In Milwaukee’s start-up community, Bennett Huffman ’18 is a hot commodity. Since beginning his internship as a 17-year-old at start-up investor gener8tor last summer, Huffman has received no less than three job offers from companies with whom he has worked. Huffman’s manager at gener8tor, Ben Stanley, wasn’t surprised. “He’s done a fantastic job,” said Stanley. “He’s actually outperformed a lot of people who were much further in their educational careers, including some seniors in college.”
Gener8tor is a nationally ranked accelerator that invests in high-growth start-ups. The internship, which Huffman obtained through USM’s Internship and Shadowing Program, was originally intended to last just a few weeks during the summer of 2017. But Stanley and others at gener8tor, impressed by Huffman’s work ethic, asked him to stay on longer. “The things that differentiate Bennett are his drive and his attitude of, ‘If I don’t know something, I’ll learn by trying,’” said Stanley.
One of Huffman’s main tasks was to research potential investment opportunities for gbeta, gener8tor’s smaller-scale accelerator for early-stage companies. Huffman also helped to coordinate pitch events, write reports, and assist startup founders. “I’ve gotten to attend lectures on how to make presentations as a start-up and how venture capital funding works,” said Huffman. “It’s never really felt like work because it’s something I enjoy doing.”
The experience gave Huffman a unique opportunity to gain real-life experience and make valuable contacts before he had even graduated from high school. “I always knew I wanted to be involved with startups in some way, but I thought I’d have to move to San Francisco or Boston,” said Huffman. “The internship has opened my eyes and taught me that I don’t have to be in a tech hub to be involved in the tech sector.”