BrightStar invests in two new companies, names Hall to board

The BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc. recently announced it will invest in two new early stage companies.

The Milwaukee-based nonprofit uses donations to invest in early stage companies in a process it calls venture philanthropy. BrightStar targets rapidly scalable, early stage companies throughout Wisconsin in order to catalyze economic, job-creating activity. Its first investment was in February 2014.

In this round, BrightStar’s investment committee has chosen to fund Milwaukee-based GoHitList Corp. and Madison-based Beekeeper Labs Inc.

GoHitList helps transform company prize giveaways into highly profitable campaigns. The company anticipates creating 98 jobs over the next three years with the help of the investment.

Beekeeper Labs is a software company that allows customers to effectively pull important data without relying on an IT department. The company expects to create 37 jobs in the next three years.

The two recent investments, along with a January investment in Pinpoint Software, total $350,000. BrightStar has now made 17 investments in its portfolio, totaling $2.4 million.

Both companies are alumni of Milwaukee and Madison-based gener8tor, an accelerator program that advances early stage companies.

“This is a great example of what can get done when two of Wisconsin’s premier early-stage organizations work together,” said Troy Vosseller, co-founder of gener8tor. “It’s a relationship that will continue fostering the ecosystem while attracting and developing talent and opportunity within the state. We couldn’t be more excited for the continued partnership.”

BrightStar also announced Reed Hall, chief executive officer and secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., has been elected to its board of directors. Adam Berger, partner and vice president of sales at Doering Fleet Management and Doering Leasing Co., also was elected. Both joined the board on May 1.

“BrightStar was formed for the purpose of assisting WEDC in its mission to create family-sustaining jobs in the Wisconsin,” said Anthony Handzlik, an attorney with Milwaukee-based Reinhart Boerner van Deuren S.C. and a BrightStar officer. “The appointment of Reed Hall to the BrightStar board underscores the strength of the partnership between the two organizations and the importance of our common mission. We look forward to Mr. Hall’s insights and direction.”

“I have known Adam Berger for a number of years as an innovative Wisconsin business owner,” Handzlik said. “As a Babson College graduate and active in (its) entrepreneurial ecosystem, Adam is well positioned to extend the relationship Babson has fostered with the Milwaukee community.”

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