Gener8tor To Launch ‘Hackathon And Accelerator Hybrid’ For Startups

The Wisconsin-based startup accelerator Gener8tor says it’s working to create a new, three-week program for individuals and teams with ideas for new products and companies.

Gener8tor would run the new program, called gALPHA, alongside its core 12-week accelerator and gBETA, a shorter, no-strings-attached accelerator it introduced in 2015. The organization has held its core program in Milwaukee and Madison, WI, while gBETA has taken place in both of those cities, as well as in Beloit, WI, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

The plan is to hold the first gALPHA program later this year, says Abby Taubner, who is part of the Gener8tor staff and director of gBETA. (Disclosure: Gener8tor is a supporter of Xconomy in Wisconsin, but our coverage is determined independently by our editors.)

“We noticed an opportunity to work with even earlier-stage companies—or even just pure technical talent that’s interested in starting a startup but doesn’t really have a business model wrapped around [it] yet,” Taubner says. “We’re trying to grab people at any stage and send them down an entrepreneurial path.”

According to AngelList, gALPHA is a “hackathon and accelerator hybrid,” and a program participant could end up forming his or her own business, teaming up with an existing startup, or joining a more established corporation.

Gener8tor’s portfolio includes companies in a variety of industries, including adtech, e-commerce, food and beverage, and healthcare IT. Taubner says that gBETA has likewise attracted an eclectic mix of seed-stage startups, and she expects things will be no different with gALPHA.

Startups in initial classes of the six-week gBETA program were required to be affiliated with colleges and universities in Wisconsin. However, when Gener8tor held its first gBETA program in Minnesota—part of the accelerator’s expansion into the Gopher State—the only requirement for a company to participate was that it have “Minnesota roots.”

Taubner says that focusing on ties to higher education can make sense with programs that are held in cities home to large research universities. Depending on where Gener8tor decides to hold its inaugural gALPHA program, she says, it could end up attracting mostly college students—or not.

Unlike Gener8tor’s core accelerator—where it invests at least $90,000 in participating startups, in exchange for a 6 to 7 percent ownership stake—gALPHA is equity-free. And while founders in the core program typically live in the city where it’s held for three months and devote their full energies to it, gALPHA “is definitely meant to be a part-time program,” Taubner says.

Gener8tor is still making some final decisions around how gALPHA will work, including how to lure current and potential entrepreneurs.

“We anticipate having some initial prizes for business model development and creating minimum viable products,” Taubner says.

Wisconsin has hosted a number of brief, intensive programs for entrepreneurs in recent years. They include Build Madison, the Launch Milwaukee hackathon, Madhacks, and Startup Weekend, which is supported in part by Google for Entrepreneurs.

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