Ever seen an $800 million fastball? With edtech startup pitches—and fundings—up 30-50% as distance learning continues, even a swing and a miss can drive growth in the field.

Experts forecast that K-12 and higher education have permanently changed, meaning recovery in this industry will be an evolution, not a reset. The desire to create the next brainiac unicorn has edtech on track to match 2019 fundraising, despite a 17% dip in Q1 and Q2.

This week I’m just excited that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is up-and-running again with the return of the Indy 500. Shoutout to our friends at Genesys, Lev, High Alpha and Salesforce, all sponsoring drivers this year.

And whether you want education, entertainment, or anything in-between, you’ll find it on Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest-growing private companies in the US. Our friends in the Top Ten include #1-ranked Onetrust in Atlanta. Tampa’s Avalon Healthcare ranked 4th, and Chicago’s Inspire11.

Learn more about where the leaders are (and aren’t) in this issue of The Spark—plus how to join them.

In This Issue:

  • 📚Goin’ Back to School
  • 🏆Boasts Between the Coasts
  • 👑Queen City: Charlotte, NC



📚School’s Back From Summer

Alice Cooper would be sad to see it, but learning is still of utmost importance. COVID-19 has forced changes for educators and parents with reliance on remote learning. But this hasn’t taken away from VCs’ growing interest in edtech, which has seen a continued surge in 2020.
Adults might be paying more attention to school now than they did as kids. Hence the $803 million in investment that edtech has seen in the first six months of 2020.

More than corn in them there fields. Many midwest startups are making differences in the edtech industry, including Teleteachers in Chicago, Boddle Learning in Kansas City, and Transportant in Shawnee, Kansas. 

The growth of emerging edtech companies sets new standards for learning in a socially distanced world. Even while educators, parents, and students adjust to new classroom settings, edtech companies are hard at work, making sure this reality is viable both technologically and financially. 

Sending good vibes if you’re homeschooling or overseeing remote learning for the first time this week. ✌️

🌊Boasts Between the Coasts

Did you know that 50% of America’s largest companies by revenue are headquartered in the middle of the United States? 

The Midwest region packs an outsized punch, with a collective gross product worth more than $4 trillion ranking alongside Germany as the world’s fourth-largest regional economy. 

That’s a lot of buying power. And as more people move away from coastal regions like the Bay area, corporate buying power between the coasts is likely to keep growing. 

Heartland Ventures spotted this opportunity back in 2016 and launched a fund connecting coastal startups with potential customers in the Midwest. Since then, they’ve created $190 million in potential pipeline revenue for that fund’s portfolio companies. 

The Midwest is bursting at the seams with opportunity. As coastal companies recognize the ongoing shift of customers leaving the coasts, they’re chasing after potential customers finding greater opportunities in the heartland. 

Time for a revised sales strategy?

🌎This Land is Tech Land

The numbers speak for themselves. Inc Magazine recently published a hefty list of 5000 notable private companies made in America. None of the top ten companies are in Silicon Valley, New York, or Boston, representing real-life proof of progress. Instead, burgeoning tech hubs like Atlanta, Chicago, and Tampa Bay top the list. 

The Atlanta-based global privacy tool OneTrust landed the coveted #1 spot on Inc’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that is definitely true for tech companies. 158 startups in the North Texas region alone landed on the Inc list.

Similar honors went to the 15 East Tennessee companies listed, including RDI Technologies and Arsenal Strength.

And forget the Indy 500, how about the Indianapolis 5000? While our team is excited to be able to watch the race live on TV for the first time this Sunday, we’re just as excited to see many Indianapolis companies placed in the top 5000, like our friends at DemandJump and Formstack.

Indianapolis punk band, the Gizmos, famously said, “The Midwest Can Be Alright.” And at the risk of correcting music legends, the Midwest is more than alright…it’s amazing!


Top fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs between the coasts. 

Alexandria, VA

  • Private social networking provider Clowder raised $1.1 million in seed funding, with Active Capital leading the investment round.

Ann Arbor, MI

Boca Raton, FL

Boulder, CO

Chapel Hill, NC

Charlotte, NC

Chicago, IL

  • CancerIQ, a medtech company building an early cancer detection platform, raised $4.8 million in Series A funding. The round was led by HealthX Ventures.
  • Fyllo, the cannabis industry-based digital marketing company, acquired CannaRegs, a site providing state and municipal cannabis regulations on a subscription-based service. 
  • Trala, an app built to teach newbies how to play violin, announced $3.5 million in funding, led by Next Play Ventures.

Dallas, TX

Madison, WI

  • LÜM, the streaming music and social media platform for up-and-coming artists, announced $3 million investment round, thanks largely to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
  • Allergy Amulet, the startup building an industry-defining food allergen sensor, announced $3.3 million seed round led by Titletown Tech.

Richmond, VA 

Salt Lake City, UT

  • Mighty Labs, a software company focused on team networking, raised $4.3 million in funding, thanks primarily to Slack Fund, GSV Ventures, Origin Ventures, Album VC, and Acadian Ventures.

San Diego, CA

  • GoSite, the startup committed to helping small businesses online during COVID, raised $17 million thanks to Stage 2 Capital.

Washington, D.C.


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

We have a few our Top Powderkeg Picks below:

Companies who are hiring:

Charlotte, NC (More on this city below…)

  • Passport is a mobility platform for public transit and parking, hiring multiple levels of software engineer, operations roles, a DevOps Lead, and a product manager.
  • AvidXchange is an accounts payable automation platform hiring a Manager of Software Development, engineers, analysts,and multiple part-time roles.
  • nCino is a cloud banking platform hiring in development and engineering, marketing, HR, sales, and other departments. 

Denver, CO

  • JumpCloud is an identity management platform hiring in engineering, product management, marketing, and more.
  • Zayo is a hardware and software infrastructure provider hiring in hundreds of roles around the world.

Indianapolis, IN

  • KSM Consulting is a tech consulting firm hiring data architects and engineers, a business intelligence consultant, senior NLP scientist, and more.
  • Springbuk is a health analytics platform for employers, hiring a director of client success, controller, Director of Digital & Content Marketing, and multiple tech roles too.

Multiple Locations or Remote

  • Cordial is a content marketing platform hiring a Director of Business Operations, sales director, full-stack web developer, and more.
  • Workiva is a finance and compliance platform hiring in sales, customer support, engineering, and lots of interns for 2020.
  • Formstack is a data management platform hiring software and support engineers, a professional services manager, privacy analyst, and more.  


Charlotte, NC: Queen City Slays With Over $1B Capital Investment During Downturn

In this section of the Spark, we illuminate some of the biggest opportunities in tech beyond Silicon Valley.

Finance, insurance, logistics, and manufacturing are just some of the industries growing in Charlotte—and it’s all powered by tech behind the scenes. And while there are a few other cities that claim the nickname “Queen City,” Charlotte has startup resources in spades.

With tech jobs in the region growing at double the national rate, it’s time for us all to witness this Queen and her crown.

Key Tech Facts about Charlotte, NC:

  • Job Growth: Added 117,694 tech jobs since 2015
  • Fastest Growing Companies: AvidXchange, Passport, Ekos
  • Most Active Investors: TFX Capital, xElle Ventures, Charlotte Angel Fund, Carolina Fintech Ventures
  • Biggest Industries: Software Development, Financial Technology, Web Development

Awards and Accolades:

“America’s Top Tech Town”-ComTIA

  • In 2020, 22 traded-sector companies announced relocation or expansion plans in Charlotte, accounting for more than $1.1 billion in capital investment.
  • North Carolina ranks #1 for the percentage of women in the technology workforce, with women making up 35.6 percent of the workforce.
  • North Carolina’s 2019 included 13 exits worth nearly $1.5 billion.

Learn more about Charlotte’s 2020 growth:

Read the Report >>

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