Great North Labs Featured in St Cloud Times

Great North Labs Featured in St Cloud Times

You can read the full article on St Cloud Times, here.

Tech leader launches St. Cloud Incubator

Tech incubator starts in St. Cloud

Great North Labs wants to grow talent and business start-ups. Wochit

The cofounder of a St. Cloud-area technology business aims to pass along his experience and boost Central Minnesota’s economy with a technology incubator.

Ryan Weber is launching Great North Labs Inc. with the two-pronged strategy of building a tech talent pool while developing start-up businesses.

Weber knows a bit about running a start-up. He and his twin brother Rob created a technology business in 2000 while they were students at St. Cloud State University. That business eventually became NativeX of Sartell, which they sold for $25 million in 2016 to Mobvista. Rob is chief executive of NativeX.

In 2006, the brothers partnered to form a Midwest seed fund called in 32 Degrees, which has invested in tech start-ups. They’ve had success with investments in the Twin Cities and want the same for outstate college towns like St. Cloud.

Great North Labs will mentor start-up businesses in product research and engineering while offering access to funding and legal services. It will focus on developing start-ups that apply disruptive, breakthrough technologies. “Industries are being disrupted like never before” because of the internet, Ryan Weber explains.

Great North already has been running free boot camps for students from area colleges at 305 Fifth Ave. S, in the commercial area below Coborn Plaza Apartments.

St. Cloud State University computer science student Amir Daghighi said the boot camp offers high-level training in a friendly atmosphere. When students hit an obstacle, they have access to quick answers. Like others in the program, Daghighi is extremely self-motivated.

“I’m just doing my best, pushing myself as hard as I can,” he said.

Weber says he wants to “build a program for the community.

“It’s not just students, it’s not just (start-up) founders,” he said. “People want to support economic development. We want to embrace that.”

People who are considering a start-up launch get free, practical training through ongoing boot camps liked the one already underway. They will get guidance on product and market research, the software development life cycle, front-end and back-end development and data management. Weber will connect participants with industry professionals in his network.

By late summer, Great North will select ideas for deeper development. Some boot camp participants will segue to paid internships to work on incubator-backed start-ups.

“We think we’ll have success this summer,” Weber said, “but we’re even more excited about the long-term development of talent networks.”

The project has support from St. Cloud State. “This will give our students a unique opportunity to work closely with industry professionals,” Sarnath Ramnath, chair of the Computer Science and Information Technology Department, said in a statement.

Weber compares Great North to Midwest incubator High Alpha, which has in the past year invested in two Minnesota-based startups.

Weber hopes Great North will help start-ups quickly find the expertise that he and his brother initially struggled to find as they entered the tech business world.

“We just want Minnesota technology companies to rise up and develop a big win over the next decade. We think we’ve got the right ingredients.”

Learn more

Great North Labs wants to connect with accredited investors and engineers willing to contribute expertise in exchange for equity. For those who are interested, there is a barbecue at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Riverside Park in Sartell. Registration and information is available at https://greatnorthlabs.com/.

Great North Labs – Featured on BizJournals.com

Great North Labs – Featured on BizJournals.com

Read the full article here. 

Ryan Weber, who co-founded and later sold tech company NativeX, is launching an incubator that will mentor aspiring entrepreneurs and train college students.

Called Great North Labs, the St. Cloud-based incubator aims to churn out promising young companies and talent for tech companies across the state, Weber said. Students will receive training in product development and engineering skills relevant to building startups.

Ryan Weber presenting at Great North Labs in St. Cloud

Ryan Weber presenting at Great North Labs in St. Cloud

Great North Labs

Weber also plans to raise a seed fund that will back companies coming out of Great North Labs. The fund will range between $1 million and $10 million in size and is separate from 32 Degrees, an angel-investor fund that Weber and his brother started in 2005.

Great North will serve startups that might not have fully developed a product, separating itself from accelerators that back companies that are well beyond that stage.

“It’s more risky, but we think there’s an opportunity to help earlier-stage tech startups,” Weber said.

It also expects to stand out by targeting Greater Minnesota, where there are less resources for startups, Weber said. Areas of specific interest for Great North include artificial intelligence and drones. “We’re looking for the next Fortune 500 company.”

Weber and his brother, Rob, started what became NativeX in a St. Cloud State University dorm room 17 years ago. The business, initially named Freeze.com, began by distributing applications like screen savers to consumers.

It now makes technology businesses use to advertise within mobile apps such as games. Chinese mobile-advertising network Mobvista bought NativeX for $25 million last year.

The Webers’ 32 Degrees fund has backed startups such as Field Nation, a Minneapolis-based company that connects businesses with independent contractors and Zencoder, a video-encoding startup that was sold to Brightcove Inc.

Ryan Weber is seeking mentors to participate in Great North Labs.

Katharine Grayson covers med tech, clean tech, technology, health care and venture capital.

 

Great North Labs, Introduction – Ryan Weber

Great North Labs, Introduction – Ryan Weber

Greetings Everyone:

I wanted to briefly share a note about my new venture, Great North Labs, that we created to support the growth of tech startups in our region. There was a write-up yesterday on SC Times about it in case you missed it.

Our new incubator kicked off the summer on May 11th in St. Cloud with a focus on free product and engineering boot camps to train talent to later assist with developing new startups here.  We’ll be picking at least one business model to develop a product for by the end of June using talent assembled from the incubator (including professional and student contributors).  Later in the summer, we’ll be formalizing a new fund for Great North Lab’s to provide fuel to the incubator backed startups in addition to a formal mentor ship program.

I wanted to personally invite you to join us for a social event in support of Central Minnesota Tech Startups that is coming up in just a few days. Business Leaders, Students, Trainers, Developers, Founders, Mentors, and Other Supporters are gathering (families are welcome to join too) for a free picnic (Custom Catering is providing the food service) on Wednesday, May 24th from 5pm to 7pm at Riverside Park in St. Cloud.  A buffet style dinner and beverages will be provided to all who attend (we have the shelter reserved).  To ensure we can adequately plan food portions, please RSVP by 10am on Monday by sending an email with your name, the number of people attending, and if you have any special food needs in your party to: events@greatnorthlabs.com

Happy to answer any questions you may have too!

P.S. Please forward this email to anyone you think may have an interest.

Regards. Ryan Great North Labs