E6: Troy Vosseller, Co-Founder of gener8tor and Sconnie Nation – Interview

March 9, 2016


Troy Vosseller provides so much value to Wisconsin and beyond. In this podcast, Troy and I talk about launching and growing his first successful company (Sconnie Nation) from his dorm room. Then we talk about the accelerator (gener8tor, a Top 15 accelerator in the U.S.) he co-Founded in 2012. We talk about his vision for gener8tor. It’s smart and fascinating. You can also hear more about his investment philosophy and what they’ve learned the past four years running an accelerator.

It’s a great interview. Enjoy.



Dave: Hey, everyone. Thanks again for joining us. We have another Flyover Labs podcast and today we are lucky enough to have Troy Vosseler. Troy is, in my opinion, a true Wisconsinite and we’re lucky to have him in Madison, so I was excited to hear that he will be willing to chat with us today. Troy, thanks for joining us.

Troy: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Dave: So Troy, he’ll tell you a little bit more about his background, but he is a busy guy. He’s a co-founder of genera8tor, Sconnie Nation and Sconnie Beer, and so Troy before we get into some of those specific companies, can you maybe just provide a brief overview of your background just so people get a feel for when things ____4:55____.

Troy: Yeah, for sure.

Dave: That’ll be great.
Troy: Yeah, so I am based here in Madison, Wisconsin, been here ever since going to undergrad at UW, which is also where I started my first company, so Sconnie Nation the T-shirt company, so although I work in kind of hi-tech startups today, you know, my entrepreneurial career path really started with something about as low tech as you can get it, which is the screen printed T-shirt, so I started that company with a friend of mine who I met in the dorms and I have been selling T-shirts ever since we started that company in the spring of 2004. Eventually that morphed into what I do today, which is gener8tor, which is a startup accelerator based here in Madison as well as Milwaukee, which looks at companies from all over the world to help them grow and connecting them with mentors and customers and investors. In the meantime, I did get my law degree and my MBA and dabbled in that stuff for a brief period of time, but nevertheless, I have always remained in entrepreneurial endeavors, you know, throughout my time here.

Dave: You quit the background, that’s for sure. So, how old were you when you started Sconnie Nation?

Troy: Yeah, I started it as a freshman in college, so I was 19 at the time. We started in the spring semester of our freshman year, so the spring of 2004.

Dave: Alright, interesting, and how did you get going? What was that first T-shirt thing?

Troy: Yeah, it’s a good story. So, my co-founder Ben Fiechtner and I met by virtue of living in the same dorms, so we were both in Turner Hall in the Kronshage dorms out in Lakeshore here at UW Madison, became friends and ultimately realized we had this entrepreneurial bug if you will and wanted to start a company together, but we had no idea what that company was going to be, so we would just constantly brainstorm different business ideas, whether it was walking to class or eating at the cafeteria together, you know, just always brainstorming different ideas, and it ranged to everything from an online dating service just for UW students, you got to keep in mind this is pre-Facebook and much less Tinder and all those other things that exist today, all the way to a company that would fill up gasoline containers at gas stations off campus and then fill up students’ mopeds and scooters on campus, so you didn’t have to drive out to the gas station. So we realized, you know, we did not want to be a professional matchmaker or we didn’t want to smell like gasoline all day, none of these things we were really passionate about and so, we had always heard the word Sconnie used around campus and around Madison and we thought that there was an opportunity to create a brand around it, so it was definitely a word and a brand that resonated a lot with us, you know, very much in line with kind of what cheesehead is and that old movement, and so saw an opportunity to allow people to display their pride with being from Wisconsin or their pride in Wisconsin without having to wear a foam block of cheese on their head, and so with $300 each we started the company with 600 bucks, we printed 100 T-shirts with 2 different styles and ended up selling them out of our dorm room mostly to friends and friends of friends and other people who lived in the dorm, but nevertheless sold out in about a week and at that point, you know, we realized that we were on to something and so from that point forward, Ben and I just constantly reinvested the profit back into the company, that allowed us to add new styles, new design, and continue to grow that business. So, we went from selling T-shirts out of our dorm to eventually selling online at sconnie.com to eventually selling at third party retailers, so the first one being with ____8:37____ just on State Street where the new Colectivo is across the State Street _______. Later, we worked with retailers like UW Book Store, Bucky’s Locker Room, Name of the Game, stores like that and as I mentioned, we continued to grow very much organically. The word of mouth was spreading, we did a lot of work on social media as Facebook and later Twitter were coming online as talkative platforms, and so we were creating a lot of brand good will with that. During that kind of entire time, we had worked with Underground Printing which is the name of our screen printer. They actually produced the shirts, printed the shirts, and then we would sell them and so they were aware of the volume we were doing because we were placing orders through them, and at the same time they were trying to open store front in college towns for custom screen printing, so their business relied a lot on college student organizations, fraternities, sororities, local non-profit charities, things like that, and so they wanted to open a store in Madison in addition to offering, you know, drop in custom screen printing services. They also wanted to, you know, maximize their retail square footage with retail, so over-the-counter retail staff and so it made sense for us to partner with each other at that time and they opened another Underground Printing Sconnie Nation store, which still exists on State Street today. That opened in the summer of 2007, so that’s been a brick and mortar outlet in addition to the website since then. So, that’s really been the journey on the Sconnie side, it’s definitely been a lot of fun, coming out with new T-shirts and being timely and top of pop culture and Wisconsin culture and things like that. so, I continued to have a lot of fun with it.

Dave: Yeah, that’s an awesome story. So, you’re still involved on a part-time basis?

Troy: Yeah, I’m still in the company. How the business is structured today is, you know, I granted an exclusive license of our trademark, our brand if you will to Underground Printing, and then they operate the store that we have on State Street, so they manage employees. They, you know, own the inventory as well as handle all the online order fulfillments, so they pull, pack, and ship T-shirts that are sold online on our behalf and that is all in exchange for a royalty, so it is setup as a licensing deal today, and that’s great because it allows me to focus on, you know, the fun stuff, which is coming up with new T-shirt styles and ___11:03___ slogans and designs of things of that nature and I am welcome to be as involved as I want to be, which is great, while at the same time it allows me to pursue other entrepreneurial endeavors, you know, in this case gener8tor.

Dave: Interesting, so that’s cool, you get to come out with slogans. Then we will get to gener8tor, but do you have, I’ll put you on the spot, do you have a favorite slogan that you’ve printed for us?

Troy: Yeah, I mean our most successful T-shirt is we’ll never forget you Brent, which it was really a customer who came in with the idea, giving you another a good story. The back story is that at the time we were selling a green and gold T-shirt that had Brett Favre’s face on it and Brett is my homeboy, so this was a pro-Brett Favre T-shirt while he was still with the Packers and obviously he went through all the turmoil of retiring and unretiring and the waffling back and forth eventually leading him to be traded to the Jets, and so at the time we had a customer come in, and he saw that T-shirt that now we were now clearing out, Brett is my homeboy, and he said hey, I have a really cleaver idea, I want you guys to run with it and that was “we’ll never forget you Brent,” so he was gracious enough to let us, you know, commercialize it and it became a huge success and we superimposed the graphic that we had on the pro-Brett Favre T-shirt, put it along with the shape of Wisconsin around it, adding the text we’ll never forget you Brent and it was a huge hit, you know, being featured on Fox Sports network and many other websites and continues to sell to this day, but I think it allowed us to become more friendly with Mr. Favre and today ___12:40___.

Dave: That’s great. Do you have to trademark that, or how do you protect yourself?

Troy: You know, trademark is really unique to a brand, not too much of slogan, and you’re not the source identifier, so in that, we didn’t even have any intellectual property. They are plenty of people who ripped off the slogan and the design and it is nothing that we pursued frankly because, you know, it was a huge success for us and we are happy with that success and you know if anything we were flattered by the exposure that it got.

Dave: Nice, and for everyone out there who is not in Madison, the Sconnie name is all over the place, so you’re in Madison for a year, you’d see Sconnie all over.

Troy: You come buy a T-shirt. Yeah.

Dave: Right. Yeah, I can buy a T-shirt. Let’s move on to gener8tor which is the big topic for today and so Troy, can you just give a brief overview on what gener8tor is for people who might not know, you know what accelerator is and stuff. That would be great.

Troy: Yeah, sure thing. So, gener8tor is the startup accelerator, at our core we are a venture capital fund, though individual and other funds invest money into gener8tor and then through the gener8tor fund, we go out and we scour the United States and even the world looking for the best and creative entrepreneurs and startup companies that we can find. We then encourage those companies to apply to our program online. From there we whittle it down and ultimately select 5 companies per program that we make a cash investment in, so we invest $20,000 in exchange for usually 6% ownership in the business, we then invest an additional $70,000 on top of that in their financing round, and for Wisconsin-based companies, even on top of all that there is an additional $50,000, so for companies that are accepted to gener8tor, they have access to up to $140,000 of guaranteed funding, so with those companies, we invest in them, so now we have an ownership stake in them, they actually work out of our office either in Madison or Milwaukee for 3 months during which time we are connecting them with mentors, potential customers, our corporate partners, as well as potential investors, so the program is very focused on growth, helping the companies grow, holding them accountable by meeting with them on a regular basis, providing structure and efficiency around and connecting with mentors, customers and investors, but again how we focus on growth, so you can think of an accelerator as a venture capital fund, but it invests in many companies all at once, so it creates a lot of community around those companies, they feel a part of a cohort as well as a part of a broader gener8tor family if you will, and then we provide a lot of value add in addition to our cash, so while most venture capitalists invests in a company and then, you know, maybe they serve on the board of directors and help facilitate introductions through their network, our program is a very intensive 3-month program in residence where they work out of our office and we are providing a lot of structure and efficiency around leverage in connections through our network with them, so it’s something that we’ve been doing for a little over 3 years now. We want 2 of these accelerator programs per year, so every winter we do a 3-month program in Madison which I believe starts tomorrow with 5 companies. Every fall we do a 3-month program in Milwaukee also with 5 companies, but despite the fact that we are based in Wisconsin really companies apply to our program and we invest in companies from all over the country, so we have invested in companies from not only Wisconsin, but also Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, and New York, and Indianapolis, Toronto, and Mexico, and Detroit, you name it.

Dave: Interesting. Yeah, gener8tor has been great for Wisconsin, definitely I think put Wisconsin a little bit more on the map in just 3 short years too, so you guys have been busy.

Troy: Yeah, thanks. We are working hard. You know what I would like to say is that, you know, there are definitely people that have done this before us, but we hope that we’re running faster than everyone, sprinting to get ahead.

Dave: I like that. So how did you start gener8tor?

Troy: Yeah, so today Joe Kirgues my fellow co-founder and I, you know, serve as the managing directors of gener8tor, but the story really goes back to a program called 94labs that my partner Joe Kirgues was a partner at. So, 94labs really was the first of its kind. It was the first accelerator in Wisconsin and they really improved the model and at the same time I think Joe will tell you himself that he learnt a lot of lessons by going through that experience and working with companies through 94labs. Eventually, 94labs shut down and that left Joe wanting to continue the accelerator model in Wisconsin and so Joe was fortunate enough to then find a group of investors out of the Milwaukee area, led by Dan Armbrust who is a serial entrepreneur, successful entrepreneur as well as angel investor here in Wisconsin, as well as Dan Bader who is a successful entrepreneur himself and noted philanthropist out of the Milwaukee area, so the Dans ultimately put together the funding and created gener8tor along with Joe and I joined shortly thereafter also as a co-founder, so that was in 2012. The first gener8tor program kicked off in the summer of 2012 in Milwaukee, and ever since then we have going 2 programs a year, alternating between Milwaukee and Madison and getting more and more applications in terms of companies that are applying a broader diversity in terms of industry as well as geographic diversity in terms of where the companies come from and the types of companies that they are, and it continues to grow, so our first program in the summer of 2012 we had 90 applications and then we can compare that with now our 8th program which will take place here in Madison where we have 544 applications.

Dave: Wow! That’s crazy.

Troy: So definitely increasingly very competitive.

Dave: Interesting. From 2012 until now, since you weren’t, you know, didn’t have a lot of experience as an accelerator but you have experience as an entrepreneur.

Troy: Yeah.

Dave: What have you learned from, you know, the last 3 years?

Troy: Yeah. Good question. I would say the biggest things are, you know, as we expand our network, you know, that really helps with not only our reputation, but more importantly the quality of outcomes that we can help facilitate for the entrepreneurs that we invest in, so now you know we have partnerships with American Family Insurance who is a big sponsor of gener8tor. We work with a number of corporations on a consulting and, you know, sponsorship basis. We have a large and growing network of venture capitalists that we syndicated and invested in deals with throughout the country, so that network continues to grow and really the companies that now come through the program have had the benefit of that as well as the alumni have the benefit of that as we continue to try to add value to all of our companies, so I think focusing on expanding and growing our network has really been something that we learn and something that we actively work very hard on expanding.

Dave: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and it just gets more powerful the longer you guys are around, so in 20 years you will be….

Troy: Yeah, watch out. I mean we want to get into a virtual cycle right, so that the better outcome that our companies have, you know that works to our benefit. We get a lot of brand, good will, positive word of mouth from our alumni. You know, there is nothing better than one of our bonds restoring another company that maybe they went to school with, they were co-working with or had some other entrepreneurial venture. We want that as much as possible, you know, from our alumni, from our mentors, from the investors that invest in our company, the more word of mouth the better.

Dave: Yeah, that makes since, and so you guys invest in a variety of companies which I like and I always mention I always like seeing what you guys invest in, so do you guys have an investment thesis or process? and how has that evolved from the beginning until now?

Troy: As you point out, you know, we are very much industry agnostic, so we have done everything from B2B fast to B2C e-commerce to hardware and IOT, even have a company that is building a cured machine for smoothies if you can imagine that, all the way to even a CPG company, so we have done a lot of different stuff and that is something we are really proud off, so when we are evaluating applications and when we are out recruiting companies to apply to the program, at the end of the day our filter is, is this attacking a large and growing market that justifies the venture capital investment at some point in the company’s life cycle, so you know that excludes, you know, traditional lifestyle businesses and things of that nature. Next, we are looking at the team. We ultimately are investing in people. We want to make sure it’s a great team, a really complete team, much capable team, you know so a great example is we are not going to investment in a team that has to outsource this technology, if they are a technology company that is, right, so it will kind of be like you don’t want to hire a lawyer that has to outsource their legal work. You know that’s the ___22:14___ and then do we think we can add value, so through the mentors that we know that are in our network through the other angel investors and VCs that are in our network, is this something that they would have an appetite for investing in? Our corporate partners and sponsors that we work with, is this something that they might be interested in either as a customer or strategic partner. We weigh all those different criteria and ultimately make a decision from there, but that has lent itself to being very opportunistic and industry agnostic. We think that is something that we started on mostly because we needed to get started and, you know, if we wanted to choose a vertical like only healthcare ID or only B2B stat, even if we wanted to do that early on, we just did not have the workflow to justify it or the brand recognition or any of those things until we had to be industry agnostic almost by default. However, it becomes a concerted decision on our part to remain that way and I think it is to the benefit of our companies and the companies that go through our program because, you know, if you are a healthcare IT company going through gener8tor, I can guarantee you that you are the number 1 healthcare ID company in each of our cohorts. Because we only invest in 5 companies at a time, it’s very rare that we have companies that are of the same business model type or even in the same industry whereas if the company had to go with a healthcare statistic accelerator, you know, they run the risk of being out of a cohort of of 10 companies, they run the risk of being the number 10 Healthcare IT Company that investors are seeing on demo, they are at a pitch event, so we very much focused on that and it really helps because when we take these companies out to the market place of investors, different investors have different themes and focuses and we have been really successful at getting our companies funded on the follow-on funding basis coming out of the program and I think that is part and parcel to the fact that we have such a diverse mix of companies and there is almost always something for everyone when it comes to investment.

Dave: Interesting. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. You answered all my follow up questions so that was pretty good, and you don’t have to say it if you don’t want to, but are there 1 or 2 companies that you are especially excited about, I know your excited about all of them, but…..

Troy: Yeah.

Dave: Is there a couple of companies that you really think are breaking away.

Troy: Yeah, definitely.

Dave: Yeah.

Troy: Absolutely, I mean we have been really fortunate to have a really high survival rate amongst our companies, so over the last 3 years now we have completed 7 programs, we have invested in 38 companies total, combined those 38 companies have now gone on to raise collectively about $75 million dollars in follow on capital, so we are really proud of that. You know, we are also really proud of the fact that only 3 companies have gone out of business out of the 38 investments we have made, so the rest are still alive and growing, and that’s the step that we’re really proud of, you know, if I had to speak about one we are really proud of, I pick a company here in Madison Street, so they just closed an additional round of funding of $15 million this past December and they continue to defy all of our expectations and grow at a tremendous rate. There are up to over 100 employees here in Madison and they are just doing a fantastic job of attracting a food ordering platform that connects consumers with restaurants for takeout and delivery, so they continue to do a great job of adding a new restaurant, the new market, the new city ___25:52_____ who are placing their orders on the EatStreet platforms, so we extremely proud of those guys and I see great things ahead for them.

Dave: So, that leads my next question. So with EatStreet, you know, they have done quite well, so have you seen common themes, or do you, maybe it’s too early, but what’s EatStreet doing right that maybe some other companies are struggling with, I mean, is it timing ___26:15____ execution?

Troy: Yeah, it’s a good question, you know, I never want to say that there is no such thing as absolute when it comes to anything entrepreneurial related, but I think there are some commonalities, you know, one of them is, is this a paintpoint that the founders have themselves. Is it a pain that they have lived through and they are trying to solve this issue, so in the case of each EatStreet, Eric Martell, one of the co-founders was a computer science major. He was spending, you know, a lot of all-nighters cranking away, writing code for assignments or other projects he was working on and he wanted to order food and there was no easy way for him to do that and have it be delivered, so you know he derived this concept of “if only there was a single platform in Madison where he could pick his favorite restaurant like a sub place or Chinese food or Euros or Pizza, you name it, he could, you know, scroll through a digital food court, place an order and have it delivered, so he wanted an easy way to do that and EatStreet became that solution. He built that solution here locally for himself. It was the paintpoint that he had personally, so I think that is a commonality across a lot of successful companies, and then I think it those intangibles, you know, all these people that are perseverant that, you know, formidable is kind of if I had to pick one adjective to describe successful entrepreneurs, are they formidable and in fact Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator has great blog posts that talks about, you know, what it takes to be a formidable founder and it’s something that investors try to sniff out or pass out via test and who they want to invest in and really, you know if I have to sum that up, it’s something to the effect of, you know, are these people who get their way, do they have a vision and do they find a path to execute on that vision without letting stuff permanently given their way to accomplishing that goal.

Dave: So, when you are doing your due diligence how do you identify that trailt?

Troy: Yeah, it’s a lot of intangibles, I mean obviously, you know, past entrepreneurial success more than failure, but past entrepreneurial experience certainly can speak to that. It could be organizational involvement if you’re talking about a college student, maybe it’s someone who started or led a student organization on campus, it can be found in athletics on the athletics field, it can be found in, you know, the nonprofit world, so it’s a lot of those intangibles that you look at, but again there is no hard and fast or there is no objective or obvious litmus tests for that formidability.

Dave: Of course not, no. Just curious. So now I am going to ask a big question and may be this is a little silly, but I like asking these questions. You know, you have done quite well, but if you wanted to say become Y Combinator, which you might be someday, you know, if you had infinite resources what would you need in order to become, you know, even more like a Y Combinator, whether it’s money, a larger network, an office and different locations.

Troy: Yeah, good question. You know, so we have really been, you know, happy to be founded and based out here in Wisconsin and we will continue to remain here in Wisconsin. You know, I think in terms of next steps where we go with it, we are really proud of a new program that we launched somewhere in 2015 called gBETA. The one thing that we are seeing is an increase in the number of out of state applications applying to our program and being a full profit venture fund accelerator, we owed it to our limited partners, to our investors to invest in the company that we thought were the best opportunities for a financial return for them, but we also knew that there is a great university at UW Madison being the flagship here in Wisconsin that had a lot of capability in terms of technology and research as well as the people that count, the entrepreneurs on those campuses, but we weren’t seeing enough of those traits turning into companies here locally in Wisconsin, so our idea was to create gBETA which is a pre-accelerator program that focuses exclusively on entrepreneurs and startups with any sort of affiliation to any Wisconsin College and University, and it’s all meant to drive more volume through our platform and our platform really being our network, our community, our experience that we built over the last 2 years, laboring and doing this work, and trying to help more companies, you know, learn about our methodology, learn about best practices across the startup world and industry and help them grow to a point, or at least experiment and seeing if entrepreneurship is the right fit for them to potentially be a good quality candidate for gener8tor itself or another accelerator, or you know leap frog that entirely and raise the Angel or Venture Capital, you know, immediately coming out of that program, so we are running gBETA 3 times a year in Madison, each of those cohorts have 5 startups that we work with and again we are really focused on increasing the quality and quantity of spinouts from Wisconsin Colleges and Universities. We think that is a really interesting product and, you know, if we were to expand I think that will be a product that we would look to take to other markets. It really helps beat the ecosystem, you know, case in point, in our next gener8tor cohort we have 2 gBETA graduates that will be a part of that, so we are already starting to bear fruit from that, what really was an experiment for us. We are already starting to get validation from that experiment and it’s proving itself to be valuable, so going back to your question, we very much see ourselves expanding in the coming years, both with gener8tor, with gBETA, and with other initiatives that we probably haven’t even thought of yet, so we definitely think a geographic expansion is in order as well as, you know, just increasing the volume of companies that we think we can add value to through our platform, whether that’s the gener8tor or gBETA, or any sort of, you know, ___32:11_____ that we put on or conferences that, you know, we look to put on. We want to increase the amount of value add we can provide the startups wherever we are.

Dave: That’s awesome. I like the vision. Yeah, what state would you go to next or have you guys even thought of, like a college town?

Troy: I don’t know, I mean the obvious stuff would be other college towns, metropolitan markets within close proximity to Wisconsin, that will probably be the most obvious, but you know never rule anything out, you know, we have even invested in one company from Canada and one company from Mexico and we think both of those markets are unreserved too, so I don’t want to rule anything out at this point.

Dave: Well, that will be exciting to see what you do.

Troy: Yeah. Stay tuned.

Dave: Stay tuned everyone. So that’s it. I have a couple more questions, then we’ll part ways here, but one is I feel like this topic is often beaten to death, but you know how do you get more startups and venture capital in Wisconsin. You know, if you’re being really honest, besides I have seen, I saw one interview where you mentioned, we need more success stories like a jellyfish which makes sense.

Troy: Yeah.

Dave: What else do you think we need in order to really turn up our startup scene here in Wisconsin.

Troy: Yeah, good questions.

Dave: I feel like you’re doing a lot already with your couple of programs, but…

Troy: Yeah, I think we need to make sure that, you know, we are separating ___33:47___ very much in terms of programs that exist or new programs that are starting. You know we view the entrepreneur as our customer. I am not sure that every organization or program or whether it’s federal, state, local, non-profit, full profit, university based, private sector based, you know, there certainly are great programs, good programs and then there are some that I think fall short, so I think as a community we need to increasingly measure and evaluate programs that exist and for those that are not proving successful, I think we need to reallocate resources which in some cases it’s even just air time and mind sharing attention towards those programs that are delivering value, that are reporting and getting quality metrics, I think that’s really important for us as a community. Next, you know, one clause that we really had is how can we increase the amount of corporate involvement in the entrepreneurial sector, and I think American Family Insurance is a great example of the corporation that really drank the Kool-Aid on this issue, so everything from you know their leadership with Jack Salzwedel down to Peter Gunder and Dan Reed with their American Family Venture’s initiative, which is their corporate venture capital fund. They have just done a tremendous job in terms of best practices of invigorating an existing successful large corporation with a startup mindset by not only purchasing from startups, but striking strategic partnerships with startups, investing directly into startups and even acquiring companies, we want to see more of that. We want to see more corporations like American Family throughout Wisconsin that are stepping up and, you know, it starts with just buying from these startups as a potential vendor. From there I can progress into, you know, other strategic partnerships where we can scramble our eggs even more with a startup entity, all the way to direct investment and even ___35:47___ we want to see more of that from Wisconsin Corporations and I hope that we’ll see more of that in the coming years.

Dave: That’s a good answer. I haven’t heard that especially around the corporate perspective, that makes a lot of sense, but yeah, I mean traditionally corporations in Wisconsin have not been very likely to do a lot of acquisitions, it’s a lot different than in California.

Troy: Yeah, we want to see more of that. I mean California, it’s just a great feedback loop and some of it is even an issue of ____36:22____ not get beat, so I think that’s an issue we as a state need to address at some point too, but, you know, you look at a Silicon Valley ecosystem where you have, you know, quality entrepreneurs or engineers or project managers, program managers who leave a tech company like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, to go start their own company and lo and behold often times the company they leave frequently is the company that acquires them and that’s to be expected. That’s not that viewed as strange or extraordinary. I think we need to see more of that culture here in Wisconsin and here in the Mid West.

Dave: Definitely, and so with your corporate partners do you help them try to be more innovative, creative, is that part…

Troy: Definitely, yeah, yeah, I mean we work with these companies to help them think about how they can be progressive in how they view innovation and incorporating startups and purchasing from startups, but that’s actually investing in startups and we want to see more of that, absolutely.

Dave: Nice.

Troy: I should put out connecting them with each other, so connecting them with their peers in college and corporations to learn best practices from each other and, you know, sometimes, you know, you might feel lonely as the only person in your corporation that is thinking in such a way, but when you can be, you know, 5 or 10 other people at other corporations in similar positions, all encouraging you to do your passion and your work becomes a lot more, higher chance of happening, higher probability.

Dave: Yeah, just the network and the energy you guys are creating, it’s great.

Troy: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Dave: So lastly, sometimes I like to end on a personal note. If you had to eat at one restaurant in Madison every day, which restaurant would it be?

Troy: That’s a good question. So, my colleagues would probably make fun of me because I love going to IHOP.

Dave: Are you serious?

Troy: I’m a huge fan of breakfast, 24/7, so I’m a huge breakfast eater, I love going to IHOP on University Avenue, that being said, that’s a bad answer, because if I had to pick one place I can’t say something like IHOP, so I’d have to say Tornado Room, I love a good steak, they have great stew there, so I always love going to Tornado Room, I don’t think I could afford it being there very much, but if I had a limited resources, that would be a good choice.

Dave: Good choices, I like it.

Troy: Yeah.

Dave: Well that’s all I have for you. So definitely I appreciate taking the time, this is great.

Troy: Yeah, thanks Dave, my pleasure.

Dave: Alright.

Troy: Thanks for doing this and helping spread the word.

Dave: Oh yeah, and thanks everyone for listening and we’ll see you next time on Flyover Labs.