Welcome to the Great North Ventures newsletter! We have exit news! And for founders, we have a former Googler talking about the importance of being data-driven, and sharing other advice. 

Interview with Joe Sriver

Interview with Joe Sriver, Execution is King

2ndKitchen has been acquired by SoftBank-backed REEF Technologies. REEF is the largest operator of delivery kitchens, logistics, and proximity hubs in North America. The existing businesses will combine under the REEF brand.

2ndKitchen’s team will remain fully intact, including CEO Nick Anastasiades, CTO Arik Gaisler, and CFO Jon Elron, and will be operating under REEF’s Hospitality division.

In the latest episode of “Execution is King” we feature Joe Sriver, CEO of 4giving and the first UX/UI hire at Google.

Joe talks about being a designer in Silicon Valley, what he took away from the experience at Google as one of the first 200 employees, and how important being data-driven is to good product design.

Joe offers great perspective as a Midwest “boomerang” who returned from Silicon Valley to found his own successful companies, and gives advice to startup founders. 

ICYMI, Glowe’s social wearable is available. The Glowe device is a great gift for any teens who you missed on your holiday shopping list. 

Portfolio Updates


2ndKitchen acquired by ghost kitchen giant

3 Minnesota Companies Make the Deloitte 2021 Technology Fast 500 List [Branch]

From printing to coffee, this startup brings office amenities to the remote worker [PrintWithMe]

139 Open Positions

See all open positions on the Great North Ventures careers page

Dispatch is hiring for 80 positions

FactoryFixis hiring for 5 positions

Pitchlyis hiring for 4 positions

PrintWithMeis hiring for 12 positions

Parallaxis hiring for 5 positions

Branch is hiring for 16 positions

Inhabitr is hiring for 2 positions

Clinician Nexusis hiring for 1 position

NoiseAwareis hiring for 2 positions

PartySlateis hiring for 7 positions

Flywheelis hiring for 2 positions

NextGemis hiring for 2 positions

Backhouse Brandsis hiring for 1 position

Fund I portfolio company 2ndKitchen has been acquired by REEF Technologies, Inc.

From the article:

“At its heart, 2ndKitchen is a data company. Our top priority has always been connecting local businesses and empowering them with everything they need to operate efficiently and seamlessly add value to their guests,” said Nick Anastasiades, CEO and co-founder of 2ndKitchen.

“As we look to further this mission, REEF, the neighborhood company, is the perfect partner to help us rise to the next level. Our business’ foundation is its highly differentiated technology that allows businesses to tailor their food experience to their exact needs, and I believe there is still tremendous, untapped market opportunity.”

Read More on the 2ndKitchen blog, via Chicago Inno, or at Crain’s Chicago Business.

Welcome back to the Great North Ventures newsletter! (Sign up here!) We are excited for the launch of our new podcast and Fund II investing!

Our new podcast is live! Check out “Execution is King” on SpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts!

Join me, Josef Siebert, and either Ryan or Rob Weber as we interview founders, investors, and ecosystem builders to uncover insights and best practices for the next generation of global startup founders. 

As mentioned in our last newsletter, Fund II is now open for business! We have officially made our first investment outside of our own venture studio projects. Early-stage founders, check out our Founders page for criteria and to get in touch.

Portfolio Updates

Skillit is new to the portfolio! Skillit is a jobs and recruitment platform that matches skills-tested carpenters with great construction firms.

Flywheel has raised a $22M Series C round from 8VC, Great North Ventures, and others. Flywheel will use raised capital to acquired St. Louis-based Radiologics.

TeamGenius raises $1.1 million to expand its athlete development platform

Airbnb partner Migo taps NoiseAware for noise-monitoring solution

PrintWithMe Announces New Platform for Expansion, WithMe, Inc.

FactoryFix Successful Series “Factory Made” Offers Viewers Peak into American Manufacturing

Hotels open the door to the next evolution in room service [2ndKitchen]
 

Open Positions

See all open positions on the Great North Ventures careers page

Great North Venturesis hiring 6 interns for Summer 2022

Dispatch is hiring for 41 positions

FactoryFixis hiring for 7 positions

TeamGeniusis hiring for 1 position

2ndKitchenis hiring for 5 positions

PrintWithMe ishiring for 13 positions

Parallaxis hiring for 9 positions

Branch is hiring for 14 positions

Inhabitr is hiring for 3 positions

Clinician Nexusis hiring for 1 position

PartySlateis hiring for 1 position

Flywheelis hiring for 2 positions

Forecasts of the economic impact are still developing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Mary Meeker (famed for her annual Internet Trends report) released a report on coronavirus trends as an exclusive to Axios. Takeaways from the trends report include the acceleration of digital transformation, the inclusion of more scientists and domain experts, and the broad technological evolution of healthcare.

The report closes on a note of optimism, imagining the positive impacts the pandemic can produce if it brings people together to work for common good, saying, “We also need government, business, and entrepreneurial intervention at scale (deployed logically and effectively) to get to the other side. All must work together to ensure jobs and restart the economy so citizens have confidence they can work, have sufficient safety nets and take care of themselves, families and loved ones”.


Business and Entrepreneurial Intervention

Government intervention in the crisis is well-covered in the news (and in our last newsletter). As far as business and entrepreneurial intervention are concerned, Great North Labs has been busy. Our team has scaled up charitable giving to organizations. Our portfolio companies are responding in a variety of impactful ways. Our fund has continued investing in promising startups.

Nonprofits and other organizations that depend on events and donations are hurting at this time. One organization we support is the CentraCare Foundation, who is raising a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund at this time. If you are interested in supporting them, donate before May 30th and your donation will be doubled due in part to a donation from our managing partners Rob and Ryan Weber.

People are mobilizing to help each other and fight the pandemic together. Our portfolio companies are active in the fight. Dispatch, Clinician Nexus, 2ndKitchen, and PrintWithMe have been supporting local businesses, supporting medical staff, and sourcing necessary supplies. You can read about their exploits, and more about charitable giving, in this recent article.

Giving in the Time of Coronavirus
Economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic will require government, business, and entrepreneurial intervention. 

While Great North Labs has closed two unannounced deals since early March, it is no secret that venture investing overall has slowed down. Managing Partner Rob Weber shared his short- and long-term forecasts with MinneInno in a recent article about the effects of COVID-19 on VC. 

“The bar for getting funded will certainly be even higher given the market turmoil, but should not deter founders from trying to raise altogether if they think they are VC ready,” Weber said. “Long term, I continue to remain very bullish on Minnesota and other Midwest-based startups.”

Founders Survey

Speaking of founders who are ready for VC investment, we are seeking anonymous responses from startup founders and co-founders on your awareness and opinions of early-stage investors in the region. If you are a startup founder in one of the following states: MN, IA, IL, WI ND, SD- please take our survey!

We value your opinions, and are providing completed survey respondents with a $10 Amazon e-gift card. E-gift cards are delivered by email, and can be used to credit your Amazon account for future use, or used for an immediate purchase. 

Events

Due to public health and safety considerations, many events mentioned in previous newsletters have been rescheduled or canceled, including the Great North Labs Startup Summit 2020. Originally planned for August 27th, this year’s in-person conference has been canceled. We are exploring options for virtual events, and will keep you updated on changes.

Here are some virtual events that will still be held.

Portfolio News


In response to COVID-19, Inhabitr has postponed pickups when necessary, increased sanitation for pickups, and offered contactless delivery. Inhabitr is also offering cleaning supplies to customers for delivery alongside their furniture rental. Featured in this article, “DTC, subscription companies step up sanitation practices in answer to COVID-19“, CEO Ankur Agrawal shared how Inhabitr is helping local furniture businesses, ““Since the next 90 to 100 days will be dark for most local stores, the subscription model gives them an opportunity to stay afloat.”

2ndKitchen’s new contactless delivery product for breweries, 2Go, was mentioned in this article

PrintWithMe was profiled by AmericanInno in the article “Need to Print? This Startup Will Deliver Documents to Your Door“.

Job Board

Dispatch is hiring a Director of Sales, Senior Manager of Enterprise Sales, Business Development Rep, Software Engineering Manager, UX Design Manager, Product Owner, QA Engineer, Senior Software Engineer, and Senior UX Designer in Bloomington, MN.

FactoryFix is hiring a Team Lead – Full Stack Developer, Full Stack Developer, and Infrastructure Developer- DevOps in Madison, WI; a Recruiter, and Business Development Rep in Chicago, IL.

TeamGenius is hiring a Customer Success Associate in Minneapolis, MN.

PrintWithMe is hiring a Regional Sales Director on the East Coast; a Software Engineer, Summer Strategy Intern (MBA), and Summer Strategy Intern (undergraduate) for Remote work.

Parallax is hiring a Customer Success Specialist, and Growth/Customer Acquisition in Minneapolis, MN. 

Branch is hiring a Revenue Operations Manager, and Sales Development Rep in Minneapolis, MN. 

NoiseAware is hiring a COO, VP of Global Sales & Account Management, Product Marketing Manager, UI/UX Designer, Account Manager, and Customer Advocate in Dallas, TX.

With unemployment soaring, small businesses shuttering, and even some large chains withholding rent, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are reverberating through our communities. Many people wait on relief from the government in the form of stimulus payments and unemployment benefits. Businesses scramble to secure emergency loans, payroll support, and new ways to gain revenue. Oftentimes lost among other dire news is the plight of nonprofits and charities, who languish as donations dry up and revenue-producing events are put on hold.

Cash and Equity Giving

Jack Dorsey’s $1 billion equity pledge is an eye-catching reminder of how important it is to support these causes and organizations now if you are able to. Many are dependent on revenue from events that can’t happen and donations from disposable income that has evaporated. Our Founders Pledge is built on the idea of baking giving into your venture as part of your short-term and long-term financial plans, to support your community, and to support the organizations that support you with a mix of cash and equity giving.

One nonprofit that can use your support at this time is the CentraCare Foundation. From now until May 30th, your donation to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund will be doubled, due in part to a gift from our partners Ryan and Rob Weber.

Time and Effort Giving

During this time many businesses and leaders have risen to the challenge to support their communities through non-cash/non-equity donations. Our portfolio companies are also active in the fight, supporting local businesses, hospitals, and healthcare workers on the frontline. Here are four examples of their work.

1. Dispatch launched same day delivery for local businesses. This service aims to help alleviate supply chain difficulties during the pandemic

2. 2ndKitchen launched a new service to offer delivery for bars and breweries. This is a lifeline for these businesses when they have to be closed, with 2go allowing bars and breweries to sell beer, food, and merchandise for pickup or delivery- for free.

2ndKitchen's 2Go

Clinician Nexus partnered with MN COVIDsitters to provide the technology platform that connects volunteer medical students with healthcare workers to provide free childcare during the pandemic.

4. PrintWithMe is holding a Face Mask Drive. The face masks, unused N95 masks as well as simple surgical masks, are being supplied to Chicago-area hospitals.

Giving for a Better Future

In consideration of the pandemic, the Webers have expanded the list of colleges they support to include North Hennepin Community College (NHCC), one of the largest Minnesota State colleges serving a very diverse student body with many low-income students. Ryan and Rob are alumni of NHCC, where they gained the skills that helped them bootstrap their own startup.

The Webers have donated $10,000 to NHCC’s Foundation to directly aid Graphic Design students studying product design, a program they see as well-positioned to fill the large UI/UX design talent gap in Minnesota and the surrounding region. Their support of this program goes beyond money to include volunteering as mentors, promoting awareness of NHCC’s Graphic Design program, and using their networks to help students connect with internships and employment opportunities.

We continue to support and evolve our own educational initiative aimed at filling the gap of disciplined startup education in the region, formerly known as the Great North Labs Startup School. The programming is now known by a variety of names, and collectively as the Lean Startup School. The new iterations have come about by partnering with Red Wing Ignite and ILT Studios. These partners have allowed us to develop the programming as a white-label offering to communities around the state, with a particular emphasis on Greater Minnesota. There are two cohorts currently, in St. Cloud and Red Wing, with more planned for the future.

Lean Startup School

We will get through this crisis, one way or another. Whether or not the federal government gets behind legislation that supports startups with an influx of capital, such as the New Business Preservation Act, there is a broad community of entrepreneurial support and a healthy, growing startup ecosystem in the region. We will continue to cultivate transformative innovations, successful entrepreneurs, and tech startups in the Upper Midwest!

Valuable startup ecosystem organizations we support include MN Cup, Beta.MN, Minnestar, SCSU University Foundation, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, gBETA Greater MN-St. Cloud, SingularityU Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Silicon North Stars. If you also find them valuable and you are able, please consider giving to them during this time of need!


The world is in the grip of a pandemic that is testing our health systems, our governments, and our economies. COVID-19, known simply as the coronavirus, has hit 700,000 cases worldwide, with the U.S. now topping the list of countries affected. 

While a cure continues to elude us, there are practical steps being taken to limit the spread including social distancing, closing certain businesses, and encouraging/requiring people to stay at home. The resultant challenges for businesses, founders, and workers are great, and have driven immediate policy action including the recent passage of the CARES Act. 

To help you cut through the noise, we have curated helpful links below for those in the tech startup ecosystem. 

Resources for Startups

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act includes relief for founders, and small- and medium-sized businesses, including emergency funds, forgivable loans, and tax credits. Here is a complete overview of the CARES Act by The Center for American Entrepreneurship. They also have a section-by-section guide available, and provide other links including to the New Business Preservation Act that they hope will become part of the “Phase 4” response. 

The National Law Review published this summary of the CARES Act legislation. It’s written by a law firm and focused on employers, so it gets more detailed with taxes, credits, deductions, and etc.

The NVCA (National Venture Capital Association) has a COVID-19 page that includes Legislative Action Important to VC-backed Companies, Federal Agency Resources and Action, and other Resources for VCs and Startups. If you’re a startup looking to apply for SBA money, check out their guidance for navigating the SBA lending process.

International Government's Stimulus COVID-19
Governments around the world have started creating stimulus measures and loan programs. For more information on this, and on macro-economic impact, check out this presentation. (Source: “The economics of a pandemic: the case of Covid-19” by Paolo Surico and Andrea Galeotti, Professors of Economics at London Business School.)

General COVID-19 Resources

To keep people up-to-date on new developments during the pandemic, Axios runs a frequently-updated, concise dashboard here with only the latest developments. 

The New York Times is providing free access to stories on the coronavirus outbreak. 

Singularity University has uploaded recordings of it’s recent, three-day COVID-19 summit to YouTube. The summit featured global experts talking about the current state of the pandemic, future implications, and “Business Impact, Leadership, and Strategies for Today”, and attracted 23,000+. 

And of course, the CDC and WHO have special pages full of guidance and information regarding health concerns, questions, and research on the coronavirus. 

Events

Many events mentioned in previous newsletters have been rescheduled or cancelled, including gener8tor’s OnRamp Insurance Conference, Minnestar’s Minnebar 15, Medical Alley’s Annual Dinner, and MHTA’s annual Spring Conference. 

While we are sure to see a lot of autumn events, some are shifting to virtual delivery. 

Portfolio News

In non-pandemic news, Dispatch was named #5 on Forbes’s list of America’s Best Startup Employers! The list includes the top 500 to work for in the country, and was whittled down from over 2500 startups. 

2ndKitchen launched a new service to offer delivery for bars and breweries, which is a lifeline for these businesses when they have to be closed. 2go allows bars and breweries to sell beer, food, and merchandise for pickup or delivery- for free.

PrintWithMe is holding a Face Mask Drive. They are collecting unused N95 masks as well as simple surgical masks for Chicago hospitals.

Clinician Nexuspartnered with COVIDsitters to connect volunteer medical students with healthcare workers to provide free childcare.

Advisor News

Casey Allen has offered free help to recently unemployed tech people in Minnesota. The response has been large enough that he’s starting a newsletter that showcases MN tech startup people that are laid off.

Job Board

Dispatch is hiring a Business Development Rep in the Twin Cities; a Director of Sales, Senior Manager of Enterprise Sales, and Interns for Accounting, Business Development, Content Marketing, Customer Success, Human Resources, and Software Engineering in Bloomington, MN.

FactoryFixis hiring a Full Stack Developer, Infrastructure Developer- DevOps, and Team Lead- Full Stack Developer in Madison, WI; a Recruiter, and Business Development Rep in Chicago.

TeamGenius is hiring a Customer Success Associate. 

Misty Roboticsis hiring a Lead Qualification & Inside Sales Specialist, and an Inside Sales Specialist (contract) in Boulder, CO. 

2ndKitchenis hiring a Production and Inventory Associate,  Business Development Rep, and Account Executive in Chicago. 

PrintWithMe ishiring a Web Developer (Python) in Chicago; and Super User Technicians in Portland and Houston.

Parallax is hiring a Customer Success Specialist, Quality Assurance Engineer, Senior Software Engineer, and  Growth/Customer Acquisition in Minneapolis. 

NoiseAwareis hiring a COO, VP of Global Sales & Account Management, Product Marketing Manager, UI/UX Designer, Account Manager, and Customer Advocate in Dallas.

Happy Thanksgiving, and welcome back to the Great North Labs newsletter!

This is the perfect time of year to reflect on what we are thankful for, and for giving back. We are most thankful for our investors, our advisors, and our portfolio companies, of course! They are the reasons we exist, work, and succeed.

We are also thankful for the developing startup ecosystem in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. There have been great developments recently like the Launch MN Initiative, the first Greater MN accelerator, and one of the largest seed funds ever raised in the Midwest

There is still a need to improve. There are valid and pressing worries about the creation, automation, and distribution of jobs. Innovation and startups are increasingly important to our future. Did you know that from 1980-2010 about half of all jobs created in the US were from high-growth startups? 
 

Founders Pledge


That is why we are challenging founders in Minnesota to make a Founders Pledge! The Founders Pledge is an international movement of founders dedicating equity to support nonprofits. This is a way for cash-strapped founders to provide impactful contributions to organizations they find important.

Local nonprofits stand to benefit greatly when pledging founders have big exits.

There are several existing structures and organizations, but basically, to make a Founders Pledge startup founders donate a portion of their future proceeds to local nonprofits. They give support to the organizations that support them. If the Founders Pledge becomes ingrained in the culture of our startups, it will create a virtuous cycle between successful startups and the people and organizations that help them succeed

Supporting the Startup Ecosystem


According to research on early-stage entrepreneurship from the Kauffman Foundation, Minnesota is lagging behind on 4 key indicators of success. Our rate of new entrepreneurs, opportunity share of new entrepreneurs, startup early job creation, and startup early survival rate are all below average, with our composite score putting us at 46th compared to the rest of the US.

Nonprofits are a vital part of supporting early-stage entrepreneurship, and creating favorable outcomes for founders. By contributing to their success, founders can increase the chances of their own and future startups’ success. Join the movement and Great North Labs in making a Founders Pledge!

Events

The holidays are a busy time for everyone! If you find some time between family and friends, here are some events worth attending: 

Portfolio News

Inhabitr closed a $4M dollar series A round, led by Great North Labs. The news of the Chicago-based furniture rental platform was covered in TechCrunch, and in this piece by ChicagoInno.

2ndKitchen closed a $4.35M round. This startup connects restaurant kitchens with kitchen-less venues, such as bars and breweries. Investors included Hyde Park Venture Partners, Math Ventures, and M25. 

Dispatch was named to CNBC’s Upstart 100, which includes “100 of the world’s most promising start-ups to watch in 2019”. Congratulations to the Dispatch team!

Job Board

Dispatch is hiring all over the country for Part Time Drivers and in Bloomington, MN for a Biz Dev Representative, HR Manager (Remote OK), Data Scientist, and CFO. 
Structural is hiring an Associate Software Engineer in Indianapolis or St. Paul, MN. 
TeamGenius is hiring a Sales Associate in Minneapolis. 
FactoryFix is hiring a Software Engineer, Product Designer, and UX Designer in Madison, and a Biz Dev Specialist and Account Manager in Chicago.
2ndKitchen is hiring a Customer Success Manager, Account Executive, and Director of Sales in Chicago. 
PrintWithMe is hiring a Customer Success Associate, Network Operations Specialist, and an Operations Lead in Chicago; Super User Technicians in Portland and Houston; and a Regional Sales Director for the West Coast.
Parallax is hiring a Customer Success Specialist, Quality Assurance Engineer, Senior Software Engineer, and for a Growth/Customer Acquisition role in Minneapolis. 
Branch is hiring a Content Marketing Manager, Settlement Analyst, Customer Support Agent, Customer Success Manager, and Senior Backend Engineer in Minneapolis. 

Great North Labs portfolio companies Dispatch and 2ndKitchen have claimed titles in American Inno’s 2019 Tech Madness competition. The annual competition is a tech startup, voting-based version of March Madness. And yes, it’s better than the actual thing, because if the NCAA tournament worked the same way, Duke would have won and everyone would be happy, right?

Well, maybe it’s not a perfect metaphor, but it’s all in good fun.

With over 6,000 votes cast, Dispatch took the title at Minne Inno, beating out Sezzle in the finals. Sezzle has been on fire recently, but they cooled in the contest with the scrappy last-mile delivery squad.

To make it to the title game, Dispatch had to dispatch another Great North Labs company in their Final Four matchup, Structural. It was solid basketball by both teams but after a grueling four quarters, costly injuries, and some questionable calls, it all came down to Dispatch getting more votes.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, 2ndKitchen was unstoppable. They pulled off upset after upset, until after 5 upsets, 2ndKitchen upset Chowly in the championship game. As the number 16 seed (seeds?!), every victory came against a higher-ranked opponent. Over 133,000 votes were cast in the tournament, which ended with the two high-powered food service startups in a duel for the ages. Other commentators may say it was the votes, but I’m going to say it was strong basketball fundamentals that carried this one for 2ndKitchen.

In all seriousness, this was a fun tournament, and a great way to showcase local startups. And while they may not be carrying a trophy around U.S. Bank stadium, we are still excited to see the traction demonstrated by our portfolio companies.

Congratulations to Dispatch, 2ndKitchen, and Structural!

Tweet @jdallke to find out how they determine seeds for the Tech Madness tournament, and tag @greatnorthlabs #boomgoesthedynamite if you do. If you’re looking for work, check out the hiring pages at these great companies: Dispatch, 2ndKitchen, and Structural.

July Newsletter
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iraLogix closes $22M + Branch expands with Uber

iraLogix Closes Series C
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iraLogix closes $22M Series C

June Newsletter
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