Next Frontier Capital Q2 Newsletter

Will Price

Welcome to NFC's Quarterly Newsletter!

We’re excited to update you on our portfolio, and, since everyone wants to move to the Intermountain West these days, we’ll also include some tidbits about the region (so you can be fully informed when you decide to make Bozeman or Boulder your new coronavirus getaway).

TL;DR (for you busy business people):

  • Investment news: NFC’s new investments in LumenAd, OptimaLabs, Chargeback, and Bonusly.
  • Portfolio updates: Halp acquisition by Atlassian! Twinthread moving to BZN, other exciting milestones.
  • Career opportunities: Our portfolio companies are hiring, and we are always looking for referrals for great candidates.
  • Regional trends: How COVID has impacted Rocky Mountain investing, and the national migration from cities to places like Bozeman.
And...we're growing!

Julie Penner joined us in April as our Boulder-based Venture Partner. We are very excited to have her deep knowledge of building early stage companies, making really cool pottery, and mentoring founders at the firm.

Investment News

Toilet paper and bread-baking books are scarce in 2020, but incredible companies raising money are not. Below are a few of the new portfolio names we’ve funded and are excited to announce.

  • LumenAd (March): A Missoula and Bozeman based advertisement management platform for mid-market agencies, solving the problems of cross-channel campaign management.
  • OptimaLabs (April): A producer of a contamination-free, reliable, sterile, soluble fat for cell cultures that is preferable to traditional serums for a variety of advanced cell applications.
  • Chargeback (May): A well-established Utah-based SaaS provider of real-time chargeback dispute resolution and management solutions.
  • Bonusly (June): A peer-to-peer employee reward and recognition platform pioneering the future of more engaged teams—whether remote or in-person.

Portfolio Updates

Our portfolio companies have overcome kids walking in on meetings, the struggle of using at least four different video conferencing tools, and all the other joys of WFH to achieve some impressive things while working from their bedrooms, uh I mean remote offices, over the past few months.

Halp acquired by Atlassian!

Halp was acquired in May by software giant Atlassian  (NASDAQ:TEAM) as part of a bet on Slack and the future of work. This marks NFC’s 5th exit, and we couldn’t be prouder of the Halp team.


  • TwinThread moving to Bozeman
  • TwinThread is officially moving their HQ to Bozeman, and we can’t wait to welcome CEO Erik Udstuen and the growing team to Big Sky country.
  • PatientOne providing critical remote monitoring during COVID
  • PatientOne has worked diligently to help care teams address the challenges of COVID. By enabling providers to track health data remotely, their technology facilitates closer monitoring of both critical COVID cases and patients recovering at home. While this has undoubtedly been a turbulent time, confidence in the company’s solution has led to an exciting strategic investor who we look forward to publicly announcing soon.
  • onXmaps launches onX Offroad
  • Their offroad map app technically went live in late 2019, but (1) we didn’t have a newsletter back then, and (2) it looks like some great socially-distant fun. If you need more convincing, check out this very adventurous-looking promo video.
  • OptimaLabs wins inaugural Montana State University venture competition
  • OptimaLabs, producer of non-animal derived cell culture supplements, won MSU’s first venture competition. NFC’s investment in Optima represents the beginning of what we hope will be a trend of successful commercialization of cutting-edge MSU research technology through the CATalyst gap funding program.

Career Opportunities

This year has turned the economy on its head, but our portfolio companies are still hiring for over 100 different roles. If you or someone you know would be a great candidate for any of these opportunities, please reach out to us at We want to hear from you!

  • Our newest portfolio company, Bonusly, is hiring a Director of Finance and a VP of Sales—experienced candidates excited about working at a fast-growing, people-focused organization wanted!
  • S2 Corporation, a Bozeman-based producer of extreme wideband sensors, analytics, and software, is hiring for 12 positions across various engineering and technical disciplines.
  •, powered by, connects talented employees impacted by COVID to hiring managers in the tech industry. Check out their thousands of job postings here, or contact them to post your company's open positions here.

Emerging Regional Trends

COVID changed the global economic landscape, but the impacts have been felt differently by industry and region. Here are a few things we’ve noticed about investing and the entrepreneurial landscape in the Northern Rockies.Lower deal prices, higher revenue, more investor-friendly terms

  • Some firms froze investing due to market volatility, but numerous analyses suggest VC funds that find cash-efficient, value-creating companies during downturns are poised to provide better than average returns. Read more in NFC partner Richard Harjes’ analysis of this trend here.

The takeaway: While COVID has created challenges for entrepreneurs and VCs, there is significant opportunity for investors who can identify well-priced deals to support promising companies.Widespread coastal evacuation

  • Maybe you’re reading this email from your cabin in Southwestern Montana, or maybe you’re in the Bay Area wishing you were. Apparently, the latter is pretty common these days.
  • Our investment thesis has always been that you can build great companies and have a successful career outside of coastal cities. The forced national experiment in WFH a la COVID has accelerated the consensus that being in a $300/sq ft cubicle in SF isn’t the only path to success for entrepreneurs or investors.
  • Companies are learning how to manage remote teams and coordinate virtually, and it’s creating opportunities for people to move to places that are less crowded and have lower costs of living.
  • This phenomenon is clearly noticeable in places like Bozeman where you can finish the license plate game on your 10-minute morning commute, and my neighbors are getting cold letters from out-of-staters offering to buy their houses that aren’t even on the market.

The takeaways: COVID is accelerating a reflection on how much location matters in today’s business world. Some people are concluding: quality of life is most important, I can do my work anywhere. In this moment of transnational introspection, people are increasingly seeing the value of moving to smaller cities like Boulder, Bozeman, and Salt Lake, and they are bringing their companies, jobs, and talent with them.UPCOMING REGIONAL EVENTS

And finally, if you know a great company in the Northern Rockies, send them our way!
Email us a deck at or reach out to us on our website. We would love to hear from you!

You made it to the end! As a little thank you, we’ve put together a few recommendations for your next long weekend (or stay-cation) in Bozeman. Below are a couple options to fit every type of traveler.

  1. The Glamper: a luxury camper is ideal for the outdoorsy type who isn’t quite ready to give up their heated massage chair.
  2. The Downtowner: this modern, newly renovated farmhouse just minutes  from the restaurants and shops of downtown Bozeman is perfect for families.
  3. The “Rustic on a Budget”: a cozy log cabin bed and bath is the perfect place to crash after a day of exploring without breaking the bank.
Until next quarter, Will, Richard, Les, Julie + the NFC team
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