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 7 of 8)
Ben Raboine, 28
CTO, Optimal Media Group
UW-Oshkosh computer science graduate Ben Raboine founded his first company at age 21 and is now an equal partner in six LLC enterprises: Raboine Web Matrix, Optimal Media Group, Custom Offsets, Vistrata Health, Mysteria Games, and SeeMeNow. This lover of “all things entrepreneurial” aspires to one day become an angel investor to help more fellow Madison and Wisconsin entrepreneurs. Toward that goal, he’s joined Capital Entrepreneurs.
Raboine’s greatest accomplishment, however, is more personal: “being happily married to my high school sweetheart.” One of his favorite pastimes is working on his family’s organic dairy farm, Raboine’s Jumping Jerseys, which his sister Amy now operates. When he’s not starting a company or milking a cow, the serial entrepreneur enjoys programming, listening to podcasts or audio books, playing Starcraft or Ultimate Frisbee, drinking craft beer, and spending time with his wife, family, and friends.
Eric Schmidt, 38
General Manager/Owner, CG Schmidt, Inc.
While working full time, Eric Schmidt earned his EMBA at UW-Milwaukee, graduated at the top of his class, and was unanimously voted class speaker. Now his goal is to work with cross-functional teams at CG Schmidt in order to apply LEAN techniques to eliminate waste.
He wondered if we had to disclose that his guilty pleasure is watching Dancing with the Stars (no, we don’t have to, but …). With that out of the way, we can tell you that he also likes hunting, fishing, boating, snowmobiling, motorcycles, off-road riding, racing, and “anything with an engine.” Schmidt gives back to the community through his board service for Madison Country Day School and his volunteer work for the American Cancer Society. He’s also a board advisor for Marquette University High School and a member of the Clean Lakes Alliance.
Todd Schmidt, 39
Village Administrator/Economic Development Director, Village of Waunakee
Todd Schmidt earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UW-Platteville and a master of public administration from Northern Illinois University before starting a career in local government. In 2001, while working in Brown Deer, he founded the Wisconsin Association of Municipal and County Assistant Managers. Schmidt sets lofty goals: During his first (“and last”) mountain climbing adventure, he summited Mount Rainier.
Having reached the peak of his career, Schmidt says he is now satisfied to stay in the job he has, enjoying the benefits of raising his family in Waunakee. But he isn’t kicking back. He’s a member of Waunakee’s Lions, Optimist, and Rotary clubs and is involved with county management associations, Arts Wisconsin, Friends of Waunakee Public Library, Friends of Schumacher Farm Park, the local chamber of commerce, and the Wisconsin School Music Association. His guilty pleasure no doubt inspires his own striving for excellence: “watching ‘fail’ videos on YouTube.”
Jake Siudzinski, 32
Corporate Development Manager, The QTI Group
Jake Siudzinski’s career aspirations include earning an MBA and assuming a leadership position with The QTI Group. Community involvement is also important to this UW-Madison graduate, and he’s made a name for himself as president of GMA SHRM, which has more than 800 members. Siudzinski is an LGM-19 alumnus, an account executive for United Way of Dane County, a volunteer committee member for the Out Professional Executive Network, and a Rosenberry Society member. He’s also involved with Downtown Madison Inc., MAGNET, and several chambers. However, he says he is most proud of his work with Agrace HospiceCare, where he’s spent time with several patients at the end of their lives — an “amazing experience” that’s given him a fresh perspective.
Siudzinski’s guilty pleasure is “a good Karaoke outing,” and his hobbies include running, travel, camping, hiking, and “anything to enjoy this beautiful city, state, and country we live in.”
Patrick Stern, 34
VP of Payroll Administration, Tri-North Builders
Patrick Stern says the birth of his two children and his election to the City Council are among the high points in his life. He’s also the treasurer for REAP Food Group, a member of the Community Economic Development Authority, and the chair of Fitchrona EMS. “I’m most proud of my ability to make the team I work with stronger, and while I don’t have a single watershed moment to point to, there’s an arc to my career that brings me satisfaction,” the UW-Madison graduate said.
Stern enjoys the challenge of pivoting to new projects as needed. He started with Tri-North as a security guard for airport plans and has “held every position on our flow chart” up to his present title. Stern’s guilty pleasures include “pretty much anything that could be described as ‘nerdy’ — video games, board games, pulp sci-fi books; you name it, I’m hooked.” He also enjoys gardening and cooking.