Local Musician Launches GONE Clothing to Bring Classic, Quality Clothing to Rochester

 Photo courtesy of GONE Clothing.

Photo courtesy of GONE Clothing.

After making waves in the national music scene, Rochester native Chris DeWerd has his eye on design. This local entrepreneur officially launched his clothing brand business GONE a few months ago to bring modern, high-quality clothing to the city.

DeWerd’s journey to the big stage began back in 1999. While attending the ninth grade at Mayo High School his band, Mr. Completely, won a contest to open for a Minneapolis punk rock group, called Flipp. Four years later, Mr. Completely signed a record deal with major label Capitol Records.

“We got real lucky, basically. We played the high school homecomings and stuff in town before that and the pool halls back then,” DeWerd laughed.

After the record deal, the group rebranded as The F-Ups and toured the country for two years, playing with names like Papa Roach and making appearances on the Vans Warped Tour. The band was best known for their song “Lazy Generation,” which appeared on two video games: NHL 2005 and Burnout 3: Takedown.

After moving to Las Vegas in 2006, The F-Ups broke up. After the disbandment, DeWerd stayed in the Vegas area to pursue a degree in music business. Eight years ago, he returned home to Rochester with his girlfriend and her daughter, seeking a better education system for the young girl.

Although DeWerd spent much of his young adulthood in music, he’s always had an interest in clothing and design.

“When I was younger…I would patch the word ‘GONE’ on all my clothing,” he explained.

DeWerd enjoyed cutting letter designs out from one shirt and sewing them onto another to create something new and fresh. During his early youth, he even had experience printing shirts for his father’s band.

“I thought that was so cool that you would just take a plan black T-shirt and some logo and once you put it together, it was like magic,” he said. “You had this whole new thing that was cool all of a sudden with very little effort.”

Prior to launching the clothing brand, DeWerd created his own shirt designs, posting the images on his Instagram account and YouTube channel. After operating in this manner for some time, he bought a sewing machine, taught himself how to sew, and officially launched GONE as a business this past December.

Now, DeWerd designs everything for GONE on his computer, presses the images onto the shirts himself, and sews on the tags. As a solo entrepreneur, he’s learning by doing. Besides teaching himself the essential sewing skills needed for his business, DeWerd is also learning web design and running his own social media marketing.

While GONE has a website, DeWerd does most of his sales directly to consumers through Instagram and Facebook messaging.

To distinguish himself from other clothing brands, he’s also developed a deeper meaning for GONE, encouraging people to “be the best you” or be one of the “Great Ones” (GONE) while wearing his T-shirts, tanks, and jackets.

Now, DeWerd is raising awareness of the brand and getting more people to experience the look and feel of the product. He’s showcasing GONE clothing at several local events, including the Minnesota Disc Golf Tournament in Stewartville in May and the Salute to the 4th in July. Consumers can also find the shirts at the Melting Clock Smoke Shop right in Rochester.

DeWerd spent a lot of time and effort finding the highest quality materials for GONE. Besides elevating awareness of the clothing, he now is also creating more customized and unique products.  

To keep your eye on the newest GONE merch, check them out on Instagram @gone_inc.

Press Release: Halcon Furniture Announces Expansion

Untitled design (1).png

STEWARTVILLE, MN, JUNE 7TH, 2018 – HALCON announced today the acquisition of additional manufacturing facilities in Stewartville, Minnesota and the creation of at least 50 new, full-time positions.

HALCON has purchased a 57,500 square-foot manufacturing facility and 10.5 acres of property from neighboring Becton, Dickinson and Company. The facility, constructed in 2014, and property are adjacent to HALCON’s existing headquarters and manufacturing operations.

“The location is ideal, allowing us to expand operations now, and in the future, with all employees continuing to work at a single, unified campus,” said Ben Conway, President.

With more than 330 current employees, HALCON will expand operations in Stewartville to meet demand for their award-winning office furniture product lines, which includes executive desking and conference room solutions.

“We are hiring now, continuing to invest in Stewartville, and very proud to be providing careers in manufacturing,” said Peter Conway, Chairman.

Founded in 1977, HALCON Furniture is a recognized leader in design, quality, and innovation for the contract office furniture industry.

For more information, visit www.HALCONfurniture.com

#Emerge Episode 19 w/ Solomon, Ken, D'Angelo, and Haron

This week on the #Emerge we sit down with Solomon Antoine, Ken Nguyen, D’Angelo Tines, and Haron Arama of SolKen Technology. These young entrepreneurs are local high school and college students focused on building their current product FAVR. This web-based platform matches freelancers with jobs, such as yard work and errand-running, in the community.

“You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. It takes a lot to start a business and you have to have a lot of confidence.” -Solomon Antoine

Five Olmsted County Teams Advance to Semifinal Round of Minnesota Cup


Last Thursday, startup semifinalists were announced in the 2018 Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide startup competition in the nation. These ninety companies will compete in nine different divisions: Education & Training, Energy/Clean Tech/Water, Food/Ag/Bev, General, High Tech, Life Science/Health IT, Impact Ventures, Student, and Youth Divisions.

Over $500,000 in seed funding will be awarded this season to companies participating in the Minnesota Cup business plan competition. In addition to financial capital, startups also receive mentorship opportunities, media exposure, and business plan feedback.

Applications for this year’s Minnesota Cup opened on March 26th. Over the next several months, finalists will be chosen in each of these nine divisions, earning a chance to win the overall $50,000 grand prize at the final awards ceremony at the McNamara Alumni Center on October 8th.

This year, Minnesota Cup received 1,661 applications from around the state, a twenty-two percent increase from last season.

Five teams from Olmsted country have advanced to the semifinal round of the competition including:

·      Oronoco-based Busy Baby LLC in the General Division. This company’s product, the Busy Baby Mat, can be utilized on any flat surface to keep babies busy and baby toys safe and clean. The mat is also portable.

·      Rochester-based LipiQuester LLC in the Life Science/Health IT Division. LipiQuester is a patent-pending nutraceutical that sequesters fat from the diet to prevent fat absorption, minus the negative side-effects experienced from typical anti-obesity treatments.

·      Rochester-based Mill Creek Life Sciences in the Life Science/Health IT Division. Mill Creek Life Sciences has developed the first human platelet cell lysate on the market, called PLTMax. The company’s additional product, PLTGold, is a media supplement for stem cell growth.

·      Rochester-based Thaddeus Medical Systems in the Life Science/Health IT Division. This startup has developed iGler, a smart hardware and software packaging solution to protect and keep medical and biological samples cold while shipping.

·      Rochester-based B.A.S.I.C. BALSA in the Youth Division. This team of young women is developing an app to connect immigrants to resources in their new communities to enhance quality of life. This product was developed as part of the Technovation Challenge, a global initiative that enables girls to solve real-world problems through technology.

Congratulations to all the advancing companies and best of luck in the remainder of the competition!

Local Resident Seeking to Grow Car Museum in Rochester

 Photo courtesty of the Musuem of AUtomotive History.

Rochester entrepreneur Eric Pool has always loved cars. From this first Matchbox toy to his earliest real vehicle, this deep interest has evolved and expanded over a lifetime.

“When I was finally old enough and had enough money to purchase a few [cars] I got to thinking, what’s going to happen to these long term?” Pool explained.

Pool had experience working with the Florence B. Dearing Museum, a Victorian-style home in central Michigan. He thought that perhaps an automobile museum might be the exact solution he was seeking.

Beyond a few mini-museums, particularly around the Minneapolis area, there were no dedicated car museums in Minnesota. Pool reached out to local car enthusiasts and clubs, receiving resounding positive interest in such an establishment.  He believed that Rochester was the perfect place to launch this vision.

“With DMC looking for more options [for patients] to do while they are here, the museum fits well with that,” Pool explained.

Now, Pool’s Museum of Automotive History is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profit with a seven-person Board of Directors, of which Pool is President. The museum currently has amassed a collection of cars, which mainly belong to Board members, including Poole’s own 1981 DeLorean and 1963 Ford Galaxy. The Board also has a growing number of car memorabilia, books, and car-related toys, but not enough yet to require a dedicated physical space. The museum is gaining a reputation as the “go to” place for cars around Rochester, showcasing the vehicles and other car items around the community upon request.

Pool’s ultimate vision is to set up the museum as a type of car showcase for the community, where car enthusiasts could display their vehicles during poor weather months, similar to the lay out at a car show. Through this type of “loan program,” the museum could obtain cars at a relatively low cost and rotate the cars on display to keep the museum content from stagnating.

Pool’s vision for the automobile museum expands well beyond a basic car showcase.

“We don’t want it to be simply a car museum for the typical demographic to look at a car and leave,” he explained. “We want this to be a community component. We want to be able to bring in children of all ages to learn about cars.”

Now, Pool has his eye out for just the right space for the museum. He wants the gallery to remain “as diverse as possible” in the types of cars showcased, perhaps even broadening as a general transportation museum including cars, planes, and trains. Pool hopes to utilize a historic building in Rochester for the museum, but suggested the costs might be too high for this concept to come to fruition.

“We love the idea of sharing space with other museums. We would greatly entertain that with any other museum that has interest,” Pool said.

This “shared roof” concept would save costs for his museum, as well as provide a variety of options at one location, shopping mall style, where families could visit together and meet their diverse interests.

The Museum of Automotive History’s seven-member Board of Directors has been instrumental in the organization’s growth. Members include Pool’s father and wife as well as Tony Swann, a member who lives outside of Minnesota with experience in the car museum space.

“It’s been a fun road to travel with all these individuals who have been able to come in at certain points to help us get it off the ground,” Pool explained. “That’s part of what I’ve enjoyed the most, is working with the other individuals.”

As with many museums, funding has been a roadblock to growth of a car museum in Rochester. However, Pool said, the Board is not always looking for financial capital. Assistance is also welcome as donations of cars or car-related items.

“But another one that is often times forgotten are the right volunteers, the right Board members, the right interested parties who can make this happen,” Pool explained.

The museum is always searching for people who can donate their time, knowledge, and connections toward growth of this resource in the community.

While the Museum of Automotive History continues to move forward, Pool’s immediate goal is to become the voice in the Rochester community for all things car related. These efforts include maintenance of an in-depth calendar of car events on the museum’s website as well as the group’s car showcase program in the community.

“Minnesota is one of those states where we really need to have a presence here for more museums, not just cars, but museums in general, and Rochester is no exception to that,” Pool said.

#Emerge Episode 18 with Grace Pesch and Crystal Heim

This week on #Emerge we sit down with Grace Pesch and Crystal Heim of The Commission Executive Team. This week we talk about initiatives in Rochester that Grace and Crystal are excited about. We also chat about some women-focused programming that these ladies are developing in the community, including their first roundtable discussion coming up on June 12th. Tune in to the video to learn more.

“There’s a lot of things that women juggle and things that they face. We need to come together and talk about it and how to deal with it.” -Crystal Heim

Local Student on Route to be National Finalist in Doodle 4 Google Contest


John Marshall student Rebecca Frei’s doodle is set to have global reach. Frei is one of only fifty-three students to become a State and Territory Finalist in the annual Doodle 4 Google student contest. The public has until 12AM PDT on May 18th (tomorrow) to vote Frei’s doodle through to make her a National Finalist, earning her a $5,000 college scholarship and a trip to Google Headquarters in California.

The Doodle 4 Google contest has taken place yearly since 2008. The program is open to students grades K-12; participants compete in K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, or 10-12 grade groups. Frei is contending in the grades 10-12 division.

Doodles are drawings featured on the Google.com page that are “meant to surprise and delight people,” according to Google. This year’s Doodle 4 Google contest centered around the question “What Inspires Me?”.

Frei was already chosen as a State and Territory Finalist based on the artistic merit, creativity, and theme communication of her doodle, allowing her drawing to be featured in the Doodle 4 Google gallery. This year’s guest judges for the contest included the likes of Ty Burrell, Carlos Beltran, and Laurie Hernandez.

Public voting, which ends tomorrow, could allow Frei to become one of only five National Finalists. From this pool, one winner will then be chosen, awarding the student a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 tech package for their school.

Frei’s doodle was inspired by her Great Grandma Blennie, who Frei depicts playing a banjolele in the bed of the family’s garden truck. In her submission, Frei explained that Great Grandma Blennie uplifted everyone with whom she interacted. Frei says she feels connected with her grandmother while playing the banjolele herself and aims to make her grandmother proud.

The public can vote for Frei’s design, and view the other doodle submissions, by clicking here. Voting will close at 12AM on May 18th. 

Questions with SCORE: Meet SCORE Southeast Minnesota

SCORE Southeast Minnesota is a completely free, local business resource that offers one-on-one mentoring, webinars and online training, and more for any industry. Today on the video we talk with Kimberly Alwin, Volunteer with SCORE SE Minnesota to learn more about SCORE and what it can do for your business. Alwin describes SCORE as "your biggest fan and your biggest supporter."

This is the first video with SCORE Southeast Minnesota in a four part series to help the community learn more about SCORE and see if it is a good fit for your business.

As part of these videos, we will be taking your questions about SCORE in particular or about some aspect of business development. Select questions will be answered by SCORE Southeast Minnesota in upcoming videos. So here's your chance to ask SCORE a question!

Leave all your questions and comments below for a chance to have your question answered in our next video. Learn more about SCORE Southeast Minnesota by heading over to their website at: https://seminnesota.score.org/

Press Release: gBETA Medtech to Hold Inaugural LiveBETA


Minneapolis, MN – Nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor will host its inaugural gBETA Medtech LiveBETA (“Demo Day”) event on May 21st at the McNamara Alumni Center. The gBETA Medtech accelerator launched in March thanks to the sponsorship of Boston Scientific, with additional support from Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and the Medical Alley Association. gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with medical device, healthcare-related software, biotech and diagnostics startups. Each program is capped at five to six teams, and requires no fees and no equity. Participants receive intensive and individualized coaching and access to physicians, researchers, successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and industry experts. The program is designed to help startups gain early customer traction on their product or idea, and establish metrics that make them competitive applicants for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment.

gBETA Medtech “Spring 2018” kicked off March 22nd with six local Medtech startups selected from an all-Minnesota applicant pool of 30 companies. Descriptions for all six companies can be found at the bottom of this release.

The cohort graduates on May 21 during LiveBETA (“Demo Day”) where the six companies will deliver five-minute pitches to an audience of investors, entrepreneurs, mentors, and community members. The event will feature opening remarks from Jeff Mirviss, senior vice president and president, Peripheral Interventions Division at Boston Scientific and Vice Chair of the Medical Alley Association . The Medical Alley Association will also be hosting a panel discussion on “The State of Medtech Innovation in Minnesota.”

There will be an opportunity before and after the presentations to mingle with the startup companies and other attendees. LiveBETA is a free event, but those interested in attending are asked to RSVP.

gBETA Medtech runs three times per year with five to six companies per cohort to ensure a high level of individualized attention. gBETA Medtech works exclusively with startups focused on healthcare, including: healthcare products for diagnosing, treating and/or monitoring diseases or medical conditions including devices, software, biological technology, and healthcare services, as well as technology or process innovations that could serve any component of the supply chain.

gBETA Medtech is now accepting applications for the second 2018 cohort. Applications are open to startups across the globe. Startups interested in applying should contact gBETA Medtech Director Adam Choe (adam@gener8tor.com). For more information on the program and ways to get involved, please visit www.gbetamedtech.com.


gBETA Medtech Spring 2018 Cohort

ExpressionMed creates supplemental medical adhesives that increase the longevity and comfort of wearable medical devices while adding an element of customization through design. ExpressionMed has helped families in 49 states and 20 different countries and has seen an average of 54% month-over-month revenue growth since June of 2017 totaling $64,152. CEO: Meghan Sharkus | meghan.sharkus@expressionmed.com | www.expressionmed.com

Kobara Medical designs and manufactures cardiac rhythm management (CRM) and neuromodulation devices. Kobara’s cardiac lead technology provides electrophysiologists and surgeons a single solution to treat heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. Kobara Medical has raised $120K, acquired pre-clinical and clinical data to demonstrate feasibility and clinical impact, and has built its first Cobra Pacing Lead that will be tested in a subchronic animal study in Q2 of 2018. CEO: Andreas Pfahnl, Sc.D. | andy@kobara-medical.com | www.kobara-medical.com

NeuroVASx designs and manufactures alternative solutions for embolizing vessel abnormalities. NeuroVASx provides clinical benefits by reducing the incidence of compaction and migration, reducing the need for retreatment. NeuroVASx owns an intellectual property portfolio of 13 patents within the focus area of endovascular delivery systems, implants, and manufacturing processes. CEO: Steve Ferry | sferry@neurovasxinc.com

Quench Medical develops novel formulations of approved inhaler medications to significantly decrease symptoms of lung diseases. Quench Medical’s first indication is severe asthma, where patients suffer costly exacerbations from uncontrolled symptoms. Quench Medical received a $225K SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health in March 2018. CEO: Bryce Beverlin II Ph.D. | beverlin@quenchmedical.net | www.quenchmedical.net

Soundly reduces snoring by guiding the user through a gamified therapy to strengthen and tone their upper airway. Soundly reduces snoring without needing bulky devices during sleep. Soundly has received $80,000 in non-dilutive funding from the NSF and NIH and recently completed a beta test of 600 users where 90% of surveyed users reported reductions in snoring. CEO: Brian Krohn Ph.D. | brian.krohn@sleepsound.ly | www.sleepsound.ly

Vitrose Health provides an efficient way to diagnose common illnesses through a direct-to-consumer testing solution. Vitrose Health creates a new alternative for non-urgent care that is more efficient and affordable for both the patient and the healthcare system. Vitrose Health was established in November of 2017 and is part of the Spring 2018 gBETA Medtech accelerator. CEO: Bharat Pulgam | bharat.pulgam@vitrosehealth.com | www.vitrosehealth.com


About gBETA

gBETA is a program of nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor. gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with medical device, healthcare-related software, biotech and diagnostics startups. Each program is capped at five to six teams, and requires no fees and no equity. Participants receive intensive and individualized coaching and access to physicians, researchers, successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and industry experts. The program is designed to help startups gain early customer traction on their product or idea, and establish metrics that make them competitive for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment.


About gener8tor

gener8tor is a nationally ranked accelerator that invests in high-growth startups. Three times a year gener8tor invests $90K in each of five startups who receive a concierge experience during its 12-week accelerator program. gener8tor supports the growth of these startups through its network of experienced mentors, technologists, corporate partners, angel investors and venture capitalists.

To date, gener8tor’s 65 alumni have cumulatively raised more than $150M in follow-on financing. Of these 65 alumni, 58% have raised more than $1M in follow-on financing or have been acquired.

gener8tor invests in high-growth startups, including software, IT, web, SaaS, life science, medtech, e-commerce and hardware. Accepted startups receive $90K and 12 weeks of mentorship-driven programming. gener8tor is a proud member of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) and is sponsored by American Family Insurance . gener8tor is a GOLD-tier accelerator in the U.S. as ranked by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project . 

Opinion Piece: How Smart Entrepreneurs Become Natural Leaders- Part 1


About the author: Graeme Thickins has been a marketing consultant to early-stage technology startups for three decades and is based in Minneapolis. He's also both a mentor and a coach and an angel investor. In addition to his own blogs, his writings have appeared in Chief Executive, The Angel Journal, Computerworld, CIO, eWeek, ReadWriteWeb, eContent, and elsewhere. Follow his latest writing on Twitter under the handle @graemethickins.

Does starting a company make you a leader? Not by a long shot. The journey may begin there, but unfortunately many never make the grade.

Why is it some founders excel at mastering leadership?

There can be many reasons of course. But a large percentage of entrepreneurs will tell you what made a difference for them was one particular thing: a coach.

Coaches are all about building leaders. Case in point: the late, great Bill Campbell, who established a reputation as “the coach of Silicon Valley” to such legendary founders and CEOs as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, and Larry Page. He held that only one thing determines whether or not you’re a leader: the opinions of those you’re supposed to be leading, as described in one media tribute to him.

Steve Jobs said about his early years at Apple with Bill Campbell as his coach and confidant: “He loves people, and he loves growing people… Apple is only its ideas — which is only its people.” And no one can argue that Jobs became a leader of people.

Mentors are about giving advice. Coaches are about asking questions.

Bill Campbell knew that he was often expected to have all the right answers, but that was not the way his coaching methodology worked, according to his friend and former colleague at Claris Corp., Randy Komisar, now a VC at Kleiner Perkins. (They worked together after Campbell left his role at Apple as VP of Marketing.) His coaching style involved a relationship with the founder or CEO, Komisar said, and an ongoing dialogue about self-development. He felt they should feel comfortable talking about anything. In a typical session, said Komisar, Bill would ask questions like these: “What are we trying to fix? What can we do? How much of it is people? How much of it is technology? How much of it is process?”

Is it common for entrepreneurs to have a coach? They may not speak openly about it but, if you ask them, most successful founders will say yes. Who are these coaches, and how do they differ from other types of coaches — like executive coaches, general business coaches, or so-called life coaches?

There are many examples of these latter types of coaches who’ve written best-selling books and gone on to become millionaires from highly paid speaking engagements or the sale of seminars and courses. But do all coaches seek such fame? Certainly not — only a tiny fraction. And, let’s face it, such famous coaches are well out of the reach of entrepreneurs. They’re priced for Fortune 500 executives.

Sure, you can buy a book. But a book is not a coach.

Game Time

Do entrepreneur coaches share traits with athletic coaches? Absolutely! And most all of them played one or more team sports when they were younger — learning at the hands of good coaches, observing how a well-coached team becomes a well-functioning team, and living through the ups and downs that any team experiences.

Here’s how I think about it: for entrepreneurs and their coaches, their sessions together are like practice — and the coach owns that. All the rest is game time — and you own that. It’s where you put in place what you learn from all your collective practices over time.

All good entrepreneurs know they cannot succeed on their own. Even “solopreneurs” have a team around them — not in the respect of a management team and employees, as they will when their venture gets larger. But “team” definitely comes into play for them even in the early days when they first set out. That team often includes certain family members, their closest friends, their lawyer, accountant, and certainly contractors and other “partners” in their success. And, yes, it’s fair to say their customers, too — because they want you to succeed as well! (Maybe more so.) You want them on the journey with you.

What, you haven’t thought about customers as team members? You should.

But that team of yours also needs a coach. You, as the founder, are the captain of the team. The coach is the person who helps you build your leadership skills. And helps you build others into leaders — as Bill Campbell most certainly taught.

Why Do Company Founders Seek Out a Coach?

It’s lonely out there. And, yes, many founders are loners in their own right — especially if they’re conducting business as a solopreneur. But most all know they need support, encouragement, and objective feedback about their business, their management style, etc, and that they need to take off their blinders sometimes. A good coach helps them do all those things.

Certainly, if married, a founder gets support, encouragement, feedback, and more from his or her spouse. But most need someone more detached, objective, and experienced in working with other entrepreneurs over years, even decades — and that’s where a coach comes in.

Entrepreneurs need a coach at many times in their journey, but especially in the formative stages when they’re seeking to build a stable, cash-flowing, growing business. To grow means having to face decisions at every turn — and all good founders seek advice from those they trust when they’re in unknown territory. If they don’t, they put themselves at a severe disadvantage.

Check back next Thursday for the second part in this story!

Press Release: Two Businesses to Break Ground on Projects in Stewartville this Thursday

 Rendering of the Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center.

Rendering of the Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center.

Stewartville, MN – On Thursday, May 10, 2018, two Stewartville businesses plan to break ground on their new construction facilities:


1. Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC | May 10, 10:00 a.m. | 200 Schumann Dr. NW

Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC owners Krystal and Patrick Campbell will hold their official groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 10 on their property located at 200 Schumann Drive NW in Stewartville, MN. 

The Campbells announced their intention to construct a new 7,800 square foot, 99-child capacity center in late 2017. The project will address the growing child care needs of the City in addition to immediately creating fifteen new jobs. 

“Research from last year has indicated a child care capacity deficit of at least 111 children,” said Stewartville Mayor Jimmie-John King. “This new business will help augment the existing, quality child care being offered in our community to support our residents and employers.”

The business is expected to open by fall of this year; parents can already secure enrollment for children by contacting 507-272-5268.    

 Rendering of Root River Dental facility.

Rendering of Root River Dental facility.

2. Root River Dental | May 10, 4:30 p.m. | 501 S. Main St.

Root River Dental will also be hosting their groundbreaking on May 10.  Business owners Dr. Zachary Lechner, DDS and Hannah Lechner, MHA will join their team in welcoming guests at the site of their new location, 501 S. Main Street, Stewartville, MN, at 4:30 p.m.

Root River Dental has been owned and operated by Dr. Lechner since June of 2014. The practice provides a wide range of treatments for pediatric, general, implant, and cosmetic dentistry as well as new technology for digitally designed same day crowns.

This expansion of Root River Dental will allow the business to meet increasing demand, offer new services, and accommodate future growth.  Dr. Lechner’s planning team has worked meticulously to ensure that the needs of their patients, staff, and community are fully met with the new building design.

“The City is excited about the construction of the Root River Dental building on our Main Street,” City Administrator Bill Schimmel shared. “It’s evident that significant thought has gone into the design and planning of the structure, and we expect the expansion will add to the vibrancy and high-quality services that our residents enjoy.” Dr. Lechner added, “This new facility will allow us to fulfil our mission ‘to serve others’ by offering new technology, services, and amenities to ensure an unparalleled experience.”

Construction on the new Root River Dental clinic is expected to be complete by fall of 2018. Root River Dental is accepting new patients; please call 507-533-7735 to schedule.

Both groundbreaking ceremonies are open to the public.

About Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC

Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC is family owned and operated by Krystal and Patrick Campbell.

The center focuses on the provision of a safe, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate environment for children from 6 weeks to age twelve. An emphasis is placed on the value and uniqueness of each child that is served.

As caregivers and educators, the team at Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center strives to promote each child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Their programs plant seeds of knowledge in every child to inspire life-long learning.

For more information about Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, please visit


About Root River Dental

Root River Dental is the private dental practice of Dr. Zachary J. Lechner and opened its doors on July 1, 2014. Root River Dental represents the re-naming and marketing of the former private dental practice of Dr. Lee Weinhold Family Dentistry.

Dr. Lechner and the team at Root River Dental provide patients with high quality dental care and exceptional service. They strive to keep patients and their families in optimal oral health and exceed expectations by offering a full line of dental services from preventative care to implant and cosmetic dentistry for all ages of patients. Root River Dental is committed to investing in the latest technology to ensure patient safety and optimal clinical results such as same day crowns, digital scanning versus impressions, and 3D printing.

For more information about Root River Dental, please visit https://www.rootriverdental.com/ or contact info@rootriverdental.com or 507-533-7735. 


About the Stewartville Economic Development Authority (EDA)

Established in 1857, the City of Stewartville is a municipal government that serves an estimated population of approximately 6,274.  The City's Economic Development Authority (EDA) works to promote community vitality and provide services to both residents and businesses to maintain and enhance their quality of life. The EDA is committed to the support of new business in addition to the provision of service and support to existing businesses within the community. 

The EDA assists these organizations and individuals with education, monetary assistance through programs/services, and creative and beneficial collaborations with partner entities. For more information about the EDA, please visit http://stewartvillemn.com/government/economic-development/

#Emerge Episode 17 with Innovationology

This week on #Emerge we learn more about Innovationology and sit down with one of the Experience Teams that will be participating in this event. Innovationology is an adult-only fundraiser benefitting the Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester that highlights innovation being created in Rochester. This event features Experience Teams that showcase their technology with a paired drink and food offering. Innovationology will take place on May 17th in the Bleu Duck Kitchen and Collider Coworking space. Today we sit down with Becca Stiles-Nogosek, Development Manager at the Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester, and the Experience Team of Limb Lab and Grand Rounds Brewing Company.

“I think as a kid, it’s really important to be put in a place where you have to be bored. Because when there’s boredom and there’s space, kids come up with imagination. They come up with inventive ideas.” -Brandon Sampson, Founder of Limb Lab

Minnesota Startups CranioVation, LipiQuester, and Aelios Technology Win Big at Spring Walleye Tank Business Pitch Competition

 Walleye Tank organizer Dr. Stephen Ekker (left) with overall winner Braden Eliason (right) of CranioVation.

Walleye Tank organizer Dr. Stephen Ekker (left) with overall winner Braden Eliason (right) of CranioVation.

 Walleye Tank runner-up Jake Orme of LipiQuester.

Walleye Tank runner-up Jake Orme of LipiQuester.

Last Friday the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener, the fifth edition of this business pitch competition, was held on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Fifteen different life science and healthtech companies pitched their businesses for a chance to win entry into the semifinal round of Minnesota Cup and multiple other prizes. CranioVation, LipiQuester, and Aelios Technology walked away as big winners at this edition of Walleye Tank.

Walleye Tank is a life science business pitch competition that showcases lifesaving innovations being created in Minnesota. Companies developing science and health related technologies deliver 120 second pitches in one of two categories: Professional or Junior Angler (student) Divisions. Teams are judged by an expert panel, called the “Walleyes.”

This year’s Walleyes included: Julie Henry, Enterprise IP Contract Manager with Mayo Clinic Ventures; Perry Hackett, biotech serial entrepreneur; Sara Russick, Cofounder and General Partner at Capita3; Shaye Mandle, CEO and President of Medical Alley Association; and Fernando Bazan, Chief Technology Officer at Bio-Techne.

Over one hundred participants in Minnesota’s startup and entrepreneurial community attended this Walleye Tank event.

CranioVation, a Minnesota company using photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat brain tumors without disrupting brain function, was the overall winner in the Professional Division, gaining automatic entry into the semifinal round of Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide business pitch competition in the nation. LipiQuester, led by Rochester resident Jake Orme, was the overall runner up with their patent-pending nutraceutical that impedes dietary fat absorption without the typical negative side effects. Aelios Technology, a team led by University of Minnesota Twin Cities students developing an Intelligent Plug for Devices, or IPlugD, to mitigate life threatening risks in healthcare settings during power outages, was the Junior Angler Division Winner, also snagging entry into Minnesota Cup.

Additional prizes were sponsored by: gBETA Medtech, Capita3, the University of Minnesota Technology Commercialization Venture Center, the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship, Collider Coworking, Gopher Angels, and the University of Minnesota Medical Industry Valuation Lab.

The next Walleye Tank, the 2018 Ice Fishing Edition, will be held in Rochester on December 7th.

 Junior Angler Winners Aelios Technology.

Junior Angler Winners Aelios Technology.

Additional Prizes at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener:

·      Most Medically Impactful Venture: smartfri- an emerging startup developing a bite-activated drug delivery device to provide targeted pain relief to the mouth and throat. 

·      Most Promising Woman-Led Venture: Aelios Technology

·      Most Intriguing Venture (Rochester): LipiQuester

·      Most Fundable Venture: CranioVation

·      Best Ambassador of University of Minnesota Innovation: Addivax, an emerging startup developing antibodies to combat drug overdose.

·      Best Ambassador of Mayo Clinic Innovation (Arizona): Nipple by Number, a 3D-printed stencil that enables accurate and consistent nipple areolar complex (NAC) tattooing.

·       Best Ambassador of Mayo Clinic Innovation (Florida): sciLens, an emerging technology that combines hypersonic sound waves with noise cancelling technology into a small device that fits into a ceiling tile.

Free gBETA Medtech Accelerator Program Launches in Minneapolis to Support HealthTech Startups

 gBETA Medtech cohort participant Andy Pfahnl of Kobara Medical displaying his technology at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener. Kobara Medical is an early stage medtech company developing solutions for heart failure and cardiac arrthmia.

gBETA Medtech cohort participant Andy Pfahnl of Kobara Medical displaying his technology at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener. Kobara Medical is an early stage medtech company developing solutions for heart failure and cardiac arrthmia.

Gener8tor, a national accelerator that invests in high growth potential startups, recently launched its very first industry specific program, gBETA MedTech, right here in Minnesota. The inaugural gBETA Medtech cohort jump started the program in Minneapolis on March 22nd. This pilot class will culminate with a LiveBETA Medtech pitch session in Minneapolis on May 21st.

Unlike core the gener8tor accelerator programs, where gener8tor invests in startups in exchange for equity, gBETA programs are completely free. Gener8tor invests no funds in the companies and receives no equity in return. With the freshly minted gBETA Medtech in Minneapolis, startups still receive the “same experience of introductions to mentors and introductions to investors throughout the program,” explained Director of gBETA Medtech Adam Choe. “We spend a lot of time making sure their messaging is clear and their critical pathway is well understood.”

This industry specific gBETA accepts medical device, healthcare related software, biotech, and diagnostic companies into their program. Pharmaceuticals are outside of the scope of this particular accelerator.

gBETA Medtech is made possible through a partnership with Boston Scientific, the University of Minnesota Office for Technology Commercialization, Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center, and Mayo Clinic.

Choe says gBETA Medtech occurs from a “perfect intersection” of these three partners with the current Minnesota startup ecosystem. Choe understands the struggles of getting a startup off the ground and wants to help other companies achieve success.

“That first valley of death where you may not know the right people and funding is tight, we can help facilitate a lot of strategic introductions. If we do it right, we can do in seven weeks what would normally take seven months,” he explained.

Participating startups do not need to be headquartered in Minneapolis or even in Minnesota; the program just requires one founder to be in Minneapolis for the duration of the seven-week program.

 Adam Choe (at right) Director of gBETA Medtech during a panel discussion at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener.

Adam Choe (at right) Director of gBETA Medtech during a panel discussion at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener.

“We don’t want to come in and take over for a company,” Choe said. “We want to be there to supplement what they know is a weakness of theirs. Or maybe they don’t know it’s a weakness, but we can help them uncover some things that, when you’re in the thick of it, you kind of lose track of.”

gBETA Medtech’s first six-startup cohort spans a range of stages. Some of the current companies are funded just by the founders at this point; some by SBIR grants. Other startups in the program are led by students. For this reason, Choe says gBETA Medtech is more like a “Swiss Army knife for startups” instead of a one-size-fits-all bootcamp style program.

While this first gBETA Medtech class will continue to be a learning process, gener8tor looks forward to supporting two additional gBETA Medtech cohorts this year, attracting companies from Rochester and even outside of Minnesota. Choe hopes that involvement in gBETA Medtech will help startups attract follow-on funding and even get accepted into additional accelerator programs that can invest funding.

While gBETA Medtech is brand new in Minnesota, the core gener8tor equity accelerator program in Minneapolis has already graduated one class, investing $90,000 in five different companies. This cohort included Kaleidoscope, a company that designs and administers scholarships and locates and manages scholarship applicants and recently closed a $1.3M round of seeding funding. For equity gener8tor programs- located in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Madison- have invested in sixty-five companies.

By the end of 2018, Choe says twelve companies will have graduated from the industry agnostic gBETA that’s also run in Minneapolis. In addition, two more gBETA Medtech cohorts and another for-equity gener8tor accelerator class are anticipated to graduate from programs this year in Minneapolis, for a total of thirty-three startups.

“That’s thirty-three more startups that we’re hoping to help make introductions, facilitate mentors, facilitate investors, and just be their support and network that they need as they try to navigate the startup world,” Choe said.

Currently, gBETA Medtech is seeking more startups and mentors to help propel the program forward.

“It takes a village, it really does for a startup. We are just trying to build up the strongest network. There’s no reason why the strongest healthcare network, medtech network, can’t be in Minnesota,” said Choe.

Top Raises, Acquisitions, and Stories for Q1 in Minnesota


2018 in Minnesota’s startup scene started off with a bang. Here are the top funding raises, acquisitions, and moves from around the region in the first quarter of 2018.


Top Raises

  • 26 companies in Medical Alley raised a Q1 record high $112M in capital.

  • Medical Alley experienced the largest funding in the digital health sector, with $69M raised by 6 companies.

  • Biotechnology companies also had a strong Q1 with 6 companies raising $29M. The largest raise in this sector was led by Biothera, a company developing a unique cancer immunotherapy called Imprime PGG.

  • The medical device sector experienced a $14M capital raise by 12 companies.

  • Bind Benefits, a company providing on-demand health insurance, saw the overall largest Q1 raise in Medical Alley of $60M. This funding was led by Lemli Ventures.

  • Startup Upsie closed a $1.7M round of funding. Upsie is an app that helps consumers purchase warranties for devices- like Apple Watches, laptops, and headphones- at lower prices than retailers.

  • Startup Kaleidoscope closed on a $1.3M seed round in Q1. This company designs and administers scholarships and locates and manages scholarship applicants.

  • Learn to Live- a mental health startup providing online therapy for social anxiety, depression, and more- raised $4.3M in capital in Q1.

  • phData, a data management company, secured $2.5M funding, led by Arthur Ventures.

Top acquisitions

  • Two companies in Medical Alley were acquired in Q1 for $1.2B.

  • This included ABILITY Network, an IT company that simplifies administrative and clinical aspects of healthcare.

  • Urology startup NxThera was acquired by Boston Scientific this quarter.


Top stories

  • The Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund made its first three investments, including funding for the Rochester-based Sonex Health and Minneapolis-based Oculogica. Sonex Health has developed the SX-One microknife to achieve minimally invasive carpal tunnel release surgery. Oculogica is creating the EyeBox device to collect and analyze eye movements to diagnose traumatic brain injuries and concussions.  

  • Rochester tech startup Spark DJ is admitted into the Techstars Music Accelerator program in Los Angeles. Spark DJ is utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence in their mobile application to allow your phone to be a DJ.


References/Additional Reading

Medical Alley Association's Q1 Investment Report

Minnesota’s Top Startup Stories and Deals of Q1

Episode 79: 1 Million Cups Rochester with Stationary Astronauts and Solken Technologies

Rochester Startup Spark DJ Accepted into Techstars Music Accelerator Program

Dayton Declares Today "Medical Alley Day in Minnesota"

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Governor Dayton has proclaimed today “Medical Alley Day in Minnesota.” This designation is in recognition of the “unique contributions to health care delivery and management, medical technology innovation, and entrepreneurship” that take place within our state. Medical Alley houses the world’s densest cluster of medtech innovation and was recognized as one of only six “Places of Invention” in the Smithsonian’s American History Museum.

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#Emerge Episode 16 with My Town My Music

This week on #Emerge we sit down with the entrepreneurs behind My Town My Music: Dustin Hart, Bekkie Hart, and Jonny Yucuis. My Town My Music is a platform that gives the community a voice in the types of music acts they want to see in Rochester through their community memberships. In the video today, we talk about initiatives in the music scene right now that My Town My Music is excited about, how they’ve been building their business, and the challenges they’ve been facing to make Rochester a city that attracts both big name acts and showcases homegrown talent.

Press Release: Local Businesswoman Seeks to Discover the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

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Rochester, Minn. – Did you know Sam Walton opened Wal-Mart when he was 40 years old? Or that the inventor of the new Snow Slugger -due out this fall by Frisbee producer Wham-O- was 50 upon developing his hyped snow-slinging toy? What Rochester resident Renee Berg learned from them was that it’s never to late to start a business, and so at age 44 she started hers: Tomorrow’s Bosses, which connects aspiring, self-starters ages 9-18 with established entrepreneurs for coaching. Think of it as Entrepreneur 101 for youth.

Tomorrow’s Bosses was test run last summer by a handful of Rochester kids. The take-homes?

Henry, age 14: “Thank you for showing me the process of running and maintaining a successful business. I’m sure it will help me out in the future.”

Olivia, age 13, “I learned if you want to start your own company you should find something you love and make a business.”

Or take Derrick Chapman, the local restaurant owner who toured Olivia through his Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza food truck on a blistering summer afternoon, who remarked, “Having an aspiring entrepreneur watch and ask questions gives me hope as a business owner!”

Berg founded Tomorrow’s Bosses after seeing an unfilled need in the market. She wanted to register her son for business classes, but found nothing was available for his age group. And so Tomorrow’s Bosses was born from one mom seeking to help her son with his future.

In Rochester, most kids grow up with doctor dads and engineer moms. But not everyone does. And what about those kids who want something else? What about kids who are natural-born leaders? Those who stand out from the crowd but who aren’t interested in medicine? And what of helping our community grow its economy beyond Mayo and IBM? Aren’t entrepreneurial pursuits one answer to that ongoing growth conundrum which our community faces?

Tomorrow’s Bosses launches this summer and has a one-time offer: all classes are free to those youth who qualify for scholarship. An exclusive few will be selected by Berg and a panel of entrepreneurs. All kids need do is apply, and all they need to do to qualify is exemplify the traits of an entrepreneur. 

Tekcitadel Seeks to Connect African Tech Talent to Emerging Rochester Startups to Bolster Ecosystem

 Kenneth Ngah, Founder of Tekcitadel. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Ngah.

Kenneth Ngah, Founder of Tekcitadel. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Ngah.

Rochester entrepreneur Kenneth Ngah has his latest startup venture in focus. This Cameroonian native launched the technology company Tekcitadel to connect information and communication technology (ICT) specialists in Africa to budding companies in the Rochester area in need of web development services, bridging the ever-narrowing gap between the two continents.

Tekcitadel specializes in app development, content management, and web development. Ngah sees the startup as a way “to give Rochester’s entrepreneurs access to Africa’s rising affordable ICT talents, while helping both parties achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.”

With Tekcitadel Ngah, in addition, seeks to discover and curate responsible web and app development agencies already existing in Africa and to assist them in perfecting and mastering the techniques and specifics required for remote work, all the while maintaining a high standard of quality.

Ngah himself has a depth of experience in remote web development; he created websites for Danish, German, and American contractors without ever having to leave Cameroon. A graduate of the University College of Technology in Buea, Cameroon, Ngah largely built his own career from learning by doing. He runs another startup, called WandaGuides, that connects tourists to government recognized travel agencies within Cameroon.

Ngah served as an active community builder during his time in Cameroon; he assisted in creating three hyper-focused tech communities, including JavaScript and WordPress hubs. He also functioned as Community Manager of ActivSpaces, a Cameroonian tech network composed of two coworking spaces and an accelerator program.

Even after moving to Rochester in late 2016, Ngah maintained a strong connection with this community. He still plays an active role in Silicon Mountain, the nickname for the tech ecosystem in the mountainous region of Cameroon, which includes the city of Buea. Ngah maintains contact with ActivSpaces and information and communication technology agencies within that region. He also still coordinates the activities of JS-Junkies, a hyper-focused tech community in Silicon Mountain that advocates for the JavaScript programming language.

 Photo courtesy of Kenneth Ngah.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Ngah.

Ngah sees something like Tekcitadel as an effective way to connect Africa’s developing tech sector to the needs of emerging entrepreneurs in the Rochester ecosystem.

“Developing skills in web programming is hard. Hiring programming skills in the USA is expensive,” he explained. “When we are able to outsource our programming tasks around prototype development, entrepreneurs in Rochester will be able to build their app ideas faster, hence promoting entrepreneurship as we minimize the risk of not being able to transform an idea into a product.”

Ngah believes this capability will allow more products to launch from the Rochester area, attracting increased investment and bolstering the region economically.   

Local Woman Honors Father's Legacy with Four Year Anniversary of Med City Foundation

 Med City Foundation Founder Kristina Hesby speaking at the nonprofit's annual fundraiser.

Med City Foundation Founder Kristina Hesby speaking at the nonprofit's annual fundraiser.

“It’s very humbling as somebody who takes an idea that was written down on a scrap of paper to see it turn into something,” explained Kristina Hesby, Founder and President of Med City Foundation. “I think it is very inspiring to see because I did not do this on my own.”

Hesby believes that Med City Foundation would likely not be what it is today if she had launched the organization in any other city; the four-year- old business was made even better, she explained, because a whole community came together to make it happen.

Med City Foundation is a grassroots, one hundred percent volunteer-led nonprofit that meets the non-medical needs of lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma patients being treated in Rochester. Hesby said in the early stages of the organization, patients would fill out an application and in turn would normally be gifted financial assistance, like a gas or grocery card. After a few years of experience, the nonprofit has learned not to ask, but to simply listen to identify the true needs of the patient.  

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“We started out every conversation not telling [patients] what we help out with but asking them what they need help with. That has really changed the type of care we have given in the last year or year and a half,” Hesby explained.

After the initial travel to Rochester, locating lodging is one major issue patients and their caregivers face.

“None of our patients can come to Rochester alone. They are all required by their physician to come with a caregiver,” said Hesby.

As part of this process, whole families could be transplanted to Rochester anywhere from two to ten weeks. Hesby’s organization can help patients understand the hospitality homes that exist in Rochester- such as the Gift of Life Transplant House and Hope Lodge- and may even provide lodging for the patient until a room opens up at these locations.

Med City Foundation really fills in the gaps when the patient is not a child, is traveling with a significant amount of family, or desires more privacy than is offered in the communal lifestyle at Rochester’s hospitality homes. The organization can help patients secure lodging elsewhere, such as in a hotel, or can even house patients and their families in Med City Foundation’s very own apartment, which they were gifted just this year.

In addition to the immediate needs of medical care and lodging, patients and their caregivers have to continue to live their lives as unhindered as possible during their stay in Rochester. To fill these gaps, Med City Foundation has taken on a bit of a community navigator role, helping families connect to the local school and library system if they are visiting with children, linking caregivers up with places they can continue to work from, and helping families just understand what they can do with their time when not consumed by medical appointments.

None of the assistance provided by Med City Foundation is based on financial need; Hesby aims to grow the nonprofit to the point where they never have to turn anyone away.

In a sense, Med City Foundation is the realization of a lifelong commitment by Hesby. A Registered Nurse by training, she began fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at age eighteen. When she started Med City Foundation, she had no prior experience running a business or a nonprofit.

“I literally googled ‘opening a nonprofit’ when we were coming up with the idea. It has been just asking a lot of questions, learning from other people, looking for best practice, and just kind of trying to absorb myself in as much of it as I can,” Hesby explained.

Hesby’s father, Dr. Ralph Wright-Peterson, inspired her to create something like Med City Foundation and keep the funds she raised local.


A pillar in the community, Dr. Wright-Peterson served as Principal at John Marshall High School and helped to start Mayo High School as the Rochester community grew. He continually looked for ways to be involved with and to improve the community, leading him to host foreign exchange students in his home, be heavily involved in his family’s church, and serve as one of the first members on the Community Food Response Board.

Dr. Wright-Peterson’s death in 1995 after an eight-month battle with leukemia prompted Hesby’s lifelong fundraising efforts for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in his memory. When she first started to raise money in her father’s name, Hesby was deeply impacted by the both the amount of money she raised locally and the number of Rochester residents who attended her fundraisers and shared stories of their own battles with blood cancer.

 Hesby and her father, Dr. Wright-Peterson, in 1994.

Hesby and her father, Dr. Wright-Peterson, in 1994.

“That’s when I really felt like, for the work that Dad had done in the community and the love he had for it, we should really keep it local,” she explained.

Hesby’s goal for this year is sustainability for Med City Foundation, including the establishment of meaningful partnerships that will help to nonprofit continue to exist.

“We are not going to be here in ten years just by doing our own thing. I am really hoping to make relationships, and have conversations, and figure out how we can best serve these patients and this community moving forward,” Hesby explained.

Finding balance in her own life, which Hesby admits she struggles with the most, is one key piece to help her meet this goal.

“Number one, I’m very transparent with anybody and everybody I’m talking to,” she explained.

Because Med City Foundation is made up solely of volunteers, Hesby is honest with patients about the turnaround time they should expect to receive assistance from the nonprofit. Personally, Hesby says she takes advantage of every spare moment she’s given to hop onto her computer or phone to maximize her efficiency.

For those interested in helping Med City Foundation by volunteering or any businesses looking to partner with the nonprofit, please contact the organization at info@medcityfoundation.org.