Lab Notes
Startup Brainstorm

GoKart Ventures: Why We’re Doubling Down on Startups

Creating new businesses is core to GoKart Labs’ DNA. It’s also critical to our business model. We believe building and investing in startups can benefit society, fuel creativity and drive new solutions to real problems. Whether we’re co-inventing with our clients, supporting first-time entrepreneurs, or helping our own employees bring their big ideas to the world, this is what we love to do.

Since opening our doors in 2009, we’ve founded or co-founded six different companies — some flourishing, others now-defunct, all profoundly worthwhile. Staying intimately familiar with the risks and challenges of building a business from the ground up is a big part of how we grow and maintain the kinds of skills we want to provide for more established clients. And as the startup universe itself continues to evolve — sometimes at a dizzying pace — it’s a way to continually sharpen our wits and test our instincts.

This week, we’re formally announcing the launch of a new business arm dedicated solely to start-up ventures. We’re calling it GoKart Ventures — a pretty straightforward name for a group that will focus on investing in disruptive ideas that radically improve modern life. The group is being run by seasoned entrepreneur and Alchemy365 co-founder Scott Jagodzinski, who’ll spearhead the incubation, testing, and launch of new high-potential startups that align with GoKart’s core values. Scott’s own experience as an entrepreneur has taught him how important it is to get a smart, talented team on your side when launching a business, and he’s eager to help new venture partners do exactly that.

For 2017, the GoKart Ventures team is allocating $1 million in services to startups, with a preference for our three primary categories of focus: healthcare, education and financial services. What’s more, we’ve already started work with two new enterprises that have come in through our ventures unit: Kaleidoscope and Polco:

• Based in Minneapolis, Kaleidoscope helps visionary organizations and advocates fund the next generation of change-making leaders by designing, building and administering scholarship programs on a cloud software platform. For GoKart, it’s not only a powerful business opportunity, it’s also an amazing chance to apply our parallel expertise in education, technology, and human-centered design.

• Polco is a Madison-based startup that’s using technology to enable cities and their citizens to communicate more clearly and more often about decisions facing their communities — from roads to recycling to land use to public spending. More than a dozen forward-thinking U.S. cities have already launched Polco to their communities, and the company has just launched a crowdfund effort to help expand access and awareness throughout the country.

Read the full press release here.

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