From my vantage point as a venture capitalist evaluating hundreds of early-stage startups annually, I’ve become puzzled why the vast majority of founders I come across are still choosing to develop their initial Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) via a website versus a native, mobile app. The data suggests they should not be.

According to eMarketer, over 88% of time spent on mobile is spent inside an app versus a web browser. It’s not just that startups are choosing to build their MVPs using a web application, but many are scaling well beyond their seed rounds and into their Series A or B round before ever getting around to launching a native, mobile app.

So what considerations should startups be weighing when deciding whether to be mobile-first and launch with a native app, or launch with a website? Let’s dive in with the help of some Twitter friends.

Advantages of a native mobile app

What are the advantages of launching with a native mobile app in a mobile-first world? The dominant consumption habit for the Internet is on a mobile device, and native apps have the most optimized user experience (UX) for mobile devices. But it isn’t just about user experience. The opportunity to drive re-engagement from device-triggered push notifications and home screen icons proved too much to resist for founder Alina Matson of Fitment, a new micro workouts startup.

From my vantage point, local push notifications are the #1 reason to launch a native, mobile app first, with clickthrough rates ranging as high as 12% to 40% depending on your category, according to insights shared by Andrew Chen of Andreessen Horowitz.

Email or other forms of reconnecting with users just do not come anywhere near as close as push notifications in terms of clickthrough rates. Also on the marketing front, you can receive additional visibility via App Store Search Optimization (ASO) in the App Store which you are giving up when choosing a website approach.

On the development front, there is easier access to other native APIs, although the differences between what you can and can’t do between a mobile app and website are fuzzier to me than ever given the advances in web technology. Finally, why not avoid costly technical debt and refactoring later in? When startups build for the web first, they start to compound technical debt which can dramatically slow down their ability to iterate later when they discover that the majority of their users want to use their application natively on their phone or tablet.

Advantages of a web app

Why would someone launch a website first? Launching a web app is often easier and faster than a mobile app. A founder may know very well that their user experience has more friction within a web app, however, as Maria Semykoz of Ukraine-based What’s In My Jar points out, the signal provided in a high friction web app can help to prioritize feature development for a more-costly native mobile app.

Web pages with rich content are more likely to rank higher in search results than content stuck inside a native mobile app. Marketplace startups like Omnia Fishing first launched websites because they knew a main driver of their go-to-market strategy could be ranking high in search results. Also, requiring your users to install an app versus just keying a website into a browser also can reduce initial trials, as Scott Resnick points out.

From a technical standpoint, there are ways to make the user experience more native now than when smartphones first hit the scene. There are web-wrapper products that can make a website look mostly native and minimize the poorer mobile user experience, which has historically been more common with websites on mobile screens, as Jeff Ericson of RubyRide points out.

Other considerations before starting to build

What are some of the other considerations founders should weigh when deciding between going truly mobile-first with a native app, or launching a mobile-optimized web app for your startup?

Since native mobile apps are generally more costly to develop as Derek Rucker points out, the ability for a founder to secure significant initial capital is an important consideration. Startups which are under-capitalized may want to opt for web-only launches. Also, if you do go the native app route, Derek points out that iOS is much simpler to launch on than Android. Android has so many more different device types, with different screen sizes, that it is easier to launch iOS-only than to design for Android.

An alternative to choice: The hybrid approach

Are you still finding it difficult to pick between starting with a native mobile app or a web app for your startup? You may want to take a hybrid approach, and launch with a native iOS app as well as a website like we are planning to do for our first venture studio startup, NextGem.

NextGem is a new social app for trading card enthusiasts to discover and share trading cards. Much of the core initial functionality for NextGem revolves around the use of modern, high definition camera features on the latest phones and tablets. It would be very difficult (if not impossible) to recreate the super high-resolution photo scanning of NextGem through a website.

These high-resolution photos are needed for trading card collectors who want the ability to closely inspect the condition of trading cards before purchasing or trading. The reason the NextGem team chose to also support a website view was for search engine optimization purposes primarily. Each scan of a trading card by a user leads to a new, search-friendly content page that can be easily indexed by Google. 

As a tech founder and investor, I have spent a lot of time thinking about why some startups scale and why others fail. You have to when your livelihood is riding on whether or not you can execute. And when you’re putting other peoples’ money on the line, knowing what to do and being able to do it isn’t enough, but you have to be able to explain your decisions and actions.

When I made enough money as a founder to start angel investing, I was overly focused on the idea and strategy. Why? The business I had founded with my twin brother Ryan Weber was successful in terms of financial returns, but it lacked defensibility. In my opinion, that’s what prohibited our business from scaling to an even greater outcome- we didn’t have a great idea or strategy.

Learning from this lesson from my own business, I compensated by investing in founders who had a clever idea and a good strategy. Sometimes it felt like I was just investing in a nice pitch deck. Many of these teams just could not execute, and over time, they’d fail.

You can be a brilliant founder, with a clever idea and a good strategy, and still fail. It happens all the time. If you can’t attract customers, build a team, and set and achieve goals, you’re sunk.

As a VC, I’ve had to synthesize everything I’ve learned about operating and investing into a scalable, repeatable process- to turn these lessons into actionable guidance for conducting diligence. Founders who work towards these things increase their chances of reaching an exit, and investors who look for these things increase their chances of generating a return.

These are the top 5 signs a startup will succeed.

1) The startup has founders with great soft skills. Having a great idea or writing some really kickass code isn’t enough to scale a big business. Soft skills are even more important than tech skills or industry experience. A founder/CEO’s job includes sales, recruiting top talent, management, etc. All of these are soft skills.

2) The startup has a culture of accountability, and is focused on key growth metrics. Creating a metric driven, accountable culture is challenging. It is easier to do with a 4-person startup than a large-scale growth business so it is a critically important early piece.

3) The startup is good at new product development. Teams that are good at product development are analytical and creative. They run experiments before building a complete product which enables them to avoid focusing on building the wrong product with the wrong features.

4) The startup is focused on finding and perfecting one scalable customer acquisition channel. Experimenting is expected in the very early going, but eventually you need to bet on the one channel that can get you to scale. It could be digital media-focused customer acquisition, a referral program, or viral social strategy, anything that creates compounding returns. You need to be world-class at whatever your dominant channel is to succeed. For most of the best startups, growth is designed into the product or some other kind of clever growth hack is utilized. Look at Airbnb’s famous spamming of Craigslist (Airbnb Growth Study (benchhacks.com)) or DropBox’s famous early referral incentives. This is the scrappy team, focused on the right things, that has found the right product, and a way to scale.

5) The startup has an adaptable, entrepreneurial team. Early-stage is not the time for a team fixated on management systems. The time for investing more heavily in management systems is when your startup approaches 20–50 employees or more. In the beginning, you need a team with entrepreneurial skills, including customer empathy, product engineering strength, and go-to-market strength.

For former founders-turned-investors like myself, we need to be particularly aware of not being overly attracted to clever ideas in big markets, but instead focus on identifying the teams that can find their North Star to take them from point A to point B so the startup has an opportunity to start compounding. Execution is everything.

Every year, when I begin holiday shopping for friends and family, I always start with a list of gift ideas sourced from local entrepreneurs in Minnesota and the surrounding region. One of the best ways to support your community is to become a customer from the entrepreneurs in your community.

With the input of some friends in our local startup community, here is the 2020 list!

Gift Baskets

GiftBomb – With a unique intake form to understand your gift recipient’s interests better, the highly personalized Giftbomb gift baskets have brought surprise and delight to so many friends and family for me this year. They source most of their products from local businesses. Huge fan!

Apparel

Askov Finlayson’s Climate Positive Parka ($495)- I purchased Askov’s latest parka right when it came out and it is outstanding. Although this is on the higher end on my list at $495, it’s well worth it for that special someone.

Great Lakes Shirts ($36)- Because of the shut downs due to COVID, I’ve spent a lot more time with my family at our cabin this year. Great Lakes has very cool designs representing lake country vibes.

Love Your Melon Facemasks ($25)- By now, most people’s facemasks could probably use a refresh. Enough said.

Kidizen Gift Card – For the latest new (or used) in kids fashion.

REM5 Winter Hat ($30)- Live events are out, but winter hats are in.

Toys & Games

Covid Playing Cards ($12)- Covid Cards are a fun time capsule delivered in the form of a standard deck of playing cards of all the whacky things that we have all experienced this year.

Paddle North Paddle Boards, Floating Docks, Kayaks ($500 to $1000)- We purchased one of the floating docks for our cabin a little over a year ago and it was a real hit with the kids.

Omnia Fishing Gift Card – For the fisherman in the family.

YOXO ($46)- Creative toys for young kids.

Cooper Kits ($65/quarterly subscription)- Running out of fun, educational ideas for the kids schooling from home?

Art Barn Boxes – DIY art boxes for kids.

Food & Beverage

BoozyJerky ($6)- Beer-infused beef jerky that is super tender and great paired with your favorite ale.

Fast Mary’s Bloody Mary Mix ($15)- Vegan, gluten-free seasoning blend for a spiced up bloody.

SIPDARK – Whiskey accessories.

Muddy Paws Cheesecake – Over 222 flavors of cheesecake. If that’s not enough, you can even rent their cheesecake food truck!

Nomisnacks ($32 for 16)- They built a better granola bar.

Golden Fig Gourmet Foods – Spices, snacks, artisan gifts, even dog treats!

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen ($25)- The James Beard winner’s cookbook featuring modern Native American cuisine

Health & Wellness

DoseHealth – Medication management.

Cammellatte – Skincare products made from camel milk.

Pets

PetChatz ($90) – A treat-dispensing video phone to check in on your pet when you’re away.

Other

Printerette Press – Custom cards, invitations, etc.

Fractional Toys – Rent ATVs, boats, motorhomes instead of buying.

Mend Jewelry – Jewelry is always a good gift idea.

Section 1202, or “The Small Business Stock Gains Exclusion”, provides a 100% tax exclusion for Qualified Small Business Stock. If you invest in early-stage companies and aren’t familiar with Section 1202, check in with your tax advisor. Being able to exclude 100% of the gain on a stock sale for cash is virtually unmatched anywhere in the tax code.

Section 1202 was originally part of the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1993, which aimed to provide relief for investors risking their funds in new ventures and small businesses. It now allows for 100% exclusion of the gains on Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS), capped at the greater of $10M or 10x the investor’s basis.

What Investments Qualify?

Early-stage startup investments can qualify for the exclusion if they:

Most early-stage tech companies are considered qualified businesses under Section 1202,” according to CliftonLarsonAllen’s Patrick Smith, “but several types of businesses are not.”

According to Smith, excluded business types include:

What Is Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS)?

Section 1202 (PDF) defines “QSBS”:

It is stock in a domestic C-Corporation issued after the date of enactment of the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1993 (August 10, 1993). It must be acquired by the individual taxpayer (or a pass-through entity, but not a corporation) at the original date of issue (not in a secondary offering) in exchange for money, property (excluding stock), or as compensation for services. 

The business must:

Utilizing the Exclusion

When making investments, investors may want to consider investment groups or funds that have a process to take advantage of the 1202 exclusion.

QSBS is a very powerful tax benefit that incentivizes private investment into startups,” said Mike Schulte, senior analyst at Great North Labs, “However, there are potential mishaps in structuring and documenting a transaction that can inadvertently ruin compliance. Convertible instruments, entity selection/conversion, and financial reporting are just some of the issues to understand and watch out for. It is important for issuers, investors, and each of their service providers to cooperate to ensure 1202 compliance.”

—————————————————————————————————

NOTE: This article is not intended to provide tax advice. Consult your tax accountant or tax attorney.

This post is a distillation of a longer post I published in the Angel Capital Association’s “Angel Insights Blog” here.

There is a history of successful tech companies in Minnesota founded during recessions. These resilient startups didn’t just survive- they proliferated under pressure. Jamf, which recently raised $468M in an IPO, is the largest, latest, and highest-profile example. Jamf was founded in 2002 out of UW-Eau Claire, and is headquartered in Minneapolis. Jamf is now valued at $4.7B.

Looking into startups that were founded during recessions, you wouldn’t expect to find a list of successes. But by digging into public data on Crunchbase and in local publications, a surprising number of successful companies emerged that were started up in during the dot-com bust (2000-01), or the Great Recession (2007-2009).

Here are examples of startups founded during recessions in Minnesota, that found success.

Company NameDescriptionYear Founded, Names of FoundersExit/Valuation/Funding Raised*
ProtoLabsAutomated quoting and manufacturing systems to produce commercial-grade plastic, metal, and liquid silicone rubber parts1999 (significant growth in 2000-2001),
Larry Lukis
Successful ~$70M IPO in Feb 2012 with a current Market cap of $3.2B
Modern SurveyProvider of employee survey services. The company provides employee survey and talent analytics service that enables companies to understand their workforce and drive business performance by creating an aggregated, holistic view of the employee lifecycle— from the candidate experience, new employee onboarding to engagement, and exit interviews.1999 (significant growth in 2000-2001),
Don MacPherson and Patrick Riley
Acquired by Aon Hewitt in Feb 2016. Terms were not disclosed.
NativeX (aka W3i and Freeze.com)PC publishing platform and mobile content and app delivery2000,
Ryan and Rob Weber
We peaked in 2012 at $70 million in revenue and $10 million in EBITDA, with 170+ total employees.
Inbox DollarsOnline rewards club that pays members cash for their online and mobile activities. They reward members for their everyday activities such as reading emails, taking surveys, playing games, and signing up for offers.2000,
Daren Cotter
Acquired by Prodege in May 2019 for an undisclosed amount
Ability NetworkConnecting thousands of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, clinics, and tens of thousands of physicians across the country with each other, and with the nation’s largest payer: Medicare.2000,
Amy Coulter
ABILITY Network was acquired by Inovalon for $1.2B on Mar 7, 2018
GovDeliveryAs the number one referrer of traffic to hundreds of government websites, GovDelivery enables public sector organizations to connect with more people and to get those people to take action.2000,
Scott Burns
GovDelivery was sold to Vista Equity Partners in a $153 million deal in Oct 2016
Code42Code42 provides data loss protection, visibility, and recovery solutions.2001,
Brian Bispala, Matthew Dornquast, Mitch Coopet
Code42 has raised $138M total, through their Series B round in October of 2015
CVRXMedical device company that develops implantable technology for the treatment of high blood pressure2001,
Robert Kieval
$340.6M total raised in 8 rounds
Most recently raised $93M in a Series G in 2019
JamfWorld leader in macOS and iOS management with offices around the world. They deliver, support and service the solution for Apple management needs in education and business.2002,
Zach Halmstad
Raised $468M in 2020 IPO. Current Market cap of $4.7B
CompellentDevelops and provides enterprise storage software and hardware solutions that automate the movement and management of data2002,
Phil Soran
Acquired by Dell in 2010 for $820M cash
DoAppMobile ad network and consumer and business app developer for websites, desktops and mobile devices2007,
Joe Sriver
Acquired by Newscycle Solutions (Now Naviga) in 2016 for undisclosed amount
ZipNosisHospital and healthcare company that specializes in online diagnosis and triage, telehealth, and virtual care2008,
Jon Pearce
Zipnosis has raised $25M in funding total through a Series B round
CalabrioDelivers workforce optimization (WFO) and analytics solutions that elevate the customer experience and drive strategic business growth2008,
Brett Shockley
Calabrio was acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) in 2016 for $200M
SportsEngineThe leading provider of web software and mobile applications for youth, amateur and professional sports2008,
Carson Kipfer, Greg Blasko, Justin Kaufenberg
Acquired by NBC Sports in 2016 for an undisclosed amount
Field NationWorld’s most active Freelancer Management System (FMS) ensuring successful collaborations in today’s rapidly changing world of work. Field Nation enables companies to find, hire and pay contractors anywhere and easily manage their workforce.2008,
Mynul Khan
Raised a total of $30.2M
HomeSpotter (aka Mobile Realty Apps)Helps brokerages, agents, and MLSs build relationships amongst one another and with clients. Allow agents to collaborate with ease, work on the go, and increase their productivity. Brokerages and MLSs are better equipped to support and retain agents and help grow their businesses.2009,
Aaron Kardell
HomeSpotter has raised $3.9M in funding
*There are a variety of success metrics, as many valuations and deal terms are not made public, and many other companies that haven’t exited and are still operating

You can see that I’m on this list with my brother, Ryan Weber, with our former company NativeX. Several other founders from this list are people we have recruited as operating partners for Great North Labs, such as Joe Sriver, Carson Kipfer, Mitch Coopet, Brian Bispala, Patrick Riley, and Daren Cotter.

Capital Efficiency and Resilience

Resilient startups and founders find ways to adapt, persist, and succeed in spite of the challenges they face. The startups on this list found success coming out of challenging times with limited capital availability.

Across the entire Midwest, both the quantity and value of early-stage deals went down during the past two recessions. You can see in the chart below that the dot-com bust in the late 90s led funding to drop off a cliff, with a long climb back up hindered by the Great Recession in 2008-2009.

Midwest Seed and A Stage Deals

We live in a region where startups have to be capital efficient. We simply don’t have the amount of early-stage capital other regions get. This leads to more competition for capital, and to higher capital-efficiency among startups.

“This is good news for investors, as the returns in the Midwest are more favorable for investors compared to investing in VC in other regions.”

While that means the Midwest’s 10% of VC-backed startups receive under 5% of funding, it also means that the Midwest startups that make it to exit return the highest median multiple on investment (5.17x). This is good news for investors, as the returns in the Midwest are more favorable for investors compared to investing in VC in other regions. But, it puts greater demands on early-stage startup operators, who need to operate in a way where they can maximize their chances of success with the capital available.

How do you Scale Resilience?

Great North Labs’s approach to early-stage investing includes cultivating resilience in the regional startup ecosystem, identifying it in opportunities, and developing it into our portfolio startups.

We cultivate resilience in the startup ecosystem by supporting important organizations with our Founder’s Pledge, and teaching disciplined startup methods through our startup school initiative.

When identifying opportunities and developing resilience in portfolio companies, in addition to our own experience, we include resilient founders with startup success in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest as operating partners. We believe that successful founders and operators make the best early stage investors because they’ve had to scale an emerging technology company before. We also believe that the best way for founders to grow is to learn from the experience of others who have been in their shoes.

By having startup operators who have not only been there before with a startup, but have found a way to thrive coming out of tough times, and have done it all in our region, facing the same regional capital availability issues that persist today, are invaluable when it comes to providing guidance for other early-stage founders in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

Using this approach Great North Labs is:

  1. Building capacity in Minnesota for developing breakout startup opportunities
  2. Identifying and investing in breakout startups opportunities early on, in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest
  3. Guiding portfolio companies to success using our operating experience and networks, and the operating experience and networks of our operating partners

Our plan and hope is that after the current recessionary period, we will be able to look back over our portfolio companies and at other Minnesota startups fighting through these times, and add many more to this list of successes.

Sheryl Sandberg joined Facebook in 2008, when Facebook was very small. She was instrumental in its meteoric growth into the global giant it is today. Many people are trying to put blame on her and downplay her work now, but her role and contributions over the years should be celebrated. She was a successful ‘integrator’ at Facebook, working with Mark Zuckerberg.
The EOS (Entrepreneur Operating System) blog defines an integrator as “…the person who is the tie-breaker for the leadership team, is the glue for the organization, holds everything together, beats the drum (provides cadence), is accountable for the P&L results, executes the business plan, holds the Leadership Team accountable, and is the steady force in the organization. The Integrator also creates organizational clarity, communication, and consistency; typically (but not always) operates more on logic; drives results; forces resolution, focus, team unity, prioritization and follow-through; is the filter for all of the Visionary’s ideas; harmoniously integrates the Leadership Team; and helps to remove obstacles and barriers.”
There is a history of visionary founders combining forces with integrators in Silicon Valley at hugely successful companies like:
• Sergey Brin & Larry Page with Eric Schmidt at Google
• Steve Wozniak with Steve Jobs at Apple
• Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce with Andy Grove at Intel.
This is not just a Silicon Valley phenomenon. Local Minnesota examples include:
• Justin Kaufenberg with Brian Bell at SportsEngine
• Ben Cattor with Alex Ware at Foodsby
And I speak from my own experience. Ryan Weber and I co-founded NativeX, and brought Andy Johnson on board as integrator when we grew. It was a difficult decision, but the right one. You can read about in this article I wrote for Wired.
Integrators can be instrumental in carrying companies forward by collaborating with the founders at the right time. A company can be started by ‘singular’ founders, and carried forward beyond 50-100 employees by ‘integrators’. This is why singular CEOs of more mature companies often have integrator COOs beside them. The reverse order does not always work; as remarkable as integrators are, integrators may not be successful founders. Could Eric Schmidt have founded Google? Could Sheryl Sandberg have founded Facebook? You decide!
But don’t forget to also ask yourself, could Zuckerberg have grown Facebook into the global success it is today, without the talented integrator Sheryl Sandberg?

I came across this letter by Ray Allen which he wrote to his younger self, and I immediately started thinking about the letter I would write to myself. At age 37, having been a part of a few successful entrepreneurial journeys in both the driver’s seat as founder a few times and observing as an angel investor many times more, what would I write to  my younger 20 year-old self? At age 20, we were just getting our team together to launch our first ‘serious’ startup complete with angel investors, actual employees, an office, etc and had many lessons yet to be learned. Here is what I came up with:

And many others who know who they are.
I will forever be indebted to all of you.


~Rob Weber

Author: Rob Weber
Most colleges and universities are finding it very challenging to cultivate strong startup communities like those found at leading institutions like Stanford and Yale. But if we take a deeper look at these leading institutions, and how others are responding to this challenge, we can build a repeatable model to support the the rise of the rest.
Certainly one component to developing a strong collegiate startup culture is having a strong curriculum, jam packed with not just theory but applied learning activities which enable students to develop skills required for jobs in today’s workforce. A good example of this occurred two years ago  with the creation of a Software Engineering Degree at St. Cloud StateUniversity. Many engineering programs have become dated in our region but SCSU’s Science and Engineering leadership are meeting regularly with industry leaders to identify the practical needs of employers and then developing new degrees in support of satisfying them.
Many companies are looking for strong software engineers. SCSU has long offered an ABET-accredited Computer Science Degree that is strong on fundamentals like Database, Computer Architecture and Operating Systems. Started in 2015, they offer a Software Engineering Degree which adds required courses on the Software Development Process. In addition they are also offering electives in Mobile Development, and Gaming and Visualization (useful for 3D software such as VR/AR programming).
Additionally, four years ago, SCSU opened a brand new 100,000 square foot ISELF facility where students can work with industry leaders on projects utilizing cutting edge technology like VR/AR, Robotics, Nanotech, 3D printers, etc. The vast majority of students today in Computer Science programs would rather be learning coding skills to build useful enterprise or consumer software instead of spending their college years learning how to build infrastructure they are not interested in building.
The ISELF building is not just a place for engineering SCSU students to gather either. The new facility is being utilized by students across a variety of fields from business to liberal arts in support of experiential learning.  Let’s face it, many software engineers don’t make the most aesthetically pleasing software! It may go well beyond SCSU’s campus too. Recently, we held a meeting between SCSU and CSBSJU’s Director for Entrepreneurship, Margrette Newhouse, and both groups of academic leaders expressed an interest in teaming up to get more student-led businesses from CSBSJU to work collaboratively with SCSU’s experiential learning offering.
It has become table stakes for a university to invest in equipping labs with cutting edge, disruptive technology to give students access to equipment that they otherwise won’t have access to. Some of America’s greatest startup stories involved young founders taking full advantage of their school’s resources. Take the story of Google and how their founders waited at loading docks at Stanford for new computers to come so they could increase their network and computing capacity. It isn’t 2000 anymore and students still need access to an even greater number of tools. Ideally, universities should invest in labs that provide access to breakthrough AR/VR technology, robotics, drones, etc.
One often overlooked and easily corrected way to supercharge your university’s startup community is to encourage it to focus its investing activity on regional venture funds that align with the university’s mission, as pointed in Tim Schigel of Refinery Ventures recent post. In Tim’s post, he shares insights as to how universities like Yale are generating outsized returns for their endowment than they would otherwise get in the stock market by investing in venture funds which align with their school’s regional impact mission.
Today, most universities investing in the venture capital asset class send all of their funds outside of their region. This far-away distribution of venture capital creates a vicious cycle where the universities in other regions end up dramatically outperforming them, which causes the original university to be less competitive. If there are no venture funds in your region, universities should consider adopting a policy to take small amounts of their capital and deploy it to first-time fund managers who align with a regional investing strategy.
Startup competitions like the Minnesota Cup organized by the University of Minnesota bring awareness to many startups that otherwise would fly under the radar. Beautiful things happens when you bring awareness to startups in your region. The entrepreneurial community will start to rally behind them, bringing with them valuable business contacts, advice, capital, and more to ensure their success.
And then there is that all so important issue of connecting top employment opportunities to the most talented graduating students. The best startup communities provide organized apprentice programs such as Xtern by TechPoint in Indianapolis. Apprentice programs are critical to the success of new graduates so they can learn applied skills required for these new high demand jobs.
Finally, the university needs to identify regional founders who can lead this charge and support them with a bottom up approach by spreading the word throughout various student groups across different disciplines. Top down approaches don’t work. Entrepreneurs are best led by entrepreneurs as Brad Feld describes in his book Startup Communities.

May newsletter
Great North Ventures

$40M Fund II Raised!

Great North Ventures Raises $40M Fund II
Great North Ventures

Great North Ventures Raises $40 Million Fund II

Investment Thesis: Fund II Strategy
Great North Ventures

Investment Thesis: Fund II Strategy

Investment Thesis: Community-Driven Applications
Great North Ventures

Investment Theme: Community-Driven Applications

Great North Labs Newsletter December 2017
James DonFrancesco

Great North Labs Newsletter – December 2017

Rob-Back-To-The-Future-wide
Rob Weber

A Letter To My Younger Self

mixed icons with brown color and tech theme
James DonFrancesco

Great North Labs Newsletter