Tech and Biotech: gener8tor looks to grow new Wisconsin tech firms

2012-06-16T12:00:00Z 2012-08-23T18:35:55Z Tech and Biotech: gener8tor looks to grow new Wisconsin tech firmsJUDY NEWMAN | Wisconsin State Journal | jdnewman@madison.com | 608-252-6156 madison.com

Madison is getting a new tech business accelerator: gener8tor.

Its goal: To provide money and mentoring to young tech companies early on, before they’ve gotten any other outside investment, and give them a running start, said Joe Kirgues, a co-founder of gener8tor.

Gener8tor has offices in Madison, at 1 E. Main St., and in Milwaukee. It picks up where 94Labs left off; 94Labs also had Madison and Milwaukee offices and closed its doors in March after about a year.

In fact, two of gener8tor’s organizers, Kirgues and Joel Abraham, were with 94Labs. Joining them in the new project are Dan Armbrust, president of Granite Microsystems, and Troy Vosseller, founder of Sconnie Beer and co-founder of Sconnie Nation.

“We got together and decided we wanted to work to help startups in the state,” said Kirgues, a Milwaukee native and a UW-Madison law school graduate.

Like 94Labs, gener8tor offers an intense, 12-week “seed” mentorship for companies chosen to participate then moves promising businesses into a longer, 12-month to 30-month accelerator program.

Three companies already are under the longer-term umbrella, including two in Madison: Door 6, a company started in 2009 that develops games for mobile devices, and U Connect, an online food ordering system that won the top prize in the UW-Madison School of Business’ 2011 G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition.

“We’re looking to run two seed accelerator (12-week) programs a year, targeting 10 companies in 2012, and looking to build to a greater number each year,” Kirgues said.

Milwaukee is housing gener8tor’s first 12-week program this summer. Five budding businesses have been chosen, including three from Madison. Their names won’t be revealed until their “launch day,” Aug. 24, “when they’re really prepared to get the attention,” Kirgues said. Each company is getting an investment of nearly $20,000 – from private investors – and thousands of dollars more in services and resources.

The next class will be based in Madison, starting in January 2013. “We’ll rotate between Madison and Milwaukee,” said Kirgues. “These two communities need to work together to do a program like this.”

Kirgues said the recent $15 million investment in Madison social media marketing firm Shoutlet by FTV Capital, a San Francisco and New York venture firm, is very encouraging for local entrepreneurs.

“Everybody’s excited for Shoutlet,” he said. “Shoutlet showed people you can create jobs and grow companies in Wisconsin in a meaningful way,” he said.

Gener8tor and 94Labs have been based on other accelerators that started the current model for growing tech companies: Y Combinator, of Silicon Valley, and TechStars, which started in Boulder, Colo. In all, they have helped fund more than 500 startups nationwide since 2005.

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(1) Comments

  1. lester_burnham
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    lester_burnham - June 17, 2012 10:08 pm
    tech business accelerator? why is my bullshitz detector going off?
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