Brightstar will invest $50k in each gener8tor alumni company

MILWAUKEE, Sept. 3, 2014 – BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc. today announced the formation of a partnership agreement with gener8tor, a Milwaukee- and Madison-based business accelerator that invests in technology-enabled, rapidly scalable, early stage companies. BrightStar has made a commitment to invest $50,000 in each company that comes out of the bi-annual gener8tor accelerator program that meets BrightStar’s mission and main investment criteria, creating high-quality jobs in Wisconsin. The most recent class had five participants that were picked from nearly 400 applicants.

“BrightStar’s partnership enables gener8tor to attract and retain the region’s most promising new companies,” said Joe Kirgues, gener8tor co- founder. “We’re thrilled to partner with BrightStar as we continue our shared mission of improving our community through job and wealth creation.”

BrightStar also announced that its investment committee has authorized funding for two new companies: Forward Health Group Inc. and Swallow Solutions LLC, both based in Madison. These investments total $400,000. The companies were first screened for their ability to create a sufficient number of quality jobs and then passed the committee’s investment criteria for their stage of development.

“BrightStar is very excited to commit to two companies that improve the standard of care and overall costs within health care,” said Dan Matola, CFA, chief investment officer at Jacobus Wealth Management and BrightStar investment committee member. “Swallow Solutions offers a medical device and therapy to help treat dysphagia, a huge cause of patient re-admittance, and Forward Health allows health systems to better leverage the vast amount of data they collect in health records to improve treatment and allocation of resources.”

BrightStar is a 501(c)(3)-designated non-profit foundation created to facilitate job creation and increase Wisconsin’s economic activity by deploying donated funds into equity stakes in early stage rapid growth companies. Entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the businesses of these companies may contact the foundation’s portfolio manager, Todd Sobotka, at

Introducing The Commons

Startup Milwaukee is excited to partner with Innovation in Milwaukee and several local academic institutions to announce The Commons. The Commons will give college students from around Southeast Wisconsin the opportunity to launch a high-growth startup or work on innovation challenges from local companies in a supportive environment.

We hope The Commons will create the region’s next generation of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs and have a significant impact on Southeastern Wisconsin. Get involved with The Commons here.

What local leaders are saying about The Commons: 

  • “What’s exciting about this (The Commons) from my perspective as president of the Medical College of Wisconsin is that this gives us probably our best opportunity to connect directly with the creativity sector.” – Dr. John Raymond, President, Medical College of Wisconsin (source)
  • The Commons is really about moving southeastern Wisconsin forward, creating jobs, and keeping bright, entrepreneurial and innovative students here in southeastern Wisconsin. – Matt Cordio, Co-founder & CEO, Startup Milwaukee
  • “I strongly believe that this project will strengthen a vibrant community where our current students will stay as well as serve as a catalyst to attract talented professionals from outside Wisconsin.” – Dr. Mary Meehan, President, Alverno College (source)
  • “Mandel Group is here to support the efforts of The Commons and find The Commons an appropriate home. From our standpoint and first-hand experience with creative, students and startups, The Commons is the conduit between their ideas and making them possible, teaching them entrepreneurial skills that are many times lacking, and facilitating access to capital to drive new businesses, jobs and our regional economy.” – Barry Mandel, President, The Mandel Group (source)
  • “I find that higher education too often looks at things in the rear view mirror. It’s time to get out front in moving things forward and this (The Commons) is a good way to do it.” – Neil Hoffman, President, MIAD (source)
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