Welcome back to the Great North Ventures newsletter! We talk about labor trends this month, with some original research from Branch and some Metaverse updates.
First the pandemic, now inflation is driving growth of the gig economy. According to a Pew Research Center survey, as of Aug 29th, 2021, 16% of Americans had earned money via an online gig platform. Specifically, driving for a ride-hailing app, shopping or delivering groceries, cleaning or assembling furniture, running errands, delivering for a restaurant, or delivering packages.
In a new report released earlier this month based on research by Marqeta and our portfolio company Branch, these gig workers are not only increasing their hours, but are giving up full-time work to to do so – with inflation as a key driver.
- 44% of gig workers started working in gigs in the past 1-3 years
- 85% have increased their gig work in the past 6 months
- 24% have quit full-time employment in the past year to pursue gig work (and 11% plan to)
- 45% have turned to gig work more in the last 6 months due to inflation (and 13% plan to)
Read more in Fortune, or listen to our recent interview with Branch’s CEO where he explains his solution for American workers.
You can now work in the Metaverse. Meta started rolling out features that allow Metaverse creators to get paid for content. While people have been getting paid for everything from building up and selling World of Warcraft accounts, to selling virtual items in Second Life, this is the beginning of monetization in the most ambitious Metaverse project yet.
It’s possible that work as we know it will change. Minneapolis-based RedRex is already in the business of building digital spaces for businesses to transition back from remote work to “in-person” collaboration.
Don’t quit your day job (or your gig work) though, as Meta has lost $10B last year and $3B in the first quarter of 2022 alone. “I’m just trying to lead the company in a way where we’re positioning ourselves as the premier company for building the future of social interaction and the metaverse,” Zuckerberg said.
What is the big opportunity with the Metaverse? According to Tipatat Chennavasin, General Manager and Co-Founder of The Venture Reality Fund, “The killer application of the Metaverse is creating content for the Metaverse.”
Hear all about this insight in our interview with Tipatat on the latest episode of Execution is King.
“Rapidly Rising Inflation Compelling More People to Enter Gig Economy to Make Ends Meet: Research” [Branch]
“Tippy Integrates with Workforce Payments Platform Branch to Launch Tip Solution”
“MedTech: Transforming Healthcare with Medical Imaging AI” [Flywheel]
“Pros to Know: How Digital Wallets Keep Freight Moving” [Branch]
“Elizabeth Heffernan Joins Micruity as Head of Partnerships and Consulting Strategy”
135 Open Positions
See all open positions on the Great North Ventures careers page
Dispatch is hiring for 43 positions
Structural is hiring for 1 position
FactoryFix is hiring for 7 positions
TeamGenius is hiring for 1 position
PrintWithMe is hiring for 16 positions
Parallax is hiring for 3 positions
Branch is hiring for 11 positions
Inhabitr is hiring for 3 positions
NoiseAware is hiring for 2 positions
PartySlate is hiring for 4 positions
Flywheel is hiring for 2 positions
Skillit is hiring for 1 position
NextGem is hiring for 2 positions
Backhouse Brands is hiring for 1 position
Yardstik is hiring for 5 positions
Micruity is hiring for 3 positions
Omnia Fishing is hiring for 11 positions
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 our last newsletter of 2020. It’s been a challenging year. We feel fortunate that the local early-stage startup scene has remained strong, and believe that investment in innovation and digital transformation will help fuel the post-pandemic economic recovery.
In 2020 Great North Labs invested a total of $5.8M, adding 14 startups to our portfolio for a total of 23. Most of the remaining capital in Fund I is allocated for follow on investing. That won’t slow us down with backing new startups as we intend to continue investing in new companies out of new funds.
Before we look forward to new investing and ring the new year, let’s take a look at the top stories of 2020 for Great North Labs. These are the topics we wrote about that resonated the most with our audience.
Top 5 Stories of 2020
The pandemic has forced sweeping changes around the world. We wrote about legislation that can spurn the economy to recovery and the increasing speed of digital transformation driving value creation in tech companies and the Midwest. We also tracked trends, curated startup resources for entrepreneurs, and encouraged giving to support local nonprofits in the tech and startup community.
2. Capacity Building
As the startup ecosystem grows, with it grows the capacity to produce breakout startups. Those startups drive economic value creation, economic activity, and job creation. This year we laid out the cash and equity, time and effort donated, re-affirming the commitment laid out in our Founders Pledge and our give-first mentality.
3. Resilient Startups
Startups have to be capital efficient and nimble to survive a downturn. The Midwest in general is know for capital efficiency and the grit required. We dug up a list of resilient startups in Minnesota that not only survived, but thrived after coming through a recession. We also pointed out how to spot a good consumer app startup, and paired with CliftonLarsonAllen to explain how investors may be able to get 100% capital gains exclusion by investing in these startups as angels or through venture funds.
4. George Floyd
The American Dream is one of a meritocracy, where those who work hard and well are rewarded. This dream is still not a reality for many Americans who face systemic inequities. BIPOC individuals face economic deprivation due to these inequities, which have profound and compounding effects. The events surrounding the death of George Floyd drove home the fact that we need to continue to work to provide equitable opportunities for success through charitable giving, training, and mentorship, and track progress in the number of founders we see.
5. 2020 World Economic Forum
Great North Labs was honored to be invited to the 50th Anniversary World Economic Forum in Davos back in January of 2020. Managing Partner Pradip Madan spoke about our investment thesis, digital transformation, and increasing innovation in the private and public sector in front of leaders from around the world and appeared on CNN Money in Switzerland. Pradip also hosted roundtable discussions on “Business models and strategies that will hallmark the next phase of global economic transformation” with The Digital Economist, and participated as a sponsor for the International Women Business Leaders Reception.
Launch MN Expert Exchange
Launch Minnesota has put out a call for mentors and experts to join their Expert Exchange. “The Minnesota Expert Network is a statewide program to help entrepreneurs find the right support and bring avenues for engagement, networking, and project development for startups at different stages of growth.”
Interested subject matter experts, project supporters, and business mentors can find more information here.
Here is a mix of upcoming events for investors, founders, and/or ecosystem supporters. All events listed are virtual.
- Jan. 12th, the BETA Spring Cohort application opens.
- Jan. 22nd, application deadline for Developing Your Lean Startup. This is the Lean Startup School cohort with Red Wing Ignite and ILT Academy from Feb. 6th through April 1st.
- Jan. 22nd, LaunchMN Friday Forum.
- Deadline TBD, gBeta Greater MN-St. Cloud Spring Cohort. The application is now open for the accelerator program, which will run from Mar. 4th through April 23rd.
- Feb. 25th, BETA State of the State. The event is “a tight, informative download on Minnesota’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Brief updates will be shared by founders, community leaders, and regional thought leaders to provide a comprehensive overview of the area’s most exciting activities.”
iraLogix is new to the Great North Labs portfolio! iraLogix is an advanced, institutional IRA record-keeping and trading technology offering web-based institutional IRA record-keeping services. We led a $7.5M round that included Circadian Ventures, Trog Hawley Capital, and Riverfront Ventures.
“We needed a Plan B.” PartySlate, the visual platform for event planning, has moved into virtual events.
“Plyo App Inspires Active Lifestyles.” Plyo is partnering with Big Ten Schools to promote active lifestyles.
“Study: Work From Home Transitioning Resident Amenity Needs at Apartment Communities.” PrintWithMe has expanded their self-service printer service to 49 states, while a study confirms that their service is an in-demand amenity for those who work from home in an apartment building.
Dispatch is hiring a Product Marketing Content Creator, and a Senior Ruby on Rails Developer for Remote work.
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.
TeamGenius is hiring a Customer Success Manager, and Lead Engineer-Mobile Development based in Minneapolis, MN.
PrintWithMe is hiring Customer Support Reps in Houston, TX and Washington, D.C. Regional Sales Directors for East Coast, South Central, and South East regions; Director, Demand Generation, Operations Lead, and a Winter 2021 MBA Strategy Intern in Chicago, IL.
Parallax is hiring an Experienced Product Designer in Edina, MN.
Branch is hiring a Senior iOS Engineer and Android Engineer for remote work. Also a Consumer Marketing Manager, Account Executive (Mid-Market), and Channel Sales Manager in Minneapolis, MN.
Inhabitr is hiring a Chief Growth Officer/Head of B2C Growth, Digital Marketing Lead, Operations and technology Associate, Operations Manager – B2B, and a Sales and Customer Experience Associate in Chicago, IL. Also, Product and Technology Associates in Miami, FL, Los Angeles, CA, Austin, TX, Dallas, TX, and Phoenix, AZ; a Junior Interior Designer in Los Angeles, CA, and a Product Manager in Alpharetta, GA.
Clinician Nexus is hiring a Customer Success Manager in Minneapolis, MN.
NoiseAware is hiring a VP of Marketing, a QA Technician (independent contractor), Senior Director of Software Engineering, People Operations Generalist, Account Manager, and a Customer Advocate in Dallas, TX.
Tech Sector’s Growth has Accelerated
It is no secret that during the pandemic, the tech sector is delivering stronger returns than other sectors.
As examples, underlying the stock prices, Zoom sessions increased from 10M daily in Dec 2019 to 200M daily in March 2020. Daily broadband usage in the US jumped from 13.2GB in March 2020 to 15.3GB in August 2020. Over the 10 years from 2009-19, US e-commerce penetration went from from 5.6 to 27%. E-Books have been flying off e-library shelves. Doctors are seeing patients via e-health. E-ceremonies are delivering graduations, weddings, and birthday events.
Communications, software, biotech, and e-commerce have been among the best performers. On the other hand, non-tech sectors such as airlines, cruise lines, casinos, and automotive, have receded. And in low-growth or stagnant sectors, the tech-enabled disruptors have grown the fastest. For example, in entertainment, witness the growth of streaming media at the expense of cable services. Or in education, witness the growth of e-learning enabled enterprises.
Pandemic as Change Agent
Why have Zoom, Twilio, Shopify, and Atlassian become runaway successes? The COVID crisis has boosted them more than most other companies: Zoom for everyone to run businesses, schools, events; Twilio for cloud communications; Shopify to find online growth while controlling one’s destiny compared to selling on Amazon; Atlassian to manage projects; and several others.
As humbling as it is to acknowledge this fact, while venture capital and venture firms are recognized as drivers of digital transformation, the pandemic has been a much bigger factor in driving growth. At Great North Labs we terminated our office lease and deployed reporting methods for our portfolio companies that enable electronic data transfer and analysis. We conducted our own 2020 annual meeting as an e-meeting. In lieu of serving hors d’ouvres at a live event, we used a local startup to send Giftbombs. As much as we have pondered these ideas in times past, the pandemic is motivating this digital transformation.
Where to Invest?
So, in this mix, where should we invest?
- Money market funds? They will not keep up with inflation.
- Real estate? Only if you want a traditional rate of return.
- The stock market? Only if you invest in tech and tech-enabled businesses with strong balance sheets. And if you need easy liquidity.
- Venture capital? Maybe.
Venture capital has the potential of highest value creation of any asset class. All the big tech companies started as venture-funded startups. Imagine if you had invested a few dollars in them when they were young. The negatives of venture investments are that they are not liquid for several years. So, if you can invest and wait, this is a good option. Another key negative is that many investments fail. For this reason, investing as family and friends from a limited pool you have access to is riskier than from vetting across a large pipeline by a venture fund.
It is also true that innovative companies get started at the highest rate during downturns and discontinuities, such as the pandemic crisis we are in now. As a result, more than ever, the world is now teeming with start-ups building solutions to make the world better with high capital efficiency. And they are targeting every sector: healthtech with new drugs and vaccines; supply chains with secure ledgers; insuretech with more tailored insurance; fintech with better access to and management of personal or enterprise capital; foodtech for better food and access; mediatech for pervasive information and media access…you see the picture. Then there are startups enabling these companies: companies enabling training and placement of specialized workers; companies delivering customer service more effectively; companies providing remote accounting, legal, and marketing; and companies training and retraining workers for the future – in product development, customer service, accounting, marketing, demand generation, or anything else.
The world does not need more brick-and-mortar businesses sustained by PPP loans. They can reinforce or repair moats, but we will get better returns from supporting the young innovators. The world needs startups that build value in the post-pandemic world in capital efficient ways, and help the brick-and-mortar incumbents get a new lease on life.
The Decade Ahead
How long will this new wave of startups continue, and what is the period over which their value creation will deliver returns?
The impact of past pandemics – smallpox, yellow fever, bubonic plague – rippled through economies for decades, and caused permanent changes. Among other things, outcomes of past pandemics included industrial equipment for productivity increases to offset population losses, vaccines for health, social safety nets, and new fiscal and monetary policy. Many of these changes have now been part of our lives for decades and in some cases centuries.
In the current pandemic, we have already seen seismic shifts. Post-COVID, the seedlings of Silicon Valley are sprouting at an ever-faster rate in Middle America and many other locations worldwide. At Great North Labs, we believe venture investing and the creation of new enterprises will spawn a new productivity cycle that will permeate economies across the globe over the coming years and decades. In the widespread, tech-enabled economic recovery that we are already seeing, the current venture investment cycle which will seed new startups may well be among the more productive than its recent predecessors.
NOTE: THIS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER OR SOLICITATION WITH RESPECT TO GREAT NORTH FUND INTERESTS IN ANY JURISDICTION IN WHICH SUCH OFFER OR SOLICITATION WOULD BE UNLAWFUL.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
- May 7th is the E1 Ignite Cup Pitch Competition, hosted by Red Wing Ignite and their E1 Southeast Minnesota Partners. First place becomes an automatic MN Cup semi-finalist! Plus $500 cash from Great North Labs, 30 min. mentoring sessions from each judge, and a spot in the Startup School cohort from ILT Studios. Ryan Weber will be speaking.
- May 14th is gener8tor’s Lunch & Learn: VC and Fundraising Today. Rob Weber will be speaking along with Ann Winblad (Founding Partner, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners) and Sean Higgins (CEO, BetterYou) about the VC and startup financing future, post-COVID.
- May 14th is gBETA Milwaukee, Madison, and Northeast Wisconsin Virtual Pitch Night. Join the webinar to hear 5-minute pitches from the Spring 2020 startup cohort.
- May 15th is Walleye Tank: COVID-19 Showcase. Walleye Tank events are generally pitch events, but this one is in showcase format, with a focus on coming together to support COVID-19 solution initiatives. The showcase will highlight Minnesota innovators and community leaders stepping up to COVID-19 challenges. MN DEED Commissioner Steve Grove will speak, and 12-15 innovators and community leaders will tell their stories. The audience will be presented with various opportunities to help each of the leaders such as providing connections, mentoring, or funds.
- June 23-25th is Collision. Described by Politico as “The Olympics of Tech”, this massive annual tech conference is going virtual this year. With SXSW canceled this year, this may be the top tech event of 2020 after CES. Ticket prices go up today!
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“.
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.
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.
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!
Welcome to our state directory for startups seeking COVID-19 resources! Last month we whittled the plethora of resources available down to the essentials here. We certainly weren’t the first to provide a guide, and we realized that with the proliferation of the same information over many sources, it would also be valuable to provide this state-based directory for startups looking for one-stop COVID-19 resources.
Many state efforts have been overshadowed as the federal stimulus and loan programs dominate conversations of economic recovery and small business support. The federal programs for small business relief include the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) EIDL and PPP loans. But since applications opened, there has been a crush of applications, with some large lenders refusing to accept applications or imposing requirements (such as an applicant needing to be a pre-existing customer, or holding certain accounts, etc.). Some lenders are so overwhelmed they have already stopped taking applications.
So where else can startups turn? There are small business support organizations and government bodies in every state that have been providing assistance and guidance before “COVID-19” and “startups” were even a thing. This assistance includes grant programs, disaster assistance, bridge loans, training, advice, and more. Most of these pages also feature links to federal programs, so you may have to drill down to find the state-specific resources.
Here is where to look for COVID-19 resources in your state.
MN DEED (Department of Employment and Economic Development)
Info and Resources for Employers and Businesses
Office of the Treasurer
Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program
Iowa Economic Development Authority
COVID-19: Iowa Business Recovery Assistance
Wisconsin Small Business Development Center
COVID-19: How we can help businesses
Center for Technology and Business
Coronavirus Resources for Small Businesses
South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development
Ohio Department of Health
Resources for Economic Support
Michigan’s Small Business Development Center
Supporting Your Small Business During COVID-19
Indiana Small Business Development Center
Nebraska Department of Economic Development
Kansas Department of Commerce
Missouri Department of Health and Human Services
Maine Department of Economic & Community Development
New Hampshire Small Business Development Center
State of Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development
COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
COVID-19 Resources and Guidance for Businesses
Rhode Island Commerce
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
NYC Small Business Services
Financial Assistance for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
Department of Labor & Workforce Development
NJDOL and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Employers & Businesses Should Know
PA Chamber of Business and Industry
Business Resources for Coronavirus
Delaware Division of Small Business
COVID-19 Information for DE Small Businesses
Maryland Department of Commerce
Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses
The Commonwealth of Virginia
Coronavirus Actions and Support- Support for Businesses
West Virginia Development Office
COVID-19 Business Relief Resources and Information
Team Kentucky- Cabinet for Economic Development
Business-related COVD-19 guidance, resources and FAQs
Solutions for N.C. Business &Employers | COVID-19 Resources
South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
COVID-19 Information & Resources Hub
Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development
COVID-19 Small Business Resources
COVID-19: Support for Businesses
Florida Small Business Development Center
COVID-19 Business Disaster Recovery Assistance
Alabama Small Business Development Center
Small Business Guidance on COVID-19
Mississippi Economic Council
Coronavirus- Resources for Employers
Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center
Louisiana Economic Development
Texas Economic Development
U.S. Small Business Administration
COVID-19 Resources and Information
Wyoming Business Council
COVID-19 Resources for Employers
COVID-19 Small Business Response Resources
New Mexico Economic Development Department
Help for Businesses Negatively Impacted by the COVID-19 Health Emergency
Arizona Commerce Authority
Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance
Nevada COVID-19 Response-Business Information Network
California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development
Small Business Resource Navigator
Small Business Liaison Team
COVID-19 Business Resources for Washington State
Alaska Small Business Development Center
Hawaii Chamber of Commerce
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.
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.
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.
- Apr. 2nd is gBETA Medtech Virtual Pitch Night. The companies will do a five-minute pitch followed by Q&A. The companies are: Anatomi, Laplace Interventional, Sandstone, StimSherpa, and Visana Health.
- Apr. 14-16th is IoT Fuse. This year’s conference has moved to a virtual format, with tickets now $20 (dropped from $80). “IoT Fuse is a non-profit (501.c.3) professional network of makers, innovators, and business leaders in the Internet of Things space. Based in Minneapolis, IoT Fuse is the largest group of its kind in the United States.” It includes two days of IoT workshops prior to the conference portion on the 16th, where Rob Weber is speaking on a VC panel.
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.
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.
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.