Gener8tor Continues Momentum With Fifth Class of Startups

Alumni of Gener8tor’s startup accelerator have been on a roll lately, and last night the program officially released its newest class into the wild with a closing event featuring pitches from the five graduating companies.

Now it’s up to the latest batch of Gener8tor startups to make good on their plans, which were shared with the Milwaukee audience of more than 400 investors, entrepreneurs, and community members.

Gener8tor, the Wisconsin accelerator founded in 2012, has now held five programs. The 23 companies in its previous four classes have gone on to raise about $30 million in funding and create more than 250 jobs, Gener8tor co-founder Joe Kirgues tells Xconomy. Recent milestones by its portfolio companies include an expanded $10 million Series B round for Madison, WI-based EatStreet and San Francisco-based LivBlends’ participation in the Y Combinator accelerator.

But last night, the spotlight shone on the newest Gener8tor grads. Here’s what the five companies are working on:

—Beekeeper Data: These days, most companies are accumulating so much data about their businesses that it can be overwhelming, especially for managers and employees who don’t have an information technology background. That’s why Madison-based Beekeeper created collaborative, easy-to-use software that ties into various data storage systems and lets “non-technical employees quickly ask many different questions of their company’s complex data,” the company says.

“Existing solutions are too complex, or they’re focused on broad and shallow measurements,” says Beekeeper co-founder and CEO Matthew Rathbone, a former analytics engineer with Foursquare.

Beekeeper intends to sell the software for $500 per user per year, Rathbone says. The startup acquired its first seven customers over the past 14 weeks, including Madison startups Abodo and Fetch Rewards.

—Hitlist: Nobody likes annoying pop-up or banner ads, and most people don’t want to take time out of their day for an online survey. It’s no wonder, then, that many types of online ads are losing value—and hurting the bottom line of publishers that rely on advertising revenue. Hitlist thinks it can help with its software that uses gamification techniques to engage website visitors.

It’s basically the digital version of radio contests that award prizes to “caller number nine,” CEO Andrew Stewart says. Website visitors pick a prize they want to win, while businesses set a target number of clicks for their ad. Every time someone clicks on an ad, the page refreshes and shows the latest tally. Once someone hits the target—lucky clicker number 230,124, let’s say—he or she wins the prize.

“They keep going back day after day,” Stewart says. Once the number starts approaching the target, “people go crazy and start clicking faster and faster. It creates a very engaged user.”

The company has also created survey programs that can ask one specific question on behalf of the advertiser, Stewart says, like if someone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed in the next six months. If they click yes, that data is relayed to the dentist’s office that placed the ad. At that point, the business has a concrete sales lead.

Hitlist, which takes a 35 percent cut of the revenue that its customers make off of the ads, has 30 clients—including beta testers Sony, Vivint, and J. Walter Thompson—and has generated about $300,000 in revenue so far. The company, founded in Provo, UT, is also relocating to Milwaukee, Stewart told the Milwaukee Business Journal.

—Modern Movement: This Madison company has already shipped more than 2,400 units of its first generation of balance training products, and its customers include the U.S. ski and snowboarding teams, founder and president Glenn Polinsky says. Now, the company is planning to release its M-Board 2s, the next version of its surfboard-like device that will incorporate … Next Page »

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Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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