#Emerge Episode 22 with Janessa Nickell

Today on #Emerge we sit down with Portland native and current Rochester resident Janessa Nickell. Janessa is a business strategist turned entrepreneur who also formerly trained for Olympic weight lifting. Janessa recently launched her entrepreneurial vision with her brand-new business Sacred Circle, which she runs in her home in southwest Rochester. Sacred Circle is a space for people to learn, connect with like-minded individuals, and grow while understanding more about themselves through introspection and reflection.

“On paper it seemed like I had my stuff together. I was pretty successful by a lot of measurements. I was also incredibly burned out and tired.” -Janessa Nickell, Founder of Sacred Circle

Where Are They Now? Escape Challenge Rochester

 Photo courtesy of Escape Challenge Rochester.

Photo courtesy of Escape Challenge Rochester.

After first telling their story one year ago, today we check back in with family-owned business Escape Challenge Rochester. Escape Challenge is this city’s first locked room experience, where teams search for clues and solve puzzles to “escape” from the room in sixty minutes or less. The first Escape Challenge location was opened in downtown Rochester by mother and son team Nathan and Cindy Schroeder in 2015, with a second location in northwest Rochester opening one year later.

 Since we last spoke in fall 2017, two additional challenges have been added to the northwest location, while all the challenges were discontinued at the downtown Escape Challenge. 

“This was always part of the plan when we took on the lease at the north location,” explained Nathan Schroeder. “Escape rooms don’t have any replay value. After a person has done a challenge, they would never come back and do the same one again.” 

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The original Escape Challenge downtown location, Schroeder explained, was smaller and more difficult to remodel, shifting the focus of the business to their current northwest Rochester location.

Escape Challenge has experienced a large increase in the amount of team building activities taking place at their current building. Now, they’ve added a meeting room to accommodate this need. The business can also facilitate large groups of up to forty-five people simultaneously performing challenges with the increased number of themed escape rooms at their northwest location.

Currently, Escape Challenge is in the final phase of construction in their current building.

“That doesn’t seem like much to some businesses, but we are a small business run by a mother and son. We built our business entirely on a bootstrap model since we started three years ago,” Schroeder explained. 

Once construction is finally complete, Escape Challenge will enter into a new phase of the business, where they can focus on enhancing the customer experience and capturing new market segments.

The business is focused on a sales and marketing push over the next year to attract more customers during the week days and to get more people through their doors who have yet to experience an escape room.

Escape Challenge has made it this far, Schroeder explained, by word-of-mouth and through providing “an amazing experience for every customer each time.” To capture more of the market and fill up time slots, Schroeder said the business will need to be more proactive with their sales efforts.

Press Release: Rochester Public Schools Girls Win $10,000 Prize in Minnesota Cup

 Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN]. B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A students and professional mentors.

Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN]. B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A students and professional mentors.

MINNEAPOLIS -- A team of three middle school and two high school girls from Rochester Public Schools won the $10,000 Sunrise Banks prize in the 14th annual Minnesota Cup business startup competition held by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

The girls developed a cell phone app named Bridge that provides resources for immigrants to improve their quality of life in an unfamiliar community by helping them access banking and broader financial support.

The team, called B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A., is sponsored by the local chapter of the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) and the Rochester Public Schools (RPS) and developed its app in cooperation with a local nonprofit, the Diversity Council. 

This past May the girls first submitted their app at Minneapolis’ fifth annual Technovation “Appapalooza” meet, a competition for middle and high school girls that is part of a global program.  They ranked highest in the high school division and thus qualified automatically as a semifinalist for the Minnesota Cup.

In mid-2017 a different RPS high school team sponsored by the BDPA, called SKeMAS, became a first runner-up in the Technovation Challenge globally and was awarded $5,000 in scholarship money as a result.  One of the five B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A. girls was on a BDPA middle school team that was a Technovation qualifier at the Appapalooza in 2016.  In 2015, a team from Kasson-Mantorville Middle School was one of only four finalists in its division worldwide at the global Technovation finals held in San Francisco.  

The Minnesota Cup is the largest statewide startup competition in the country.  The SKeMAS team was a finalist in the 2017 Minnesota Cup youth division as well as in the Women-Led teams division where they competed against adult teams.  B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A. likewise competed against at adult teams for the Sunrise Banks prize.

Students on the B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A include: Audrey Whitney, Bailey Klote, Anjali Donthi, Alexandra Bancos, and Simran Sandhu. Professional mentors for the team included: Ginny McCright, Kris Whitney, Scott Klote, Gina Whitney, and Courtney Kramer.

Sunrise Banks:  As stated at https://sunrisebanks.com/about-us/who-we-are/, this financial institution “innovates in the financial services industry and strives for financial inclusion for all. Sunrise Banks is a family owned national chartered bank headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota and has a long history of serving inner city communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The bank's six branches are primarily located in the urban core of Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

What is Technovation[MN]? A 12-week program that connects professional mentors to all-girl teams to enable girls to dream up, design, and code mobile phone apps.  Coaches keep the teams on track with the support of a few professional mentors.  Each team of up to five girls develops a real-world combination of technical and entrepreneurial skills as they code an app and prepare to pitch their idea at Minnesota's statewide event in early May, the Appapalooza. Selected teams have the opportunity to advance and compete in the global Technovation Challenge, as did a middle school team from Kasson-Mantorville in 2015 (which also led to participating in the 2016 White House Science Fair).

Technovation was brought to Southeastern MN by Code Savvy, Technovation[MN], Preventice Technologies (Rochester office), and the former Rochester Area Math Science Partnership (RAMSP), now called STEM Forward; in the Rochester area Technovation has received financial support from IBM and the Mayo Clinic.

Where Are They Now?: HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management

 Photo courtesy of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

Photo courtesy of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

One year ago we shared the story of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management, a cooperative-style real estate investment group started by local entrepreneurs Kim Gordon, Beth Nordaune, and Erin Nystrom. HGR, or HomeGirl Rochester, was launched in May 2017 to bring together groups and individuals who were interested in investing in real estate (primarily in rental home properties), but just did not have the time or finances to do so independently.

Since we last spoke with HGR a year ago, this trio of women has continued to make valuable connections with potential investors in the community to push their vision forward. 

“We’ve also met with people that want us to bring together groups and buy investments so that they can rent the houses from our group,” Gordon explained. “It is amazing to me how difficult it really is for many people to find affordable housing that is also in good condition.”

Over the past year, HGR formed their first group of five female investors utilizing this cooperative-style business model to purchase a home for a young client who had a credit score just one point too low to buy the home herself. With the help of HGR, this client will rent the home from the first investment group for two years, with the intent to purchase the home at the end of that time frame. This process will allow the client to improve her credit score and amass a larger down payment. 

 “It was so great to not only have success with HGR, to bring a group together that has wanted to invest, but it had a ‘feel-good’ story with it too,” Gordon said. 

Over the next five years, HGR aims to invest in five more rental properties with this first group of women. The business hopes to additionally create two more investor groups to purchase a rental property this fall using the same cooperative model.  

“It is still a huge goal to reach out to as many people as possible to tell them about our concept and continue to build interest,” explained Gordon.

The business has investors seeking involvement in even bigger real estate projects; now HGR is tasked with finding just the right partners to make these visions come to life.

#Emerge Episode 21 with Abbey Sass

This week on #Emerge we sit down with Abbey Sass, Owner of Civil Sass Hops. Civil Sass Hops is a one-acre hops farm in Chatfield, Minn., on Abbey’s husband Jake’s third generation family farm. This husband and wife team are strategically diversifying select acreage of the family’s corn production for hops growth. This is Civil Sass Hops’ second year of hops production. The Sass husband and wife team aim to expand their acreage of hops growth next year and additionally take their hops into new markets. Civil Sass Hops supplies hops to several breweries in southeastern Minnesota. The company is woman and veteran-owned.

Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem- Where Do We Go From Here?

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An entrepreneurial ecosystem, as defined by the Kauffman Foundation, is defined as “people and the culture of trust and collaboration that allows them to interact successfully.” A productive entrepreneurial ecosystem permits the accelerated flow of “talent, information, and resources” to entrepreneurs at all stages of growth. An entrepreneurial ecosystem also harnesses the ability to bolster the local and national economy. Powerful entrepreneurial ecosystems create jobs and attract and retain people.

Important to the process of building an entrepreneurial ecosystem is uncovering resources and initiatives already taking place to support entrepreneurs and connecting these entities to bolster and spur innovation 

In entrepreneurial ecosystem building, no one community stands alone.

No single city, organization or entity has enough resources and expertise to provide all the support that an entrepreneur requires. Instead, we need to all work together, as a region, to fully enable our startups and small businesses to achieve the highest level of success. 

What could this process of entrepreneurial ecosystem building look like in southeastern Minnesota? The first step is to examine what supporting resources we have in our region, understand what initiatives are working, and connect the dots across this portion of the state. 

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending a southeastern Minnesota entrepreneurial ecosystem building summit, organized by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the University of Minnesota Extension. The purpose: to connect conversations about entrepreneurship taking place across the region and to raise awareness of innovation efforts occurring in our various communities.

This gathering included representation from across southeastern Minnesota including the Austin Startup Factory, a fifty-two-week educational partnership program between Austin Community Growth Ventures and Iowa State University; the Albert Lea Tiger Cage, a brand new, three-phase entrepreneurial startup competition; and Garage Cowork, a coworking space opening in October to keep talent in Winona, Minnesota and to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship in that community. 

To start connecting these various pieces across the region and building infrastructure that works for our entrepreneurs, we should examine lessons learned from other communities. We have a great example locally with Forge North.

Forge North is a “movement of entrepreneurs, investors, collaborators, and allies from all industries working together to grow Minnesota’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.” This organization is an initiative of Greater MSP, an economic development authority focused on the sixteen counties of the Twin Cities metro area, which has had recent increased statewide and national focus. 

Forge North serves as a neutral convening organization to bridge multiple different parts of the entrepreneurial ecosystem together in a larger “network of networks” to spur and support entrepreneurial initiatives and to sustain that entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

What has worked best, Forge North Manager Meg Steuer explained, are community-based grassroots efforts where the entrepreneurs feel that their voices are being heard.

“It’s really about people. It’s about the people we support and how do we involve them in this work to truly create a system that benefits its entrepreneurs,” she said.

Based on all of these thoughts, here are eight suggestions of how we can begin to build a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in southeastern Minnesota.


1.     Just show up.

2.     Trust and support each other.

3.     Let your actions speak louder than your words.

4.     Take risks and help others who want to do the same.

5.     Include everyone who wants to participate.

6.     Encourage and uplift those who have failed.

7.     Let the entrepreneurs lead.

8.     Be patient.

Press Release: DMC Hosts Design Workshops: Ideas to Solutions in 90 Minutes As Prep for the Upcoming Assistive Tech Challenge

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Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency will be hosting three design workshops September 27 – 28, 2018, to help address challenges faced by individuals with disabilities as part of the Assistive Tech Challenge. 

The workshops will be facilitated by the civic design nonprofit Our City in partnership with the Assistive Tech Challenge. 

Participants in these workshops will learn the art of design thinking to address problems and create solutions in just 90 minutes. 

Ideas that emerge from the workshops will prepare participants to submit ideas to the Assistive Tech Challenge pitch competition on November 3 at the Assistive Technology Expo. 

Two design workshops are scheduled in Rochester on Thursday, September 27 and one workshop is scheduled in Minneapolis on Friday, September 28. 

Workshops are FREE to attend. Registration is required for each workshop at dmc.mn/events


 Workshop #1: Assistive Tech and the Caregiver Experience 

Thursday, September 27, 2018, 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Mayo Civic Center, 30 Civic Center Dr. SE, Rochester, MN 55904 | This workshop is embedded within the Transform conference. You will be joined by Transform attendees in exploring design thinking. 

Description 

This fast-paced, hands-on workshop will focus on how to use design thinking to help caregivers thrive. Participants will “sprint” from starting from a real or perceived barrier to developing an idea to address it in just 90 minutes. Each participant will walk away with a new understanding of the design process and how it might support caregivers -- plus a real idea of their own to put into action. 


Workshop #2: Assistive Tech and Public Infrastructure 

Thursday, September 27, 2018, 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Studio 324 (Fagan Studio), 324 South Broadway, Rochester, MN 55904 

Description 

This fast-paced, hands-on workshop will focus on how to use design thinking to help design public spaces that support greater independence for individuals with a disability. Participants will “sprint” from a real or perceived barrier to developing an idea to address it in just 90 minutes. Each participant will walk away with a new understanding of the design process and how it might support different development paradigms in the public realm -- plus a real idea of their own to put into action. 

Workshop #3: Assistive Tech and Workforce Readiness and Social Skill Development 

Friday, September 28, 2018., 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., The Bakken Museum, 3537 Zenith Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55416. 

Description 

This fast-paced, hands-on workshop will focus on how to use design thinking to 1) help people with a visible or invisible disability to interact and cultivate meaningful relationships; and 2) alleviate barriers to employment. Participants will “sprint” from a real or perceived barrier to developing an idea to address it in just 90 minutes. Each participant will walk away with a new understanding of the design process and how it might spur development of new products or services in these two important areas -- plus a real idea of their own to put into action. 


About the Assistive Tech Challenge 

The Assistive Tech Challenge is a pitch competition presented by Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square in collaboration with The Arc Minnesota Southeast Region, and the disABILITY Mayo Clinic Employee Resource Group to facilitate greater independence for individuals with disabilities and the daily challenges they face. 

The Assistive Tech Challenge seeks solutions to: 

  • Alleviating barriers to employment 

  • Reducing the need for and/or easing the demands of direct support on care providers 

  • Developing social skills that better enable people with and without disabilities to interact and cultivate meaningful relationships; and 

  • Improving access to the community through public infrastructure 

The Assistive Tech Challenge is November 3 in Rochester, Minnesota at the Assistive Technology Expo. Prizes awarded to first and second place teams in two divisions. Applications and complete details at dmc.mn. 


About Our City 

Our City is a national nonprofit, working to transform how people engage with their cities. 

Our City believes in the power of art, design, and play to transform this engagement. 

About Our City 

Our City is a national nonprofit, working to transform how people engage with their cities. 

Our City believes in the power of art, design, and play to transform this engagement. 

Our City envisions a world where every person sees the world as changeable – then goes out and changes it. 

Our City works to achieve this by creating large-scale public design events, installations, and workshops. 

Through Our City’s work, they empower residents to imagine and build the future of their communities. 

More at ourcity.is. 

Press Release: Adapta, Formerly Wing House, Corp., Announces Launch of New Name and Website

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Rochester, MN - Adapta is excited to announce the launch of their new name, new look, new website, and the addition of resources for individuals living with symptoms of brain injury & mental health conditions. The new name clears up confusion about their services, but most importantly, it sets the tone for how the organization runs with the additional locations. Adapta aims to help all individuals live a life without limits. The official launch date for the website is September 14, 2018.

Adapta believes people begin to heal the moment they feel heard. Adapta’s individualized services allow people to live in a supportive environment while having unlimited access to the community and resources. Adapta strongly believes individuals do best when they have choice in their living environment. Because of this, Adapta expanded their service options. With both 245D licensed services and a Customized Living option, Adapta can provide services in a variety of locations and ways. Adapta has been successful in preventing individuals from requiring a more restrictive environment at a much more cost-effective rate.

Executive Director, Kasi Haglund, LSW states “We were on the verge of closing due to Minnesota’s reimbursement policy changes, which could have resulted in some residents being placed in a more restrictive and costly environment. After working closely with the Department of Human Services, Wing House was given a second chance due to the success of our program. At that point, we decided to move forward with a fresh look and the decision to share our story with the community.”

Along with the roll-out of the new brand and website, Adapta has created a short brand video showing the impact of their services through the eyes of a resident. As one resident stated, “My brain injury took my life away. Adapta gave it back to me.” It can be viewed here: https://www.adaptamn.org/our-story/

Adapta is important to the people of Rochester because our program is a safe and supportive environment for our residents at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers. For example, a day at a more restrictive, alternative local facility can cost upwards of ten times more, most of which is significantly supported by taxpayer dollars. Adapta is not only a better solution for our residents, it is a more fiscally sustainable model for taxpayers.

Branding- It’s More than just a Logo. How to Tell Your Story with Centric Creative Consulting

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“There’s so much more to creating a brand and marketing your business than a cool logo,” explained Kati Cooley, Owner and Principal Creative Strategist at Centric Creative Consulting.

After being in business for over two and a half years, Centric itself recently re-branded to better convey their message and serve their clients through brand development, market strategy, and business consulting services.

“While a logo is important,” Cooley said, “delving into your business’s brand is key. It answers the who, how, and why behind the business, its principles, and why the business exists.”

 Centric Owner, Kati Cooley. Photo courtesy of Centric Creative Consulting.

Centric Owner, Kati Cooley. Photo courtesy of Centric Creative Consulting.

Consumers now want to understand the person behind the business and feel like they are supporting the business owner as an individual, Cooley explained. The emotional connection your brand creates to potential consumers, through effective storytelling, is instrumental to foster this interaction and add value for the brand to your clients.

A business’s brand (that emotional connection), identity (all of the visual aspects of the brand), and logo (the brand identity in its most simplistic form) also need to be consistent, Cooley explained. Ensuring this alignment creates a memorable product or service and gives a business an edge over the competition.

However, implementing all of these concepts to accurately convey the personality of a business is challenging. It’s easy for business owners to get overwhelmed in this process and not have the expertise or adequate time to devote to brand development, in addition to actually running the business. With all the marketing options out there, it’s also not difficult to get inundated with information and fail to land on the best strategy to reach the target customer.

That’s where Centric Creative Consulting can help.

Cooley herself is a strong strategist and big picture thinker, with the keen ability to connect and communicate to drive brand and market strategy. Centric also partners with web developers, graphic designers, photographers, and videographers on individual projects to connect clients to the expertise they need to accurately develop and convey their brand messaging.

“It’s too hard when you’re in the middle of it,” Cooley explained.

Even with the re-branding of Centric, Cooley sought outside perspective to narrow in on the most important aspects of her business and why the business was important to her clients.

“When you’re in the thick of your business, you can’t do that objectively,” she said.

Centric, Cooley explained, can work with businesses during the entirety of their branding and marketing process as one central touchpoint.

Centric works with any type of business, large or small.

They also offer a wide range of flexibility in services, assisting companies at the inception of their business, at any stage during brand development and messaging, or even through a re-branding process. They can facilitate logo design, web development, social media strategy, customer engagement, and also serve in adaptable business consulting roles.

As an entrepreneur herself, Cooley enjoys creating and connecting with others.

“What really inspires me is I want to see people doing well for themselves. I want to see people living in their truth, doing what they love, and hopefully being successful at it. I don’t mean monetarily,” she explained. “But at the end of the day, if I can go to bed knowing I did my best for my clients, to me that’s a success.”

Want to better understand how Centric can help your business? Click the button below to connect.

Gender Communication Differences: What Can We Learn?

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While most of us have observed communication differences between men and women, these discrepancies are also well documented by psychological and scientific research. This article is not meant to separate genders into strict communication buckets. And it’s certainly not meant to encourage readers to change their own behavior. Instead, this piece is meant to open up the dialogue about different communication styles to help us better recognize patterns within ourselves and to enhance our interactions with others in both our personal and professional lives.

Improved communication, or an elevated understanding of divergent communication methods, can help to manage confrontation, aid in conflict resolution, relieve stress and anxiety, build stronger relationships, and meet our needs as humans for social interactions. Strong communication skills can facilitate goal achievement and improve job performance, especially in customer service and management positions.

Research shows that men and women are more likely to exhibit different styles of verbal communication. Men are more prone to adopt what is called “report talk,” while women gravitate more toward “rapport talk.”

“Report” style of communication is driven by the exchange of factual information to solve a given problem. This type of communication is direct and typically does not include any personal anecdotes or stories, with limited emotional connotation. This type of communication is aimed at building relationships based on solving that task at hand. “Report” communication users typically tend to dominate the conversation and speak for longer periods of time than other types of communicators.

“Rapport” communication, on the other hand, is aimed at building relationships and problem solving with the aid of those relationships. This style of communication includes more listening than “report” communication and involves the inclusion of more personal feelings and past experiences to solve tasks. “Rapport” communicators tend to problem solve as they are speaking and are more concerned with everyone equally contributing to the conversation. 

When speaking, women typically utilize a wider range of pitch and tonal variations compared to men, incorporating five tones into their voice versus the three tones expressed by men. This increased variation may underlie the stereotype that women tend to be more emotional speakers than men. 

Non-verbal signals are also important contributors to communication. Similar to divergent verbal communication styles, men and women tend to gravitate toward different methods in this type of communication. 

In general, women tend to condense their bodies into as compact a space as possible. This involves tucking in elbows, crossing legs, and keeping any materials in stacked piles. Women also tend to display more animated facial expressions, smile more, and make more eye contact than men. Men, on the other hand, tend to expand more than women into physical space and normally resume a more relaxed body posture. 

Again, these data are generalized statements and are not meant to convey that all men fit into one type of communication category and all women into another category. This is also not meant to position one style of communication as superior to the other. This discussion, instead, is just meant to describe two very general forms of communication so we can recognize them with the goal to improve our own communication and relationship building skills. 

However, we can all set ourselves up to be better communicators in the workplace if we practice something called executive presence. You don’t have to be a CEO to implement this style of communication. Instead, executive presence just involves exhibiting confidence, communicating clearly and efficiently, and reading an audience or situation effectively. Executive presence includes eliminating behavior like questioning ourselves as we speak, laughing nervously while talking, overly apologizing, storytelling in excess, and being extremely deferential. Instead, executive presence involves listening, talking efficiently to forward the conversation, speaking firmly, and standing/sitting tall.

Highly important to executive presence is a skill set called emotional intelligence (or EI). EI is a concept pioneered in 1990 by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey. This behavior involves high levels of self-awareness, including the ability to perceive, understand, and interpret emotional information.

EI is useful for relationship building; highly effective leaders also typically have elevated levels of EI. 

Overall, neither gender appears to have an advantage over the other in the ability to practice or develop EI. Some studies suggest that women might be slightly better than men at displaying emotional empathy, one aspect of EI.

EI has even been observed in chimps. While in this case, female chimps tended to exhibit higher levels of empathy than males when interacting with other chimps. However, alpha males, the troupe leaders, generally displayed higher levels of empathy than even the females.

Want to learn more about differences in gender communication? Take a dive into the references below and join us tonight for a roundtable discussion at Little Thistle Brewing around this topic.

 

References:

1.     Capita3 materials and verbal communication. 2018.

2.     Kinsey Goman, Carol. “Is Your Communication Style Dictated by Your Gender?” Forbes. N.p., 31 May 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

3.     Nelson, Audrey. “Gender Communication: It’s Complicated.” Psychology Today. N.p., 24 June 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

4.     Graham, Debra. “Gender Styles in Communication.” University of Kentucky. 13 Sept. 2018.

5.     Mohindra, Vinita and Samina Azhar. (2012). Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Appraoches of Men and Women at Workplaces. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. 2(1), 18-27.

6.     Goleman, Dan. “Are Women More Emotionally Intelligent Than Men?” Psychology Today. N.p., 29 April 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2018.

7.     Barisco, Justin. “You Need to Learn How to Make Emotions Work for You, Instead of Against You. Here’s the Proof.” Inc. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

8.     Meshkat, Maryam and Reza Nejati. (2017). Does Emotional Intelligence Depend on Gender? A Study on Undergraduate English Majors of Three Iranian Universities. SAGE Open. July-September. 1-8.

9.     Lipman, Victor. “New Study Shows Women Consistently Outperform Men in Emotional Intelligence.” Forbes. N.p., 11 May 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

10.  “Gender Issues: Communication Differences in Interpersonal Relationships.” The Ohio State University. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

Questions with SCORE: Four Simple Marketing Questions for your Business

Today we link up with SCORE Southeast Minnesota to learn more about SCORE and how they can assist in the growth of your business. In the video today, SCORE volunteer Cheryl Thode addresses four questions you should think about as you develop your business marketing plan.

SCORE is the largest organization in the world that helps people start and run businesses through their free consulting services. Find your mentor by clicking the button at the top of the page or by going to directly to the “Find Your Mentor” website: https://www.score.org/find-mentor.

Two Rochester Biotech Startups Enter Final Round of Minnesota Cup

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Two weeks ago, Minnesota Cup- the largest statewide business plan competition in the nation- entered into the final round. After narrowing down from an initial pool of 1600 applicants, only twenty-seven remain, including two life science startups from Rochester: Mill Creek Life Sciences and Thaddeus Medical Systems.

The goal of Minnesota Cup is to connect Minnesota’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, providing participating startups with business plan feedback, connections, media exposure, and access to over $500,000 in seed funding. Startups compete in one of nine different divisions. The competition has been running full steam since April 27th, when applications for this year’s competition were due. By mid-May, the competitor pool was narrowed down to ninety semifinalists, ten in each division.

Five teams from Olmsted County made it to the semifinal round of the competition this year, including: Busy Baby LLC (General Division), LipiQuester LLC (Life Science/Health IT Division), Mill Creek Life Sciences (Life Science/Health IT Division), Thaddeus Medical Systems (Life Science/Health IT Division), and B.A.S.I.C. BALSA (Youth Division). 

By the end of August, competitors were narrowed down again to three finalists from each division, which included Rochester-based Mill Creek Life Sciences and Thaddeus Medical Systems, both in the Life Science/Health IT division. 

Divisional winners will be announced on September 24th, receiving $30K in seed funding and the opportunity to compete for the Minnesota Cup Grand Prize, which will be announced at the final awards ceremony on October 8th.

Mill Creek Life Sciences, named after a southern Minnesota trout stream, is a research tools company based on Mayo Clinic licensed technology. Mill Creek produces two cell culture products, PLTMax and PLTGold, which are used to culture stem cells- undifferentiated cells that have the ability to develop into multiple different cell types.

Thaddeus Medical Systems is developing an all-in-one smart packaging solution for transportation of medical products. This company is challenging the standard cardboard box and ice shipping system with their product, iQler, a smart hardware and software shipping solution.

Press Release: Local Veteran, Mother, and Entrepreneur Makes Dream a Reality

 Busy Baby LLC owner, Beth Fynbo. Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Busy Baby LLC owner, Beth Fynbo. Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Local mother Beth Fynbo possesses many attributes necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. With a military background, a degree in business management, and unstoppable determination, Fynbo always knew she wanted to run her own business someday. Yet it wasn’t until last year that her skills aligned with a passion and her entrepreneurship began. 

Shortly after the birth of her child, Fynbo dined out with friends and their children. The continuous dropping of toys and food was a distraction to the conversation.

“That night I scoured the internet looking for something I could buy to keep my baby busy in the restaurant when we go out to eat,” said Fynbo, creator of Busy Baby Mat. “I couldn’t find it, so I created it!” 

Resourceful Fynbo took to making her first mat with household items and soon learned it was well worth pursuing. The now professionally produced prototype is a silicone mat with suction cups underneath and a proprietary tether system for attaching toys. The mat rolls up for easy transport and when used also provides a clean, germ-free surface for the child. 

 Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

After market testing, it is clear the Busy Baby Mat is an answer to many meal-time issues.

“I had the opportunity to try the Busy Baby Mat with my 10 month old daughter, and it made for a relaxing family outing,” said Missy Johnson, product tester. “The tethers did a great job keeping her favorite toys within her reach and off the floor. With food and toys front and center, she was content and allowed Mom and Dad to enjoy more conversation.” 

A Kickstarter campaign launched on Saturday, September 1st to make this dream a reality. Reaching a goal of 3,000 preorders positions this product to move on to manufacturing allowing the Busy Baby Mat to hit shelves by the early 2019. Visit www.busybabymat.com and follow Busy Baby on Facebook to learn more and support this local entrepreneur’s dream. 

ABOUT BUSY BABY MAT

Busy Baby Mat, LLC is a product development company finding solutions to keep baby busy. Founded by Beth Fynbo in 2017, the company’s first product Busy Baby Mat will launch upon completion of a successful funding campaign. 

Roadmap to the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community (2018)

Sometimes the most difficult thing about entrepreneurship is just figuring out how to get started. This guide serves as a list of local resources, events, and information to get you plugged into the Rochester entrepreneurial community and learn ways to fund your business within the city.

This roadmap is updated annually to provide the most up-to-date information on our entrepreneurial community.

Press Release: Assistive Tech Challenge Orientation Sessions Scheduled for September 13 & 14 in Rochester and Twin Cities

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What: Assistive Tech Challenge Orientation Sessions 

When: Thursday, September 13 and Friday, September 14, 2018 

Where:  September 13: Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator. 221 1st Ave SW #202, Rochester, MN 55902. 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. 

September 14: Microsoft Store, Mall of America. 162 South Avenue, Bloomington, MN 55425. 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. 

Details: The Assistive Tech Challenge is a pitch competition to highlight new innovations to support people with disabilities in order to facilitate greater independence. In this orientation session, interested individuals and teams will learn more about the Assistive Tech Challenge, connect with disability subject matter experts and with others, and explore an area of highest interest to develop a new product or service. 

Complete details about the Assistive Tech Challenge can be found here

Rochester's Newest Taproom, Little Thistle Brewing, Opens Today

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Steve and Dawn Finnie have been crafting unique microbrews for the past decade. Now, the husband and wife team are set to open their own family-run taproom, Little Thistle Brewing, bringing a distinctive, modern feel and approachable beer menu to this city.

For Finnie, brewing began as a hobby. After getting introduced to the craft from a friend, he began creating experimental batches for others to enjoy while gathering at the Finnies’ home.

“We would just have people come to our house and make beer. We’d have parties and it was great to meet people from all over the world,” he explained. “And then we just kept doing that and then I think the hobby got a bit more serious.”

The brewing evolved onto such a scale that Finnie created a beer club, where friends would pay him $100 a year to help cover the cost of raw ingredients, allowing him to create even more beers. Many of these creations inspired the brews currently housed in Little Thistle’s 10-barrel (or 310 gallon) brewing system.

Little Thistle Brewing- named in homage to the national flower of Finnie’s native Scotland- is not the couple’s first professional brewing endeavor. A few years ago, Finnie, a trained physical therapist, left a fifteen-year career at Mayo Clinic to help create another brewery in Rochester. Finnie exited that business about two years ago.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity. We did it and we showed that we could brew beer,” he explained. “Now, this is exactly what we’ve wanted to do.”

Even before opening that first brewery, Finnie was crafting a business plan to create something as small as a nanobrewery, Dawn explained. Today, the Finnies’ vision is finally coming to fruition as they open the doors to Little Thistle.

While the process of launching the new brewery has been challenging, the largest hurdle, the Finnies explained, was finding a location for the business.

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“We would get in the car every night with the kids and drive around for months until we found something,” Finnie said.

The family traveled all over town knocking on doors to buildings, even buildings that were not for sale, Dawn joked, trying to find the ideal spot for their vision. The Finnies finally found the perfect location- a 5,000 square foot warehouse on two acres of land- in northwest Rochester nestled right next to the Douglas Trail.

Little Thistle Brewing is a taproom; no food will be served at the location without outside partnering.

“There is no confusion here. It’s all about beer, beer education, community, family, kids, dogs,” Finnie explained.

The taproom even has a motto: “Be humble, drink local.”

“We want [potential staff and employees] to work with us, not for us. And we really want to build that community from the ground up,” Dawn explained.

The business aims to appeal to everyone from the craft beer nerd to the light beer drinker.

“The beer is going to be the vehicle that brings people together. We want it to be unpretentious,” Dawn said.

Little Thistle will brew traditional beers, light lagers, experimental beers, barrel-aged beers, and cask ales, a traditional style beer in the United Kingdom with lower carbonation that’s served from a hand pump at a slightly warmer temperature. The brewery aims for quality versus quantity with the beers on tap, with most beers being served from more than one line to facilitate guest flow and enhance service at the bar area.

As the motto dictates, Little Thistle strives to support local businesses. The brewery looks forward to partnering with other Rochester establishments to provide different food options at the taproom. This “support local” approach extends to other breweries in the area as well, which Finnie does not view as competition.

“If someone goes to LTS or another brewery in town and they like the craft beer or never tried craft beer before, they are more likely to come to our place. …It just helps everyone,” he explained.

After years of working towards this point, Little Thistle Brewing is set to open up to the public for the first time today at noon. In the weeks leading up to this unveiling, the Finnies have alternated between excitement, sheer terror, and feeling like they’re just staying afloat.

“We’re on the final lap of this long marathon, I think,” Finnie laughed, “I’m just looking forward to being open and sitting on this deck and having a cold beer and watching people enjoy.”

Press Release: Medical Alley Leaders Build Economic Roadmap to Ensure Minnesota's Competitiveness

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Medical Alley Association, led by its Board of Directors and executives from all sectors of the Medical Alley healthcare community, convened two working groups to lead the development of a 10-year strategy plan for Minnesota to realize the vision of Medical Alley being recognized as the global epicenter of health innovation and care. Specifically, the two Working Groups focused on Minnesota Competitiveness and Early Stage Ecosystem.

“Minnesota’s place of leadership in the great history of healthcare advancement is secure. The goal of our Board and community is to ensure that Medical Alley continues to lead the transformation of healthcare around the world,” said Shaye Mandle, President & CEO, Medical Alley Association. “We’re excited to lay this foundation for the public and private sectors to work together to deliver the next generation of solutions and opportunities that define health innovation and care.Mandle said.

The Medical Alley Working Groups have delivered a plan with specific recommendations and actions to address Minnesota’s competitive status, lead the development of the ideal early-stage ecosystem that can capitalize on the evolving health marketplace and position the state for a sustainable leadership position.

Minnesota has a rich tradition of growing transformational healthcare companies and the talent to keep them innovating. Competing globally requires our elected officials to enact policies that encourage investment and growth, attract new talent, and properly prepares our workforce for the jobs this growth will create,” said Jeff Mirviss, Senior VP and President, Peripheral Interventions for Boston Scientific, and Co-Chair of the Minnesota State Competitiveness Working Group.

Supporting startups and early-stage companies is critical to ensure that Minnesota remains the global epicenter of health innovation and care. This report puts forward solutions that require commitment and leadership from the public and private sectors. We look forward to working with our state’s leaders on moving these forward,” said Sheri Dodd, VP & GM, Medtronic Care Management Solutions & Non-Intensive Diabetes Therapies. Dodd also serves as the Co-Chair for the Early Stage Ecosystem Working Group.

Additional details can be found inside the plan, or by contacting the Medical Alley Association.

About the Medical Alley Association

Founded in 1984, the Medical Alley Association supports and advances the global leadership of Medical Alley’s healthcare industry, and its connectivity around the world. MAA delivers the collective influence, intelligence and interactions that support Medical Alley. www.medicalalley.org

#Emerge Episode 20 with Andy Smith

This week on #Emerge we sit down with new-to-Rochester resident Andy Smith. Andy is a former teacher turned entrepreneur and owner of Gray Duck Theater, a microcinema opening in Rochester this October. Gray Duck Theater aims to provide a mid-level cinema experience with excellent audio quality at an affordable price.

“I think we have a handful of cinemas in the area, cineplexes I should say. But nothing that is…romantic, unique.” -Andy Smith, Owner of Gray Duck Theater

Press Release: Introducing the Assistive Tech Challenge A New Pitch Competition in Support of Individuals with Disabilities

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(Rochester, MN) August 20, 2018 - Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency is pleased to introduce the Assistive Tech Challenge - a pitch competition presented by Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square in collaboration with The Arc Minnesota Southeast Region and the disABILITY Mayo Clinic Employee Resource Group to facilitate greater independence for individuals with disabilities and the daily challenges they face.

 

Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the Assistive Technology Expo

Heintz Center, Rochester, Minnesota

Expo Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Assistive Tech Challenge Pitch Competition: 12 Noon – 3:30 p.m.

 

The Assistive Tech Challenge seeks solutions to:

  • Alleviating barriers to employment;
  • Reducing the need for and/or easing the demands of direct support on care providers;
  • Developing social skills that better enable people with and without disabilities to interact and cultivate meaningful relationships; and
  • Improving access to the community through public infrastructure.

 

Who can participate:

Anyone interested in forming a team and developing innovative assistive technology solutions that would allow people with visible and invisible disabilities to live more independently, engage in productive employment, and participate in community life.

 

There are two divisions:

Open (community-based teams and students)

Professional (corporations formed with annual revenues not exceeding $250,000)

 

Innovations in both personal technology and the public realm/public infrastructure will be encouraged. Teams will be asked to address the following questions in a five-minute presentation to an expert panel of judges, followed by three minutes of Q&A:

  • What problem are you solving?
  • How are you solving the problem?
  • Why is your team the one to solve it?
  • What do you need to develop a minimally viable product (MVP)?

 

$15,000 will be awarded by The Arc Minnesota to the first and second place winners in each division to further advance their idea.

First Prize: $5,000

Second Prize: $2,500

 

All first and second place teams will be eligible to participate in the Walleye Tank pitch competition in Rochester, MN on December 7, 2018.

All teams must submit an application to Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency by October 19, 2018.  Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions. (FAQs)

Orientation and workshop sessions will be announced soon.

To learn more, visit dmc.mn.

Press Release: Medical Alley Investment Report – Strong Start for 2018, but Loss of AITC Seriously Threatens Job Growth

Medical Alley Association released their first half investment report Monday, drawing attention to key developments taking place in the health technology industry. Medical Alley companies had a strong start to 2018, buoyed by new investments in biotech, with 45 companies raising $234 million in the first half of the year. Similarly, Medical Alley’s biopharma community had its best first half ever with $51.8 million raised by 10 companies, more than double the prior record from 2015.

However, the loss of the Angel Investment Tax Credit (AITC) is threatening job growth in Medical Alley. The fewest companies since the passage of the AITC raised money in the first six months of 2018, following the credits expiration.

“Clearly the loss of the Angel Investment Tax Credit has been detrimental to job growth in Medical Alley” said Shaye Mandle, President and CEO of the Medical Alley Association. “Lawmakers need to act to reinstate the credit, so that life-saving innovations and critical job creation can continue in Medical Alley, the global epicenter of health innovation and care,” Mandle said.

34 companies raised $4 million or less, the AITC cap, a 20% drop from the prior year, and a new low since the credit was first instituted.

About the Medical Alley Association

Founded in 1984, the Medical Alley Association supports and advances the global leadership of Medical Alley’s healthcare industry, and its connectivity around the world. MAA delivers the collective influence, intelligence and interactions that support Medical Alley.

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