Gener8tor’s Latest Milwaukee Accelerator Class Has Midwest Flavor

All but one of the five companies selected for Gener8tor’s 2015 Milwaukee class hail from the Midwest, and the lone exception—from Toronto—didn’t have to travel too far for the three-month startup accelerator program being held at Ward 4, a new downtown co-working space.

It’s not the first time Gener8tor, which garnered national attention earlier this year when it was ranked 14th in a study of the best-performing accelerators around the country, has attracted a company from outside the U.S. Program graduate Driblet Labs was born in Mexico. But the latest session has more of a regional feel than some of the recent classes, which featured companies from places as far away as Boston, Miami, and Austin, TX.

The newest group, selected from 486 applicants, features companies in some of the same industries as past classes, like healthcare IT, advertising technology, and even alcohol sales. (Disclosure: Gener8tor is a supporter of Xconomy in Wisconsin, but our coverage is determined independently by our editors.)

The program kicked off Friday and will culminate with “Premiere Night” in November, when the companies pitch themselves to investors and other entrepreneurs.

Participating startups receive $20,000 in cash at the start of the program, in exchange for Gener8tor taking an equity stake of 6 to 9 percent. Companies are guaranteed a follow-on investment of $70,000 in the form of convertible debt from Gener8tor and Oshkosh, WI-based Angels on the Water, the accelerator’s investment partner. Graduating companies with permanent employees in Wisconsin also receive $50,000 from the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation.

Gener8tor’s programs, which started in 2012 and take place in Madison, WI, and Milwaukee once a year each, have produced 33 graduates who have created more than 300 jobs and raised nearly $50 million from investors, the accelerator says.

Here’s a quick overview of the new class:

AkitaBox, based in Madison, provides software that houses facility information and maintenance procedures and makes those documents searchable and easy to view. Rather than digging through physical or virtual file folders, building managers can drill down from a geographic map to a floor plan to an individual piece of equipment, or scan a QR code on machinery to pull up the needed data. The company is targeting customers in manufacturing, healthcare, education, and construction, and it says it is generating $5,800 in monthly revenue.

Ezra’s is a Chicago-based seller of small-batch liquor made at craft distilleries around the world. Customers can order everything from Japanese whiskey to gin made in Wheeling, IL, from the online marketplace, which allows participating distilleries to distribute throughout the U.S. Ezra’s says it’s generating more than $25,000 in monthly sales.

Needls. uses software to crawl social media sites for sales leads. It also helps entrepreneurs and companies place ads online. The Toronto-based adtech company says its proprietary “purchase intent engine” analyzes millions of posts each day to provide customers with leads, which it says result in 71 percent more sales than those from traditional sources. The company says it has more than 1,000 customers and about $40,000 in monthly revenue.

Player’s Health, based in Chicago, allows a young athlete’s health data to be maintained in a single online, HIPAA-compliant record that coaches, clinicians, and caregivers can access and manage. Keeping sports-related data in an athletic health record improves the injury-reporting process and gives youth leagues the medical information they need, the company says. Its team includes former professional football and hockey players.

Prescribe Nutrition is a Minneapolis-based service created by two nutritionists to design wellness programs and allow participants, of which there are currently more than 2,500, to connect with professionals and one another. Members, who include individuals and corporations, can receive information on topics ranging from meal planning to stress management. The company says it’s generating $14,000 in monthly revenue.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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