Good Works Ventures
Good Works Ventures is an early stage Missoula, Montana based investment fund. While we love to invest in Montana companies, we will consider any company that is paradigm changing and has the potential for good financial return. We invest in companies that show promise in their technology, scalability and management. We are strong supporters of the Slow Money movement and are always on the lookout for sustainable businesses and technologies of all types. We will consider most investment vehicles including loans, equity or hybrid instruments. Take a look through our portfolio companies. If your company is looking for investment and you feel like you would be a good fit, please be sure to contact us. If you are an investor who is interested in co-investing along side us or you would like us to take a look at your portfolio companies, we are happy to engage in that conversation. We invite both entrepreneurs and investors to our monthly meetings of the Hellgate Venture Network.
We recognize the value of promoting entrepreneurship throughout Montana and as such and we are also involved with a number of programs that work to catalyze entrepreneurship including: the Hellgate Venture Network, the Innovation Initiative program with the Missoula Economic Partnership, and Missoula's Startup Weekend. A calendar of events can be found on the Upcoming Events page. If you would like more information or to get involved with any of these projects please let us know.
This fall has been an especially busy one for Good Works Ventures and we are proud to announce that we have made four new investments in Montana small businesses, bringing our total to seven for the year and fifteen Montana investments in total. Our new investments include:
- The Natural Baby Company. The Natural Baby Company, of Bozeman MT, provides innovative and modern solutions to age-old problems. The company currently manufactures industry-leading GroVia® Modern Cloth Diapers and Ovolo Wraps™ and is also partnering with independent entrepreneurs to build a growing network of unique The Natural Baby Company retail stores. The company is a Certified B Corporation that has been recognized for its earth-friendly products and forward-thinking business practices.
- Hestia In-Home Support. Hestia In-Home Support provides long term medical and practical support delivered at home by a knowledgeable multidisciplinary team focused on providing meaningful experiences and whole-person care with authenticity, compassion, respect, and enthusiasm.
- House Design Studio. House offers contemporary and modern furniture, home decor, lighting, gifts and interior design services, with locations in historic downtown Missoula and midtown Bozeman, MT. House specializes in modern organic rustic style that is true to Montana and incorporates clean, minimal lines with Danish influence. House has been established in Missoula for over 5 years and recently expanded to Bozeman in spring of 2014.
- Kindkudos. Kindkudos is an easy-to-use messaging app for sharing, saving and spreading kindness, happiness and appreciation. Kindkudos allows users to keep their most meaningful messages in one easily accessible place.
By making these investments we hope to help foster an environment of innovation and entrepreneurship in Montana. We are very excited about the potential that each of these companies represent in terms of good jobs, economic growth and positive social impact for the state. We look forward to watching these companies grow and create great new opportunities within Montana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Lis Carlisle, author of the upcoming book The Lentil Underground about the CEO of our portfolio company, Timeless Seeds, and organic lentil production in Montana has an op-ed in Thanksgiving’s New York Times about eating too locally:
Central Montana is not the type of place you might expect sustainable food to blossom. It’s heavily Republican. It’s hundreds of miles from the closest major metropolitan area. Frequent droughts and early impacts of climate change make it a tough place to farm, and struggling rural economies make it a tough place to earn a living.
And yet, if you look closer, there’s a host of reasons sustainable food has taken root here in central Montana. Many farmers are the third or fourth generation on their land, and they’d like to leave it in good shape for their kids. Having grappled with the industrial agriculture model for decades, they understand its problems better than most of us. Indeed, their communities have been fighting corporate power since their grandparents formed cooperative wheat pools back in the 1920s.
And my favorite quote because it seems like this is very commonly misunderstood fact about food production:
Eating food that is grown responsibly — no matter where it is grown — is a smart strategy for combating climate change. Transportation to the final point of sale accounts for only about 4 percent [emphasis mine] of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the average American diet.
The bigger problem is the way we produce that food, particularly the fossil-fuel-intensive manufacture of nitrogen fertilizer. Since lentils can pull nitrogen from the air and work with bacteria to convert it into fertilizer, organic farmers rotate lentils and other legumes into their fields, planting them between cycles of other crops, as a substitute for industrially produced nitrogen.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and be sure to include lots of delicious, organic, Montana lentils in your Thanksgiving feasts!
Good Works Ventures is proud to announce that it has made a seed-stage investment in Rancher’s Original, LLC headquartered in Helena, MT. Ranchers Original has developed a unique method for processing and marketing Grass Fed, rancher-direct, growth hormone free, pasture-raised beef that will capture substantial extra value for Montana Ranchers. Ranchers Original is primarily owned and operated by the cattle ranchers who are raising the Ranchers Original cows offering them a chance to control all aspects of the production, marketing and sales. Ultimately these ranchers should see premiums of $100-$150 a head helping secure beef production as a viable business opportunity in Montana. Ranchers Original has working partnerships with Hillary’s Eat Well of Lawrence, KS, Montana Meat Company, Montana Fish Company and Grass Fed Beef Crisps, with other distributors coming soon. If interested in Ranchers Original product or partnerships please contact Cole Mannix, Director of Operations, at 406-544-7329.
Two of the Montana companies we are excited to be investors in are hiring! Goomzee is looking for an ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) Systems Engineer to do cool things with all of their big data as well as a Quality Assurance Engineer/Product Specialist to try to break all of the cool things they are doing with big data. Submittable, the Y Combinator alum, is looking for a front-end developer, a full stack developer (C#) and sales. Pay and benefits are top notch including optional work from home Fridays, chairs costing more than my first car, and getting to work just down the hall from me (Goomzee) to season passes at Snowbowl and optional work any day with more than 8″ of new powder (Submittable).
David Oien, the CEO of one of the great Montana companies we are investors in, Timeless Seeds, has had a book written about the incredible work he and his friends have done pushing forward the cause of sustainable agriculture. I have had the opportunity to read some of the draft chapters and it is going to be well, well worth the read for anyone interested in the formative years of the organic and sustainable ag movement. Lentil Underground is now available for pre-order from the major retailers and will be released January 27th, 2015.
The good folks at Treasure State Internet have secured 10,000 computers from an anonymous technology company that they are donating to Montana based educational institutions, non-profits and technology companies. Go read their announcement and if your institution is a good fit fill out their donation request form.
We are thrilled that Jeremy Sauter has agreed to run a “How to Pitch Your Idea” Workshop. This will give you the opportunity to apply the concepts and approaches Jeremy discussed at May’s HVN meeting.
The workshop will run from 4.30pm to approximately 6.30pm on Thursday Jun 26. The workshop will start with some introductory concepts and examples from Jeremy but then devote the majority of the workshop to small teams working on each others ideas and pitches and pitching back to Jeremy and the rest of the attendees.
The workshop will be held in the main conference room at MonTEC on East Broadway.
You can attend with an idea pitch that you want to develop or refine or simply attend and help others with their pitches while learning and applying the concepts.
There is no charge to attend but we do ask that unlike other HVN events you register via the link below.
Please contact Paul Gladen (406.396.3534) if you have any questions.
Good Works Ventures believes strongly in the ethos of the Slow Money movement and we are in the early stages of starting a Slow Money Chapter in Montana. If you are interested in being involved in Slow Money Montana please get in touch. For those of you unfamiliar with the Slow Money movement below is a transcript of the keynote address given by Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, at last year’s Slow Money conference.
Good Works Ventures’ own Dawn McGee will be participating in a webinar on startup basics Wednesday, May 28th from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. The panel will be moderated by Diane Smith, CEO of American Rural, and will additionally include Liz Marchi of the Frontier Angel Fund, Sarah Calhoun of Red Ants Pants and director of the University of Montana LaunchPad/HVN Co-Founder Paul Gladen. If you’re interested in attending you can register at: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/vbv00kyc7qaj&eom.
Our very own Dawn McGee will be sitting on a panel at the Montana Jobs Summit this Monday the 16th titled Cultivating a Start-Up Ecosystem along with Joe Fanguy, President of Montec and Amy Stursberg the Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. It will run from 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. and will be held in the Mining/Geology Building 204.