Michael Ackmann


Michael Ackmann

Michael was previously a founder and owner of Ackmann & Dickenson, Inc. (A&D), which launched in 2007 and grew an average of 30% annually.

A&D’s unique breed of digital craftsmanship brought organizations to the forefront of technology by providing expertise in mobile, software and web development, user experience design, digital marketing, and eCommerce.

Serving a national client base across multiple industries, A&D had offices in Minneapolis MN, Phoenix AZ, and Charleston SC. A national media conglomerate acquired A&D in 2016. While at A&D, Michael was appointed to serve on the Board of Directors for the global non-profit organization, Matter.

Kevin Zinniel


Kevin Zinniel

Prior to cofounding Artisan Venture Lab, Kevin served as Vice President of Business Development at Ackmann & Dickenson, Inc. (A&D). Kevin has been involved with numerous software startups and eCommerce initiatives throughout his career.

In 2019, Kevin left A&D to focus on =RANGE= golf, a startup apparel brand. The collection was featured in the new product zone at the 2020 PGA Show. Currently, =RANGE= has partnerships in place with dozens of golf clubs throughout North America including a co-branded apparel collection with Pabst Blue Ribbon.​

Kevin serves as a member on the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital (UMMCH) Advisor Board and the UMMCH Champions for Children Golf Committee.


John Standish

John brings nearly two decades of digital strategy, design, and development experience to the Artisan team. He has served on internal teams for large organizations including UnitedHealth Group and Polaris Industries and held leadership positions for top agencies, including Clockwork and Ackmann & Dickenson. He delivers right-sized solutions that transform businesses through marketing and technology. 

John is a member of the Program Advisory Committee for his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin Stout.


Erica Tava Johnson

Erica possesses a wealth of experience within the technology sector, managing both product and service-based initiatives.  Erica’s engagement style focuses on transparent communications and adaptability. By collaborating closely with partners, she helps guide solutions that focus on solving business challenges while strengthening relationships.

Before joining the Artisan team, Erica held roles in both accounts and operations at Hennepin County government, Miracle-Ear (Amplifon), and local digital agencies working with clients such as Kohler, St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific, SelectAccount (BCBS), St. Paul JCC, and National Camera. Erica graduated with a Master’s degree in Technical Communications from Metropolitan State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.


Julie Fischer

Julie brings extensive software project management experience within both the service and product sectors. 

Before joining AVL, Julie worked for multiple digital agencies in the Twin Cities managing initiatives for clients such as Delta Airlines (American Express Card), Gap, LifeTime, Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop, Three Rivers Park District, Sub-Zero, UnitedHealthCare, and Walgreens. She has led enterprise-level website builds in Sitecore, WordPress, Drupal, and eCommerce initiatives in BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce. 

Julie is a certified Scrum Master who has managed large design, development, and DevOp teams — both onshore and offshore. She will lead and refine AVL’s design and develop processes within project management. These efforts will ensure alignment with all client strategies and business objectives.