One of the largest debut seed funds ever raised in the Midwest

St. Cloud, USA — June 19, 2019 — Great North Labs closed its first fund with $23.7M in committed capital. Great North Labs is an early-stage venture fund focused on cultivating the next generation of tech startups across the Upper Midwest. The fund is based in St. Cloud and Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a partner located in Silicon Valley. This is one of the largest debut seed funds ever raised in the Midwest.

“We are very appreciative and humbled by the tremendous support shown for our debut fund by our limited partners,” said Great North Labs Managing Partner Rob Weber. “Our investors’ support shows not only their conviction for us as fund managers, but also their conviction to backing the next generation of startup founders across our region.”

The bulk of venture capital is raised and spent on the coasts. Fifty-two venture capital funds were formed in the US in 2018, with the majority formed in California, New York, and Massachusetts. Those states accounted for 79% of the $5.3B in capital raised (source: National Venture Capital Association). Nationally, some larger funds are becoming more active in seed stage investing in the Midwest. The most active of these are Techstars, which operates an accelerator in addition to a venture fund, and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

Funds that invest in early-stage startups, or “seed funds”, are generally smaller in size, and only about half a dozen have ever debuted in the Midwest with over $20M committed. In the Upper Midwest (defined as ND, SD, MN, IA, WI, IL), there are only two examples besides Great North Labs, both from Chicago. Hyde Park Venture Partners raised $25M in their 2013 debut, and MATH Venture Partners raised $28M in 2015 (sources: data compiled from Pitchbook, CB Insights, Crunchbase, and public databases). Both Hyde Park and MATH have gone on to raise larger funds since their debuts.

Managing Partner Ryan Weber said, “Exponential technologies are causing accelerating changes, and the implementation of these technologies is greatly enabled by the domain expertise living inside our strong industries throughout the Upper Midwest, creating fertile ground for high growth, technology-driven entrepreneurship.”

Great North Labs invests in consumer or enterprise startups that have potential to reach a $1B market, show early signs of product-market fit, possess defensible attributes, and leverage new technology. Startups must be based in, or significantly tied to, the Upper Midwest. Great North Labs has also committed 10% of the fund ($2.37M) to investments in pre-seed startups with founders from under-represented groups, or startups located in under-served markets, such as St. Cloud, MN; Sioux Falls, SD; and Fargo, ND. At a time when 45% of deals by Midwest investors are still going to startups outside of the region (source: TechCrunch), Great North Labs is committed to catalyzing the potential of the region by not only capitalizing on existing exceptional opportunities, but by cultivating new ones.


The fund has three Managing Partners: Ryan Weber, Rob Weber, and Pradip Madan. The Webers, twin brothers who have worked together since bootstrapping their first company in college, have a successful track record as founders, operators and early stage investors. Pradip Madan is a Silicon Valley tech executive with a long history of success at both Fortune 100 companies and startups, and has been part of several seminal moments of tech and venture history. The Webers live in St. Cloud and Maple Grove (Minnesota) respectively, and Madan is located in Silicon Valley. The team also includes a network of accomplished advisors from successful tech companies throughout the Upper Midwest and Silicon Valley.

“The opportunity in the Midwest is significant for investors with the right experience, criteria, and investment thesis. For four decades, capital has gravitated towards Silicon Valley, Boston and New York. With the high cost of living and a talent supply-demand imbalance, making a startup successful is now more difficult in Silicon Valley. As a result, investors are starting to pay more attention to the startup ecosystems in places like Chicago, Minneapolis, Madison, and Des Moines. Plus, many of the industries – financial, food, travel and hospitality, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, mining – that entrepreneurs are now disrupting are native to these areas. In the new Gold Rush, the gold is the hard-working entrepreneurs and their startups in these regions,” said Managing Partner Pradip Madan.

ABOUT Great North Labs

Great North Labs is a St. Cloud & Minneapolis-based, early-stage venture fund. We are industry agnostic, and invest in consumer and enterprise technology companies across the Upper Midwest. Our hybrid model emphasizes advisory support and guidance for our portfolio companies along with capital investment, and we support and develop the local startup ecosystem through partnerships and education.

We mentor with Techstars, serve on the board of Minnestar, and lead the local chapter of Singularity University. The partners regularly speak at industry events, mentor founders, and advise startups and provide financial support to Gener8tor/gBETA Greater MN-St. Cloud, Beta.MN, St. Cloud State, St. John’s Center for Entrepreneurship, SingularityU Minneapolis-St. Paul, and MNCup. Great North Labs also provides educational support in valuable industry skills, such as Lean Startup, Agile Scrum, and Innovation Design, at low cost for founders and students through the Great North Labs Startup School.

Our mission: We apply capital, operating experience, relationships, and market intelligence to cultivate the next generation of leading tech companies in Minnesota and across the Upper Midwest. For more info, visit gnladmin.staging.wpengine.com, or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Media Contacts:

Great North Labs josef@greatnorthlabs.com

Images + More info can be found in our media kit.

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Carried Interest: Top Posts from 2018

New Year’s means new content! But before we iterate based on feedback, let’s take a look at what the Great North Labs audience liked, with theTop Posts from 2018.

Top topics included Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, IoT, Venture Capital Investing, and the Midwest Startup Ecosystem, and encompassed white papers, articles, and blog posts.  

Read the full article here

Great North Labs at CES

The Consumer Electronics Show is a monumental gathering of the topnames and startups that takes over Las Vegas annually.

This year, two Great North Labs portfolio companies are present: Misty Robotics and Glowe. 

Misty has already garnered some big-time press attention fromTechCrunch. Their team, which includes Great North Labs advisor Ben Edwards, recently completed a round of funding and will be releasing their Misty II personal robot in April. 

Read more here.

Events

Jan. 9, Chicago. Tech Talent Showcase: Web Developers, Data Scientists + UX Designers is a prime networking event for startups looking to hire talent.

Jan. 21-22, Jamestown, ND. Precision Agriculture Summit 2019 offers hands-on and technical demonstrations of precision agriculture technologies, applications, and explanations of applications, procedures, and tools designed to lower producer costs and create a more efficient environment for farm production.

Jan. 22, St. Paul. MHTA’s Bi-Annual Legislative Reception is an opportunity for the science and tech community to connect with Minnesota’s elected officials and executive staff. “Members from both political parties and bodies of the Legislature, along with the Executive Branch, attend this reception and the event showcases the important role that innovation has played – and continues to play – in Minnesota’s economy.”

Feb. 2, Minneapolis. DevFest is hosted by Google Developer Twin Cities at St. Thomas, and features a keynote from Annyce Davis, the Software Lead of Mobile Development for Off Grid Electric. “DevFestMN is a one-day conference bringing together developers, designers and technology enthusiasts from the Midwest and beyond.”

Portfolio action

We have three new additions to the Great North Labs portfolio. 
Misty Robotics is a customizable personal robot that can be programmed by anyone from students to advanced developers. 
Pepr is AI-powered software that enables restaurateurs to increase profitability by providing a complete and unified picture of cost and budget data.
Glowe has been an under-the-radar investment, that is preparing for beta launch. Their new product video is live on the Great North Labs website. 
New advisors

Great North Labs recently welcomed four new advisors to the team.

Joe Francis- President and CEO of Central McGowan. Central McGowan is Minnesota’s largest independent and locally-owned distributor of welding andindustrial equipment, gases, supplies, abrasives, safety equipment, automation, and robotics.
Bryan Virnig- Director of Sales and Marketing at Virnig Manufacturing. 
Jeff Liebl- President and CEO, Atmosphere IoT Corp.
Jeff was previously the CMO at Digi International, VP of Sales & Marketing at SportsEngine, and VP of Sales at eBureau.
Dan Frankowski- Data Scientist at Pinterest.
Dan formerly worked in data science at Code42 and was a
software engineer at Google.

Job Board

Dispatch is growing and hiring for a variety of positions after their $7.8M Series A round. You could say they have a plethora of positions. 
Structural is hiring a Customer Support Specialist, and Account Executive, andan Office Administrator.
FactoryFix is hiring an Account Manager, Business Development Rep, andLegal Counsel
Team Genius  – watch for postings on the Team Genius website.
Pitchly – watch for postings on the Pitchly website
ZAPinfo – watch for postings on the ZAPinfo website.

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