THE MIDWEST ENERGY RESEARCH CONSORTIUM

Presents Programs for Innovative Engineers and Scientists

WERCBench Labs

An Immersive Program for Technology Innovators

Email us for a full application and technology focus areas: WERCBench@m-werc.org

Apply on F6SApplications accepted through Friday, September 16th at midnight

WERCBench Labs

An Immersive Program for Technology Innovators

 

WERCBench Labs is a 12-week immersive program for technology innovators. We’re looking for teams of engineers, scientists, and programmers across all funding stages. We will provide you access to unique production capabilities, including high performance computing, rapid prototyping facilities and small scale production and testing equipment. We will make an investment in your company of $20,000; $10,000 at the start of the program and $10,000 upon successful completion of the program.

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How much funding do WERCBench Labs companies receive?

You will receive a $20,000 investment; $10,000 at the start of the program and $10,000 upon successful completion of the program. You also have access to our newly remodeled space, which includes 802.11g encrypted wifi, VOIP phone system, wired ethernet, conference rooms with polycom and web conferencing, and your own dedicated workspace. There is immeasurable value in the connections and advice that you’ll receive when you start your company and develop your technology with WERCBench Labs.

What sorts of companies do you fund?

We are interested in startups and early-stage companies in the fields of energy, power, controls, ar/vr, robotics, drones, internet-of-things, and 3d printing. We’re also looking for companies that can have national or worldwide reach. Your company must have a core team of engineers, scientists, or programmers to be considered. We are interested in builders who want to develop their technology into a product and business.

Will WERCBench Labs take any ownership of my business?

We strive to always make our environment as friendly as possible to the entrepreneur. WERCBench Labs will never ask for ownership in your business. Instead we use Royalty Based Financing, which requires you to repay us at a set amount if you achieve revenue.

Is my company “too far along” to apply to WERCBench Labs?

Probably not. We’ve mentored companies with fully developed products and we’ve helped them with business models, introductions, financing, and more. Furthermore, nothing is too early. We are also accepting companies with no more than an idea and a dream, as long as they have a team of builders at the core.

Can I stop by your office to say hello?

Please don’t stop by our offices without an appointment. This is not a good example of persistence on your part and it will negatively influence your application. We are happy to consider taking an appointment, so please contact us instead.

Do I have to be there for the entire week of the 3 month program?

No. It’s your company so you can come and go as you see fit. But we do require that you be primarily based at the Energy Innovation Center during the program. This benefits you because you can take advantage of the numerous learning opportunities, networking and coaching that will be provided. WERCBench Labs is a major commitment, and we expect you to be around most of the time.

Do I have to stay in Milwaukee when the program ends after 3 months?

Nope. We recognize that some of the startup teams in WERCBench Labs may be making the journey to Milwaukee for a short time. We want to provide you with the necessary tools and information for you to be successful no matter where you live.

Can I apply if our company or founders are not from the USA? Can you help with Visa/immigration issues?

Yes. Anyone from anywhere can apply. You do have to be legally in the U.S. during the program, of course. Once accepted, we can help with legal/immigration issues by leveraging our contacts and network to help. However, we cannot help with such issues in advance of acceptance.

What else does WERCBench Labs provide?

In addition to our world-class mentors and teaching team, we provide access to design services, state-of-the-art FabLabs, prototyping, and testing facilities. We also have space available for you to grow your company, 10-MW inbound power to lab test and certify industrial-scale hardware, and product develpment lab space.

I’m a single founder. Can I get accepted into WERCBench Labs, or do you only look for teams?

While we don’t screen applications just because they have a single founder, it does make things more difficult. Because we are very focused on building things, we prefer that you have a well-rounded team of builders – software, hardware, etc.

Where will we live while we’re there?

That’s up to you – we don’t provide a place to live but can suggest resources for you.

How do you choose which companies to accept into the program and to fund?

WERCBench Labs has a selection committee comprised of entrepreneurs, investors, subject matter experts, and industry professionals. We do like to see and work with great founders who are proposing startups that solve real problems or create meaningful innovations. For us, it’s about the team and your work ethic. The best things you can do to strengthen your application is: (i) round out your team with a the skills needed to build your idea; (ii) make progress on your prototype or product and reference it in the application; and (iii) show us you’ve really thought about your business and have done something about it.

When will I hear back about my application?

We try our best to notify applicants as soon as possible about their acceptance into the program.

When is the deadline to apply and what’s the overall timeline?

Every applicant must complete the WERCBench Labs application. WERCBench Labs accepts applications during open application periods only and runs two WERCBench Labs cohorts per year. Please don’t send us business plans when the application period is closed. There are limited spots in each WERCBench Labs class and startups are accepted based on the quality and completeness of their application. Each team, if selected to do so, will be interviewed by our outside selection committee. We suggest completing the “How to Build a Startup” lecture series on Udacity.com to get a head start for the program.

What will a typical day be like for a WERCBench Labs founder?

It’s your company, so you’ll be hard at work on your product. On a weekly basis, we’ll organize workshops and meetings with our mentors/advisors. We also expect many of the mentors to drop into the office at various times throughout the program. In general, you’ll be working on your startup each day, just like all of the other participants in the program. We have developed a lean business startup process based on Steve Blank’s seminal work. There will be milestones and deliverables to reach, and we’ll make sure you have the tools to successfully complete our program.

Is there a demo day at the end of the program?

Yes. There will be a demo day, where each team will have the opportunity to pitch their company to industry leaders, investors, press, and other community members. Please see the video below from our 2015 Demo Day.

I’m concerned that if I apply, you won’t protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?

We’re certainly not in the business of stealing ideas, and we treat application data as confidential information. Each year, we see a lot of applications and many of them include similar ideas. For this and other practical reasons, please don’t ask us to sign an NDA. Our application does not ask for your “secret sauce” and there is no reason you have to disclose this to us if you’re not comfortable doing so. We hope that our reputation speaks for itself on this topic.

Do you ever offer internships to people interested in WERCBench Labs?

Yes, just send us a message that you’re interested.

WERCBench Labs

An Immersive Program for Technology Innovators

Fall Program

October 2016-January 2017

DEMO DAY 2015

 

MEET OUR AMAZING INNOVATORS

 

FEATURED COMPANY

Seiva Technologies Learn More

DEVELOPING THE NEXT GENERATION

 

THE PROGRAM

For the past two years the Young Enterprising Society has used Steve Blank’s internationally recognized, Lean Launchpad program to navigate students through “Building a Business” workshops to show how STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) is used in real world applications. This process introduces these students to a new pathway of opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation.

The approach to be used in the WERCBench Labs JV program will be broken out into these three phases:

Phase I

The Cutting-edge of Technology

In Phase I, we introduce students to many of the coolest, new technologies being developed. The purpose of this Track is to give students a glimpse of the possibilities in technology and to challenge them to integrate these technologies into their solutions.

Phase II

Lean Innovation Process

In Phase II, students are introduced to the 21st Century’s best practices for creating disruptive innovation. The students will form teams, develop a business idea, and capture their thoughts on the business model canvas.

Phase III

Accelerator

Approximately one team from each school will be selected to participate in a 12-week accelerator program. The accelerator program will provide an intense, immersive environment that reflects that experience of starting a business. As part of the accelerator, students will be guided by an expert teaching team through the innovation process developed by Steve Blank at UC-Berkeley and Stanford Engineering. They will also engage with potential customers, mentors, and other entrepreneurs.

INNOVATE.BUILD

Level Up Your Skills and Knowledge

 

Gain New Skills

Learn the 21st Century’s Best Practices for Innovating

Meet Amazing People

 

Business Model Innovation

Search for Innovative Business Models

The WERCBench Labs program is based on the best possible tools and training to take your hardware / product development business to the next level with experts in the customer development methodology.

Build Customer-Driven Products

We’re a passionate group of entrepreneurs, engineers, mentors, and early-stage investors helping you build amazing technologies and companies. We devote considerable time to help our companies succeed.

We support companies with advice and connections for team building, storytelling, PR, customer acquisition and marketing, business modeling, design, legal and more!

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.00.27 PM

Steve Blank’s Customer Development Methodology has become the best practice for innovation – whether your are a startup or a large mature business. The team at WERCBench Labs is recognized around the world for teaching the methodology.

Intro to Innovation

An introduction to the lean innovation methodologies

Core Innovation Program

A 12-week immersive lean innovation program focused on engineers and scientists

Advanced Innovation Program

Helping early-stage companies reach Investor Readiness Level 9

Organization Specific

We develop custom programs to help your organization innovate

TECHNOLOGY INSIGHT

Design, Test & Build

From concept to customer – we have the expertise.

Product Design

We have partnered with Brooks Stevens, the iconic product development firm with an 80-year track record in Innovation. We believe that Innovation is Creativity Reduced to Practice.

Simulate

Through our partners at the Milwaukee Institute, we will provide workshops in dynamic design tools, understanding product lifecycles and project and process workflows, and how to apply them effectively.

Rapidly Prototype

Our partner Gateway Technical College provides a world-class FabLab to conceptualize and design a product using 3D design software and print a prototype next door in the Fab Lab.

Build

Through our partnership with the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP), M-WERC and WMEP will jointly support start-up teams as they move from concept and design into production and manufacturing.

AMAZING PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER

TO DRIVE INNOVATION

 

MEET OUR WORLD-CLASS MENTORS

Mentors are an essential ingredient of the WERCBench Labs approach to technology innovation — these individuals will provide guidance, coaching, and insights throughout the 12-week training program — and beyond.

Rick Allen

Rick Allen

Co-founder RokkinCat

Ben Bartling

Ben Bartling

Founder Zoomshift

John Biondi

John Biondi

Dir. D2P UW-Madison

Dr. Michael Corradini

Dr. Michael Corradini

Prof. Eng. UW-Madison

Jacquin Davidson

Jacquin Davidson

Exec. Dir. BizStarts

Mark Fairbanks

Mark Fairbanks

Co-founder Islands of Brilliance

Emil Harmsen

Emil Harmsen

CEO PsyberFire

Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson

CEO BIOforward

Chet Kolodziej

Chet Kolodziej

Project Dir. N. IL Energy Summit

David Linz

David Linz

Dir. CTC

William Mortimore

William Mortimore

CEO Project Foundry

Tom Otterlee

Tom Otterlee

Partner Michael, Best

Joe Poeschl

Joe Poeschl

Managing Dir. The Commons

Rafael Santana

Rafael Santana

Embedded Eng. Eaton

Howard Snyder

Howard Snyder

Exec. Dir. NWSide CDC

Tom Sylke

Tom Sylke

Partner Setter Roche LLP

Jason Tienor

Jason Tienor

CEO Telkonet

Rick Anderson

Rick Anderson

Serial Entrepreneur

Ted Barthel

Ted Barthel

Partner WH&D

Ross Bjella

Ross Bjella

CEO Alithias

Dr. Rob Cuzner

Dr. Rob Cuzner

Asst. Prof. at UWM

Brian Dillard

Brian Dillard

Exec. Dir. Systems Electronics JCI

Dr. Mark Felsheim

Dr. Mark Felsheim

VP MATC-Oak Creek

Arthur Harrington

Arthur Harrington

Partner Godfrey&Kahn

Neil Kane

Neil Kane

Dir. Mich. State U

George Konstantakis

George Konstantakis

Pres. Brooks Stevens

Nick Lindberg

Nick Lindberg

Dir. Eng. Milw. Institute

Jerry Murphy

Jerry Murphy

Exec. Dir. New North

Dr. Brett Peters

Dr. Brett Peters

Dean Eng. UWM

Scott Rex

Scott Rex

Professor Marquette

Dr. Joseph Schimmels

Dr. Joseph Schimmels

Professor Marquette

Shawn Spartz

Shawn Spartz

Director Graydient Creative

Dan Tarrence

Dan Tarrence

Exec VP Franklin Energy

William Weber

William Weber

VP Engineering DRS

Eric Apfelbach

Eric Apfelbach

Serial Entrepreneur

Dr. Jay Bayne

Dr. Jay Bayne

Exec. Dir. Milw. Institute

Dr. Lisa Bosman

Dr. Lisa Bosman

Prof. Eng. MU

Dr. Brian Curry

Dr. Brian Curry

Co-Founder Simply 1Life

Dan Einhorn

Dan Einhorn

G.P. Capital Midwest VC Fund

Nick Gartmann

Nick Gartmann

Partner RokkinCat

John Hopkins

John Hopkins

Serial Entrepreneur

June-Young Kim

June-Young Kim

Assist. Prof. Mgmt. MU

Stephen J. Laczniak

Stephen J. Laczniak

Principal Brass Ring

John Marino

John Marino

Gen. Mgr. LEM USA

Dr. Adel Nasiri

Dr. Adel Nasiri

Professor UWM

Paul Poblocki

Paul Poblocki

Dir. Strat Marketing JCI

Dr. Kris Ropella

Dr. Kris Ropella

Dean MU Engineering

Doug Shears

Doug Shears

Dir. Strat. Dev Briggs&Stratton

Rick Sperko

Rick Sperko

VP Eng Project Foundry

Cynthia Thomas

Cynthia Thomas

Co-Founder Translator

Nick Wichert

Nick Wichert

Innovation & Design Thinking

Ilya Avdeev

Ilya Avdeev

Assoc. Prof. Eng. UWM

Fred Berry

Fred Berry

Entrepreneur

Matt Cordio

Matt Cordio

Founder Skillspipeline

Jackie Darr

Jackie Darr

COO, President Racon Capital

Stephen Einhorn

Stephen Einhorn

Principal Cap Midwest VC

Jason Gerke

Jason Gerke

Mech|Plumbing Lead

Dr. Keenan Grenell

Dr. Keenan Grenell

CEO Global Capital Group

Dr. Thomas Jahns

Dr. Thomas Jahns

Prof. Eng. UW-Madison

William Komisar

William Komisar

Principal CliftonLarsonAllen

James Mathes

James Mathes

Private Equity

Steve Memory

Steve Memory

Dir. Therm&Materials A.O. Smith

Mark Osten

Mark Osten

Snr. Dir. Bus Dev. Boldt

Dr. Carmel Ruffolo

Dr. Carmel Ruffolo

Assoc. VP Research MU

Mark Siira

Mark Siira

Dir. Bus Dev & Strategy ComRent

Matt Stockton

Matt Stockton

Snr. Eng. CircleUp

Brian Thompson

Brian Thompson

Pres. UWM Research Foundation

Herb Zien

Herb Zien

CEO at LiquidCool Solutions, Inc.

OUR TEAM

Alan Perlstein

Alan Perlstein

Executive Director, Midwest Energy Research Consortium

Jeff Anthony

Jeff Anthony

Managing Director, Energy Innovation Center

Elliot Berman

Elliot Berman

COO, Midwest Energy Research Consortium

John Bobrowich

John Bobrowich

Managing Director, Market Innovation

Bruce Beihoff

Bruce Beihoff

Managing Director, Technology Innovation

OUR SPONSORS