Welcome back to the Great North Labs newsletter! We are excited to announce that signups for the new, Greater MN-focused startup school initiative are live, and will kick off on March 7th in St. Cloud and March 14th in Red Wing. 

Red Wing Ignite Startup School

The Lean Startup School is a partnership led by Red Wing Ignite, with partners including Great North Labs and ILT Studios. Disciplined startup education is in short supply in Minnesota, and we are addressing the shortage with this accessible program. The first workshop in the series, Program 01: Customer Driven Innovation – Module 101: Opportunity Identification will be held in St. Cloud on March 7th at 9am and 1pm. A second cohort will be based in Red Wing, with the same workshop kicking off there on March 14th, at 9am and 1pm.

“What most people don’t tell you is that there is a process that can be taught and practiced to sharpen an idea, iterate on it, and then pair it with an initial business strategy to go validate,” says, Nick Tietz, Founder and CEO of ILT Studios. “We believe that there are hundreds of unused ideas just waiting for a clear path to success and this Opportunity Identification Course is designed to help entrepreneurs to unlock these ideas, nurture their development and help them to have a chance at becoming a great business idea.”

The Red Wing Ignite Lean Startup School begins on March 7th in St. Cloud, and on March 14th in Red Wing.

We wrote about our involvement and the genesis of the Great North Labs’s startup education initiatives here. If you want to sign up, follow this link to for St. Cloud,  and this link for the Red Wing course! The program is FREE for anyone with an idea, including the spectrum from students to seasoned entrepreneurs. 

World Economic Forum

Managing Partner Pradip Madan went to Davos for the annual World Economic Forum gathering, which focuses on entrepreneurship in the global public interest, and shaping global, regional, and industry agendas. As part of the Digital Future Board room, Pradip spoke after the session “Unlocking Global Corporate Performance with a Family-Friendly Business Code” about investing in the Upper Midwest, and how we are poised for success. 

“In today’s conversations folks talked about support, and a kind of environment which is collaborative, and has longevity in its loyalty to the institution and the organization,” said Pradip. “All these things are true for the Upper Midwest, and that gives us the environment for our entrepreneurs to succeed, and for Limited Partners – our investors – to succeed as a result. 

See Pradip here in this clip from CNN Money.

Events

Here are some upcoming events related to tech startups. Where our attendance is noted, feel free to reach out or connect at the event: 

Portfolio News

PartySlate is new to the Great North Labs portfolio. PartySlate is a visual platform for event planning that is free to use for people who are looking to throw a party, while vendors and event planners can pay a premium for improved placement. Great North Labs led this $5.5M round into this visual event planning platform. With $11M raised to date, CEO Julie Novack and PartySlate are #3 in funds raised by a female founder in Chicago in the last 10 years. Read more in Crain’s.

Job Board

FactoryFix is hiring a Product Designer- Customer Growth, two Full Stack Developers, and a Infrastructure Developer- DevOps in Madison; a Recruiter, and a Business Development Representative in Chicago.
TeamGenius is hiring a Customer Success Associate. 
Pitchly is hiring a remote Legal Marketing & Sales Content Specialist
Misty Robotics is hiring a Lead Qualification & Inside Sales Specialist, and an Inside Sales Specialist (contract) in Boulder, CO. 
2ndKitchen is hiring a Customer Success Manager – Events & Popups, Production and Inventory Associate, Operations Associate, Business Development Representative, and an Account Executive in Chicago. 
PrintWithMe is hiring a Customer Service Representative, Web Developer (Python), and an Inside Sales Executive in Chicago; Super User Technicians in Portland and Houston; and Regional Sales Directors for the Southeast and 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 Sales Operations Manager, Sales Development Manager, Field Marketing Manager, Software Engineer, Customer Support Agent, Account Executive – Enterprise, Sales Engineer, IT Coordinator, Lifecycle Marketing Manager, DevOps Engineer, Jr. Visual Designer, Sr. Backend Engineer, Demand Generation Content Manager, Account Executive – Mid-Market,Growth Marketing Inter, and Growth Marketing Analyst in Minneapolis; a remote Sr. Android Engineer; and an Operational Data Scientist in Minneapolis or remote. 
NoiseAware is hiring a Global Supply Chain Manager, Product Marketing Manager, and UI/UX Designer in Dallas.
PartySlate is hiring a Marketing Coordinator, HR Manager, Account Executive, Product Marketing Manager, Senior Product Desinger (UX), Senior Software Engineer (Front End), all in Chicago.

Welcome back to the Great North Labs newsletter! 2020 kicked off to a fast start. We were invited to participate in the World Economic Forum, and we announced the next chapter in our Startup School. There’s also a new advisor on the team, and a new portfolio company.

World Economic Forum

Managing Partner Pradip Madan went to Davos for the annual gathering, which focuses on entrepreneurship in the global public interest, and shaping global, regional, and industry agendas. On and off stage, Pradip spoke about investing in the Upper Midwest, supporting and growing the ecosystem, and of course, the promise of the Upper Midwest region.

Pradip spoke on the Global Citizen panel hosted by Minneapolis AI company PinkLion.AI titled Innovation in Tech: Leveraging unexplored areas and geographies to increase scale and innovation in the public and private sector, and hosted an hour-long roundtable for The Digital Economist on Business models and strategies that will hallmark the next phase of global economic transformation.

Great North Labs was also proud to sponsor the International Women Business Leaders Reception and the Digital Future Board Room. Inclusion and digital transformation are both important topics that we are glad to support and help elevate on the world stage. 

The Global Citizen Panelists: Patricia Simmons, M.D., Maria Dayton, Pradip Madan, Karen Korponai, Jennifer Bonine, and Dean Costakis

There was a strong regional contingent involved with and leading these events, including Jennifer Bonine of PinkLion.AI, Patricia Simmons of Mayo, and Maria Dayton, Ambassador of SingularityU Minneapolis-St.Paul. Maria and Jennifer were instrumental in organizing these events, and are strong representatives for Minnesota and the region. 

One of the ecosystem building efforts that Pradip highlighted at WEF was our Startup School, which is currently undergoing a reboot. We have new partners, expanded curricula, and greater reach!

Startup School Reboot

Started in 2017, the original Great North Labs Startup School offered bootcamps covering Lean Startup and Agile Scrum, and additional offerings over the years included education on digital disruption and exponential technologies. Roughly 200 students went through the school. 

Now, we are working on an expanded offering with new partners Red Wing Ignite and ILT Studios. While the new initiative will no longer be wholly owned and operated by Great North Labs, it will be greatly expanded, able to reach more of Greater Minnesota, and hopefully scale across the entire state. You can read more about it on our blog, or in this article by Minne Inno. 

Classes will begin in March, and sign-up will be live in February. Contact us to get on the mailing list and stay informed, and to find out when you can sign up.

Events

Here are some upcoming events related to tech startups. Where our attendance is noted, feel free to reach out or connect at the event: 

Advisor News

Steve Schmidt is new to the Great North Labs team. He is the Founder and CEO of Abetech, a company that creates bar code and RFID systems and solutions that increase productivity.

Portfolio News

NoiseAware is new to the Great North Labs portfolio. NoiseAware provides a real-time noise monitoring solution for the rapidly growing short-term rental industry. According to property managers, the biggest challenge they face is party prevention. This is likewise a major concern for major rental platforms such as AirBnB. NoiseAware’s solution includes options for indoor an outdoor monitoring, in real-time, with historical data and trend tracking across properties. 

Job Board

FactoryFix is hiring two Full Stack Developers and a UX Designer in Madison, and a Business Development Specialist and Account Manager in Chicago.
Pitchly is hiring a remote Legal Marketing & Sales Content Specialist
Misty Robotics is hiring a Lead Qualification & Inside Sales Specialist, and an Inside Sales Specialist (contract) in Boulder, CO. 
2ndKitchen is hiring an Account Executive, Business Development Representative, Operations Associate, Operations Intern, and Design Operations Intern in Chicago. 
PrintWithMe is hiring a Customer Success Associate, Customer Service Representative, Web Developer (Python), Inside Sales Executive, 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 Revenue Operations Manager, Sales Development Manager, UX Designer, Senior IOS Engineer, Customer Support Agent, Account Executive (Enterprise), IT Coordinator, Data Engineer, Devops Engineer, Jr. Visual Designer, Senior Backend Engineer, Senior Android Engineer, and Account Executive (Mid-Market) in Minneapolis. 
NoiseAware is hiring a Back-end Developer, Embedded Developer, Front-end Developer, Mobile Developer, Site Reliability Engineer, Global Supply Chain Manager, Product Marketing Manager, and UI/UX Designer in Dallas.

Great North Labs will be participating in a couple of events at the World Economic Forum this year, where we have been invited to talk about our work investing in early-stage companies in the Upper Midwest. The Forum (WEF) is an annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, of business, political, academic, and other leaders.

The purpose of the forum is to engage with leaders, and to help inform and shape global, regional, and industry agendas. According to WEF:

“The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.” 

Great North Labs Partner Pradip Madan will be speaking about investing in the Upper Midwest, supporting and growing the ecosystem with initiatives like the Startup School, and of course, the promise of the Upper Midwest region.

Like Steve Case said at the Greenwich Economic Forum in November, there is a tremendous opportunity for venture capital within the coasts. 

“To me, it feels a little like the Internet 35 years ago when nobody, other than a few…believed in the idea of the internet. And people, when I was talking about it, were skeptical.”

“Over time, I think you’ll see venture capital shift. The coastal investors will need to have regional investment strategies.”

-Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution, and founder of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund

Here are the events where Great North Labs will be speaking.

1. Global Citizen Panel sponsored by Pink Lion

PinkLionAI Panel WEF

TIME: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 5-7pm.

LOCATION: Promenade 52, 7270 Davos Platz, Switzerland.

TOPIC: “Going Off Road Innovation in Tech: Leveraging unexplored areas and geographies to increase scale and innovation in the public and private sector.”

Attend this panel to understand methods and ways you can leverage untapped resources that are sitting available to you all around the globe.  We will look at how this works from the startup innovation perspective, through funding and the venture firm perspective, and out to the large corporate entity with innovation and human capital that is an underutilized resource in many geographies.  We will highlight this example specifically in how it is successful in the US and Minnesota and demonstrate and answer questions on how it applies to your specific use case. 

This panel has plenty of Minnesota representation with Pradip Madan of Great North Labs, Jennifer Bonine and Dean Costakis of Minneapolis’s PinkLion.AI, Patricia Simmons who is on the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees, and Maria Dayton who is the Ambassador of SingularityU Minneapolis-St. Paul.

2. The Digital Economist Night in partnership with The Caspian Week

TIME: Thursday, Jan. 23, 7:30p-midnight.

LOCATION: Promenade 61, 7270 Davos Platz, Switzerland.

TOPIC: Business models and strategies that will hallmark the next phase of global economic transformation.

Distilling the cutting edge tools from economic science, with hands-on industry experience, The Digital Economist roundtable series convenes enterprises, startups and innovators to explore, discuss and steward the business models and strategies that will hallmark the next phase of global economic transformation.

Pradip Madan will be hosting a roundtable for this, the inaugural summit for The Digital Economist, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Great North Labs Startup Ecosystem Kickoff

“It doesn’t take a lot of capital with early-stage tech companies to make a big impact.” – Ryan Weber

The Great North Labs Startup Ecosystem Kickoff brought together successful entrepreneurs and innovators to learn about the current state of the tech and investment ecosystem and network with like-minded professionals. 25 speakers, 6 portfolio startups, and over 250 attendees came together for the afternoon! The topics of education, community, fostering connections, economic impact, and the ripe opportunity for venture capital in the upper Midwest dominated conversations, as some of the area’s most innovative thinkers gathered, spoke, and networked.

Here’s what people have to say about the event:

“a fantastic event with great speakers” (@jmjhjr)

“pretty amazing turnout here at #SCSU (@graemethickins)

“Much appreciation to @mnvikingsfan and @robertjweber of @greatnorthlabs for spending their time supporting the startup ecosystem of MN. Great event today @stcloudstate #GNLKickoff – Thank You!!!!” (@jongoldsberry)

Continue the conversation on Twitter with the #GNLKickoff hashtag. If you missed the event, or want to see it all over again, watch it on YouTube!

Follow these links for more info for investors and startups. Or contact us!

Thanks to everyone for coming, and stay tuned for future events!

 

Events

Oct. 8th-14th, Twin Cities Startup Week (TCSW), Greater Minneapolis-St.Paul Area. Over 200 events scheduled!

Oct. 9th, “Minimal Lovable Product Panel” (part of TCSW). 3-5 pm, at the Baker Center, Minneapolis. FieldNation is hosting, and Ryan Weber is a panelist.

Oct. 10th, “Project North Fall Quarterly Roundtable“. 12-4 pm, at the Lumber Exchange Event Center, Minneapolis. Rob Weber will speak on the “State of the Twin Cities Innovation and Startup Community”.

Oct. 11thGreat North Labs Pre-TedX Happy Hour (part of TCSW), St. Cloud. From 5-6 pm, we’ll gather at Great North Labs’s headquarters for a happy hour, ecosystem talk and networking before TedX St.Cloud 2018: Cultivating, which will be held only a few blocks away at the Paramount in St. Cloud. This event recently sold out, so we added a few more tickets. Purchase them through Twin Cities Startup Week!

Oct. 24-25, 2018 FUND Conference, Chicago. “FUND Conference is the nation’s connector of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, and industry experts with a focus on curated deal flow, captivating content and same day connections.” Pradip Madan is speaking.

Oct. 30, TalentMN Leadership Summit, Impact Hub, Minneapolis. Sponsored by Structural!

Portfolio action

CEOs from our portfolio companies presented at the Startup Ecosystem Kickoff, giving overviews, updates, and asks of the Great North Labs community. Visit the Startup Ecosystem Kickoff playlist on the Great North Labs YouTube channel to see presentations from Dispatch, Structural, TeamGenius, FactoryFix, ZAPinfo, and Pitchly.

New advisors

Great North Labs welcomed three new advisors in September:

Jason Heath is the CFO at Drip + LeadPages, and was formerly the VP of Business Intelligence & Analytics at GoDaddy.
Mike Bollinger is the Founder of Livefront and the Co-founder of TECHdotMN.
Graeme Thickins is the President and Founder of GT&A Strategic Marketing Inc. and is a MinneAnalytics board member. He also has a long career as a tech writer and analyst, and runs GraemeThickinsontech.com.

Welcome to the team!

Job Board

Dispatch is hiring Drivers in Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Minneapolis.
Structural is hiring an Account Executive, Office Administrator , and a Senior Engineer (ReactJS).
Team Genius is hiring a Lead Full-Stack Engineer
Pitchly is hiring a UI/UX designer and Core engineer- watch for postings on the Pitchly website.
FactoryFix is hiring a Visual/UI Designer, Vue.js Developer, VP Talent, and a Business Development Rep.

Welcome to Silicon Lakes!

The legacy of cornfields and flyover states taints the national perception of the modern Midwest. It’s led the area to be overlooked and under-capitalized by investors who paper the coasts with venture dollars.

While the name “Silicon Prairie” attempts to characterize the tech innovation occurring in America’s heartland, it’s a broad swath including an 8-state region (the name can also refer to two other regions, one in Texas, and one in Illinois).

The upper Midwest, near the Great Lakes, has a more dense collection of innovation hubs built around legacy industrial centers including Chicago, Minneapolis, Grand Forks, Des Moines, and Madison.

As investors like Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund are turning towards the interior, bringing much-needed capital to the area, our own Pradip Madan breaks down the common characteristics of innovation hubs the world over and evaluates the upper Midwest’s potential to become “Silicon Lakes”.

Events

July 25th, Minneapolis. Ryan Weber has been instrumental in organizing the Digital Transformation Summit for Digerati. This is an exclusive, small-crowd event for local leaders to learn and network. Speakers include Weber, Managing Partner of Great North Labs; Mark Ritchie, former MN Secretary of State; and Gene Munster, formerly of Piper Jaffray and head of Loup Ventures. Keep an eye on the site as more speakers are added, and visit the link to request an invitation!

August 16th-23rd, Madison. Forward Fest is an 8-day tech and entrepreneurship festival, the largest such event in Wisconsin. Ryan Weber will be there, so reach out if you’re in Madison and want to meet up!

August 20-22nd, Grand Forks. UAS Summit & Expo. What is UAS? Unmanned Aerial Systems: drones, their controllers and operators. This summit is in its twelfth year!

Portfolio action

FactoryFix is a new addition to the GNL portfolioIt is a labor marketplace for manufacturing businesses to find and contract skilled talent. The team is based out of Chicago and includes founder Patrick O’Rahilly, co-founder of Compass Automation.

New advisors

Great North Labs welcomed four new advisors in the past month:

Alex Ryan- Founder of Bitmatter; Co-Founder/CTO of Starting 11
Julie Novack-CEO/Co-Founder PartySlate
Jackie Schneider-CRO, Field Nation; Formerly Global Vice President of Sales at Proto Labs
Shannon Wiger-VP, Spring Hill Capital; Director of Business Development at Moss and Barnett

Job Board

FactoryFix is hiring a Business Development/Sales intern
Dispatch is hiring for sales, business development, driving and software engineering
Structural is hiring a back-end software engineer, and a customer success specialist

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