WERCBench LabsAn 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.
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.
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 LabsAn Immersive Program for Technology Innovators
October 2016-January 2017
DEMO DAY 2015
DEVELOPING THE NEXT GENERATION
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:
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.
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.
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.BUILDLevel 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!
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
We develop custom programs to help your organization innovate
Design, Test & Build
From concept to customer – we have the expertise.
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.
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.
Exec. Dir. BizStarts
Co-founder Islands of Brilliance
Project Dir. N. IL Energy Summit
CEO Project Foundry
Partner Michael, Best
Managing Dir. The Commons
Embedded Eng. Eaton
Exec. Dir. NWSide CDC
Partner Setter Roche LLP
VP Eng Project Foundry
Exec VP Franklin Energy
Dr. Rob Cuzner
Asst. Prof. at UWM
Exec. Dir. Systems Electronics JCI
Dr. Mark Felsheim
VP MATC-Oak Creek
Pres. Brooks Stevens
Dir. Eng. Milw. Institute
Exec. Dir. New North
Dr. Brett Peters
Dean Eng. UWM
Dr. Joseph Schimmels
Director Graydient Creative
Innovation & Design Thinking
Dr. Jay Bayne
Exec. Dir. Milw. Institute
Dr. Lisa Bosman
Prof. Eng. MU
Dr. Brian Curry
Co-Founder Simply 1Life
G.P. Capital Midwest VC Fund
Assist. Prof. Mgmt. MU
Stephen J. Laczniak
Principal Brass Ring
Gen. Mgr. LEM USA
Dr. Adel Nasiri
Dir. Strat Marketing JCI
Dr. Kris Ropella
Dean MU Engineering
Dir. Strat. Dev Briggs&Stratton
Pres. UWM Research Foundation
CEO at LiquidCool Solutions, Inc.
Assoc. Prof. Eng. UWM
COO, President Racon Capital
Principal Cap Midwest VC
Dr. Keenan Grenell
CEO Global Capital Group
Dr. Thomas Jahns
Prof. Eng. UW-Madison
Dir. Therm&Materials A.O. Smith
Snr. Dir. Bus Dev. Boldt
Dr. Carmel Ruffolo
Assoc. VP Research MU
Dir. Bus Dev & Strategy ComRent
Snr. Eng. CircleUp
VP Engineering DRS
Executive Director, Midwest Energy Research Consortium
Managing Director, Energy Innovation Center
COO, Midwest Energy Research Consortium
Managing Director, Market Innovation
Managing Director, Technology Innovation