Gener8tor, a Madison-based accelerator is continuing its partnership with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to pilot an entrepreneurship training program for computer science students.
The program, called gALPHA, builds off of an already existing partnership between WARF and gener8tor, Jeanan Yasiri Moe, a spokesperson for WARF, said.
In recent years, the two organizations have worked together on a program similar to gALPHA known as gBETA, Moe said.
“gALPHA is a continuation of WARF’s partnership with gener8tor,” Moe said. “We have been sponsors of gBETA for the last few years as well as investors in their fund.”
The gALPHA program will focus on training fifteen University of Wisconsin students on how to be successful entrepreneurs once they leave school, Kiernan McGowan, who will be directing the program, said.
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While gALPHA is not exclusively for computer science students, the program is geared towards students studying computer science and who want to work in technology after graduation McGowan said.
Jignesh Patel, a professor and chairman of the entrepreneurship committee in the UW computer science department said the entrepreneurial training is important for students in the computer science field.
“All of us recognize that the value of this entrepreneurial skill is critical in the new fast-paced technologically-infused world that we all live in,” Patel said.
Skills associated with successful entrepreneurs don’t always come naturally to students studying computer science McGowan said.
McGowan, a UW alum, cites his experiences at UW as part of the motivation behind his belief in the importance of entrepreneurial training.
“I think my time at the UW did help prepare me for my path of entrepreneurship since there were many resources I was able to draw on,” McGowan said. “I’ve experienced first hand how the university cares about fostering startups and I’m excited and grateful to be able to give back.”
Gener8tor, which is one of the largest accelerators in the United States, invests in handfuls of startups in Madison, Milwaukee and Minneapolis every year.
UW officials have expressed excitement and approval at the prospect of working with the company. Patel said its national scope and investment ability are positive factors for gALPHA students.
“Gener8tor has an amazing track record in nurturing early-stage startups in Wisconsin,” Patel said. “The numbers speak for themselves.”
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When discussing how students in the program will be trained, McGowan said that students will “learn through doing.”
Throughout the program, students will be separated into teams. From there they will draft ideas for potential products and eventually build one of their favorite product ideas McGowan said.
gALPHA will provide students with consumer feedback on their products and subsequent advice on how to improve them, something which McGowan believes these students will not find elsewhere.
“During this time gALPHA will work with teams to set goals for development and assist them with gathering customer feedback and making sense of it,” McGowan said. “Many of these steps may be unfamiliar or unnatural for these students, and gALPHA staff is there to help them and push them to keep moving forward on their idea.”