Don’t let the vicious news cycle get you down! Whether a face mask is covering your smile or not, we’ve got your good news from the “Mighty Middle” covered on our end.

We here in the middle of the country are grinning about the incredible increases in funding outside in areas beyond Silicon Valley. 

Venture capital investment between the coasts has increased 247%, from $5.8 billion in 2010 to $20.2 billion in 2019. Yesterday’s “Mighty Middle” report from Crunchbase details this growing trend that has emerged from the leadership of so many. 

And with tech giant Twitter followed in the footsteps of WordPress and Gitlab to let their workforce go full-remote, this trend will only continue. 

Experts continue to predict what we’ve been saying all along—“Tech will decentralize out of the SF Bay Area”—lower cost-of-living and other factors will amplify the power of the Mighty Middle until we’re just…mighty.

But big numbers and big plans seem far away for many readers right now, especially anyone worrying for their professional or personal future. 

New reports of grassroots action, small grants, and businesses creating jobs are a few reasons to keep on smiling. Hope you enjoy some of the best sparks of inspiration our team collected for you this week.

Gift or Gift Card? Why Not Both

 Indianapolis, IN

Shouldn’t we be brainstorming, not arguing? As businesses like Pactsafe, Boardable, Covideo, and Innovatemap got together with the Broad Ripple Village Association and members of the community, that’s just the approach they all took.

Knowing their neighborhood culture is defined by the work and play of the service industry, these concerned groups and individuals wanted to figure out how to help.

Rather than debate providing employee relief vs. business support, they created The Rona Relief Fund. 50% of donations are used to purchase gift cards from businesses in the neighborhood, while the other 50% fund $100 relief gifts to service employees in need.

Rona Gets Spanx-ed

Atlanta, GA

Women might be happy to forget about Spanx right now. But the good news is, Spanx hasn’t forgotten them. The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation is teaming up with GlobalGiving to create The Red Backpack Fund for female entrepreneurs in the US impacted by COVID-19.

GlobalGiving will oversee the fund, which will award at least 1,000 grants in the amount of $5,000 each, totaling the $5M donation from the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation.

In addition, each grant recipient will get a free annual all-access pass to MasterClass and a red backpack like the one Blakely carried while starting Spanx. It’s a reminder that everything you need to succeed is already on your back, even though right now, carrying that success is an unprecedented challenge.

Tech of Big Shoulders = Big April Investments

Chicago, IL

$62 million in venture capital was invested in Chicago startups during the month of April. In the current social and economic conditions, this is a huge win for the sector and for eight companies who all raised at least $1.5 million.

Logistics startup Bringg led the pack with a $30 million Series D round for its end-to-end delivery operations software. Two real estate tech companies raised $8 million each: one-stop property management tool Livly and AI/deep learning property assessment tool Arturo. For the full roundup, check out Chicago Inno.

Childcare Solutions for Essential Personnel

Denver, CO

Among Colorado parents, survey says: they would rather send children to a licensed facility for childcare than invite a person into their home. Childcare platform Nanno asked the question after they were tasked by Colorado’s government to help connect essential workers with childcare. Then, in just 5 days, Nanno pivoted their on-demand childcare app to meet the need.

Today, the State of Colorado is managing the platform and oversight of licensed caregivers through the app. Nearly 4,000 families throughout Colorado have been matched with care since mid-March. 

Robot Rescue for Healthcare

San Francisco, CA

Conserving PPE, connecting patients with families—the OhmniLabs telerobotics solution is one tool that does both. The robot allows care providers to monitor the status of a patient remotely, reducing the need to suit up in PPE to enter a room. It also lets those in isolation speak with family “face to face” without the need for medical staff to facilitate a teleconference.  

OhmniLabs is giving away 5 robots to healthcare organizations through the Robot Rescue Donation Program. Individuals can nominate organizations in need and cast votes for the winners.

Startups Still Hiring Amidst Crisis: 

Know someone looking for a new gig? The economy is unpredictable right now, but startups in the middle of the country are still hiring. 

A few new companies recently completed their Culture Profile in the Powderkeg Culture Directory this week, giving insight into the unique company cultures of these remarkable startups. Be sure to check out U.Group, Edify, KSM Consulting, and Motivosity!

We also have a few other Top Powderkeg Picks below:

Indianapolis, IN

Greenlight GuruThe only quality management software built exclusively for medical devices.

OneCauseA fundraising solution that helps nonprofits raise more funds and reach more donors.

Raleigh/Durham & Indianapolis, IN

LifeOmic– A software company that leverages the cloud, machine learning, and mobile devices to offer disruptive solutions to healthcare providers, researchers, health IT companies, and patients.

Raleigh, NC

MyxxA shoppable marketing platform based on a proprietary personalized List-to-Cart technology with real-time store sales lift analytics.

Cincinnati, OH

Losant– An easy-to-use and powerful developer platform designed to help you quickly and securely build complex connected solutions.

Cerkl A content platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to power personalized content delivery across email, web, and mobile. 

Covington, KY

Cloverleaf– An identity discovery and employee development platform for teams. See how people best fit in a team, a group, or a company.

This blog post was curated by Alexander, Meg, Casey, and myself from the Powderkeg team, and written with the help of our friends at Metonymy Media. These are just some of the amazing stories happening around us every day. 

Got 30 seconds? Share some good news with the Powderkeg team will share the best stories in an upcoming virtual event, on social, or in a future blog post. 

Let us know!

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