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Giving entrepreneurs the tools to succeed

Startup accelerator gener8tor is providing funds and programming to founders with a vision

Giving entrepreneurs the tools to succeed
SUAI KEE, director of gener8tor’s Motown Music Accelerator, hosted the annual artist showcase in Detroit.

Sometimes the entrepreneurial spirit needs a turbo boost. That’s exactly what gener8tor, a startup accelerator that operates in 28 cities across the U.S. and Canada provides. “We help entrepreneurs figure out how to bring their idea to market, how to grow it, or, if it isn’t working, how to come up with something new and innovative,” says Chelsea Linder, gener8tor’s vice president of operations.

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And the company doesn’t limit its work to tech startups. For gener8tor, the term entrepreneur encompasses musicians, artists, investors, corporations, and even universities. The common denominator of these individuals and organizations is that they’re working to bring positive change to their communities.

Essentially, gener8tor is a company of innovators working on behalf of other innovators. The results they achieve together might be described as innovation squared. It’s no surprise, then, that the company earned a spot on Fast Company’s 2021 list of the Best Workplaces for Innovators.

RESPONDING TO A CRISIS

A few weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic caused virtually every company to rethink its operations on the fly, gener8tor developed its Emergency Response Program. This program, open to small-business owners, nonprofits, startups, freelancers, and creatives, offered resources to help these people and organizations stay afloat. These resources included webinars and one-on-one consultations about how to pivot to doing business virtually and how to take advantage of federal, state, local, and private sources of funding and support.

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gener8tor named to Best Workplaces for innovators

The program turned out to be so effective most people probably wouldn’t guess it was started by an employee who had been with gener8tor for just six months. “From day one, we ask all of our new hires to commit to our values,” Linder says. “One of those values is our bias towards action.”

What that means in practice, Linder says, is that if a gener8tor employee sees a problem, they’re encouraged—even expected—to start working toward a solution. “We work hard to empower our team to not only come up with ideas, but execute them,” she says.

FUNDING BLACK FOUNDERS

The company’s mission-oriented, all-hands-on-deck culture recently led to the creation of the Northwestern Mutual Black Founders Accelerator program, devoted to funding high-growth startups founded by Black entrepreneurs. Black founders receive less than 1% of venture-capital funding annually, according to Crunchbase—an imbalance this program is designed to address. Participating companies gain access to 12 weeks of individualized coaching and mentorship as well as a $100,000 investment.

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“If our mission is to be the best partner for the communities we serve, we are not achieving that mission if our programming participants and investments don’t reflect those communities,” Linder says. “Some of the best and brightest people in every industry, in every region, are underrepresented. And we know we can bring out the best outcomes for our communities by supporting people across race and gender.”

The program was made possible due to a longstanding relationship between gener8tor and Northwestern Mutual, which has participated in gener8tor’s corporate programming. Because of this partnership, the two companies had a strong sense of their shared values. It’s just another example of how developing relationships and sparking innovation go hand in hand for this standout company.

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