Welcome back to the Great North Ventures newsletter! We have a couple of big raises to report, along with updates and job listings from our portfolio.

Branch has raised $75M in Series C funding. With $133M raised to date, Branch has grown 2,000% in the last three years and has had 700% year-over-year platform growth in 2021. Funds will be used to double their headcount from the current 120, and to expand to a second location in Tampa.

Atif Siddiqi, CEO of Branch, joined Rob Weber and Josef Siebert on the podcast before the round was announced. We talked fundraising, deciding when to pivot, and knowing when to call on your mom to bust heads and get your Nintendo games back.

Full episode here: “Execution is King: Interview with Atif Siddiqi”

Dispatch has raised $50M in Series C funding. This is one of our very first investments from Fund I! “Dispatch said it has grown revenue at about 175% year-over-year in each of the past two years and it has doubled its headcount in that time frame.”

The round will support Dispatch’s expansion into 50 more markets across the country, and enable continued growth of its delivery management software for both customers and drivers.

Y Combinator’s latest batch of startups presented this week. Winter 2022 Demo Day had 394 startups presenting to over 1500 investors. This is the first year where every accelerator participant startup received the new standard deal from YC. The deal includes $125k in exchange for 7% equity in the startup, plus a new $375K SAFE note with favorable terms for YC. 

The move has garnered mixed reactions with some claiming that microfunds and angels will be pushed out of these deals, and others praising the move as major pressure relief for founders coming out of YC. 

What is certain is that the additional $375K will affect seed investors around the world, as top startups won’t have to raise immediately out of the program. Of 3650 total YC alumni, 2498 are in the US, and 4 YC alumni in Minnesota: LEAH Labs, Novel, Fanchatter, and Pyrls.

Portfolio News


Omnia Fishing is new to the Great North Ventures portfolio! Read more here: “Omnia Fishing Raises $4 Million

Branch raises $75M to help workers get paid faster

Logistics startup Dispatch raises $50M, will double geographic presence

Inhabitr moves HQ to West Coast, adds key California markets

NoiseAware taps Kevin Locraft as CEO” 

Pittsburgh fintech firm partners with The Retirement Learning Center” [IRALOGIX]

135 Open Positions

See all open positions on the Great North Ventures careers page

Dispatch is hiring for 49 positions

Structural is hiring for 1 position

FactoryFix is hiring for 5 positions

TeamGenius is hiring for 6 position

PrintWithMe is hiring for 11 positions

Parallax is hiring for 7 positions

Branch is hiring for 12 positions

Inhabitr is hiring for 3 positions

PartySlate is hiring for 9 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 9 positions

Micruity is hiring for 6 positions

Omnia Fishing is hiring for 11 positions

Welcome back to the Great North Ventures newsletter! We have some great funding news, insights for founders and investors from our partners, and a former Yahoo and Disney exec on our podcast, Una Fox!

FactoryFix has raised a $10M Series A. The company has grown it’s revenue by over 400% in the past year, and expanded its talent network to more than 300,000. Grotech Ventures led the round which included Great North Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Capital Midwest, and JFF Labs.

“The manufacturing industry in the US is buzzing right now. Every company we talk to has turned down business at some point because they didn’t have enough qualified people to fulfill the order,” said CEO Patrick O’Rahilly. 

If you’re interested in a humorous take on the state of American manufacturing, check out FactoryFix’s off-beat, “The Office” style YouTube comedy series

In Episode 9 of “Execution is King” we feature Una Fox, a Chief Global Data & Analytics Officer and former Yahoo and Disney exec. Una provides great guidance for founders on what it means to really be data-driven, and how to build that into your venture from the beginning. 

“You know, startup a founder might be thinking, ‘Well, there’s only two of us here. What does that mean?’ It means that you have to bring the data to any discussion and stand up, any meeting when you’re getting together.” 

Who does Una see executing? A VR wellness company called Tripp.

Visit the Great North Ventures website for some fresh insights from our Managing Partners.

Pradip Madan talks about the outlook for Rapid Consumer Detection Technologies in 2022. Spoiler alert: The outlook is good. 

Rob Weber talks through whether founders should start with a native mobile app or a web app. Spoiler alert: the title gives it away. “Start With a Mobile App, Not a Website”.

Portfolio Updates


FactoryFix, a Recruiting Platform for Manufacturers to Hire Workers, Raises $10M Series A

Allergy Amulet Secures NSF Funding for Lactose Detection

NextGem’s waitlist is open for early users. If you’re interested in trading cards or testing the app, check it out.

TeamGenius has released Hockey Labs, a new youth hockey training app

131 Open Positions

See all open positions on the Great North Ventures careers page

Dispatch is hiring for 74 positions

Structural is hiring for 3 positions

FactoryFix is hiring for 4 positions

TeamGenius is hiring for 1 position

Pitchly is hiring for 4 positions

PrintWithMe is hiring for 8 positions

Parallax is hiring for 5 positions

Branch is hiring for 17 positions

Inhabitr is hiring for 2 positions

Clinician Nexus is hiring for 1 position

NoiseAware is hiring for 1 position

PartySlate is hiring for 6 positions

Flywheel is hiring for 2 positions

NextGem is hiring for 2 positions

Backhouse Brands is hiring for 1 position

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

Welcome back to the Great North Ventures newsletter! This month we have advice for founders featured in our latest podcast episode.

In the latest episode of “Execution is King” we feature the best advice for founders, recorded live at our 2021 Annual Event.

What is the Great North Annual Event? Every year, we gather investors, founders, and ecosystem builders together for networking and progress updates.

This year, we captured advice from our stakeholders, people who have proven they can execute.

Listen to the full episode for guidance on:

  1. Hiring and Firing
  2. Leadership
  3. Go to market

…and more.

Two ventures from our venture studio, NextGem and Backhouse Brands, are hiring. If you are interested in getting in early with a high-growth startup opportunity, check out these open positions.

Portfolio Updates

Flywheel Partners with Roche and Genentech to Accelerate
Development of Personalized Healthcare Solutions


vWise partners with IRALOGIX to enable rapid deployment of IRA solutions

Outstate MN: Innovation in Central Minnesota [ZenLord Pro]

Hot 25 Startups 2022: NoiseAware


105 Open Positions

See all open positions on the Great North Ventures careers page

Dispatch is hiring for 70 positions

FactoryFix is hiring for 6 positions

Parallax is hiring for 2 positions

Branch is hiring for 16 positions

Inhabitr is hiring for 3 positions

NoiseAware is hiring for 2 positions

PartySlate is hiring for 2 positions

Flywheel is hiring for 1 position

NextGem is hiring for 2 positions

Backhouse Brands is hiring for 1 position

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

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

1. COVID-19

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.

Our piece on giving during the pandemic highlighted some of the contributions by our portfolio along with our own efforts.

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

Events

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

Portfolio News

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. 

Job Board

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.

Today it was announced that last quarter’s drop in GDP was the second largest ever recorded. Overall US economic output fell by 9.5%. This dire news comes on the heels of fantastic news for the MN tech startup community: the largest IPO from a Minnesota company ever, Jamf’s $468M IPO and $4.7B market cap. 

Minnesota’s Resilient Startups


In good times, founding a startup is hard. Being a successful operator is even harder. Add in the challenging times and limited resources of a recession, and you wind up with a pressure cooker that will test teams, products, and people to their limits. 

There is a history of successful companies weathering recessions, however. While some startups crumble under the pressure, others become diamonds. We compiled a list of Minnesota’s Resilient Startups to showcase some of our state’s startup successes that not only weathered tough times, but were formed during recessions

Leveraging Resilient Founders


It’s no coincidence that many of our operating partners appear on that list. We believe that successful founders and operators make the best early stage investors because they’ve had to scale an emerging technology company before. Leveraging that experience to identify, invest in, and support startups is what makes Great North Labs unique compared to most seed funds.

Tech.MN recently interviewed Managing Partner Rob Weber about his own experience as a founder of a NativeX, which was founded in the wake of the dot-com bust. Rob also talks about what led him and Ryan Weber to found Great North Labs.

Managing Partner Rob Weber shares the vision of Great North Labs and the impetus for its founding on the Tech.MN podcast.

“For us, I have gotten to know a lot of other founders in Minnesota and the surrounding region and many of them, either through their business model or whatever, required more early-stage capital than we did. And I heard about how terrible it was for them to raise money the last 10-20 years.

I just thought, ‘We can do this. We can invest in these companies and we can make money doing so.’

And that’s what compelled me to write checks. It was almost a feeling of obligation. We got a little bit of capital, and great mentorship, from these guys from Silicon Valley and I just thought, ‘We could do this here.’” – Rob Weber

Even with the challenges of a recession, we are positioned to continue contributing to a cycle of growth. We continue to build capacity in the innovation ecosystem by cultivating, capitalizing, and contributing to startup successes in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. 

Events

Here are some interesting events rounding out the summer lineup. 

Portfolio News


“CCRCs to participate in $3 million test of robots to curb resident loneliness, apathy”– Misty is encouraging social interaction in retirement homes in this study with Misty Robotics.

“The Lowdown on Discounts”– OSU campus publication featuring discounts from Plyo.

“PrintWithMe Announces National Partnership With Invesco Real Estate”– PrintWithMe agreement with 28th largest apartment owner in the US.

“Property risk increases as booking behaviour changes” – Problem trend, with success stories from NoiseAware.

Job Board

Dispatch is hiring a Business Development Representative, Driver Engagement Agent, Inbound Marketing Specialist, Cloud Engineer, Data Engineer, Manager-Software Engineering, Quality Assurance Engineer, Software Engineer, and Support Engineer in Bloomington, MN. 

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

PrintWithMe is hiring a Regional Sales Director on the East Coast; AR/AP Specialist, Inside Sales Executive in Chicago, IL; ; a Software Engineer, Account Manager, and Marketing Director for Remote work.

Parallax is hiring a Growth/Experienced Business Development Representative in Minneapolis, MN. 

Branch is hiring a Data Platform Manager, Senior Backend Engineer, and Solutions Engineer in Minneapolis, MN or Remote; and a Customer Success Manager in Minneapolis, MN.

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

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

October 2017

Thanks for being a friend of Great North Labs. We are excited to share an update with you regarding our new Venture Fund and affiliated Startup School. Thank you for your interest!

October marks just our 5th month of existence. Our top priority the past two months has been raising capital for our fund. We’ve also been taking meetings with startups but investing is on hold until the completion of our initial close.

Additionally, we’ve been working on further developing our business strategy and plan for the fund & startup school. This includes developing an organizational plan for all of Great North Labs. Expect to see a revamped web-site later in October with more details about our strategy and plan.

Startup School Events Lean Startups Bootcamp Date: Every Monday from 6pm 8:30pm from 10/23 to 11/20

Instructor: Ryan Weber (Founding Partner of Great North Labs)
Location: Great North Labs office in St. Cloud (near the SCSU Welcome Center)
Description: Learn, and begin applying, the lean startup practice so that you can eliminate waste in planning and growing your startup. It’s open to students and small business professionals of any type, profit or non-profit, high-tech or no-tech, for free or mid-to-large business professionals for a low cost. Find more information and apply to participate at our website . The same bootcamp will be offered in early 2018 in the Twin Cities.

Disruptive Tech Series Blockchain Trends
Great North Labs believes disruptive technology is an important ingredient to drive substantial value in industry.  Due to this, we will make a concerted effort to build our understanding of these technologies and identify opportunities to invest in startups embracing them.  You may have heard of Bitcoin, and possibly the underlying technology it is built on, “Blockchain.” We’re hosting a Blockchain Meetup where we’ll be discussing what Bitcoin and the Blockchain is, how it’s starting to impact several markets, and future trends of this new technology. Look for details of this event on our Events section of our website, coming late October.

Job Openings We’re Hiring!
Digital Marketing Specialist Intern (St. Cloud) Help us help our region’s top startups by joining our small team and assist in supporting our digital and event marketing needs.

New To Our Blog:
The Secret To Fostering A Strong Startup Community Inside Your University by Rob Weber

KPIs/Key Milestones:

–  Joined Coco Minneapolis in the Grain Exchange for our Twin
Cities office location.

–  Contracted a marketing agency in the Twin Cities to help
support our initiatives.

–  Conducted meetings with several St. Cloud and Twin Cities
based universities (SCSU, CSJSB, UofMN) to see how we can better collaborate in supporting startups. The feedback has been very positive. Initially, they are helping to promote our Lean Product Bootcamp but other events are and collaboration are being discussed and we’ll post further updates once they are finalized.

Lowlights:

– We’ve learned after running two Lean Product Bootcamps that hosting a pitch day after only five weeks for a Lean Workshop is impractical. Teams need more time to complete their business model vetting. Instead, we are planning to host a larger pitch event some time in March for anyone that is interested.

Help Wanted/Asks:

●  Promote our Lean Product Bootcamp in St. Cloud (starts
October 23rd) or Twin Cities (early next year) to anyone you know that may be leading a new business and is interested in how learning how to reduce waste in planning and executing on their idea. More information available on our website.

●  Looking for a contractor in the Twin Cities or St. Cloud that has experience in WordPress that may be available part-time on an ongoing basis in support of our further development of the Web-Site.

●  Help us fill the Digital Marketing Specialist Intern opening we have in St. Cloud for Great North Labs.

●  Beginning on November 3rd, vote online for Ryan Weber’s session on Running Lean so that he can secure a spot at this year’s Twin Cities Product Camp event to be held at the Nerdery on Saturday, November 18th.

●  Follow @GreatNorthLabs on Twitter as there is a lot of activity in the startup community that we’ll begin sharing and promoting.

Thank You!
Rob,
Ryan, & James The Great North Labs & Great North Capital Team
P.S. If you know others who would be interested in what we are up to, please refer them to our Newsletter to sign-up to receive updates, become mentors, founders, etc.

 

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