South Dakota Innovations
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"I've always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got."

-Alan Bond

 

Each of our investment funds is directed by our Board of Managers, which consists of an exceptional group of leaders with significant expertise in early-stage investing and business development. Members of our Board are dedicated to enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship, working closely with out team and a number of other organizations who we consider our "Innovation Partners."

Fishback

Van Fishback, Member and Manager of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, joined his family's banking organization in 1972 after receiving an undergraduate degree from Stanford University, attending the Stanford Graduate School of Business and obtaining a law degree from the University of Minnesota. A third generation banker and native of Brookings, S.D., Mr. Fishback is the President and CEO of Fishback Financial Corporation, South Dakota's largest privately held bank holding company. Mr. Fishback is involved in a number of professional and civic organizations and has a passion for sports, community and missionary work and higher education. Van and his wife, Barbara, live in Brookings and have three adult sons, Thomas, Paul and James.

Kurtenbach

Dr. Aelred J. Kurtenbach, Member and Manager of South Dakota Innovative Partners, LLC, is co-founder of Daktronics, Inc., and Chairman of its Board of Directors. Dr. Kurtenbach, a native of Dimock, S.D., has a B.S, M.S. and Ph.D in electrical engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, the University of Nebraska and Purdue University, respectively. Dr. Kurtenbach was a professor of electrical engineering at South Dakota State University and Purdue University. While on staff at SDSU, he co-founded Daktronics,Inc. in 1968. Dr. Kurtenbach has served on numerous boards, including the South Dakota Board of Regents, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and South Dakota EPSCoR Committee and has been named Entrepreneur of the Year, Small Businessman of the Year, Executive of the Year and South Dakotan of the Year.

McGowen

Gene McGowan, Member of Manager of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, is a retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant and has a wide range of expertise in securities, sales management, and business development. Mr. McGowan is the founder of McGowan Capital Group, LLC, a private equity company investing in regional early to mid-stage companies. Mr. McGowan previously held the position of Entrepreneur in Residence at Bluestem Capital Company, a South Dakota venture capital company from 2002 to 2004. From 1985 through 2001, Mr. McGowan held various positions with Piper Jaffray and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Individual Investor Services in 1999. Mr. McGowan is an active participant with the management of several companies as managing member, board member, or chairman, and is the chairman of a CEO Roundtable.

Newell

Dan Newell, Chairman of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, has over 25 years of experience in accounting, finance, and business consulting. Mr. Newell joined McGowan Capital Group, LLC as a Partner and Entrepreneur in Residence in 2006 and became its President in 2008. In 2004, he joined Mark Mickelson in forming Mickelson & Newell, LLC, a transaction advisory and business consulting practice, which continued its work as Newell & Company, LLC in 2006. In 1995, Mr. Newell joined Northwestern Corporation as Vice President of Finance and was promoted to Chief Financial Officer prior to being named as CEO of Blue Dot Services, Inc. Mr. Newell began his career with Arthur Andersen and Energy Fuels Corporation, where he served as Vice President of Finance and a Director.

Luecke

Mark Luecke, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, has previously provided executive management and business consulting to large Fortune 500 companies and small entrepreneurial businesses throughout his career. Most recently, Mark served as President and Chief Operating Officer of a venture capital firm based in Denver, Colorado, where he started and managed a diversified portfolio of businesses. He also served as Managing Director of a merger and acquisition advisory services firm. Prior to this work, Mark served in a number of senior management positions with Avaya, Inc., Expanets, Inc., Northwestern Corporation, and Arthur Andersen, managing large teams in the areas of finance, business development, and technical operations.

Batcheller

Paul Batcheller, Manager on the Board of Managers of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, is a Partner at PrairieGold Venture Partners where he oversees all aspects of the firm's investment activities, from sourcing, structuring, and negotiating investments to serving as a board member for portfolio companies. He currently serves on the boards of ZeaChem, iCentera, Game Plan Technologies, Augusta Systems, and Agrivida. Prior to joining PrairieGold, Paul served as an advisor to Senator Tom Daschle, where he worked on economic policy, science, and technology issues. He received his B.A. in economics from Macalester College.

Jerstad

Mike Jerstad, Manager on the Board of Managers of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, is a Partner at PrairieGold Venture Partners where he oversees all aspects of the firm's investment activities, from sourcing, structuring, and negotiating investments to serving as a board member for portfolio companies. He currently serves on the boards of Grand Prairie Foods, Chronix Biomedical, PetMedicus Labs, and Orasi Medical. Prior to joining PrairieGold, Mike worked in Piper Jaffray's Healthcare Investment Banking Group in its Minneapolis and San Francisco offices, specializing in merger and acquisition advisory services and public and private equity financing. Before working at Piper Jaffray, Mike was an Attorney at Briggs and Morgan, P.A. in Minneapolis. He received a B.A. from Tufts University, a J.D. from Georgetown University, and a M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

Musick

Roger Musick, Manager on the Board of Managers of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, is a Professional Engineer, graduating from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Electrical Engineering. He started his professional career as one of the original owners of Martin and Associates, a Mitchell, South Dakota-based consulting and software solutions provider to the telecommunications industry. In 1998, he started Innovative Systems, which develops electronic products and software for the telecommunications industry. He has served on numerous boards including Dakota Wesleyan University, Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, and South Dakota Chamber of Commerce. Roger and his wife Vicki live in Mitchell with their son Kody. Their two adult children, Kelly and Kyle, are both active in the family business and have provided 5 grandchildren for enjoyment.

chicoine

Dr. David Chicoine, Ex-Officio Member on the Board of Managers of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, is the President of South Dakota State University. Previously, Dr. Chicoine served at the University of Illinois as vice president for technology and economic development and as a professor, department head, and dean of agricultural economics. As a senior university officer and advisor on technology commercialization and economic development, he had oversight for the University's licensing offices, IllinoisVENTURES, the University's early-stage capital start-up services company, and the University of Illinois Research Park. A native of Elk Point, S.D., Dr. Chicoine received a B.S. in agribusiness from South Dakota State University, a M.S. in agricultural economics from the University of Delaware, a M.A. in economics from Western Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois.

Ustad

Dr. Melvin Ustad, Ex-Officio Member on the Board of Managers of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC, is the Director of Commercialization, South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development. Dr. Ustad has extensive experience leading collaborative interdisciplinary public / private research and economic development projects. Dr. Ustad previously served as Acting and Interim Vice President for Research at the University of South Dakota, Director of the South Dakota SBIR Center, and worked for Senator Larry Pressler. He has also served or is currently serving on the Board of Directors of numerous national and state technology entrepreneurship organizations. Dr. Ustad has been an active researcher throughout his career, serving as principal investigator on numerous research and outreach projects supported by various federal agencies and private foundations.