Forge North Coalition Projects

Forge North's Signature Projects advance our goals for the region through the leadership of partner organizations - and especially the Project Fellows who lead the work daily.

Project Fellows add to their busy roster of day-to-day support for founders to lead transformative projects for the ecosystem. Focusing on founders in their main job is an indispensable benefit for this work, because it means that Fellows' feedback and leadership are based on founders’ clear and urgent needs.

Leadership Council members have the power to decide to start a new Signature Project, and use their roles and strengths to support projects’ growth.

Signature Projects

Forge North projects go beyond a single program. They bring together multiple organizations to work on ecosystem-wide issues. Council members review project performance, suggest new projects, and provide support related to their expertise.

Active Projects

Angel Activation Campaign:

Angel investors often provide the earliest stages of capital for founders. That’s why increasing the number of Minnesota angels is critical to accelerating the growth of startups in MSP. Increasing the number of angels of color and women angels will help to dilute the biases of this traditionally white-male space. With support from federal funding and enterprise sponsors, Groove Investment Group has built an array of education and services to guide potential angels to a better understanding of the impact that their wealth can produce.

Key links:

  • Angel Basecamp, a curated library of videos and articles educating potential and current angel investors about the field 
  • Angel Fest - 2024 date TBD - A day-long conference where investors share stories of their experiences, and angels can build community with one another.
  • Catalyst Angel MN Cohort - A yearly program providing training and community to a group of women and people of color interested in deepening their learning about angel investing

Project Fellow: Mickayla Rosard of Groove Investment Group brings deep experience as an investment professional and an individual angel to lead a collaborative campaign to recruit more Minnesotans to become active angel investors, with intentional focus on including more women and people from underrepresented communities in the investor community.

‍MSP Equity Fund:

Venture capital is on the rise in Minnesota, but relatively little reaches startups led by Black, Brown and Women founders. The MSP Equity Fund is a diversified investment vehicle that aims to invest millions of dollars of capital into high-growth Black, Brown and Women led startups here in Minnesota. The MSP Equity Fund aims to bolster investment into local and national venture capital funds that will support the growing ecosystem of diverse founders in Minnesota, while supporting these founders through guidance, mentorship and direct investment. This mission of the fund is to enable Minnesota to continue its tradition as a problem-solving capital in the next economy while emerging as a top destination for diverse talent.

Key links:

  • MSP Equity Fund: Learn more about the investment vehicle that gener8tor is using to attract national attention to Black, Brown, and Women founders in Minnesota.
  • MSP Equity Accelerator: Discover the accelerator which will provide critical support to and investment in  black, brown and women-led startups headquartered in Minnesota.  Mentors wanted for September-November 2023!

Project Fellow: Al Cornish of gener8tor successfully achieved the Equity Fund’s first close in April 2023, and continues to push toward a fully subscribed fund, with the underlying thesis of supporting diverse and emerging fund managers; and black, brown and women startup founders.

Inactive Projects

From time to time, a project’s assumptions, scope, time commitment, or other variables are less of a fit for a Project Fellow’s work than we had anticipated at the outset. When that happens, the Fellow steps away from the project, and Forge North’s staff works with the council to determine the best course forward for the project - either building a new plan with a new Fellow, supporting the growth outside of Forge North, or putting the project on the back burner until a new Fellow steps up.

Enterprise Engagement:

Minneapolis-Saint Paul is home to the country’s highest concentration of large corporate headquarters. Our goal is that 100% of billion-dollar enterprises in MSP meaningfully engage with local startup ventures. To achieve this goal, we've built a playbook of paths that enterprise leaders can take to support founders, as well as an enterprise pledge to support the startup ecosystem.

Project Fellow: Stephanie Rich of Bread & Butter Ventures created the playbook in 2022, and confirmed pledges of support from seven enterprises during that year. She stepped away from the project in May 2023.

Igniting Equity:

The MSP region is home to dozens of entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs) that provide critical early mentorship, education, and connections to entrepreneurs. The skills, community, and connections offered by these organizations are a key ingredient to founders’ businesses surviving long enough to attract investment and profit – especially for traditionally under-served founders. The region’s ESOs have gathered feedback from Black and Brown founders on the needs of the ecosystem, and are seeking funding to fuel programs that better serve BIPOC founders’ needs.

Project Fellows Angel Even of Led by TRUTH and Maria Ploessl of Minnestar (now at a different role) built on work by Jessica Berg by conducting interviews and surveys of BIPOC founders. Now independent of Forge North, they are building a campaign to fund increased DEI programming at ESOs.

Join the Forge North coalition at the link below to stay tuned to milestones and requests from signature projects in 2023.

Project Fellows

Al Cornish

General Partner

Mickayla Rosard

Head of Platform
Groove Capital