Gener8tor, the nationally acclaimed business accelerator program founded in Madison and Milwaukee, is expanding its gBETA program for startups to northeastern Wisconsin, and is adding a very high-profile partner for that endeavor.
Microsoft leads the list of sponsors for the new gBETA. The others include: UW-Oshkosh Business Success Center; Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College; WiSys; UW-Green Bay Cofrin School of Business; and Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corp.
"Emerging companies need more than just a great idea to take off. They need great coaching, a strong network of partners, and financial investors," said Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, a native of Appleton.
The gBETA program is a free, seven-week session of mentorship and education for very early-stage, local companies. In northeastern Wisconsin, it will run twice a year, with up to five companies at a time, all from the 18-county "New North" area. The current gBETA cohort began in late October in Oshkosh; in 2018, the classes will be held in Appleton and in Green Bay, gBETA managing director Maggie Brickerman said.
"We're really excited about this partnership," Brickerman said.
The latest location is the fifth for gBETA which also operates in Madison, Milwaukee, Beloit and Minneapolis.
The regular gener8tor program is a 12-week session, with experienced mentors and investors, that runs in Madison, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Participants receive up to $140,000 in investments. Aimed at startups a little further along than those in gBETA, gener8tor's 59 alumni have raised a total of $120 million in subsequent financing.
Brickerman said the newest gBETA group is not related to separate programs that Microsoft is involved with in northeastern Wisconsin. In October, Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers said they are creating TitletownTech, with technology labs, an accelerator and venture capital fund. It will operate from the Titletown complex, next to Lambeau Field.