40 Under 40: The 2014 Class
40 emerging business stars prove that youth — at least in their cases — is not wasted on the young.
(page 6 of 8)
Daniel Neely, 37
Founder/CEO, Networked Insights
University of Georgia graduate Daniel Neely became CEO of Networked Insights at the age of 29. He has since grown the company to 150-plus employees and earned a board position with UW Business School’s Weinert Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship program. However, he says his greatest achievements are adopting “two amazing boys” and going from weighing more than 350 pounds to running both the Madison and Chicago marathons.
One of his goals is to provide guidance to entrepreneurs who are just getting started. “I love to drive innovation and want to see new things come to life,” he explains. Neely credits his own mentor, Ceci Kurzman, with teaching him “that the things I believe are big or scary or are going to end badly actually don’t matter that much.” Neely’s guilty pleasure these days is getting a manicure and pedicure, and he also enjoys cooking, collecting wines, and photography.
Darcey Nett, 33
President/Owner, Always Best Care
Darcey Nett sold more than 1,000 handmade necklaces and did various jobs (including waitressing, factory work, and modeling) in order to graduate debt-free from UW-Madison. She then sold pharmaceuticals for Pfizer, becoming a leader in territorial sales. Nett later tapped into that same determination to start a senior in-home care business, which today supports more than 50 jobs. Along the way, she became a networking queen, with involvements in Make-A-Wish, Business Networking International, the Dane County Committee on Aging, Madison MAGNET, and many other organizations.
One of her favorite hobbies is Rollerblading, “especially around the lakes in Madison.” Other enjoyments include working on her modeling and talent scouting business (a secondary pursuit), as well as boating, snowboarding, and volleyball. “I also enjoy indulging in Madison’s offerings of local foods and wine,” she adds.
Peter C. Osman, 31
Owner/Attorney, Borakove | Osman LLC
Peter Osman is the vice president and a founding member of CONNECT Madison, a trustee at St. Stephen’s Foundation, a treasurer at Monona Grove Nursery School, a Walk Team Leader for the American Cancer Society, and a coach for his children’s sports teams. A personal loss led him and his family to raise more than $15,000 in both 2011 and 2012 for the March of Dimes.
Osman says his greatest professional achievement was founding a partnership law firm at the age of 29. He much admires Mike Victorson (M3 Insurance) and Wrede “Bud” Smith (DeWitt Ross and Stevens), two people he credits with influencing his career. However, his children dictate many of his hobbies, including family movie night. His guilty pleasure is watching comic book superhero-themed movies. “I am a big fan of almost all of them,” Osman admits. He also enjoys golf, baseball, camping, and seeing shows at the Overture Center.
Erin Peterson, 32
Executive Director/Founder, Academy of Sound
Erin Peterson embodies community investment: She’s president of the Oregon Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Oregon Historic Preservation Commission and the Wisconsin Music Educators Association. She also co-founded a nonprofit, Historic Community Renewal, Inc., to acquire and revive historic properties, hoping to create beneficial spaces in the area. A graduate of the Mayron Cole Music Conservatory, she wants to grow her music and drama studio into “a place where I can leave for one or two years to teach music and English in Peru.”
Her most grueling personal accomplishment to date has been finishing the 26-mile, four-day trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2013. Peterson embraces her father’s philosophy to “work to live, not live to work.” She enjoys salsa dancing and loves world travel adventures, hiking, choir singing, playing the piano, and “exploring tea lounges and tech arenas in northern California.”
Brian H. Potts, 35
Partner, Foley & Lardner LLP
Brian Potts is a traveling man, having earned an undergraduate degree from Centre College in Kentucky, a law degree from the Vermont Law School, and a master of laws degree in energy law from the University of California, Berkeley Law School. In his spare time, he’s taken side trips to more than 30 countries. Today, the environmental lawyer sits on the executive board of the Clean Lakes Alliance and is general counsel for the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance. He’s written for prestigious legal publications such as the Yale Law Journal and the Harvard Environmental Law Review, and his articles have been cited in reports to Congress.
Married to an assistant attorney general with the State of Wisconsin, Potts holds his own with a caseload involving high-profile, high-stakes matters with hundreds of millions of dollars at risk. To train himself to keep his competitive eye on the ball at all times, he coordinated an office-wide Ping-Pong tournament. This self-proclaimed office “Ping-Pong king” also captains area United States Tennis Association leagues and enjoys hiking.