Josef Siebert //

Great North Labs’s June Update

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