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Tuesday, December 12, 2017







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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

8 Minnesota Startups to Watch in 2018

Yesterday we took a look at some of Minnesota’s biggest tech and startup headlines of 2017. Today, it seems only appropriate to glimpse into the future to talk about some of startups we’ll be keeping an eye on in 2018.

Before we kick things off, let’s talk about what makes companies on this list “watchable.” Are these the only startups we expect to make moves in 2018? Definitely not. Will some small, stealthy company announce an unexpected partnership or round of funding? Sure, I’d put money on that.

The organizations that are on this list made major moves in 2017, and we fully expect to see big things from them in the coming year. Here are a few questions I asked myself while pulling this together: Did the company raise a big round of funding this year? Did it make an interesting investment or acquisition? Did its team grow?

Some of the names on the list will be familiar. Others will be new, but worthy, additions to your startup watchlist. Let’s take a look at two to kick things off:

  • Branch Messenger: Branch Messenger has been making waves since the startup moved from California to Minneapolis after participating in the first Target + Techstars accelerator in 2016. During its first full year in Minnesota, Branch Messenger, which makes software for managing hourly workers’ schedules, raised around $10 million in venture capita. After landing $6.8 million of that in August, Branch Messenger CEO Atif Siddiqi said that the company planned to use part of the funding to double its headcount. After an exciting first year in the Twin Cities, we’ll be watching to see how Branch Messenger continues to expand in the local startup scene.
  • Great North Labs: Great North Labs is a new incubator started by NativeX co-founders (and twin brothers) Ryan and Rob Weber that aims to train aspiring entrepreneurs and college students. Both brothers are experienced entrepreneurs and angel investors, but what’s interesting about their new venture is its regional focus: Greater Minnesota. The incubator is looking to mentor and invest in startups located in areas like St. Cloud that might not be considered tech hubs. Rob recently told Minne Inno that Great North Labs is in the process of raising its first fund. He added that the incubator aims to invest in around 30 startups in the Great Lakes region over the next several years.

Read more: 8 Minnesota Startups to Watch in 2018

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.

Gener8tor Finds Permanent MN Home, Appoints Program Director

Just ahead of gener8tor‘s second gBeta cohort next month, the startup accelerator has moved into its first permanent Minneapolis home and appointed a new program director.

Gener8tor recently signed a three-year lease for about 2K square feet of space at 1621 Hennepin Ave., the former digs of digital-marketing agency Spyder Trap, which was acquired by Bright Health earlier this year. Prior to moving into this new space in Loring Park, gener8tor was based out of COCO‘s Uptown office.

In addition to relocating, gener8tor recently hired Adam Choe to serve as its program director. Choe was previously a consultant and fellow at the University of Minnesota’s medical devices center, and will help manage both gBeta and gener8tor’s main accelerator.

Gener8tor is currently accepting applications for its second gBeta accelerator, a program that provides free mentorship for early-stage startups. More on that here.

New Dayton Food Hall Will Feature a ‘Food Business Incubator’

A food hall developed by celebrity chef (and Minnesota resident) Andrew Zimmern is the first occupant of the redeveloped Nicollet Mall Macy’s building, which is being converted into retail and office space.

Zimmern’s Passport Hospitality Co. is teaming up with the developer of Gansevoort Market in New York City to build in the 40K square-foot space between 7th and 8th St. on Nicollet Ave. The food hall will feature a mix of food vendors, concierge services and a “food business incubator.” The food hall is slated to open mid-2019.

More from the Biz Journal here.




In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

The Top 5 Twin Cities Tech and Startup Stories of 2017
This year’s top headlines include Amazon’s growing Twin Cities presence and the most Minnesota IPOs in a decade.

Midwest Tech Update: How Rise of the Rest Affects the “Rest” 
A Midwest VC responds to the new venture capital fund started by tech giants from New York and Silicon Valley.

Meet the Minnesota Cup’s New Director
Jessica Berg, a former client strategy manager with PwC, will take over for Melissa Kjolsing as head of the state’s largest startup competition.

In The Community

The events and happenings to know about tonight and this week.

Meet With Startup Experts at JJ Hill Center in St. Paul
TOMORROW: “Come with questions and get answers. Our experts on the Hill will sit with you one-on-one for 15 minutes and point you in the right direction, give you realistic advice and help you take your business to the next level. This is a free opportunity for anyone thinking of or starting a business.” Details here.

Impact Hub’s Good Night Market
THURSDAY: “The Good Night Market is a pop-up market showcasing local, socially conscious brands, entrepreneurs, and makers. Spend a wintry evening at the Traffic Zone Art Gallery, enjoying food, art, and shopping that supports local and global causes.” Check out event details and a list of vendors here.

Startup Grind St. Paul: Fireside Chat With Great North Labs
THURSDAY 12/14: Join Startup Grind St. Paul for a chat with Rob Weber, co-founder of Great North Labs, an early-stage venture fund for Midwest startups. Details here.

All this and more in the latest Minne Inno Approved





Meanwhile in another corner of the internet…

Dutch Police Shut Down Drone-Catching Eagle Program

As drones become an increasingly popular sight in the sky, cities are looking to ensure that they’re properly monitored and controlled. Some do this through boring things like “laws” or “regulations.” Personally, I like the Netherlands‘ approach: a team of drone-hunting eagles.

Last year, police in the Netherlands prepared to deploy a team of eagles to take down rogue drones. Now, they’re saying that they stopped using the birds because training them is more complicated and expensive than anticipated. Meanwhile in the U.S., the Air Force is researching falcons to develop potential defense systems against drones.

Full story (and video) from The Verge here. You know you want to watch a large bird of prey take down a flying robot.




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Meet The Authors:

Maddy Kennedy

Will Flanagan












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