By: Paul A. Jones
Having been around the high impact startup and venture capital business for almost 30 years, on both coasts and now here in Wisconsin, I’ve developed a pretty good set of rules of thumb. One of them is that while all kinds of folks like to think they can duplicate the success of venture-center accelerators like YCombinator, most of them – particularly in flyover country – can’t. The fact is, very few folks in the accelerator business have the skills, experience, networks and capital to even approach the value add proposition of a YCombinator.
Thus, a year or so back, when I first heard of the folks at gener8tor, then setting up shop in Milwaukee, I was more than a little skeptical. And when I met gener8tors first class, early in the process, my skepticism only grew.
Alas – well, actually, happily, as someone who continues to believe that Wisconsin can develop a self-sustaining high tech startup/venture capital community – when I saw that class at Launch Day 2012 I was, if not stunned, at least very surprised at what I saw and heard. Entrepreneurs that a couple of months earlier seemed more or less like clueless wannabes were now looking like credible go-getters with fundable business plans. Not surprisingly, most of them got funded, and several are making waves well beyond flyover country.
Now, on any given day, anything can happen. Just ask the Florida Gulf Coast University Men’s Basketball Team. Well, here we are in 2013 and … the folks at gener8tor have done it again, this time here in Madison. They sifted through 200 plus entrepreneur applicants, picked out six keepers, and in 12 weeks of intense counseling, mentoring, prodding, testing and pivoting, they are ready to launch 6 more promising high impact businesses into the economy. I know because as advisor to an angel fund, I had an opportunity to see the pre-Launch day pitches this week and, well, while I very much doubt all of these companies will hit home runs, I’d be surprised if they all don’t at least raise some serious capital and take a serious shot at success. Which is a lot more than I can say for most of the startup entrepreneurs/deals that come across my desk. If you don’t believe me, come to gener8tor’s Launch Day April 4 in Madison and see for yourself. For a free ticket, email firstname.lastname@example.org.