It’s been a few years now since I wrote my first appreciation for the folks at gener8tor. Back then, they had just launched, and yours truly was surprised (albeit very pleasantly) that they had gotten not just off the ground but had achieved some sort of seemingly stable orbit. Which surprised a bunch of people, I think. I know it surprised me.
Well, here we are in November 2017 and they have flown well beyond Madison and Milwaukee to places as far afield as Minnesota, Illinois and even my own neck of the woods up here in Packerland. Recently, it was my good fortune that a scheduled speaker for a OpenBETA Lunch program in Oshkosh had a last minute scheduling conflict. My good fortune in that I was offered an opportunity to substitute as the headliner for the event.
The Oshkosh event was a lot like my first time at gener8tor way back when in Milwaukee. Quirky space, a roomful (well, ok, maybe a half-dozen plus) of raw but passionate and very early-in-the-process entrepreneurs. Who asked good questions, and shared some good ideas.
What was most interesting about the event, for me, was in fact how it took me back to those early gener8tor classes, where the entrepreneurs were rawer than raw, and the ideas sketchier than sketchy. And, in fact, what amazed me about gener8tor then – and caused me to write my initial blog about the program and team – was how over the couple of months after I saw that cohort of newbies the gener8tor folks had somehow worked some magic to turn them into that rarest of commodities hereabouts, fundable high impact entrepreneurs. (And, yes, they all got funded.)
Since those times, gener8tor’s flagship program has expanded to new places and moved a bit downstream in terms of appealing to less raw, even semi-polished entrepreneurs (often hailing from well beyond Wisconsin). And I’ll admit, I had (and to a limited extent still have) some doubts about whether they can sustain their success across multiple markets and with later stage entrepreneurs. But the results continue to speak for themselves, and if we – that is those of us who are serious about growing the high impact entrepreneurship and investing community in our little corner of flyover country – are lucky gener8tor has a lot of fuel left in the tank.
All of that said, what really made my day at the OpenBETA event was seeing gener8tor staying true to its “rawest of the raw” roots, and doing it in the New North. In Oshkosh even. (They also have a new gBeta program in Green Bay.) That means, I think, that it won’t be long until entrepreneurs and investors in Madison and Milwaukee start realizing there are deals to be done in Wisconsin in places other than Madison (mostly) and Milwaukee.
And so congratulations to all of us in the high impact entrepreneurship and investing community across Wisconsin. We are the lucky benefactors of the gener8tor program – the gift that keeps on giving.