Wade graduated from NDSU as a Distinguished Military Graduate in ROTC and accepted a regular army commission as an Engineer officer. He attended the Engineer Officer’s Basic Course in Fort Belvoir, VA where he graduated at the top of his class. While at the training he was talked into applying for Ranger training by two of his friends. During the grueling program Wade lost 49 pounds on the meager rations and no scheduled sleep (meant to simulate the rigors of combat). He probably wouldn’t have made it through the training without the encouragement of his friends and the wild berries he gobbled up during the Mountain phase.
He went on to attend several other specialized training programs including atomic demolitions and munitions training, Airborne, Air Assault, and several explosives programs. His first assignment was commanding a 30-man special weapons unit that was trained to deploy regular and atomic demolitions anywhere in the world. He also helped develop new military doctrine for atomic demolitions and developmental liquid and slurry-based explosives. His assignments included serving as an executive officer for a 120-man engineer company.
His desire to return to special operations was met with orders instead to go to Turkey and build a dam as an engineer, so he resigned his commission and headed to the corporate world.
Wade continued his military service during his stint at Mobil Chemical by serving in the Army Reserves where he commanded a 160-person combat engineer company and held several facilities engineer positions. He re-entered active duty to fight in the Gulf War and was a facilities management operations executive for 600,000 soldiers and Arab liaison officer to the Northern Arab Command. He quickly learned just enough Arabic to endear himself to close Arab friends while landing in trouble on a few occasions that thankfully turned into humorous anecdotes rather than creating an international crisis.
His military decorations include the Bronze Star, Southwest Asia Service Medal with two bronze service stars, National Defense Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate.
Wade held a top-secret security clearance with NATO cosmic atomal access privileges.
Wade left the military to climb the corporate ladder at the Plastics Packaging division of Mobil Chemical, a subsidiary of what was then the Mobil Corporation (now ExxonMobil). He held several positions starting as a territory Sales Representative for the state of Wisconsin, and was promoted to higher levels of responsibility including the roles of Regional Product Manager, Regional Sales Manager, Regional Product/Sales Manager, and culminating as a National Market Development Manager with executive marketing and product management responsibilities for a $150 million national product line.
His time at Mobil was interrupted for six months when he was recalled to active duty to serve in the Gulf War in 1991. While the pace of corporate life was intense and time consuming, Wade learned much from the comprehensive training and development programs and the five positions he held during his seven years at the company. While he was usually embarrassed to admit that he sold plastic trash bags, plastic grocery bags, and disposable foam plates, bowls, and meat trays for a living, the experience of sales, marketing, negotiation, and leadership equipped him well to be an entrepreneur later in his career.
Wade has been a featured speaker at investment banking, venture capital, private equity, technology, and entrepreneurship conferences. He has also taught seminars at top business schools.
Wade’s topics typically include:
- FINANCING STRATEGY
- GROWTH STRATEGY
- M&A STRATEGY
- FAMILY BUSINESS
- FAITH-BASED BUSINESS
- EXIT STRATEGY
Wade invests in startups and small businesses through Eagle Venture Fund, a global venture capital fund he co-founded.
He has been the chairman of a seed capital firm, venture partner for two venture capital firms, and board member of an $850m investment firm.
Wade’s advisory skills were honed while at the Boston Consulting Group, one of the world’s leading strategy consulting firms where he consulted with clients on strategy, growth, and transformation. One of his most notable achievements was helping set the stage for the transformation of travel distribution by delivering the foundational strategy for the largest Internet-based travel agency and the strategy for the first ticketless airline process for the largest U.S. airline.
Wade is an active advisor to select entrepreneurs, management teams, and corporate executives at all stages of business from startup to middle market to global 2000. His primary focus with clients is growth strategy, growth financing, exit planning, and M&A strategy and execution.
Wade is a serial entrepreneur, venture capital investor, and an advisor with deep experience with strategy, financing, and has completed over 100 financing and M&A transactions as part of his business building strategy. He started selling door-to-door as a boy and worked full time most of his high school and college years at many jobs and at-risk ventures to put himself through school.
His startup and business building focus has been on software and IT-enabled services companies that have high gross margins, recurring revenue, and repeatable and scalable offerings. His startups have included a digital investment banking firm, a global SaaS-based big data firm that was capitalized with $75m in venture capital prior to selling to a public company and an Inc. 5000 nationwide SaaS-based real estate services company that has grown into the fourth largest firm among several thousand competitors in its industry.
His awards include the following:
- The Inc. 5000 award for co-founding one of the fastest growing private companies in America
- The Minnesota Tekne Award for Application of Technology
- Finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award