A top goal the Forge North coalition set for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region over the next three years is to double the number of local ventures that raise an early stage funding round.

We’ll be working towards that goal in all sorts of ways, from helping bring more investors from around the world to our region’s local startup events, to expanding efforts to help local entrepreneurs visit leading investor events across North America. Throughout 2020, the Forge North Leadership Council will source all kinds of other ideas from the startup ecosystem.

One such idea came from a group of leaders at local venture capital firms right here in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. (There are many great firms here in our region that you can discover using the MSP Startup Compass.)

Throughout 2020, we will support a series of free, accessible educational events to help demystify venture capital – both for current and prospective entrepreneurs as well as prospective investors.

The series won’t focus on any one firm or topic, but instead will provide a range of views and ideas covering topics like: Pre-seed and Seed Valuations, Pitch Decks, Managing Boards and Investor Relations, Becoming an Accredited Investor, and much more. By opening up the dialogue, we hope to foster a culture where more people share their questions as well as their ideas.

We will make each installment of the series available to download and will share these resources with the region’s entrepreneurial support organizations. Forge North Leadership Council members Mary Grove of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund and Brett Brohl of The Syndicate Fund took the lead to get this series started. Over the coming months, they will be joined for installments by colleagues at firms like Great North Labs, Allianz Life Ventures, Dundee Venture Capital, Capita3, Sofia Fund, Invenshure, Urban Innovation Fund, and others to follow.

We are kicking off the series this month with a talk by Brett Brohl and Mary Grove, whose conversation will be targeted to entrepreneurs looking to Fundraise Faster.

While we intend for most events to take place in the community to help foster new relationships, in light of ongoing public health concerns we hosted our first session virtually. Check out the recording below or by clicking here.

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Brett and Mary covered the following topics and questions during the session. Click on “Ask a Question” to view which questions were asked live and go directly to that portion of the video. Any issues? Email hello@forgenorth.com.


  • What is VC and when is it right for my business
  • How does venture capital work (give an example of ownership/dilution etc)
  • What do early stage investors look for
  • The process of fundraising: strategy & tactics
  • Raising/investing in a COVID-19 climate
  • How to prepare your business to navigate COVID-19
  • Resources in MN + overall resources


  • When VCs express an interest in investing but you haven’t launched a formal process, what’s the best way to respond? I’ve heard some folks say, “you should always be fundraising” and others say, “avoid the time suck until you’re ready to maximize leverage?”
  • Like any industry, there are likely better VCs than others. What should you look for as a good fit or good partner other than their investing type?
  • Assuming we’re entering at least some sort of recession, will the way that you evaluate early stage companies change at all?
  • Any advice for an aspiring entrepreneur moving from MN to the Bay Area?
  • Do you have any recommendations for help with financial modeling for both founders and aspiring VC’s themselves to help manage the portfolio?
  • In light of COVID-19, are there ways that the MN investing ecosystem can better support entrepreneurs through this difficult time? How will we measure the impact on the community?
  • We are a social enterprise (in market 1.3 years, in revenue, bootstrapped with happy customers). Appears that we are not a “fit” for VC’s (feedback has been that we give too much of our revenue to the charities we serve). We have 2 large global companies that want to work with us, we need to raise ($1m) to scale-up & meet these opportunities – do you have any suggested paths for us to fundraise?
  • What are the most important metrics to track when validating an MVP? And how do you know when it’s time to go beyond word of mouth marketing?
  • I’ve been avoiding VC’s that have been actively reaching out to me that have lead rounds with some of my direct competitors. The concern is that they are looking for intel to apply towards the businesses they have already invested in. However, maybe I’m completely off-base here. Any thoughts?
  • Is there such a thing as an advisor who can represent our high-tech startup and advise us on what is or isn’t a good deal for us?
  • Brett, what value did an MBA provide for you from an entrepreneurial perspective?
  • Does it make any difference (other than they are ‘close by’) to do business with VCs in MN versus VCs in other markets?
  • Do you have a successful pattern laid out for meeting investors? As in, where to find enough that are a good fit?
  • Are you currently considering any investments in companies that have pivoted to support covid-19 related efforts in the health care arena?