Want to raise VC? Stand out in a hot market! LSS #26: Alvenda



Alvenda InterviewThere’s no disputing the ripple effect that just one new startup company can have on a community, city, or even an entire state.*

And for those seeking of a vote of confidence in the future of Minnesota tech (or some milestones to emulate) — look no further than Alvenda.  Digging deeper, hear how Co-founding CEO Wade Gerten played off his Retek roots to identify and build the team behind an ambitious idea that would “make history” in July 2009 by bringing retail to Facebook  for the first time.

Tune in for the details around how this startup was coronated the Minnesota Cup Grand Prize Winner in September 2009 and leveraged that momentum to raise $5m series A from Minnesota Venture Capital firm Split Rock Partners just two months later.   Fast forward to August 2010 and hear Wade describe how Alvenda would further distinguish itself through another first:  enabling air travelers to book flights through Facebook. What’s next?

In retrospect, Alvenda was one of (no more than) five Minnesota tech startups to raise Venture Financing in 2009. It bears asking: not enough available VC funding, not enough fundable startups or a mix of both?

“When we started thinking about doing the A round, just about everyone told us ‘good luck raising that in Minnesota!’ (A) There’s just not that many investors/ there’s not a lot of capital here and (B) the capital that’s available to you on the coasts  doesn’t chase companies based in the Midwest.

That’s kind of the nature of the beast…It’s difficult to start a company here and raise money…I think you really have to stand out and be in a hot market.” – Wade Gerten, CEO, Alvenda.

*While one legacy media company languishes in the obvious, we remain focused on Petters Hecker addressing the real environmental circumstances surrounding Minnesota startups and exploring actual strategies which can lead to an increased probability of success.


  • http://derrickshields.com Derrick Shields

    Very interesting interview. While I don't know any of the management team personally, Alvenda is a company I keep an eye on because I'm very interested in the space.

    I wish Wade would have talked a bit more about product traction. Launching the Delta facebook app is great, but it's nearly impossible to find and doesn't appear to have a real user base. Not to mention that having to add the “application” inconvenient to say the least. And flash for commerce? Ick.

    I did install the app and it worked fine. It's not as bad as the reviews indicate, but searching for 5 minutes to find the page, add the app, allow it to access my personal information, and then navigate this tiny-flash window and commit to spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a page that's not behind an SSL-secured connection just doesn't seem like the future of commerce to me.

    Personally I'm rooting for Alvenda, but they need to innovate faster, drop flash, and incorporate a check-out process integrated with PayPal/Google Checkout/etc or they will continue be lapped by Payvment and other startups that have open API frameworks.