Yesterday was surreal. 

The Powderkeg team was all hands on deck for the launch of Unvalley, a virtual conference covering the biggest opportunities and trends in tech between the coasts. The support and collaboration from the tech community beyond Silicon Valley was buzzing on social media as more than one hundred people registered in the first twelve hours and we announced our two headline speakers: 

  • Steve Case — Chairman and CEO, Revolution
  • Arlan Hamilton — Founder and Managing Partner at Backstage Capital

These are probably the two most written about tech leaders that we’ve covered here in The Spark. Now we’re giving you and the Powderkeg community direct access, so I hope you can join December 17-18. 

We also celebrated military vets yesterday. 

Here at Powderkeg, we’d like to take yesterday’s Veterans Day holiday as an opportunity to thank all military for their service to our country. We also want to thank all of the vets who have joined or launched startups and tech companies, bringing with them invaluable skills and experience. 

In other news, bootcamps aren’t just for military training and exercise fanatics anymore. They’re a perfect fit for tech workers, too!

Right now, job seekers and entrepreneurs are moving away from traditional college programs and are flocking to shorter-term tech boot camps of all shapes and sizes. 

You’ll find a deep dive on that story and a lot more here in this week’s edition of The Spark.

In This Issue:

  • 📚Bootstrapping New Skills
  • 🌇Prepping for Tech Migration
  • ⚒Construction Tech Nails Q3

– Matt

P.S. Just in case you missed the free tickets to our Unvalley conference, which sold out in a matter of minutes, I wanted to give you a heads up that we only have a few $5 tickets left. Grab your ticket>> (while they last)


📚Bootstrapping New Skills

Time to boot up for new opportunities. Workers who have been laid off due to the current economic downturn are reinventing themselves – and they’re using tech boot camps to do it.

The Washington Post recently published an article talking about COVID-related employment changes. In that article, the Post noted that enrollments in traditional colleges are plummeting – but coding boot camps, mentorship programs, and online communities are becoming more popular as job seekers, entrepreneurs, and career-switchers look for ways to expand their skills.

According to Course Report, an online directory and review website for boot camps, enrollments in boot camp programs increased from approximately 15,500 in 2018 to 23,000 in 2019. Course Report also says enrollments appear on track to go up by another 40% in 2020.

Holiday bootcamp, anyone? Higher education institutions in the Unvalley have noticed the enthusiasm for boot camps, and some colleges are shifting their offerings to include more intensive opportunities to learn tech skills. For example, Indianapolis-based coding school Eleven Fifty Academy recently announced they are partnering with seven state colleges in Indiana to offer multi-week coding boot camps during December and January. 

These boot camps are designed to fit within the extended holiday breaks many college students are taking this winter because of the pandemic.

Chris Mayer, the Associate Dean for Strategy and Initiatives at West Point, praised Eleven Fifty’s innovative partnership in a Tweet last Thursday.

Equal opportunity tech learning. COVID-19 has left millions of Americans without jobs – and the pandemic’s economic effects have disproportionately affected women, people of color, and low-income communities. 

Career Karma, a coding bootcamp company, is helping these underserved communities get laptops and find the best boot camps for their needs, so they can reskill and re-enter the workforce. Career Karma’s efforts with these communities will also help the tech industry fill their talent pipelines with more diverse candidates.

Interested in learning more about ways to expand your skills with boot camps, mentorship opportunities, and other programs? 

Check out Eleven Fifty Academy >>

🌇Prepping for Tech Migration

Austin, Texas has been in the spotlight recently, as companies and workers make the move from Silicon Valley to Unvalley cities. Crunchbase reported that Austin startups raised $1.84 billion in 2019, up 19.5% from 2018. 

These trends continued into 2020, as well – in the first quarter of this year, 38 Austin startups brought in $434.4 million. Want to know more about the shift from Silicon Valley to the “Silicon Hills” of Texas? Check out this article for trends and stats about Austin’s tech community. 

Keep your eye on these Austin startups for the rest of 2020 and beyond: 

Austin gets back on the bike. To get ready for the expected influx of new workers, Austin is investing in transportation infrastructure to combat Austin’s notorious traffic congestion and make the city more attractive to talent. 

The city will be investing more than $7 billion on a new transit system for their city, which will include a 31-station rail system, a rapid bus route, and bike and walking paths.

Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, tweeted about the new transportation project and how Austin is making efforts to be more affordable, sustainable, and equitable for everyone. 

Keep the trains running. Companies that don’t plan well for expected migrations end up paying the price by losing out on deals. Recently, disagreements between Amazon and local politicians in Long Island City, Queens, led to Amazon’s termination of its plans to build a headquarters in the city.

According to Forbes, Amazon failed to develop a cohesive plan to expand and improve infrastructure in the area to accommodate new HQ workers. The specter of nightmare transportation problems throughout the area apparently scuttled resident support for the deal. Lesson learned for Amazon? Only time will tell.

⚒Construction Tech Nails Q3

There seems to be no ceiling for contech growth. For the past five years, investors have showered love and attention on the construction technology sector – backing 571 startups with over $5.1B in funding. One of the biggest deals in the past few years was Texas-based Katerra, a prefabricated construction and project management startup that raised nearly $1B in its Series D round back in 2018.

And even though this sector took a big hit in Q2 of 2020 due to the pandemic, construction tech came roaring back in Q3. According to CB Insights, the number of corporate investments into construction tech startups reached an all-time high in the third quarter of 2020. New advances like automation tools, drone delivery, and 3-D printing fueled a big boost in funding, with a quarter-over-quarter increase of 292%.

These red-hot contech companies are bulldozing the competition:

Construction tech is shovel-ready and predicted to continue to expand during the next few years. Watch this sector closely to find opportunities to build your own future.


Top fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs between the coasts. 

Austin, TX

Boulder, CO

  • ColdQuanta, a quantum atomics company announced it has raised $32 million in a Series A round. The funding round was co-led by Global Frontier Investments and LCP Quantum Partners with participation from Maverick Ventures and Foundry Group.

Chicago, IL

  • Dimension Inx, a biofabrication company developing regenerative medical implants, announced it has raised $3.1 million in a seed financing round. KdT Ventures led the round with participation from Better Ventures and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

Cleveland, OH

Denver, CO

  • Highwing, an insurance technology platform, announced it has closed $4 million in a recent fundraising round. The round was led by BRP Group and BrokerTech Ventures, with several others participating.
  • JumpCloud, a platform that automates manual, tedious server management tasks from the cloud for DevOps and IT pros, announced it has raised $75 million in a Series E funding round. BlackRock led the round with participation from existing investor General Atlantic.

Elizabeth, KY

  • Venminder, an innovator in third-party risk management solutions, announced it has raised $33 million in a Series C funding round. New investor Silversmith Capital Partners led the round with participation from existing investors, Bain Capital Ventures, and MissionOG.

Lehi, UT

  • Workfront, a cloud-based enterprise work management solution, announced Adobe has acquired them for a reported $1.5 billion.

Philadelphia, PA

  • Fishtown Analytics, a Philadelphia-based company behind the dbt open-source data engineering tool, announced it has raised $29.5 million in a Series B round. The round was led by Sequoia Capital with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Amplify Partners.


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 of our Top Powderkeg Picks below:

Companies who are hiring:

Indianapolis, IN:

  • DemandWell, an SEO coaching platform for B2B SaaS companies, is hiring an account executive and software engineer.
  • Purpose HQ, a company that provides data-driven solutions for talent-related problems, is hiring for several business development roles.

Minneapolis, MN:

  • Leadpages, a digital lead generation platform hiring, is hiring a customer success specialist.
  • phData, a big data managed services and data science consulting company, is hiring a project manager, solutions architect, and data engineers.

Nashville, TN: 

  • Core10, a software development company that creates fintech solutions, is hiring several senior software engineers.
  • ProviderTrust, a healthcare credential storage and management solution, is hiring an implementation manager, a security engineer, and a content strategy manager.
  • PASKR, a cloud-based construction management solution, is hiring several client support specialists, SDRs, and a marketing manager.

Phoenix, AZ:

  • Campus Logic, an edtech company, is hiring a data scientist, regional sales director, and a videographer.
  • Paradox, an AI assistant company, is hiring for roles in product management and design, marketing, operations, engineering, and more.

Multiple Locations or Remote:

  • Cordial, a content marketing platform, is hiring a product marketing manager, sales director, engineering, and more.
  • Calabrio, a workforce optimization suite, is hiring for several engineering and implementation roles.

Need to optimize your resume for opportunities like these? Get feedback using our new resume review tool.


Get the lowdown on even more compelling companies, stories, and events to help you reach your full potential

  • Yesterday, Powderkeg announced it’s all virtual conference, Unvalley 2020. A 2-day virtual conference featuring some of the best in tech, leadership, and innovation in the Unvalley. It’s all going down December 17-18. Register>>
  • Today from 3-6 pm, 36|86 is hosting a live virtual conversation with several Tennessee tech leaders focused on building a high-performance, diverse, and connected entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state of Tennessee. Check it out>>
  • Looking to leverage your brand through the power of video? Check out the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Kansas City featuring our friends at Alchemy Film Co. giving a presentation on the best ways of “Leveraging Video for Your Brand on a Bootstrapped Budget.” Sign up>>

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