Ilos Videos, launched three years ago by two University of St. Thomas accounting graduates, has raised $1.5 million in its first formal round of capital raising beyond family, friends and insiders.

The St. Paul-based company, with 10 full-time employees, allows organizations to communicate with customers and employees through software and support that enables customized training and other videos.

That increasingly is the preferred instruction mode, particularly for the generation that grew up with online videos.

Ilos Videos has served 100-plus customers and will break $1 million in revenue this year, said Sean Higgins, a founder and head of business development.

Investors in the firm include Come Up Capital, Matchstick Ventures and Router Ventures. The funding arrived after Ilos was selected from among many applicants by the Techstars business accelerator program in Austin, Texas, earlier this year.

“We are seeing a massive trend in learning via YouTube,” said Ilos CEO Nick Stokman, another founder. “People are used to absorbing knowledge via video, which is changing the way people learn things that were previously only taught by text.

“Our platform takes the video process and condenses it into one step. This takes a powerful way of communicating and makes it fast and usable, helping teams answer questions in support, customer success, or get the point across faster in sales and training.”

Stokman and Higgins, both 25 and honors accounting graduates, concluded during internships that they didn’t want to be accountants.

Higgins said that when Stokman told him about his idea for Ilos, he did a Google search.

“We didn’t see one player doing specifically what we wanted to do,” Higgins told me last year. “We thought we could develop a ‘lightweight video functionality’ without big production costs in a corporate studio,” Higgins said. “Software … to communicate tasks and processes faster than anything available.”


Take data security seriously, say former federal agents

It’s become an increasingly vital task for wealth managers and financial advisers to remind their clients of the importance of personal data protection. Last week, the Minneapolis office of Evercore Wealth Management held an informational lunch for its clients and guests on data breaches, identity theft, hacks and scams to remind them how easy it can be to be victimized by identity theft.

Deborah Pierce, a retired FBI agent, and Patti Weber, a retired CIA agent, with more than 50 years’ experience between them, were the presenters.

Pierce joked that former CIA agent Weber was trained to lie, cheat and steal, and Pierce was trained to catch the liars, cheats and thieves. They met at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis after each had retired and they formed Pierce-Weber Partnership. They present on security and personal safety — both physical and financial; leadership lessons from their careers in male-dominated government agencies; and the history and differences between the FBI and CIA.

“Security is never convenient,” said Weber, noting that identity theft has gone global so everyone needs to be aware and on guard.

Their presentation focused on physical theft, electronic theft and scams. They urge people to report suspicious activity, challenge small credit card charges you don’t recognize and make use of your three free credit reports.

“If you see something, say something,” Weber urged.

Pierce, a 27-year-veteran who was once a special agent in charge of the Minneapolis FBI office, also served as deputy assistant director of the criminal division. Weber, a 31-year CIA veteran, was an operations officer engaged in the clandestine collection of human intelligence and covert action who recruited spies. She served in the U.S. and abroad.



Neal St. Anthony has been a Star Tribune business columnist and reporter since 1984. He can be contacted at