Gener8tor Partners with UW-Madison CS Department on Mini-Accelerator

Gener8tor is bringing its latest series of training programs for entrepreneurs to Madison, WI, as part of a new partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s computer sciences department.

Launched in 2012, Wisconsin-based Gener8tor coaches and invests in early-stage businesses through different types of programs. Its most recently introduced series is gALPHA, a three-week hackathon-accelerator hybrid.

Gener8tor said Wednesday it will hold two gALPHA programs in Madison during the upcoming school year. They will be supported in part by a private gift to UW-Madison from an anonymous donor who earned a graduate degree in computer science from the school in 2010, Gener8tor said.

The programs, called “gALPHA + CS,” will match UW-Madison students with experts from across campus, with the goal of helping students develop products and form companies, Gener8tor said.

“Two of the best and most proven catalysts for entrepreneurship in the Madison area are coming together,” said Jignesh Patel, referencing Gener8tor and UW-Madison’s computer sciences department, where he’s part of the faculty. “By joining forces, we can accelerate the growth of tech entrepreneurship in Wisconsin.”

Gener8tor said that support for gALPHA + CS also comes from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), which manages patents and licensing of intellectual property for UW-Madison. WARF and Gener8tor first teamed up in 2015, when the tech transfer office agreed to support gBETA, the accelerator’s free, six-week program for seed-stage companies.

Gener8tor’s core accelerator program provides participating startups with up to $140,000 in cash and convertible debt financing, in exchange for a 6 to 7 percent equity stake in them.

Like gBETA, gALPHA does not provide funding to entrepreneurs who participate in the program, nor does it take equity in their startups. gALPHA is aimed at helping people with ideas for new companies understand where there’s likely to be demand for their products, and some of the pros and cons of different business models, Gener8tor said.

The inaugural gALPHA program took place earlier this year, in Beloit, WI. Gener8tor may bring gALPHA to other cities if it is able to find sponsors for programs, said Abby Taubner of Gener8tor.

According to U.S. News & World Report, UW-Madison’s computer sciences department is the 11th best in the country. Epic Systems, Propeller Health, and EatStreet are among the local companies launched by those who have studied CS at the school.

Gener8tor said it will soon begin recruiting students to participate in the first gALPHA program in Madison, which will kick off in early October. The focus will will be on idea generation during the first week, and then will shift to product development and iteration, Gener8tor said. After three weeks, there will be a ceremony in which teams present their products.

Taubner said Gener8tor’s goal for the first program is to have about 15 students participate across five teams, though the number of participants could vary depending on the quantity and quality of applicants. Participants don’t have to be CS majors—Gener8tor is recruiting across the entire UW-Madison campus, she said.

The overarching goal is to create another vehicle for students to turn their visions for new products into actual businesses, according to Guri Sohi, who chairs UW-Madison’s computer sciences department.

“Now more than ever, computer scientists have an incredible opportunity to help Wisconsin’s long-term economic well-being,” Sohi said. “We can facilitate the use of knowledge that we create, and help our students learn how to develop their ideas and exploit their computing skills to build innovative companies in Wisconsin.”

gALPHA+CS Press Release by Jeff Buchanan on Scribd

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

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