Global venture ﬁrm and startup accelerator gener8tor, in partnership with the City of Kenosha has selected ﬁve local, high-growth startups to take part in gBETA Kenosha’s second cohort. The summer cohort includes Kenosha-based FreeStyle Peppers, a healthy alternative to condiments; Kenosha-based VocaTone, a voice technology company; PortfolioBay, an online platform for real estate investors; and Liiv, an online platform for short- and long-term rentals.
The gBETA accelerator focuses on early-stage companies working in southeastern Wisconsin. See details about the selected companies at the end of this release. gBETA Kenosha is a free, seven-week, no-equity accelerator program that provides startup founders with intensive concierge coaching and access to its national network of mentors, customers, corporate partners and investors. The programs are designed to set a path for startups based in Kenosha and southeastern Wisconsin to participate in equity-based accelerator programs and investment opportunities.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the City of Kenosha to bring these programs to life and bolster the technology and sustainability industries in Kenosha,” said Lauren Usher, gBETA vice president. “We’ve seen the incredible economic impact of the gBETA program in other parts of the country, and we’re excited to bring that same impact to Kenosha.”
gener8tor recruited startups locally for the gBETA program in an effort to support homegrown companies while also attracting startups to relocate to Kenosha.
“The City of Kenosha sees incredible value in building and supporting an ecosystem where innovators in these fast-moving and high-tech industries can thrive,” said Tim Casey, Director of City Development, City of Kenosha. “We are looking forward to working with gener8tor and these impressive companies to help them establish, grow and thrive in Kenosha.”
Community Outreach Coordinator Katherine Marks, who will oversee the upcoming Kenosha Emerging Leaders Academy, said she is excited gener8tor is one of the partners that will be housed at KELA. She shared that together, the City of Kenosha and gener8tor are focused on bringing more small- and medium-sized businesses, economic diversity and job growth to the community, with an emphasis on providing resources to startups and existing businesses owned by people of color and women.
“Entrepreneurship and innovation are keys to creating economic wellbeing for Wisconsinites,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is providing a Workforce Innovation Grant to gener8tor to operate the program. “It’s critical for our state’s economic future that we provide the resources necessary for startups to succeed.”
“Entrepreneurship is not just about building a successful business, it’s also about creating opportunities and empowering people to reach their employment potential,” DWD secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said. “The Workforce Innovation Grant program rewards this creativity, elevating new ideas and advancing Wisconsin’s current and future workforce.”
At the end of the gBETA programs, startup founders will pitch their companies to investors, community partners and the public at an upcoming Showcase in Kenosha, which will be announced at a later date. Both the Winter 2022 cohort and Summer 2023 cohort will pitch their startups at the event. Startup companies and founders interested in learning more about gBETA’s programming and resources or applying to a future program are encouraged to visit the gener8tor gBETA website.
gBETA Kenosha Summer 2023 Cohort
VocaTone Studio pioneers the next generation of voice synthesizer AI software. VocaTone enables creators to quickly and easily generate high-quality vocals for music, animation and other text-to speech applications. VocaTone has been certiﬁed as a QNBV by the WEDC since 2022. VocaTone is currently working with Amped Studio and has been featured in multiple local publications.
Austin Grissom | email@example.com | www.vocatone.studio | Kenosha, WI
PortfolioBay operates as a Saas solution that helps self-managing real estate investors ﬁnd proﬁtable deals, streamline day-to-day operations and track key ﬁnancial metrics through the platform. Currently, more than 50 investors are actively subscribed to the daily market update email to ﬁnd a proﬁtable deal. The platform hosts more than 200 units and has facilitated transfer of more than $290K, with total revenue of $1.9K.
Meng Chen | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.portfoliobay.com | Milwaukee, WI
Liiv transforms the traditional rental market by offering fully-furnished apartments for short- and long-term stays. Liiv serves individuals looking for a ﬂexible rental experience. Liiv’s in-house software allows users to search, book, pay and move in within 24 hours. Liiv is currently generating $7,500 per month, with margins at 8-11 percent. We’re on track to reach$19,500 monthly recurring revenue by August 2023.
Devin Abraham | email@example.com | www.coliiving.com | Milwaukee, WI
Houstr revolutionizes the retail industry by enabling short-term rentals to make their properties shoppable using its three-sided marketplace. Houstr gives thousands of brands a new way to reach their audience in a real-life setting. Since launch in 2023, Houstr has acquired their ﬁrst paid customer, reached more than 125 properties using the platform and are generating more than $5K/month in GMV.
Nick Koenen | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.houstr.com | Racine, WI
FreeStyle Peppers innovates the way people season or ﬂavor their food. FreeStyle Peppers uses a unique blend of four simple, clean ingredients to provide a delicious alternative or complement to traditional condiments, sauces and seasonings. FreeStyle Peppers is gluten free, vegan and vegetarian friendly and has no added salt, sugar, vinegar, color or additives. FreeStyle Peppers, LLC was founded in 2021 by two women in Kenosha, WI. FreeStyle Peppers is sold in 11 different grocery stores across Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as online. All products are Whole30 approved.
Joyrene Asibey | email@example.com | www.freestylepeppers.com | Kenosha, WI
gener8tor is a global venture ﬁrm and accelerator network that supports startups, workers, employers, artists and musicians across race, place and gender. gener8tor partners with companies, governments, universities and nonproﬁts to operate programs and conferences in more than 41 communities across 22 states and two countries. Fast Company named gener8tor one of the Best Workplaces for Innovators in 2021 and 2022. The International Trade Council recognized gener8tor as the Global Venture Capital Firm of the Year in 2022.
gBETA is a non-equity accelerator that facilitates the growth of early-stage companies through a network-driven program. This accelerator supports up to ﬁve startups per cohort and requires no fees for startups and takes no equity. Since launching in 2015, gBETA accelerator alumni have raised more than $545M in capital and created more than 3,700 jobs across the U.S. and Canada.
The Workforce Innovation Grant Program rewards creativity, promotes sustainable regional collaboration and fosters local accountability and participation to address regional workforce challenges. A joint effort between WEDC and the Department of Workforce Development, the program provides each grant recipient up to $10 million in funding to help make their workforce solution plans a reality.