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MindMixer nabs $4 million from Nelnet, Dundee, Optimas and others

It’s shaping up to be quite the year for MindMixer. Last month, the Omaha startup revealed it acquired a social media analytics company. Today, it announced it closed a $4 million Series B round led by Lincoln, Neb.-based Nelnet, a publicly traded company. Omaha-based investment firms Dundee Venture Capital (the startup’s earliest investor) and Optimas Group also participated in the round along with other undisclosed investors.

For the startup that began in 2010 with an aim to boost Omaha’s poorly attended town hall meetings, MindMixer says it’s now helping hundreds of civic, education and health care organizations communicate more effectively with their constituents, according to a press release.

The investment from Nelnet, an education products and services company that’s backed more than a half-dozen startups, is an affirmation of this growth, MindMixer co-founder and CEO Nick Bowden (right) told Silicon Prairie News on Monday.

The new funds will go toward key developer hires and help the company scale to meet marketplace demand—by year’s end, it expects to reach 1,000 customers in the education, health care and civic sectors. With growth in mind, the company this month will finish an office expansion project that doubles its size to about 5,000 square feet. The company also has employees in Kansas City, Mo., and plans to open positions there, as well.

“MindMixer is an innovative approach to collaboration and engagement,” said Nelnet CEO Mike Dunlap, who also sits on Hudl‘s board of directors. Nelnet director Chuck Norris has joined MindMixer’s board.

“Nelnet is always looking for ways to improve the way we help associates, students and schools reach their goals, so we are particularly proud to invest in a steadily growing company that engages people to attain the best results possible,” Dunlap said.

In the future, Bowden sees collaboration with the education company, which he said already has a small overlap with his company’s client base.

For Optimas Group’s Doug Wilwerding (left), who’s bet on several Omaha startups including MindMixer-acquired VoterTide, the company is an attractive investment because of the duo behind it. “(They’re) driven, disciplined, experienced and they have a great idea,” Wilberding said Tuesday, adding that their product addresses a problem that is “global and persistent.”

“I think the way they’re building community through the application of MindMixer creates a very attractive opportunity for strategic alliances with larger capital players and larger service providers in the future,” he said.

The next step in that community, Bowden said, is creating a user-experience that allows for an individual to see all the organizations they care about by geography and interest. “That gets us into a little more of an interest-based, geographic-based network,” he said.

The startup last year was one of seven companies to participate in Code for America‘s inaugural four-month accelerator in San Francisco.

For more on Nelnet, see our post: “With local investing approach, Nelnet aims for a ‘better community’“.

Staying put

All investors in MindMixer’s latest round are local, Bowden said, but that wasn’t the case of all those interested.

“We had some opportunities to go outside that would have required us to not be located here anymore,” he said, adding the he and his co-founder Nathan Preheim are proud of the fact that their company is from Nebraska. “That’s not something that we want to give up,” Bowden said.

To date, MindMixer has raised $6.2 million. Its last round, $1.9 million led by Dundee, came one year ago.

“A big, big hire”

MindMixer, which has plans to hire three to four people for product development and potentially another three to four for business development, recently made two key hires. Justin Kemerling, the former freelancer that helped the startup brand itself, came on board as director of design. Andy Monnich, whom Bowden calls “a big, big hire,” is leading the company’s strategy and partnership efforts, a role he held at Lincoln-based National Research Corporation for the last seven years.

“(He’s) just someone in his career who has been in multiple companies that have grown from $20-100 million in revenue,” Bowden said. “He just has a level of maturity on the business side that is an important peice for us as we continue to grow.”


Credits: Nick Bowden photo from mindmixer.comDoug Wilwerding photo from optimasgroup.com.

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