For this week's City Spotlight: Minneapolis, I had the honor of interviewing Mary Grove, managing partner of Bread & Butter Ventures, and Justin Kaufenberg, managing director of Rally Ventures, about their investment strategies. Both are based in Minneapolis, and they are using the city as a lookout tower for what's happening across the U.S.
Those not familiar with the Minneapolis ecosystem might scratch their heads and wonder why not be based in the more traditional epicenters of investing -- the Bay Area, New York or Boston. It may have been true in the past that that's where the bulk of the opportunities are, but in our interview, Grove and Kaufenberg explain that a lot has changed in the last 10-15 years.
"In the Midwest, broadly, and in Minnesota specifically, I've become obsessed with the opportunity that exists here," says Grove, "One opportunity is the diversity of the economy. We happen to be focused on the three sectors: food tech, digital health and enterprise SaaS, but if you look at the titans of industry, we have Ecolab, Cargill, General Mills, Mayo Clinic, United Healthcare, Target, Securian, US Bank … I could go on and on. Minnesota is a headquarters economy: We have 57 companies based here that do north of a billion dollars in annual revenue."
"When we spend time talking to investments on either coast, more often than not we're actually talking to them about things like considering opening a sales hub or a second office in Minneapolis to take advantage of the local labor market," says Kaufenberg. "Sales talent is an area where we found Minneapolis without comparison. We've actually got a number of companies on both coasts who have effectively decided to build their entire go-to-market sales organization based in Minneapolis. You can get a disproportionate amount of attention here, and it's much easier to get your fair share of press to have incredible visibility with prospective employees."
Check out the full panel here: