engineer for Sikorsky Innovations, located in Stratford, Connecticut. His focus is on maturation of future vehicle concepts and related technologies, with emphasis on next generation energy storage and use, dedicated unmanned systems, and autonomy-enabling technology. Since joining Sikorsky in 2009, his responsibilities have grown to include a wide range of roles, notably technical project management, small business acquisition, strategic planning, academic partnerships and talent acquisition. Currently, Jonathan’s primary role is Team Lead for Project Firefly, an all-electric technology demonstration helicopter. Jonathan received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Yale in 2009.
Gretchen Jahn is President of Knotridge Corporation, an aviation consultancy. Gretchen brings over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience in manufacturing, IT and aviation leadership, both domestic and international.
As owner and Director of Knotridge, Gretchen provides strategic consulting services to businesses in aviation and manufacturing industries. She recently completed an assignment as COO of REMOS Aircraft, a manufacturer of high quality Light Sport Aircraft with locations in Germany and the U.S. She and the team focused on reducing costs and aircraft inventory while improving customer service and sales. Prior to Knotridge, Gretchen was the General Manager of Alpha Aviation Ltd of New Zealand, a manufacturer of two seat aerobatic trainer aircraft. She was a founding board member of the Aviation Industry Cluster, fostering increased aviation capacity and capability within New Zealand.
Formerly, Gretchen was CEO of Mooney Airplane Company, where she doubled the production rate, brought two new models to market and solidified the bond that Mooney owners had with the factory. Gretchen was co-founder of Aegis Analytical Corporation, a software company that provides systems to pharmaceutical and biotech companies to boost their manufacturing efficiencies. As an entrepreneur Gretchen was a partner in two additional startup software companies. During her career she also held executive positions at small and large companies within multiple industry sectors.
Gretchen received her BA with honors from Lawrence University and her MA from the University of Colorado. She also obtained her Certificate in Integrated Resource Management (CIRM) from the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS).
As an avid pilot and airplane owner for more than 25 years, Gretchen holds a US commercial pilot’s license with instrument and seaplane ratings and a New Zealand private pilot’s license. She is a member of the 99s, the Colorado Pilots Association, and Women in Aviation International. She is on the Board of AeroInnovate (EAA), LAMA and the Air Race Classic, Inc., and competes in cross-country handicapped speed racing.
Research & Development
Matt Johnson established Aerovar to fund aerospace research and make equity investments in the startups in the aerospace and defense sector. The company has formal collaborative R&D agreements with the US Air Force (structures and materials) and NASA (computational technologies), and has provided seed capital to aerospace-related technology startups.
Matt previously spent 19 years working in private equity and banking, and was the managing director of Apollo Management’s German office and a founding partner of the €1.3 billion Apollo European Principal Finance Fund. Matt was an active duty US Air Force officer from 1984-89, and worked on tactical communications systems in Air Force Systems Command and the US Air Forces in Europe.
Matt received his BS from the US Air Force Academy (1984) and his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (1991). Matt is an avid long-distance swimmer, and completed a solo crossing of the English Channel, the 26-kilom
Bill Joos is the principal of “Go To Market Consulting” based in Palo Alto, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. He works with early-to-mid stage companies, venture capital firms and their portfolio clients to help entrepreneurs accelerate their success. Bill spent seven years as the VP of Entrepreneur Development at Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm that he co-founded along with Guy Kawasaki. While at Garage, he earned a reputation for his expertise in providing portfolio clients with effective, hands-on, action-oriented strategic and tactical mentoring and coaching.
In 2004, Bill founded his own practice and extended his services to global clients. He has worked with literally hundreds of early-to-mid stage high-technology startups worldwide and successfully helped them polish and clarify their messages and refine their fundraising and customer presentations. Beyond being a leading “pitch doctor,” his services also include revenue and pricing strategies, business alliances, business development and marketing.
Over 20,000 entrepreneurs worldwide have attended conferences or workshops where Bill has been a featured keynote speaker on entrepreneurial topics.
He has also held sales and marketing positions with a variety of companies, including IBM, and served as VP Sales at the software division of Apple Computer.
James M. McCoy
James M. McCoy is a multi-career entrepreneur, venture investor and business development executive based in Silicon Valley. Over four decades, Jim has founded and grown multiple billion-dollar international companies and contributed in a broad range of industries and technologies. His work spans computer, consumer electronics, aviation and biotech instrumentation industries.
Jim has been a seed, founding or early stage investor and/or board director with over 20 successful companies. Most recently, he was Chairman of Pliant Technology, recently acquired by SanDisk (SNDK-NASDAQ.) Jim was founding CEO of Maxtor (purchased by Seagate, STX-NASDAQ,) and a co-founder of Quantum (QTM-NYSE.) He graduated from San Jose State University, California, with a B.S. degree in industrial engineering and management and has been issued five patents. Jim’s longest professional interest, deepest roots, first employment and current primary business focus is in aviation. He has been an active private pilot for over 30 years.
Maddison is currently the marketing intern for AeroInnovate. Maddison is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh studying marketing with a sales emphasis. She is responsible for researching aviation startups and event logistics. Besides AeroInnovate, Maddison is apart of Reeve Union Board. She holds the position of special events chair.
Marketing & Public Relations Intern
Sami Diederich is currently the marketing and public relations intern for AeroInnovate. She is responsible for updating the website and social media platforms. Sami is a junior at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh studying Interactive Web Management with a minor in journalism. After college she would like to work for a marketing company. One day, she wants to open up her own digital marketing company.
News and Announcements
Virtual Accelerator 2017 Due Date for Application
February 13, 2017AeroInnovate Virtual Accelerator Applications Due April 14 Virtual Accelerator 2017 Due Date for Applications is April 14th. AeroInnovate is currently looking for companies to take part of thei...
Applications for AeroInnovate Virtual Program 2017 Now Open!
January 26, 2017Contact: Steve Slocum email@example.com (920)424-2364 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE VIRTUAL ACCELERATOR PROGRAM APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN FOR 2017 OSHKOSH, WISCONSIN (Jan. 26, 2017) – AeroInnova...
AeroInnovate Announces New Director
January 24, 2017Congratulations to our new director, Steve Slocum! Read about Steve at UW-Oshkosh Today! http://www.uwosh.edu/today/48290/uw-oshkosh-business-success-centers-aeroinnovate-names-new-leader/
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