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Inside Track

A look at what’s behind today's Minnesota business headlines.

VNN Sports raises $3.7 million in outside capital

VNN Sports, a high school sports communications software platform, has raised $3.7 million, led by NextWave capital with participation from Arsenal Ventures.   

CEO Rick Ehrman of Grand Rapids, Mi-based VNN has opened a Minneapolis office. He previously worked for Sports Engine, a similar company focused on amateur sports that was sold to NBC Universal. 

“In my time at Sports Engine, our investors and partners had a front-row seat to see the power of digitization in athletics, culminating in the consolidation of the club sport space around us and our acquisition by NBC Universal in 2016,” Ehrman said. “Receiving financial votes of support from high-profile organizations like NextWave and Arsenal further validates our vision at VNN and allows us to continue expanding our platform…” he said in a prepared statement.

Ehrman lives in Minneapolis.

VNN plans to use the funds to expand its marketing, product development and build the foundation laid over the past 18 months, which includes six partnerships and the launch of a team-centric mobile application. 

VNN said it has 10% of American high school athletic communities as partners in a  platform that claims 19 million parents, athletes, fans, software providers, and athletic professionals. 

Growing Atomic Data adds Walker Art Center to client list

Jim Wolford

Minneapolis-based Atomic Data has signed a  multi-year partnership to be the exclusive technology-services partner of The Walker Art Center. The Walker represents Atomic's largest partnership behind its contract with the Minnesota United soccer club.

“The Walker is one of Minnesota’s most treasured institutions, with hundreds of thousands of visitors coming through its doors each year,” said Atomic Data CEO Jim Wolford. “ By joining forces with their existing IT team, we’ll help the Walker continue to modernize infrastructure, execute cutting-edge initiatives, and better serve its tech-centric attendees.”

Wolford said downtown-based Atomic Data will work with Walker IT staff on a variety of technology projects intended to propel the Walker’s technological capabilities forward and better engage audiences and artists.  Atomic Data, in addition to providing unspecified financial in-kind support, once again will provide free wi-fi at the nearby  “Rock the Garden 2020” festival of the Walker and Minnesota Public Radio.

“We are immensely grateful for Atomic Data’s generous support and excited for the opportunities that this new partnership will create,” said Walker Executive Director Mary Ceruti. “Atomic Data and the Walker share a commitment to innovation and championing the new.’’

Atomic Data has been rocking the growth charts lately.

The 18-year-old, privately held company topped revenue of $30 million last year and has grown for several years at a 15 percent-plus revenue-increase clip.

Atomic employment is expected to rise from 205 to 250 this year, Wolford said.

Also, Atomic said in response to a question, that it has hired about 45 entry-level IT workers through its 2018-originated partnership with Summit Academy of north Minneapolis, which provides GED and specialized training in carpentry, health care, technology and other fields for mostly minority students.

Atomic provides round-the-clock IT support,data-management and security services.