fuel for the future

On August 25, 2020, we closed on a $3.1 million funding deal to help us grow into our big paws . We are partnering with a group of world class investors and are beyond excited for our future.

Lead Investor
π

manufacturing is important

In 1989, 34% of all software was manufacturing operating systems (ERPs). Large, kludgy systems cobbled together for giant vertically integrated manufacturers. Since then, technology has advanced, a global supply chain has emerged, production has gotten faster, more products, more personalization, faster innovation, all made possible by big brands focusing on design, allowing a nimble network of skilled shops to do the heavy lifting. The only thing that hasn't changed is the software they operate on.

Fulcrum is solving these problems. By building a product from the ground up with beautiful interfaces that are intuitive to understand and easy to use. We are delivering through a business model built from the ground up that doesn't rely on expensive consultants, a model where our incentives are not to increase complexity but to deliver simplicity. We're building a platform that's open and connectable, filled with modern technology and designed to grow with new innovations, not be afraid of them. We are building a future where craftsmen can stay competitive and preserve the power of their expertise.

2015founded
14fte
11%monthly growth
Minneapolishq
Bootstrappedfunding
1,714,504slack messages

We have been successfully building and investing in startups since 2003. Our energy and inspiration comes from working with exceptional founders to build tomorrow's greatest companies.

  • David Wieland
    Board Member
    David Wieland
    Founder / Managing Partner

    Before starting Motivate, David founded and ran InnFlux, launched iEstates, seeded and operated RIVS, and co-founded IrishAngels a Notre Dame affiliated angel investor group.

  • Lauren DeLuca
    Lauren DeLuca
    Founder / Managing Partner

    Lauren co-founded and served as Managing Partner of Oxford Intelligence Partners, was a founding partner of Victory Networks, founded Sumo Capital and Budo Holdings, and currently serves as a mentor at startup accelerators 43North and Founders Institute.

  • Trey Calver
    Trey Calver
    Associate

    During law school, Trey clerked at a startup law firm where he represented early-stage startups. Prior to joining Motivate, Trey co-founded HSAD Network and then spent two years at NCT Ventures.

"We're thrilled to be working with Sunny - an expert and thought leader in manufacturing operations - and the exceptionally talented and driven Fulcrum team to provide a truly transformative ERP experience accessible on universal devices and web platforms for the modern day manufacturing operator."
David Wieland

Battery Ventures is a global, technology-focused investment firm pursuing the most prominent companies and ideas. Founded in 1983, our firm makes venture-capital and private equity investments from six offices around the world. We work hard, but humbly, and are guided by data-driven processes. We seek out extraordinary business leaders who operate the same way.

  • Sanjiv Kalevar
    Sanjiv Kalevar
    Principal

    Sanjiv serves on the boards of Mews and Newforma. Prior to Battery, Sanjiv worked for Bessemer Venture Partners and an early-stage angel investment group in Chicago.

  • Michael Hoeksema
    Michael Hoeksema
    Associate

    Michael is involved in Battery’s investments in Mattermost and Vndly. Previously, he worked for JMI Equity in Baltimore, where he sourced software investments and helped lead the firm’s research in the software sectors of manufacturing, automotive and banking.

“Manufacturing employs more than 12 million people in the US, or ~8% of the American workforce, and many more globally. We’ve been looking to invest in a cloud-based operating system for the manufacturing industry for years now. Manufacturers, from the business owner to job shoppers on the front lines have been asking for someone to fulfill this vision, and we’re excited to back Sunny and team to do just that!”
Sanjiv Kalevar

Schematic Ventures is an early-stage venture capital fund located in San Francisco. The fund is focused on investments in technology companies within supply chain, manufacturing, commerce infrastructure & digital industrial sectors.

  • Julian Counihan
    Julian Counihan
    General Partner

    Julian started as a software developer at Fortna where he worked on warehouse control & automation systems. After a period in technology investment banking, he began investing in industrial hardware and supply chain sectors at a venture capital fund in New York.

  • Alex Freed
    Alex Freed
    Senior Associate

    Alex built his career at Google, where he initially focused on launching new products in ecommerce and later, led the international expansion and growth strategy of media & advertising products.

  • Michael Julve
    Michael Julve
    Associate

    Prior to joining Schematic, Michael served in the USMC as an Intelligence Specialist at a logistics battalion, and then worked on go-to-market and growth strategy for early stage startups while at 500 Startups in San Francisco.

"Rapid growth in manufacturing has been held back by lackluster software. Fulcrum will change that: the first manufacturing ERP with modern design principles. We're excited to participate in the Fulcrum seed round and be a part of this industry-defining company."
Julian Counihan

We partner with disruptive founders to accelerate their ideas to market. We focus on founders passionate about transforming major industries, ranging from SaaS, infrastructure software and security to fintech and healthcare to commerce and consumer tech. Our unique and differentiated platform empowers founders to grow their companies at all stages.

  • Ajay Agarwal
    Ajay Agarwal
    Partner

    Prior to Bain Capital Ventures, Ajay led product and sales as an early employee at Trilogy, growing annual revenues to $300 million. Ajay has been named multiple times to the Forbes Midas List Top 100 Venture Capitalists.

  • Kevin Zhang
    Kevin Zhang
    Partner

    Kevin focuses on early-stage investments in technology. Previously, Kevin served as Head of Product at Fundera, where he helped build the financial services marketplace to $200M+ in loans funded.

“Everyone has been asking for a modern, usable ERP, and Fulcrum is finally delivering on it—we were wowed by their focused product vision, ease of deployment, and the customer love they’ve earned so far. It’s 2020: never-ending implementations are unacceptable, and operational excellence (let alone functional technology) is business-critical; with this backdrop, we are thrilled to back Sunny and his team in empowering manufacturers to compete and win.”
Kevin Zhang

Our goal is to be the most impactful early-stage, technology investor in the North and Rockies. We invest where innovative ideas, huge markets and most importantly, ambitious and diverse founders strike. Matchstick exists to act as a catalyst for our founders, our partners, and our startup communities. At Matchstick, we're privileged to support the most curious, ambitious and humble entrepreneurs as they grow meaningful businesses.

  • Ryan Broshar
    Ryan Broshar
    Partner / Founder

    Ryan is a 3x Founder with 2 exits. He's a Former Managing Director for 3 Techstars Retail Accelerator programs, an Investor in 60+ companies, and a founder of Beta.mn and Twin Cities Startup Week.

  • Natty Zola
    Natty Zola
    Partner / Founder

    Natty is a founder of everlater.com, managing Director for six Techstars Boulder accelerator programs and counting, investor in 80+ companies, and serves as a board member of Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association.

"The Fulcrum platform is the most robust and innovative platform we've seen that is addressing the needs of modern manufacturers. We're excited to support the incredible Fulcrum team to support the next generation of production."
Ryan Broshar

We’re an early stage venture capital firm based in Minnesota, the Bread and Butter State, investing globally while leveraging our state and region’s unparalleled access to strong corporate connections, commercial opportunities, and industry expertise for the benefit of our founders.

  • Brett Brohl
    Brett Brohl
    Managing Partner

    Brett served as CEO of multiple companies, led 3 teams to exit, and is the Managing Director of the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator.

  • Mary Grove
    Mary Grove
    Managing Partner

    Mary worked on the Google IPO, served as the founding director of Google for Startups, and worked as an investment partner at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund in a range of sectors including healthcare, enterprise software, and fintech.

"Manufacturers of all sizes struggle with digitizing their processes. The cost of a new system is astronomical and takes an incredible amount of time to customize and implement. Even after doing all of this it is difficult to get employees to actually use it! Sunny and the amazing team at Fulcrum are changing all of this with better technology for a new generation of production."
Brett Brohl

IrishAngels was founded in 2012 as an angel network affiliated with Notre Dame. In 2017, IrishAngels Ventures (rebranded VitalizeVC in 2019) was launched as a result of continued growth and investment appetite among the IrishAngels investor network. Today, VitalizeVC and IrishAngels leverage shared team resources and office space, though each entity has a discrete investment criteria and process.

  • Gale Wilkinson
    Gale Wilkinson
    Founder

    Gale Wilkinson founded IrishAngels and VitalizeVC, is a founding Board member of Chicago Blend, developed an early stage financing course taught at Notre Dame, and previously worked in consulting and forecasting with Nielsen and corporate strategy with Orbitz.

  • Caroline Yeager
    Caroline Yeager
    Principal

    Prior to Vitalize, Caroline worked for GE Ventures in San Francisco where she helped incubate and operate a startup in the drone space and completed GE’s Financial Management Program which involved rotating through various GE businesses.

"We like to back founders with big visions who have the operational know-how to execute quickly yet meaningfully. Investing in Sunny and his team at Fulcrum was an easy decision to make!"
Gale Wilkinson

Social Starts is a venture capital partnership with a uniquely data-driven approach to investing in moment-of-inception and Series A financing rounds. We focus on companies that leverage social and mobile technologies with a particular emphasis on the emerging science and technology of health and happiness.

  • Jon Broscious
    Jon Broscious
    Principal

    Prior to Social Starts, Jon spent 7 years with the Advisory Board Company in internal strategy, operating, and consulting capacities. He is also Principal for Joyance Partners.

  • Mike Edelhart
    Mike Edelhart
    Managing Partner

    Mike is also Managing Partner for Joyance Partner. Previously Mike served as Executive Editor of PC Magazine, Executive Vice President at Ziff Davis and CEO at many startups, including Olive Software, Inman News, and Zinio.

"We're proud to support Fulcrum in their groundbreaking work to bring forth a new resurgence of manufacturing growth. Sunny has assembled a brilliant and highly qualified team to build better technology for a new generation of production."
Mike Edelhart

We love startups. We love the grit, passion, and innovation that entrepreneurs bring to the world. We believe in a company culture that inspires action, accountability, and intention. We have a deep soul for this, and we want our companies to be the same. We know ideas are not enough. We invest in trustworthy leaders who have deep domain experience. We want them acutely aware of the people, partners, and resources they need to scale.

  • Matt Blomstedt
    Matt Blomstedt
    Managing Partner

    During 10 years in the energy industry, Matt managed more than $1.4 billion of successful M&A transactions.

  • Rich Maloy
    Rich Maloy
    Venture Partner

    Rich’s first career was in finance, his second in sales, and startups are his third career. He’s engaged with thousands of startups in his work as a community leader and as the North America Manager for IBM and SoftLayer’s startup programs.

"SpringTime Ventures is excited to be part of the fulcrum team. Sunny has the deep domain expertise that we look for in founders, and his journey represents the grit and dedication it takes to succeed. We believe fulcrum's systems will enable small & medium sized American manufacturers to stay competitive, flourish and grow."
Rich Maloy
  • Daren Cotter
    Daren Cotter

    Daren founded InboxDollars, an online consumer rewards program, as a Freshman in college in 2000. He led the company's growth to more than $25 million of annual revenues -- entirely bootstrapped -- and sold the business to a strategic acquirer in 2019. Daren is active in the MN Tech community as a mentor, advisor, and angel investor.

"Fulcrum addresses a significant pain point for their customers in a very large market. I'm very impressed by Sunny's leadership and think this is a key MN company to watch!"
Daren Cotter
  • Phil Soran
    Phil Soran

    Phil Soran serves as Lead Director on the board of directors of Piper Sandler Companies, is on the board of directors for Foodsby, and was co-founder of Flipgrid, Inc., CEO and co-founder of Compellent Technologies, Inc., CEO and co-founder of Xiotech.

"I have known Sunny for years and seen how much he cares about manufacturing and especially Fulcrum's customers. The culture Sunny has created has enabled Fulcrum to develop solutions that have a true, positive business impact for manufacturers, which is why I'm excited to support and be a part of their continued growth!"
Phil Soran
  • Yishan Wong
    Board Member
    Yishan Wong

    Yishan Wong was the CEO of Reddit, co-founder of Sunfire Offices, founder of Terraformation, an early engineer at PayPal, an early engineer at Facebook and an advisor at Quora.

faq

  • What do you make and sell?
  • Who are your customers?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What makes you better and different?
  • How are you more valuable?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • Why did you start?
  • How did you get here?
  • Why is this important?
  • Why now?

What do you make and sell?

Fulcrum is a platform that lets manufacturers of all types manage operations in the cloud in an intuitive and open way. Customers can set up and use the software right out of the box, getting fully implemented in as little as a few days. Behind the curtain, modern technology powers a level of automation that users are familiar with in their personal lives but aren't able to find in the business world.

fulcrum product map

Who are your customers?

Most people think of big brands and product companies when they think of manufacturing. In reality, a bulk of the work is done by the supply chain in the middle: taking raw material and adding energy and expertise to make components, change the shape, paint, powder coat, and fabricate into useful parts to be assembled into finished goods. This productive middle is our ideal customer. Currently focused on North American production facilities, our goal is to expand to other countries where distributed, democratized manufacturing is a key industry.

fulcrum manufacturers

Who are your competitors?

The first generation of manufacturing ERP software was born in the 1980s and provided the systems to structure and store production data, allowing for the automation of reports that drove a wave of productivity improvements. They were colossal undertakings, built for on-premise servers and fancy consultants to help sell and set them up. Later, a second, and then third generation of ERP systems started to move into the cloud. Some simpler systems were sold directly, while more complicated ones still needed fancy consultants to do the work of selling and launching. Fulcrum is the first big step towards a future of automated software where the complex solutions are behind the scenes, allow for simple and powerful experiences to be delivered quickly, and be updated as the speed of innovation increases.

fulcrum competitors

What makes you better and different?

The secret to our success has been to do everything differently. We spend a lot of time on interface design and focus on having extremely deep empathy for our customers, the owners, the operators, and the management. A completely new and modern architecture for how the software is built and allows for innovations to be rolled out was crafted from scratch. We sell directly, implement on fixed costs, and spend our time with customers generously. Fulcrum doesn't copy paper systems, isn't trying to make a prettier version of something that already exists, it is different from the ground up.

why is fulcrum different

How are you more valuable?

Being able to successfully launch in half of the time, removing huge chunks of upfront expense while keeping the implementation experience a white glove experience allows us to align our interests, deliver value faster, and continue to deliver value over time. Most manufacturers haven't experienced the true power of being free from conflicts of interest, and having their software constantly be the best that could possibly exist, never having to question leaving or going through painful upgrades to leapfrog into the future.

fulcurm cost of ownership example

What keeps you up at night?

The Fulcrum team prides itself on being incredible executors. Our plan is one that has small amounts of product risk but large amounts of coordination risk. Like Tesla's Model S, or Apple's iPhone, the challenge is in getting many little things to work in harmony with each other, being different and better in many ways and coordinating all of our efforts together to create something that, brought together, is truly a revolutionary breakthrough.

espresso machine

Why did you start?

Our founding team had all worked with manufacturing in some way. Implementing and helping select software, family members who were production managers at fabrication facilities, or relying on legacy ERPs to get their jobs done. We all came to the same conclusion that this is a huge problem and one that no one is working on. After being told that this is just how things are done, that non Fortune 500 companies don't want good software, that there's no way we could compete with existing giants, we decided it was time to prove our conviction.

child carseat

How did you get here?

We started off by building completely custom end to end ERP systems for a variety of different types of customers (extruders, machine shops, service companies, coating companies, product companies, contract manufacturers) across just about every industry. We did this to have broad appeal without diluting the value of the software. Since completing those systems, we've modularized, productized, and relaunched Fulcrum using all of the lessons from those experiences with a completely new codebase. This deep experience was formative to our existence and we are committed to continuing to strive for a first principle level understanding of everything we continue to innovate.

how we got here

Why is this important?

If human civilization were to lose all of its technology, manufacturing tools, shelters, and useful things would be the first thing we would urgently rebuild. That's how important production is. The companies that are working hard to build the future are using technological tools and systems that are stuck in the past. Changing this will allow us to create a world where products innovate faster, where we grow in our quality of life and productivity that we currently dream about, and will one day live as reality.

why is fulcrum important

Why now?

Manufacturers are having a harder and harder time attracting young talent. Outsourcing production to take advantage of poorer countries is spewing carbon emissions into the air at alarming rates, creating huge trade deficits, and the inequality of nations is growing. We are starting to feel the crunch of work needing to come back domestically. With COVID-19, we've seen our supply chains tested and the lack of resiliency is dangerously obvious. We're at a tipping point where all of these factors are combining to drive a tsunami of change that will come, whether we're ready for it or not. This is happening now. While we started our efforts well before others, we're still behind and have an existential urgency to push forward, quickly and efficiently.

networkable operating system

hire

Who we are is defined by our people and how we work. We expect to grow our team with 20 incredible people in the next year. We value doing things differently, getting to the core principles to make decisions, always striving for better. If you find fulfillment in enduring the crucible of growth to do amazing things, in solving meaningful problems, in having the autonomy to learn and understand the full problem, and if you enjoy solving complex problems with simple solutions, we’d love to speak with you about joining our team.

build

The solution to almost all of our problems is to continue to build a better product. To automate, polish, build out, and to connect. We have just about every feature the previous generation of software has to offer and yet we've barely scratched the surface on what we can build to deliver value to our customers, and to the supply chain at large. Our plan is to keep investing in product, leveling ourselves up to take on the big problems that have the potential to revolutionize a core pillar of civilization.

grow

We must continue to automate our processes to push the envelope on how quickly software can be brought to market and implemented, without customization, while delivering many multiples more value than other solutions. The challenge is scaling, bolstering the technology to handle the growth we're seeing, creating an organization that preserves the culture of doing things differently. We are confident the market is ready and hungry for a better way. Our challenge will not be starvation, but rather in avoiding indigestion.

Manufacturing is important: we're building a networkable operating system to power and automate the manufacturers who are building our future.

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