The Rise of Rapid Consumer Detection Technologies: A 2022 Outlook

COVID-19 has sensitized us to the burden of infections, illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths that can result from living in a globalized world. At the end of 2021, nearly 150 million Americans were estimated to have been infected with COVID. Even for those of us fortunate to have not been infected or symptomatically ill, the nightmare has been around us. And given its high prevalence, the virus has almost certainly affected someone we know.

While the costs and disruptions from COVID are still being tallied – lives lost, schools closed, travel curtailed, offices emptied, and businesses shuttered – numerous start-ups are rising to not only tackle the pandemic but also prevent future ones. 

Their efforts have targeted not only COVID, but also other common sources of infection such as strep and urinary tract infection bacteria. This trend is motivated as much by the emergence of new pathogens as it is opportunities to improve detection speed, sensitivity, specificity, ease of use, and access compared to earlier over-the-counter and at-home tests, or make them available for personal use whereas until now they had been confined to labs. Examples of companies offering these new tests include EverlyWell, Cue, Proov, Poppy, as well as one of our portfolio companies, Allergy Amulet. 

With advances in physical chemistry, the science around rapid, point-of-consumption detection has been advancing quickly. Electronics and electromechanical device innovations are simultaneously enabling detection systems that are more compact and portable. Allergy Amulet’s first product is a consumer device that detects allergenic ingredients in food, helping those with food allergies better determine whether their food is safe. Future applications include toxin, pathogen, and pesticide detection. 

At Great North Ventures, we are excited to support entrepreneurs seeking to make the world healthier and safer. The rise of rapid, simple, point-of-use detection technologies promises just that.

Welcome to the Great North Ventures newsletter!

Yes, you read that correctly: Great North VenturesWe have had some big news come out lately, and the name change to Great North Ventures better reflects our organization.
 

We Launched a Venture Studio

The Great North Venture Studio co-creates startups to tackle focused market opportunities. We pair with talented founders and operators to generate 1-2 startups every year. The first startup is a consumer app in the collectible sports card trading space. 

Read more about the venture studio in our announcement.

“While there is no shortage of good business ideas, a dilemma exists in how those ideas are executed, Rob Weber said. The studio model curtails this hurdle, while offering funds such as Great North Ventures an advantage in the ultracompetitive investment market, especially with more early-stage funds entering the scene, by creating proprietary deal flow, he said.” (Read more in the Star Tribune)

The ideal companies that will launch from the studio are quick-to-market, digital products focused on health care and life sciences, financial services, consumers, real estate, transport and logistics, workforce development and education, and business-to-business.
 

New Name, New Venture Studio, and New Fund

These changes  are all connected to our investing. As we complete our final investments from our inaugural fund and start investing from Fund II, we have evolved our model. 

By co-creating ventures, we will produce unique deals for investors, and unique opportunities for talented operators.

By widening our geographic focus to invest in founders wherever they are, we are open to more quality early-stage opportunities and founders. 

By changing our name, we reflect these changes from our Fund I model to our new investment strategy. 

Stay tuned for more changes as we update our content and presence across online platforms, to clarify and better serve investors, founders, and talented operators. 

Portfolio News

SiteKick is new to the Great North Ventures portfolio! SiteKick is a construction site monitoring and reporting software platform intended to effortlessly monitor and report on critical construction site activities.

Allergy Amulet closed a $4.1M round of funding. “The world’s smallest & fastest consumer food allergen sensor” will officially launch in late 2021. 

Flywheel‘s CTO, Gunnar Schaefer, did a Q&A with the Tech Tribune where he talks about working in medical imaging at Stanford, realizing a huge problem presented to researchers, and how Flywheel solves it. 
 

Job Board

Dispatch is hiring
Territory Sales Manager- Las Vegas, NV/REMOTE
Territory Sales Manager- Phoenix, AZ/REMOTE
Territory Sales Manager- Tucson, AZ/REMOTE
Territory Sales Manager – West Region – REMOTE (OR)
Territory Sales Manager – West Region – REMOTE(UT)
Territory Sales Manager – Mid Atlantic – REMOTE
Territory Sales Manager – South Atlantic – REMOTE
Software Engineering Manager – REMOTE
Vice President of Product – REMOTE
Business Development Intern – REMOTE

Structuralis hiring
Director of Sales – Twin Cities, MN or Indianapolis, IN, or REMOTE
Enterprise Sales Consultant – West Coast or East Coast
Implementation Specialist – Twin Cities, MN or Indianapolis, IN

FactoryFixis hiring
Senior Full Stack Developer – Chicago, IL or Madison, WI or REMOTE
Infrastructure Developer – DevOps – Madison, WI
Account Executive – Chicago, IL

TeamGeniusis hiring
Vice President, Marketing – Minneapolis, MN or REMOTE
Lead Engineer, Mobile Development – Minneapolis, MN

2ndKitchenis hiring
Backend Developer – New York City, Chicago, or REMOTE
Frontend Developer – New York City, Chicago, or REMOTE
Account Executive, Hotels – Chicago, IL

PrintWithMe ishiring
Regional Multifamily Housing Sales Director (East Coast) – Philadelphia, PA
Regional Multifamily Housing Sales Director (East Coast) – Washington, D.C.
Regional Multifamily Housing Sales Director (West Coast) – Sacramento, CA
National Account Director, Multifamily Housing – Chicago, IL
Director, Demand Generation – Chicago, IL
Inside Sales Manager, Training – Chicago, IL
Strategy Intern (MBA) – Chicago, IL
IT Network Support Specialist – Chicago, IL
Technical Support Specialist – Chicago, IL
Inventory and Logistics Specialist (Part Time) – Chicago, IL
Shipping and Receiving Technician (Part Time) – Chicago, IL

Parallaxis hiring
Customer Success Consultant (CSC) – Edina, MN
Customer Success Specialist (CSS) – Edina, MN

Branch is hiring
Senior Android Engineer – REMOTE
Data Science Engineer – REMOTE
Sr. Software Engineer – Minneapolis, MN or REMOTE

Inhabitr is hiring
Chief Growth Officer/Head of B2C Growth – Chicago, IL
Sales and Customer Experience Associate – Chicago, IL

Clinician Nexusis hiring
Customer Success Manager – Minneapolis, MN

NoiseAwareis hiring
Customer Advocate – Dallas, TX or REMOTE
Strategic Account Manager – Dallas/Austin/Denver or REMOTE
Cloud Solutions Architect – REMOTE
Front End Developer – Dallas/Austin, TX or REMOTE
Senior IT Specialist – Dallas/Austin, TX or REMOTE
Senior Demand Generation Manager – REMOTE
Senior Partner Marketing Manager – REMOTE
Scrum Master- Dallas/Austin, TX or REMOTE
Director of Product Management- Austin/Dallas, TX or REMOTE
Software Product Manager- Dallas/Austin, TX or REMOTE

PartySlate is hiring
Account Executive- Chicago, IL

Flywheelis hiring
Director of Marketing, Demand Generation – REMOTE
Frontend Engineer- REMOTE
Platform Engineer (DevOps)- REMOTE

Welcome back to the Great North Labs newsletter!

With so many great startups getting acquired or going IPO lately, one wonders: What do founders do when they score these big windfalls?
 

How Do Founders Spend Their Cash?

Rob Weber was curious, so he asked other successful founders from the region about their post-exit strategies. Do they do the kind of flashy things coastal entrepreneurs do? You know, like buy an island or a 100-foot yacht or something?

From Lamborghinis to Hamm’s beer signs, traveling the world to giving back to their local entrepreneurial communities, these founders have quite the stories. 

Read the full article in BuiltIn Chicago,

The Weird and Wonderful Things Midwest Founders do After They’ve Had a Big Exit“. 
 

How University of St. Thomas Raises Up Startup Entrepreneurship


The University of St. Thomas (UST) has ~10,000 students, with over 34,000 business school alumni around the world. Recently, UST announced the end of their full-time MBA offering. At first glance, that may seem like a blow to the future of entrepreneurial development at the university. We dug into the details to get a better of picture of what’s going on at the university to support innovation, startups, and entrepreneurs. 

“We Don’t Need No [full-time MBA] Education” highlights the meaningful startup and entrepreneurship efforts at UST, as the university innovates its own educational offerings. 

Our Senior Analyst, Mike Schulte (JD/MBA ’17), shared his experience and insights into the university including these highlights: 

Events

Here is a mix of upcoming events for investors, founders, and/or ecosystem supporters. All events listed are virtual unless otherwise noted.

Portfolio News

Flywheel is new to the Great North Labs portfolio! Flywheel is the leading research data platform that provides the tools needed for data import, automated curation, image processing, machine learning workflows, and secure collaboration. By leveraging cloud scalability and automating research workflows, Flywheel helps organizations scale research data and analysis, improve scientific collaboration and accelerate discoveries.

Allergy Amulet launched their product! “The world’s smallest & fastest consumer food allergen sensor” quickly sold out. Sign up on the Allergy Amulet website to receive info on future release dates. 

“Flywheel raises $15 mn co-led by Beringea and 8VC”. Flywheel’s series-B round included Great North Labs as well as well-known global VCs.

“Venture capitalists invested a record $1.9B in Minnesota in 2020”. The $1.9B in VC included EmpowerU’s recent raise, along with Bright Health, Arctic Wolf, and Revol Greens. 

See our Job Board

Last month we wrote about the history of local startups that were formed during a recession and went on to success, including local unicorn Jamf. The conversation quickly turned to what that means for founders and investors. 

Starting Up in a Downturn

The idea is that while many startups are beat down by strong headwinds, those that are resilient and adapt to stay aloft are better-positioned to take off post-recession. The local, successful startups that have come out of downturns offer compelling evidence to support this idea proposed by Rob Weber. 

Lee Schafer delved into the topic in his Star Tribune article, “Can a downturn actually be the right time to start a business?” and spoke with Scott Burns, CEO of Structural and former CEO of GovDelivery.

Managing Partner Rob Weber’s own previous company, NativeX, was a startup success that came out of a recession.

Scott agrees that it’s probably true that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, but he doesn’t think that it’s better to start in a recession. Specifically, he laments the opportunities lost that he didn’t pursue when they presented themselves. 

“When CEO of GovDelivery during trying times, he said, ‘we were so beat up we lost our ability to move fast when the opportunities did arrive.’”

Investing During a Downturn

Few people would disagree with Scott that running a startup during a recession is a difficult position. Being a startup founder is incredibly tough even in easy times. But if founders can run lean and stay agile, they might come out of the pressure cooker with a proven, capital-efficient business.

In the Midwest, capital efficiency is already a necessity for startups. We have 10% of US venture-backed startups, but only 5% of funding. For investors, this can mean attractive returns on investments. Specifically, a 5.17x median MOIC (Multiple on Invested Capital).

There is opportunity to be found in a recession. The next GovDelivery, NativeX, and Jamf could be out there right now.

The trick is to keep yourself willing and able to move on those opportunities when they arrive.

Events

Here are some interesting upcoming events. They are all virtual.

Portfolio News

Allergy Amulet is new to the Great North Labs portfolio! Allergy Amulet is a fast & portable food allergen & ingredient sensor. The wearable device is paired with test strips, and is the world’s smallest & fastest consumer food allergen sensor. Read more at Crunchbase.

“Indeed acquires recruiting process automation platform ZapInfo”. Jobs site Indeed has acquired ZapInfo!

“Misty the robot graces Fierce AI Week in engineering”. Misty demonstrated it’s use as a temperature screening assistant for COVID-19.

“PrintWithMe Announces National Partnership With RangeWater Real Estate”. PrinWithMe has partnered with a manager of 50,000+ multifamily housing units.

“Pitchly completes $2.5 million investment round”. Pitchly has completed a $2.5M capital raise.

Job Board

Dispatch is hiring a Business Development Representative, Data Engineer, and Quality Assurance Engineer in Bloomington, MN; a remote Ruby Developer. They are also hiring Territory Sales Managers in Albuquerque,NM; Denver, CO; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; Seattle, WA; and Tucson, AZ. 

FactoryFix is hiring a Team Lead – Full Stack Developer, Full Stack Developer, and Infrastructure Developer- DevOps in Madison, WI; and a Sales Development Representative  in Chicago, IL, Indianapolis, IN, or Madison, WI.

PrintWithMe is hiring a Regional Sales Director on the East Coast; AR/AP Specialist, Inside Sales Executive in Chicago, IL; Customer Service Representative, Marketing Director, and a Fall 2020 Strategy Intern (MBA) for Remote work.

Parallax is hiring a Growth/Experienced Business Development Representative in Minneapolis, MN; Experienced Product Designer, and Head of Customer Success & Product Ownership in Edina, MN. 

Branch is hiring a Data Platform Manager, Senior Backend Engineer, Senior Software Engineer, Customer Success Manager, Customer Support Rep, and Fraud Agent in Minneapolis, MN.

Inhabitr is hiring a Chief Growth Officer/Head of B2C Growth, and a Sales and Customer Experience Associate in Chicago, IL.

Clinician Nexus is hiring for Customer Support I in Minneapolis, MN. 

NoiseAware is hiring a COO, VP of Global Sales & Account Management, Embedded Developer, QA Technician (independent contractor), Account Manager, and a Customer Advocate in Dallas, TX.

July Newsletter
Great North Ventures

iraLogix closes $22M + Branch expands with Uber

iraLogix Closes Series C
Great North Ventures

iraLogix closes $22M Series C

June Newsletter
Great North Ventures

Flywheel lands Gates Foundation grant

We're Hiring
Great North Ventures

Venture Capital Analyst

We're Hiring
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Executive Assistant – Venture Capital Firm

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

Fund II Theses: Solving Labor Problems
Great North Ventures

Investment Theme: Solving Labor Problems

April Newsletter
Great North Ventures

Trends in the Gig Economy + Work in the Metaverse

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Josef Siebert

MinneBar 14 Recap

Minnesota Innovation Collaborative
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Minnesota Innovation Collaborative

engineer and various business information. Internet of things industry.
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IoT 3.0

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Great North Ventures

Healthcare Innovation