Josef Siebert //

February: Improving the Culture for Entrepreneurship, 2ndKitchen, and the Prairie Capital Summit

Improving the Culture for Entrepreneurship

Many efforts are underway to continue to improve the culture forentrepreneurship in Minnesota andother Midwest states, ranging from policy driven efforts to increase access to capital for startup founders to workforce development initiatives to ensure the right talent is interested and available in high growth startup jobs.

On the government side, forexample, the governor’s just-released budget includes funding for the creation of the Minnesota Innovation Collaborative, which is designed to accelerate the growth of the innovation ecosystem. Theproposed budget also includes thereturn of an Angel Tax Credit forMN. 

Walker Orenstein spoke with Great North Labs Managing Partner Rob Weber on the MN Angel Tax Credit for MinnPost: In a follow-up interview, Weber outlined his pitch for bringing back the tax credit. Forstarters, he said Minnesotans tend to take fewer chances when investing compared to tech hubs like California and Washington state.

An angel tax credit can make it easier for investors to take a leap of faith on the off chance they bet on, say, the next 3M, Weber said. “Government can play a role getting the culture to be a little more risk tolerant,” Weber said. He pointed to Finland, where the government has offered aggressive help to entrepreneurs, as an extreme example of prodding the private sector into building a robust technology industry.

On the workforce development side, over 200 startup enthusiasts attended a recent Beta.MN event, MN Tech – State of the State, where the role of stock options in startups was brought up by Rob Weber. Rob shared his ‘manifesto’ on why stock options need to be more prevalent in regional startups if they are to succeed, and why those options need to be valued by employees of early-stage startups.

Lee Schafer followed up on the topic with Rob for a column in the Star Tribune“What the Silicon Valley ecosystem has figured out is the top talent can bounce back and forth between high-paying corporate jobs with low upside, and riskier, earlier-stage jobs with more upside, assuming stock options are present,” Weber said. “The Twin Cities could potentially create the same kind of dynamic because of how blessed it is with large [corporations].” 

This opportunity architecture that Rob describes is a de facto talent exchange that brings experience to startups and innovation to large corporations. Workforce development occurs naturally in this system through existing incentives. 

Here in the upper Midwest, we can create an innovation ecosystem that promotes risk-tolerant investment and rewards risk-taking talent, and match the ongoing development and sustained economic impact of the cities with even the most successful startup cultures. 

MN DEED commissioner Steve Grove recently met with some of Minnesota’s top VCs (including Rob and Ryan Weber) to talk about how to grow the startup ecosystem. 

Events

February 20th, St. Paul, MN. Minne Inno’s first State of Innovation Meetup of 2019 will be held at Osborn370 from 5:30-8pm. It will feature trends in retail andtech with Branch Messenger CEO Atif Siddiqi, and pitches from the first cohort of Lunar Startups, the new accelerator based at Osborn370. 

February 21st, Minneapolis, MN. WE* Pitchfest is a pitch event held at UMN- Carlson from 5-7pm. Organized by the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, the event seeks to inspire more women to pursue entrepreneurship, and to connect those that do with the resources they need. 

March 6th, Fargo, ND. The Prairie Capital Summit will take place at the PrairieDen in Fargo. Great North Labs advisor Greg Tehven is the Executive Director of Emerging Prairie, the founder and host of the Summit. Emerging Prairiehosts recurring conferences and runs multiple events throughout the year in support of startups and the startup ecosystem, including the Prairie CapitalSummit, which is in its third year. Great North Labs Managing Partner Ryan Weber will be speaking.

March 7th, Eau Claire, WI. Intro to Exponential Technology and Leadership will be from 6:30-8pm at CoLAB. Ryan Weber, managing partner at Great North Labs and co-ambassador of Singularity University Minneapolis-St.Paul Chapter, will speak. The talk focuses on exponential trends in technology that are poised to disrupt our lives, work, and economy. The event is co-sponsored by UW-Eau Claire and CoLAB. 

March 8th, Minneapolis, MN. Tech Cities at UMN-Carlson. This annual event explores issues and topics surrounding business and tech in Minnesota, andaround the world.  

March 8-17th, Austin, TX. SXSW (South By Southwest). This annual event has turned into a cultural touchpoint for this generation, with high-level focus areas of Art, Film, and “Interactive” – which is sort of a Tech catch-all that includes startups, investing, marketing, coding, and more. The Entrepreneurship & Startups track is from Mar. 8-12th. The energy and impact of this massive event transcends the actual conference and city, so even if you don’t attend, you’ll be sure to hear about it during and after. 

March 14th, Fort Snelling, MN. Minnesota Entrepreneur Kickoff. The 9th incarnation of this annual event aims to celebrate and sustain local entrepreneurs. It is hosted by the Minnesota Entrepreneur Network, which supports local entrepreneurs and is committed to growing the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ryan Weber will be speaking on Exponential Technology as an intro to the featured panel on Emergent Technology. 

March 19-20th, Kansas City, MO. “InvestMidwest is a venture capitalconference that showcases 40-45 companies from throughout the Midwest in the three industry tracks of life sciences, technology and food/ag/bioenergy.” The 20th annual event is expected to attract over 300 attendees, including a mix of founders and investors. 

Portfolio action

2ndKitchen is new to the Great North Labs portfolio. 2ndKitchen is a hyperlocal, food ordering fulfillment platform that enables businesses anywhere to serve food seamlessly using a custom menu from nearby restaurants .

Advisor news

Two Great North Labs advisors are new to the website!

Jack Dempsey is an investor, board member, and CEO mentor. He is a former senior partner at McKinsey & Co, and former President of Pentair, Inc.. 
Joe Sriver was the first UX hire at Google. He is a repeat founder, of startups Revirs and DoApp, and is currently the Chief Giver at 4giving.

Job Board

Dispatch is hiring Field Sales Representatives and Drivers in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Bloomington, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, New Brunswick, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Antonio, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.
Structural is hiring a remote Account Executive.
FactoryFix is hiring a Software Engineer in Madison, and a Business Development Specialist and an Account Manager in Chicago.
Misty Robotics is hiring a Developer Writer, Head of Hardware, and Head of Quality in Boulder. 
2ndKitchen is hiring for roles in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Milwaukee, including Director of Sales, Full-Stack Developer, Account Executive, and 2 Customer Success Managers