Artisan Venture Lab Founders

Co-founders Kevin Zinniel and Michael Ackmann

“Artisan” is such a hot word these days. Artisan licorice. Artisan woodcrafts. Artisan beef milk (a flirty trend in beverages that only costs $60 per gallon)… it goes on and on. Now, there’s a new artisanal addition in town.

Artisan Venture Lab.

But is the new business a marketing agency? Is it a source of funding? Well, it seems co-founders Michael Ackmann and Kevin Zinniel have mixed their artisan chocolate with their artisan peanut butter — it’s a bit of both.

“Artisan’s goal is to provide a more sustainable path to market by leveraging cost-efficient resources both in the U.S. and offshore,” Zinniel said in a release. “We reroute investment dollars that typically are consumed by agency model overhead and accelerate the ROI for companies who don’t have all the required resources or capital for marketing.”

Both Ackmann and Zinniel are no strangers to the Twin Cities scene. Ackmann founded web/app development and digital marketing firm Ackmann & Dickerson and Zinniel has served in a number of eCommerce and software startups roles (including VP of Business Development | Strategy at Ackmann & Dickerson and founder and co-owner of =RANGE=golf, an apparel brand for — you’ll never believe it — golfers). John Standish, a former senior developer at Ackmann & Dickerson among other roles, is also joining as chief strategy officer and head of the company’s presence on the west coast.

By housing both marketing and funding services under one roof (the business opened its doors in the Warehouse District earlier this week), Zinniel says the company, “[reroutes] investment dollars that typically are consumed by agency model overhead and accelerate the ROI for companies who don’t have all the required resources or capital for marketing.”

In the release, Artisan Venture Lab lists its “core services” as, “consulting, full-cycle eCommerce and online marketing, including Amazon Marketplace strategy and implementation” and encourages entrepreneurs — particularly those in the eSports, lifestyle, financial, healthcare, and software categories — to apply for funding through its website. Artisan Venture Lab says a team of advisors will assess the applicants based on, “the marketability of the idea, its level of disruption in the marketplace, scalability to apply to product and opportunity to co-brand with others.”

“This is the perfect storm for reinventing traditional agency, digital agency and venture capital models,” Ackmann said in the release.