Entrepreneurs Seek to Create Next Big Thing

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Friday, April 5, 2013--5:30p.m.
MADISON--"I can't remember how many gallons we went through last year, but it came out to be like $300 of coffee," said Lorin Toepper, the executive director of economic and workforce development at Madison College. Liquid energy to sustain the group of about a hundred, as they strive to develop the next big thing. "The participants do a pitch on a great idea, or what they think is a great idea, and then people vote on it and figure out the top ideas that come out of today," he said.

They then split into groups and spend the rest of "Startup Weekend" developing those ideas, ultimately presenting them to a panel of judges on Sunday. "It's almost like immediate validation of their business idea," said Toepper. "You may think you have a really cool idea, I mean I've got a million of them, just ask me, but until you actually get out there and test it in the marketplace you don't know how well it's going to be received. Well, you come here, you do a pitch and you have immediate validation."

The best ones will earn a spot in the Gener8tor program."That's an accelerator where they're holding your hands and taking you to the next level and eventually maybe you'll get before some funding, potential funding sources," he said.

Gener8tor held a launch day for some of its graduates just last night, and the co-founder said they've seen some pretty good success with the program. "Gener8tor has invested in 13 companies. Within one year those companies have gone on to raise over $3 million in private capital and have created over 40 jobs right here in Wisconsin," said Co-Founder Troy Vosseller. "That's something we're really proud about."

"Startup Weekend" is the first of its kind in the state and it's a joint effort by Madison College, UW Madison, Edgewood College, Capital Entrepreneurs and Sector67.