gener8tor founders to step back from running accelerators

Stanley to lead Milwaukee and Madison flagship programs

gener8tor co-founders Joe Kirgues and Troy Vosseller.

Joe Kirgues and Troy Vosseller are shifting their roles away from day-to-day operations at Milwaukee- and Madison-based startup accelerator gener8tor.

gener8tor co-founders Joe Kirgues and Troy Vosseller.

The pair, two of the co-founders of the nationally-ranked entrepreneurship training and investment vehicle, have guided gener8tor’s daily operations since its 2012 inception. Fellow co-founders Dan Armbrust and Jon Eckhardt have not been involved in operations.

“For the first time since we launched gener8tor, Troy and I will not be managing the Wisconsin and Minneapolis programs,” Kirgues said. “Up until now, we’d run every 12-week program.”

The reason: gener8tor has grown substantially over the past couple of years. In 2018, it expanded internationally with a gBETA program in Toronto, Canada; began operating The Brandery in Cincinnati and NMotion programs in Lincoln, Nebraska; and moved into new industries with an artist fellowship accelerator,, a music technology accelerator, gBETA Musictech, a nonprofit program, gBETA Social Impact, a medical-technology accelerator, gBETA Medtech, and a Milwaukee musician accelerator, Backline.

In 2017, gener8tor added its gALPHA program. gBETA, launched in 2015, helps fledgling businesses with local roots become competitive for angel financing or accelerators. gALPHA goes a step earlier in the process and helps creative, innovative people with ideas see if they could be developed to form a company. Gener8tor has rapidly expanded its gBETA program to other cities over the past several years.

“It’s gone from kind of managing a classroom as a school to managing a school full of classrooms,” Kirgues said.

Kirgues and Vosseller are now focused on strategic expansion and gaining investor funding for the original gener8tor accelerator programs, which take an equity stake in the startups that participate, in return for an investment of up to $90,000. The pair is currently working to raise up to $15 million for gener8tor Fund VII LLC. Last year, they also were working on gener8tor Minnesota Fund II LLC.

“The gener8tor fund is our priority. It operates four cohorts across Madison, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Cincinnati,” Kirgues said.

There will be at least five cohorts completing the gener8tor accelerator in 2019, with plans to add more in 2020, Kirgues said.

Ben Stanley

As Kirgues and Vosseller change their roles, Ben Stanley has been promoted to the role of managing director for gener8tor Wisconsin. He will run the flagship gener8tor programs in Milwaukee and Madison. Stanley joined gener8tor in March 2017 as director of gBETA Milwaukee and was promoted to director of gALPHA in March 2018. Stanley previously covered startups and health care as a reporter at BizTimes Milwaukee, and earlier in his career was a reporter at the Rockford Register Star and sports editor at the Lake Geneva Regional News. He holds a bachelor’s in journalism and English from Marquette University.

In his work with gALPHA participants, Stanley helped several potential entrepreneurs take their ideas and form successful companies from scratch, Kirgues said. He said Stanley took an accountable role in furthering gener8tor’s mission of fostering new, high-impact job creation.

“Ben’s earned the respect of the ecosystem as he’s supported both the gBETA Milwaukee program as well as the gALPHA program,” Kirgues said. “He’s been a remarkable worker and had remarkable relationships with the founders and investment community that more than earned him a chance at the role.”

gener8tor has about 30 employees. Kirgues said several other staffing changes were made recently.

Ngoc Nhi Lee, who was director of gBETA Madison, is now instead working to run Minneapolis programming with Adam Choe, director of gBETA Medtech.

Maggie Brickerman and Abby Taubner, managing directors of gBETA, are now equity partners in the company. Eric Martell, who was a managing director for gener8tor Minnesota, left gener8tor to form a new company, Pear Commerce. Pear is now participating in gener8tor program The Brandery, Kirgues said.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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