Josef Siebert //

Talking VC, tech kids, and Forge North’s Horizon

July is over! This is the moment where summer fun planning always turns a little earnest, when we try to store up every last bit of Vitamin D and fish protein we can to last the upcoming season-which-shall-not-be-named. There’s still fun to be had, and we took some time out of the sun recently to attend some great local events. 


Talking VC


Great North Labs partner Rob Weber spoke at Enterprise Rising with Mary Grove, partner in Revolution’s Rise of the Rest seed fund. Enterprise Rising is an annual event for Midwest enterprise tech startups that was created by Great North Labs advisor Casey Allen. Rob and Mary’s talk was a VC-to-VC chat about what they look for in investments, including specifics like important tools for metrics and defining product/market fit, and about their respective funds. They also talked about the region in general. As Rob said, “We’re punching above our weight, but just not telling that story well.” 

See Blue Raven Digital’s recap notes/video from the talk here.

Ecosystem connections

Forge North is not only dedicated to connecting and supporting the local innovation ecosystem, but also to telling the story about our region better than it has been told before. Forge North’s event, Horizon, was a debut for the coalition dedicated to supporting Minnesota innovators and entrepreneurs. An initiative of Greater MSP, its mission is: “We accelerate growth by inclusively connecting and proudly celebrating the individuals and organizations growing Minnesota ventures, and we equip these partners with tools to measure progress and dream bigger together.” They operate a dashboard that visualizes some key metrics for the regional innovation economy, which is useful for data-driven stories as well as being valuable information. You can see a video explaining the initiative here.

Supporting the next generation
 

We also ran into Mary Grove at Silicon North Stars Demo Day at Fueled Collective on July 23rd. She and her husband, MN DEED Commissioner Steve Grove, run the non-profit Silicon North Stars which operates a tech camp for 9th graders. Their mission is to inspire and educate young Minnesotans to become future leaders in technology. The camp ends with a demo day every year, and the solutions the teenagers come up with are always surprisingly well-thought. The impact on the kids is palpable, as they invariably talk about the confidence, knowledge, and inspiration they gain from the experience. Great North Labs is a proud sponsor of this organization. 

Events

It’s hard to spend too much time indoors in August, but there are some events worth stepping inside for.

  • August 1st, Rochester, MN. Today is theInvestor and Innovator Forum:”The Forum was launched by Destination Medical Center and Mayo Clinic as a venue to foster conversation and collaboration between emerging and experienced entrepreneurs and the investors who support their growth.” The forum features panel discussions and speed networking, and sponsors include gener8tor, Medical Alley, and Minne Analytics.
  • August 19-21, San Francisco, CA. Singularity University Global Summit 2019: “Our premier annual gathering bringing together 2,000 changemakers for incredible talks on AI, AR/VR, blockchain, the future of work, impact, investing, robotics and more. The one event you don’t want to miss!” Singularity University’s flagship event gathers futurists, technologists, C-suite and social impact drivers from 64 countries around the world for sessions, workshops, and talks on changing the world for the better with cutting-edge technology.
  • August 22-29, Madison, WI. The Forward Festival: “Join fellow entrepreneurs, nerds, geeks, hackers, foodies, and creatives from the Midwest in an 8-day celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship.” This event is billed as Wisconsin’s largest tech and entrepreneurship festival, and features 40+ events over 8 days, with over 2000 attendees. 

Portfolio News

Plyo is new to the Great North Labs portfolio. Plyo is a rewards app that encourages students to use their campus recreation center in exchange for points that can be redeemed for offers from a variety of merchants. It provides motivation for students to lead a healthy lifestyle, while allowing businesses to engage with the active college student customer segment in a positive way. 

Job Board

Dispatchis hiring all over the country for Field Sales Representatives and Drivers. In Bloomington, MN, they are hiring a variety of positions including an Executive Assistant, an Accounts Receivable Specialist, Support Engineer, Sr. UX Designer, Biz Dev Rep, and a CFO!
Structural is hiring a Customer Success Specialist.
FactoryFixis hiring a Software Engineer in Madison, and sales roles in Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis.
Misty Robotics is hiring a CFO, Devops Engineer, Principal Electrical Engineer, and a Sr. Software Engineer in Boulder. 
pepr ishiring for Biz Dev – Outbound Sales in Minneapolis.  
PrintWithMe is hiring a Customer Success Manager, Biz Dev Executive, and interns for Strategy and Marketing/Operations