February: Team Expansion, Dispatch, and Startup School Events

  • Great North Ventures

    Feb 28 2018

February Newsletter


We’ve been busy! Since our December newsletter, we have several new investments that are closed or near closing, 20 new people (5 staff and 15 advisors) that have joined our team, and a new bootcamp on Exponential Technology & Leadership. This newsletter provides further details on each of these topics and more!


New To Portfolio

The focus of entrepreneurs and investors alike in making last mile delivery more efficient through utilization of current mobile technology has largely been in servicing B2C companies in areas such as grocery and food delivery. The traditional B2B last mile delivery space generally occupied by regional courier providers or private fleets has largely been untouched by new entrants.

Combining this lack of utilization of new technology along with the “instant gratification” pressure that consumers are bringing from online retail into the local trades and the B2B last mile delivery space is ripe for disruption. HVAC, electrical and plumbing contractors are challenged with consumers expecting same-day installation or repair of their home appliances and mechanical equipment. Often times the systems needing to be repaired or replaced require components not stocked on the service van. Courier services are therefore being leveraged by progressive contractors to capture these same-day sales.

Dispatch’s product is a software platform which provides suppliers with the ability to utilize the Dispatch app and backend to enter deliveries in their local market which are picked up by independent contractors and delivered to the suppliers’ customers, most commonly in B2B segments like HVAC, auto parts, plumbing, electrical, etc. Customers win by increased visibility into the delivery of the product they order and with similar costs as they typically pay for standard courier services. What Uber has done to the taxi market,  What Uber has done to the taxi market, Dispatch has the ability to do to the courier market, which is largely untouched by B2C-oriented last mile delivery competitors.


Upcoming Startup School Events (those further out are listed on our website)

Exponential Technology & Leadership Bootcamp

Date: Thursday, March 8th from 8:00am to 5:00pm

Instructor: Ryan Weber (Managing Partner of Great North Labs)

Location: Great North Labs Office, 305 5th Ave S Suite 150, St. Cloud, MN 56301

Description: Develop leadership & technology expertise to unlock exponential growth:

  • Learn how to define bold new ideas for your startup, company or non-profit
  • Learn about disruptive technologies so you and your organization aren’t blind-sided by other startups
  • Develop new techniques for adapting to rapid change in your start-up, company or non-profit

Open to students and business professionals of any type, profit or non-profit, high-tech or no-tech. Find more information and apply here.


Lean Startup Bootcamp (3 Days)

Dates: Tuesday (4/10), Tuesday (4/17), and Tuesday (4/24) from 6pm to 8:30pm

Instructor: Ryan Weber (Managing Partner of Great North Labs)

Location: Great North Labs Office, 305 5th Ave S Suite 150, St. Cloud, MN 56301

Description: Learn, and begin applying, the lean startup practice so that you can eliminate waste in planning and growing your startup.

Open to students and small business professionals of any type, profit or non-profit, high-tech or no-tech. Find more information and apply here.


Minnebar – 3 Sessions by Great North Labs

Date: Saturday, April 14th from 8am to 5pm (30 to 50 minute sessions, session times not yet posted)

Location: Best Buy HQ

  • Session 1: Exponential Technology & Leadership – Ryan Weber
  • Session 2: How Entrepreneurs Are Impacting Cities – Rob Weber
  • Session 3: How Running Lean Can Help You Raise Capital – Ryan Weber

To register, visit Minnebar’s website and sign-up to attend the conference and then navigate to all sessions and select the Great North Labs sessions that interest you here.


KPIs/Key Milestones

New advisors

  • Sona Mehring – Founder and former CEO Caring Bridge, Board Member at Minnestar
  • Rick Ehrman – VP and Head of Corp Dev Sports Engine, previously worked at Univision Communications, NBCUniversal, and GE
  • Jonathan Ozeran – Director of Product, Tempus; and Co-Founder, WUF; previously worked at Zest Health and Yello
  • Brian Schoenborn – Partner and Co-Chair of Sports and Entertainment Business, Stinson Leonard Street; Founding Owner, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
  • Björn Stansvik – Founder and CEO MentorMate
  • Matt Blodgett – Managing Director Vector Capital; Enthusiastic Investor in MN Tech Companies; Proto Labs (Former Board Member) and NativeX (former Board Observer)
  • Corey Koskie – Entrepreneur, former MLB player (Twins, Blue Jays, Brewers) and Planet Fitness franchisee
  • Jeff Hinck – General Partner at Rally Ventures, formerly Board Member at SportsEngine and Compellent
  • Don Krantz – Board Member at Proto Labs, Associate at Digi Labs, Board Advisor for RSAM (Robotic, Sensors, and Advanced Manufacturing) area of MnDrive, formerly EVP and Technology Officer at Proto Labs
  • Shivani Khanna Stumpf – CTO at Hoonuit (fka Atomic Learning), formerly Sr. Director of Product Management at SPS Commerce and Engineering/Product Manager at SportsEngine
  • Nicholas Kartos – Co-founder/CEO at GymDandy, formerly Director of Media and Advertising at SportsEngine and Founder at Wisconsin Sports Network
  • Bobby George – CEO at Montessorium
  • Brian Bispala – Co-Founder at Aftercode, formerly Director at Foodsby and Co-Founder of Code 42
  • Robert Bodor – VP and General Manager, Americas at Proto Labs; formerly Strategy and Business Development at Honeywell
  • Bradley Schaufenbuel – CISO and VP at Paylocity

Speaking Engagements

  • In January, Rob gave a keynote presentation, “How Entrepreneurship Is Impacting Cities” at the Winter Institute annual conference in St. Cloud.

Help Wanted/Asks

  • Help us get the word out about our upcoming bootcamps and now-active fund.
  • Do you know anyone that is interested in sharing investment opportunities with Great North Labs? Get in touch!
  • Register for Minnebar and favorite our three sessions: Exponential Technology & Leadership, How Entrepreneurs Are Impacting Cities, How Running Lean Can Help You Raise Capital

Excited by a quick start to 2018!  Looking forward to collaborating with you all!

The Great North Labs Team