gener8tor expanding to Canada

gBETA Toronto set to launch in 2019

Milwaukee- and Madison-based startup accelerator company gener8tor plans to expand to Canada with an upcoming gBETA program in Toronto.

Kirgues, left, with the 2018 gener8tor Milwaukee cohort, which included two Canadian startups.

gener8tor is undertaking the international expansion in partnership with technology advocacy nonprofit Milwaukee Institute, said Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor. The company and the nonprofit first partnered last year with the launch of gBETA, a non-equity accelerator program for early-stage startup companies with local roots, in Milwaukee. It is funded by Milwaukee Institute, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Rockwell Automation Inc., Kohl’s Corp. and Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. gBETA has rapidly expanded to include 10 other programs in eight U.S. cities.

“As the coalition got together in Milwaukee, we were looking at what the next chapter of our relationship would look like,” Kirgues said. “We have this shared passion around how to build a Milwaukee future, not only locally, but regionally.”

The University of Toronto has many startups involved with programs related to the university and Toronto has strong public-private partnerships to fund startups on a non-equity basis, said Kathleen Gallagher, executive director of Milwaukee Institute. There are also a number of big tech companies with offices there.

“We feel like there’s such a vibrant startup scene there, there’s so much going on there, and it’s connected to the Great Lakes region in so many ways that there could be all kinds of synergies,” said Kathleen Gallagher, executive director of Milwaukee Institute.

Several Canadian startups have come through the gener8tor accelerator and received equity investments, including Toronto-based Raw Office and Ottawa-based AirShare in the Milwaukee cohort that concluded this month; Toronto-based Fertilify in the Madison 2017 cohort; Vancouver-based Routeique in gener8tor Minneapolis 2017; and Toronto-based Needls in the 2015 Milwaukee cohort.

Kirgues said Toronto has become an increasingly important market for gener8tor, so it was a natural extension of the company’s programming. Generally, gener8tor enters a new market with the gBETA program, then adds gener8tor later if it makes sense, which has so far happened in Minneapolis and Cincinnati, he said.

gener8tor this month hired Mischa Hamara as director of gBETA Toronto. He previously worked as associate director of global program innovation at international development nonprofit WE Charity in Toronto, and is a co-founder of Toronto nonprofit Seed by Seed, which runs several food initiatives including the Cabbagetown Farmers Market. Hamara holds a bachelor’s in development economics and international development from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

Kirgues said he expects gBETA Toronto to launch in winter or early spring of 2019. First, Hamara is gaining exposure to the other gBETA and gener8tor programs so he can bring that knowledge back to Toronto.

The cohort size and structure are expected to be similar to other gBETA programs, he said, and the international expansion should not create any major challenges.

“We can manage any sort of cross-border issues as they come,” Kirgues said.

Milwaukee- and Madison-based startup accelerator company gener8tor plans to expand to Canada with an upcoming gBETA program in Toronto.

Kirgues, left, with the 2018 gener8tor Milwaukee cohort, which included two Canadian startups.

gener8tor is undertaking the international expansion in partnership with technology advocacy nonprofit Milwaukee Institute, said Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor. The company and the nonprofit first partnered last year with the launch of gBETA, a non-equity accelerator program for early-stage startup companies with local roots, in Milwaukee. It is funded by Milwaukee Institute, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Rockwell Automation Inc., Kohl’s Corp. and Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. gBETA has rapidly expanded to include 10 other programs in eight U.S. cities.

“As the coalition got together in Milwaukee, we were looking at what the next chapter of our relationship would look like,” Kirgues said. “We have this shared passion around how to build a Milwaukee future, not only locally, but regionally.”

The University of Toronto has many startups involved with programs related to the university and Toronto has strong public-private partnerships to fund startups on a non-equity basis, said Kathleen Gallagher, executive director of Milwaukee Institute. There are also a number of big tech companies with offices there.

“We feel like there’s such a vibrant startup scene there, there’s so much going on there, and it’s connected to the Great Lakes region in so many ways that there could be all kinds of synergies,” said Kathleen Gallagher, executive director of Milwaukee Institute.

Several Canadian startups have come through the gener8tor accelerator and received equity investments, including Toronto-based Raw Office and Ottawa-based AirShare in the Milwaukee cohort that concluded this month; Toronto-based Fertilify in the Madison 2017 cohort; Vancouver-based Routeique in gener8tor Minneapolis 2017; and Toronto-based Needls in the 2015 Milwaukee cohort.

Kirgues said Toronto has become an increasingly important market for gener8tor, so it was a natural extension of the company’s programming. Generally, gener8tor enters a new market with the gBETA program, then adds gener8tor later if it makes sense, which has so far happened in Minneapolis and Cincinnati, he said.

gener8tor this month hired Mischa Hamara as director of gBETA Toronto. He previously worked as associate director of global program innovation at international development nonprofit WE Charity in Toronto, and is a co-founder of Toronto nonprofit Seed by Seed, which runs several food initiatives including the Cabbagetown Farmers Market. Hamara holds a bachelor’s in development economics and international development from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

Kirgues said he expects gBETA Toronto to launch in winter or early spring of 2019. First, Hamara is gaining exposure to the other gBETA and gener8tor programs so he can bring that knowledge back to Toronto.

The cohort size and structure are expected to be similar to other gBETA programs, he said, and the international expansion should not create any major challenges.

“We can manage any sort of cross-border issues as they come,” Kirgues said.

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