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.

This year, Greater MN is joining Twin Cities Startup Week in a big way! The premier event of TCSW is including Greater MN for the first time, as Great North Labs has partnered with BETA to open up the BETA Showcase to Greater MN startups. BETA is the founder and organizer of Twin Cities Startup Week, and every year the Showcase is the sold-out highlight of the week, featuring top startups.

Ten Greater Minnesota startups will be highlighted alongside 14 from BETA’s cohort. 

“With the efforts of some amazing partners like the NEW Launch MN initiative and Great North Labs, there’s an ever increasing appetite for supporting and celebrating technology being built in Greater Minnesota. It’s our privilege to present some of these companies at one of Twin Cities Startup Week’s most exciting events – the BETA Showcase. Working together, we’re excited to see what kind of growth occurs – customers, investment, awareness, etc – by building tighter relationships between the local technology ecosystem and those building outside of the Twin Cities.” – Reed Robinson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Beta.MN

The event will be Oct.14 in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium, from 7-9 pm. Tickets for the Showcase usually sell out, so be sure to get them well in advance as 1,000+ attendees are expected this year. 

Greater MN Meetup

Great North Labs is sponsoring a special, invite-only, pre-Showcase gathering for Greater MN stakeholders called the Greater MN Meetup. The Greater MN Meetup will focus on Greater MN start-ups, founders, and relationships, and making introductions and connections within this group. Ticketholders for the Greater MN Meetup (from 5-6 pm) are invited to stay for the VIP Showcase event from 6-7 pm, and the Showcase itself. 

If you haven’t received an invitation to the Greater MN Meetup and are interested in attending, please make an inquiry here

There are quality startups around the state that can use the exposure that comes with a slot at the top startup event of the largest startup gathering in the state (and one of the largest in the country!). We are excited to do our part connecting Greater MN with this awesome gathering. 

Events

Oct. 9-16th, Twin Cities Startup Week in Minneapolis, MN. This is the largest startup gathering annually in Minnesota, featuring dozens of events at multiple venues around the city. Be sure to check out:

Oct. 10th, Innovation Expo inSioux Falls, SD. Great North Labs partner Ryan Weber will be speaking on the Finance Panel.

Oct. 11th, Future Finance Forum at Allianz Field inSt. Paul, MN. “Join more than 300 CEOs, founders, VCs, government leaders, journalists and corporate executives from across the country as they connect in Minnesota to discuss the latest trends moving the fintech industry forward.”

Oct. 15th, The Dance – Automation Summit in Columbus, OH. “We’re bringing together more than 300 of the brightest minds in robotics and automation for one day summit at the Columbus Musuem of Art on October 15th.”

Nov. 6-7th, Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison, WI. Investor/Entrepreneur conference with 500+ attendees.

Nov. 11-17Startup Wisconsin Week in multiple locations across the state. “Advancing Wisconsin’s tech and startup ecosystems through unique programming driven by entrepreneurs” is the mission of this state-wide happening. 

Nov. 14th, Cultivate in Fargo, ND. Put on by Emerging Prairie, this conference is all about emerging tech in agriculture.

Nov. 14th, OnRamp Manufacturing Conference in Indianapolis, IN. The OnRamp Manufacturing Conference highlights innovations disrupting the manufacturing industry, the leaders making such innovations possible and how new technologies and business models will reinvent the industry.


Portfolio News

Parallax is new to the Great North Labs portfolio. Parallax is a platform that simplifies lead planning and provides real-time answers to the most important questions, allowing businesses to succeed while crafting their vision for tomorrow.

Branch is also new to the portfolio. Branch is a mobile-first technology that helps hourly workers get ahead financially. The application allows users to budget, take paycheck advances, and earn more income by picking up available shifts.

Job Board

More information about our portfolio companies can be found here

Dispatchis hiring all over the country for Drivers and locally for Product Owner, Biz Dev, QA Engineer, UX Designer, Accounts Payable, Driver Engagement, and a CFO. 
Structural is hiring a Software Sales & Operations Support Specialist
FactoryFixis hiring a Software Engineer and Product Designer in Madison, and a Business Development Specialist and an Account Manager in Chicago.
Misty Robotics is hiring a Devops Engineer and Principal Electrical Engineer in Boulder, CO. 
2ndKitchen is hiring a Digital Marketing Manager, Customer Success Manager, Account Exec., Biz Dev Development Manager, and Director of Sales, all in Chicago, and a Product Designer in New York, NY. 
PrintWithMe is hiring a Marketing Manager and NOC Tech Support Technician in Chicago, and a Regional Sales Director for Sacramento/Bay Area and Los Angeles. Branchis hiring a Senior Fronted Engineer, Senior Backend Engineer, Android Engineer, Creative Manager, Content Marketing Manager, Senior iOS Engineer, Settlement Analyst, Customer Support Agent, Demand Generation Manager, Customer Success Manager, Account Exec., and an Office Assistant. 

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