Local Entrepreneur Supplying Rochester with Alaskan Salmon Right from "Fisherman to Freezer"

Photo courtesy of Frederick Sound Fish Co.

Photo courtesy of Frederick Sound Fish Co.

Rochester native Ryan Mulvihill has always sought adventure. This solopreneur has been sustainably fishing the waters in southeast Alaska for the past six years, supplying Rochester with hook-caught salmon that go straight “from the fisherman right to your freezer from the same guy” with his business Frederick Sound Fish Co.

Salmon processed, frozen, packaged and ready for shipment. Photo courtesy of Frederick Sound Fish Co.

Salmon processed, frozen, packaged and ready for shipment. Photo courtesy of Frederick Sound Fish Co.

Mulvihill’s path to salmon fishing has traversed over 5,000 miles and nearly ten years. In 2008 he moved from Rochester to a city in the very southeastern region of Alaska, called Ketchikan, to work as a forester. After three years, he was promoted and transferred to Sheridan, Wyoming to continue in this government position. By some stroke of fate, Mulvihill was able to room with a friend’s acquaintance named Maria, who was also moving to Sheridan from Alaska. When the seasons changed, Mulvihill also met her boyfriend, a man named Lynn Steyaart, who fished in southeastern Alaska.

A few years later, Mulvihill decided it was time to leave the forestry service and head back north to “The Last Frontier.” He had no definitive plan except to find work on the water. Fast forward one year later and Mulvihill is salmon fishing with Steyaart on his boat The Honeywilya. He’s been splitting his time between Rochester and southeast Alaska ever since.

Mulvihill’s business, Frederick Sound Fish Co., began largely by accident. One summer after fishing in Alaska, he brought some of his salmon back to Rochester, cooked it up for some friends, and everyone wanted more. He thought, why not bring back even more fish the following year and try to sell it? Mulvihill has been selling his salmon under Frederick Sound Fish Co. for close to three years now in Rochester.

Mulvihill spends May through September each year fishing in the Frederick Sound, a narrow channel of the Pacific Ocean that separates Kupreanof and Admiralty Islands in southeastern Alaska. He fishes for two of the five types of salmon that live in the Pacific: King and Coho.

Mulvihill is a power troller, meaning he catches salmon on fishing lines, not in nets, a more sustainable fishing method with little bycatch. Think of trolling like hook and line fishing on steroids.

First, Mulvihill and his fishing partner (which for the first few summers was Captain Steyaart and now is a man named Captain Eric) hook giant poles up to The Honeywilya. From these poles, they drop steel lines with about eighty individually baited hooks into the water, which are drawn through the sound by the boat. Once a fish is hooked, large springs that connect the lines to the poles begin to bounce, signaling that it’s time to pull in that line. On a good day, they can bring in upwards of three hundred fifty salmon.

The fish are all gutted and gilled right on the boat and cleaned out with seawater. The salmon are then packed in ice and processed in Alaska. Mulvihill sells the majority of his catch before ever leaving the state. He then flies the rest of the salmon, frozen, to Rochester. September through December are again extremely busy for Mulvihill, this time with selling his salmon.

“Everything I own is in this fish,” he explained.

Business for Frederick Sound Fish Co. originally grew by word of mouth. Now each summer that Mulvihill returns to Rochester, he has an ever-expanding list of clients ready to purchase the salmon. He chuckled that sometimes this part is a bit mysterious and even “sketchy.” He has a website where people can find more information about the fish; however, customers typically call him to purchase the salmon and he usually hand delivers it, right to the buyer.

The Honeywilya. Photo courtesy of Frederick Sound Fish Co.

The Honeywilya. Photo courtesy of Frederick Sound Fish Co.

“I’ve met people all over to get a fish,” he laughed.

Besides organic growth, Mulvihill’s participated in a few events with his fish at local restaurants. This past November, he also was a part of the FEAST! Festival and Tradeshow local food marketplace.

Mulvihill knows that he’s providing a valuable, sustainable product. He witnesses how each fish is treated, right from the hook through the transportation and delivery. He takes particular pride in the care they take in cleaning the fish and keeping their fishing boat sterile.

“Since we’re doing it ourselves, we really take our time because everyone knows it’s my fish,” he said.

Now, Mulvihill’s educating himself on the ins and outs of food laws in Minnesota and will perhaps develop a new, tasty twist for his business in the near future.

Upcoming Community of Wellness Week will Teach Individuals, Corporations, and Communities How to Live Healthier Lives

This article is sponosred by:

Citizens of Rochester, let’s focus on our own health!

Join Lotus Health Foundation and Rochester Clinic for their second annual Community of Wellness Week to learn more about lifestyle medicine and how to take control over your health and wellness.

This weeklong schedule of events will be held from March 9th through March 16th. Most of these educational programs are FREE and take place right here in Rochester.

The programming kicks off on Friday March 9th in Dodge Center with a talk by keynote speaker Dr. Hans Diehl, Founder of the Complete Health Improvement Program, or CHIP. This wellness program does not focus on portion control, excessive exercise, or calorie counting. Instead, it promotes a whole food, plant-based diet with less sugar, oils, and salt along with positive lifestyle and stress management habits. CHIP has existed for over thirty years, assisting over 90,000 people to lead healthier lives.

Dr. Diehl will hold a free CHIP information session on March 13th at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Rochester.

The Community of Wellness Week will also feature keynote speaker Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Founder of the Barnard Medical Center, an institution that focuses on making nutrition a routine part of medical care.

Programming on the final day of the Community of Wellness Week, March 16th, includes an educational symposium, with a focus on lifestyle medicine, the holistic approach to health with an emphasis on preventative wellness. The programming offered this day will be of high interest to caregivers, health science students, and other clinical and healthcare professionals. Six hours, or 0.6 CEUs, will be offered through Winona State University’s Adult & Continuing Education for completing this portion of the programming.

These final afternoon talks of the symposium will end with a discussion especially pertinent to insurance agents, employee health professionals, unions, and those in corporate human resources: the clinical application of lifestyle medicine in the community and the corporate world. This final conversation will address the benefits of lifestyle medicine for employee health and its impact to increase employee productivity and decrease corporate health expenditures.

This final piece also includes a discussion from Rob Dill, CEO of Sotarea, a worker health risk management company. This final talk will focus on the benefit of self-insured health plans as a successful method to manage employee health plan costs. Self-insured health plans have been on the rise in the U.S. Sixty-one percent of all U.S. employer health plans are self-insured, according to a 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, representing a forty-four percent increase from 1999.

The 2018 Community of Wellness Week will be capped off by a gala event at the Rochester Art Center in the evening. The gala will include a social hour, gourmet plant-based meal, silent auction, and address by Drs. Diehl and Barnard. The talks will include concepts on modifying habits to improve health, including a direct challenge to the idea that weight should be managed by eating less and exercising more.

The 2018 Community of Wellness Week and educational programming is not just for health care professionals. It is for anyone interested in taking a holistic approach to wellness and learning how to play a more active role in their own health through preventative wellness techniques and self-care.

Learn more and register for any events during the Community of Wellness Week at www.rochesterclinic.com. Follow Rochester Clinic on Facebook for event details and general healthy living information.

Rochester Clinic is a Rochester-based facility that takes a holistic approach to care, treating the entire person instead of simply managing symptoms. Lotus Health Foundation is the nonprofit arm of the Rochester Clinic. Lotus Health provides evidence-based education and preventative services to help people manage or prevent chronic illness and decrease dependency on medications through healthy lifestyle management.

How to be a Wife, Mom, Employee, and Run a Successful Business: The Story of Julie Herrera-Lemler

Photo courtesy of You Betcha Cupcake!

Photo courtesy of You Betcha Cupcake!

Julie Herrera-Lemler is one entrepreneur who just get things done. By day, she’s a project assistant at a local construction firm. By night (and during the very early mornings), she’s the owner and sole operator of You Betcha Cupcake!, creating homemade, “Minnesota nice” cupcakes since 2009. Blended in amongst all of this, Herrera-Lemler is also a Field Editor for Taste of Home magazine, a baking instructor, Election Judge, Vice President of a local chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction, wedding officiant, public speaker, recipe writer, wife, and mother.

Herrera-Lemler developed a love for baking almost ten years ago and is completely self-taught.

“I didn’t go to school [for baking]. But, I had a passion for it. When you have a passion for something and you just love it, you will watch every video, every food channel, every YouTube video, everything until you get it to the way you want it,” she explained.

She started out baking cupcakes and selling them for charity in her own front yard during Rochester’s city-wide garage sales one summer. The next year, her cupcakes raised triple the amount, even attracting repeat customers. People asked her if she ever considered opening up a baking business, the cupcakes were in such demand.

“I thought, well, I don’t know. It’s just for fun,” she explained.

If she did want to launch her own cupcake business, Herrera-Lemler knew she could teach herself the baking portion. However, she was nervous about actually turning her baking into a company.

She spent the next few years researching how to start a business in Minnesota and took a six-week course with SCORE in Rochester, a free network of professional business mentors and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“They teach you everything, from start to finish,” Herrera-Lemler said.

SCORE helped her find financial and legal experts, although at that time not much food mentorship was available through the local program.

“There’s no book that says this is how you start a cupcake business. It’s really trial and error. Lots of phone calls [with the Department of Health],” she explained.

After the SCORE training, Herrera-Lemler began purchasing supplies for her cupcake business little by little to avoid taking out loans.

“And then I just decided that I was going to start it,” she said.

Locating a commercial kitchen space, especially one with availability in the evenings, was actually the largest hurdle Herrera-Lemler faced in launching You Betcha Cupcake!

“That took the longest. All the other stuff was falling into place and I was just kind of sitting at home waiting for a kitchen,” she explained.

After visiting seven or eight different spaces, a friend of Herrera-Lemler suggested a kitchen space within a local church, which ended up being the perfect fit.

“I approached them with a box of cupcakes and said, ‘Will you lease to me?’ It just all worked out,” she explained.

Since that time, You Betcha Cupcake! has been crafting over twenty-five different kinds of cupcakes for individuals, corporations, and large events.

In the beginning stages of the business Herrera-Lemler said the growth was slow; she had to learn how to network and position the business well on social media.

“I knew how to do a little [social media]. I needed to learn how to do a lot,” she laughed.

Nine years later, Herrera-Lemler and her cupcakes continue to satisfy the sweet tooth of Rochester residents. With the many hats she wears, Herrera-Lemler credits three key points to successfully running a side business for this length of time: support, organization, and prioritization.

Her whole family is on board with the business. Her sons even help to carry cupcakes into wedding receptions and hold doors for guests, with her youngest requesting payment in Legos for his services. Her full-time employer has also been extremely supportive of her company. She’s also had key mentors throughout the process.

To help allocate time to the things she’s truly passionate about, Herrera-Lemler made a list of all the activities she does and decided “which side of the page they need to be on.” She said this is useful to evaluate the passion level to start a business. This exercise also helped to drive activities that she was not as excited about to the back of the list, including groups and endeavors that others wanted her to be involved with more than she did.

“You could use the time you spend on that group reaching that top goal that you want,” she affirmed.

#Emerge Episode 12 with Tyler Aug and Mike Terrill

Today on #Emerge we talk with two local innovators: videographer Tyler Aug and musician Mike Terrill. Together, they’ve created The Rochester Posse, a link to activities taking place within Rochester to create a voice that was missing on social media platforms. Today on the video we talk about storytelling for the local business and community scene, developments in Rochester’s music scene, and how The Current’s Mark Wheat might actually have developed the name for the pair’s latest endeavor.

Press Release: Rochester Downtown Alliance announces recipients of Start-Up Grant for First-Time Events

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ROCHESTER, Minn. --- February 12, 2018 --- The Rochester Downtown Alliance’s (RDA) Downtown Cultural Initiative (DCI) Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of Start-Up Grant funding for events taking place in 2018. The Start-Up Grant is designed to help first–time events come to fruition, while additionally bringing excitement to Downtown and enriching the community of Rochester and its residents. 

1st Annual Rochester Math Festival - Wednesday, March 14 from 6:00-8:30pm – Downtown DoubleTree Hotel Organized by the Rochester Math Club, Math Fest will take place on National Pi Day and feature a keynote speech by 3-time TED talk speaker and world-famous mathematician, Dr. Arthur Benjamin, a math competition, and a variety of math-related family-friendly activities. Admission is free and open to the public. 

Paint Off – Saturday, May 12 from 5:00 – 10:30pm – Gallery 24 Paint Off, coordinated by Gallery 24 President and local artist Cassandra Buck is an art competition, which will showcase 6 artists painting a given theme, under pressure of limited time, and a live audience. Prizes will be awarded to winning artists by a panel of judges. Additionally, attendees will be encouraged to participate in a public art project outside Gallery 24. Admission is free and open to the public. 

US TOO – Monday, May 14 from 6:30 – 9:00pm – Rochester Civic Theatre US TOO is an event devoted to the issue of sexual misconduct, assault, and the voices of people who have experienced it. Topics will be expressed through visual art, videography, spoken word, storytelling, and music. US TOO is organized by Regina Mustafa, Dawn Sanborn, and Pam Whitfield. Organizers say the goal of this event is to promote healing, question assumptions, combat victim shaming, and further discussion between communities in our region. This will be a free event, but pre-registration is encouraged. 

Drums, Please! – Monday, August 20 from 4:00 – 9:00pm – Peace Plaza Drums, Please!, organized by the Greater Rochester and Olmsted County Arts Response Team (G.R.O.C.A.R.T.) celebrates the end of summer on the Peace Plaza with experience that goes beyond the traditional after-work event. Drums, Please! will feature local high school drumlines, a community picnic, an “angry hour”, and summertime games. Admission is free and open to the public. 

This grant period, a total of $8,500 will be distributed to these first-time events taking place in Downtown Rochester. More information about these events and the Start-Up Grant program can be found at www.DowntownRochesterMN.com 

One Year Anniversaries and Fat Sequestering Nutraceuticals: the Latest 1 Million Cups Rochester

Jake Orme of LipiQuester at February's 1 Million Cups Rochester.

Jake Orme of LipiQuester at February's 1 Million Cups Rochester.

This week at 1 Million Cups Rochester, the community celebrated the one-year anniversary of the program in this community. Jake Orme, a physician at Mayo Clinic, also presented his anti-obesity product, LipiQuester.

1 Million Cups has served as a “supportive, neutral place” to share stories of startup development for the past twelve months in Rochester. The program is industry agnostic; over twenty-two groups have presented their business in Rochester so far on this platform. This upcoming year, the 1 Million Cups Rochester organizers are working to refine and improve the vetting and coaching process for companies applying to the 1 Million Cups Rochester program. The organizers also look to provide better follow up with past presenters for the Rochester community.

Over the past year, 1 Million Cups Rochester has had diverse impact leading to: access to enterprise customers, job offers, sales leads, improvement for future presentations, company awareness in the community, pivots, and mentorship opportunities.

The program focused on one presenter this month, Dr. Jake Orme of LipiQuester.

Orme is developing a product that captures and sequesters fat from digested food within the gut, preventing fats from interacting with bacteria and causing negative side effects. 

Over one-third of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first line of defense to treat obesity, Orme explained, is diet and exercise. However, this route is successfully sustained in only one out of ten people.

“Round two [of treatment] involves medications that aren’t that great,” he said.

This second line of defense includes drugs, like Orlistat, that prevent the body from breaking down fat. However, patients typically do not stay on these therapies for too long as they can lead to diarrhea, massive flatulence, and anal leakage.

Orme believes his product, LipiQuester, serves as a better solution than current drugs on the market to treat obesity. LipiQuester is a type of nutraceutical made of “thousands of tiny whiffle balls.” The outside matrix of these biodegradable, microscopic particles is similar to products like MiraLax, adding fiber to the diet. The inside of the matrix contains a hydrophobic resin that grabs and retains fats, eliminating them from the body.

LipiQuester has little taste and forms a suspension in water.

Orme’s team performed a small pilot study with the product in mice. LipiQuester prevented gains in body fat percentage in mice on high fat diets compared to animals that were not fed the product. The team is now looking to raise $10M to get LipiQuester onto the market, hopefully through the food additive pathway.

The next 1 Million Cups Rochester will take place on Wednesday, March 7th at 9 AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event Space.

1 Million Cups is a free, national education program developed by the Kauffman Foundation. 1 Million Cups takes place every Wednesday at 9AM across 165 US communities to support and encourage entrepreneurs. The program is based on the idea that entrepreneurs connect and discover solutions over one million cups of coffee

Investment in Medical Alley Health Tech Hit Record Levels in 2017 According to Latest Report

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Last week, Medical Alley Association released their 2017 Investment Report, detailing total health tech investment in Medical Alley over the past year. Medical Alley Association is an organization that facilitates “an environment that enables health technology and care organizations to innovate, succeed, and influence the evolution of healthcare.”

2017 was an epic fundraising year in Medical Alley, with $735M raised by 85 health tech companies.

“The record fundraising from a global cadre of highly regarded venture capitalists, angels, and corporate investors continues to demonstrate that when the world looks for the future of healthcare, they find it in Medical Alley,” said Frank Jaskulke, VP of Member Services at Medical Alley Association.

Here are the top highlights from the report that you should know.

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Click here for the full Annual Investment Report.

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NFL's 1st And Future Startup Competition Heats Things Up In Minneapolis

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On the eve of Super Bowl LII, the stars were not the football players, but the innovators and entrepreneurs with the ideas to change the game. Yesterday morning, nine early stage sports tech startups pitched their emerging technologies during the NFL’s 1st and Future Competition, the organization’s premier business pitch event, to a panel of judges and invite-only audience to win $50,000 and two tickets to Super Bowl LII.

The startups remaining in this annual competition participated in one of three categories: Advancements in Protective Equipment, New Therapies to Speed Recovery, and Technology to Improve Athletic Performance. One winner was selected in each category.

The Denver, Colorado based startup Impressio won the Advancements in Protective Equipment division. Impressio is led by a pair of engineering professors who have spent the last fifteen years “obsessed with finding new materials to improve human health.” This team aims to replace the current foam in helmets with a material containing “unprecedented energy absorbing ability,” called liquid crystal elastomers, to reduce concussion rates. These oval shaped molecules rotate when impacted to absorb more energy and dissipate absorption from impact over a broader range than current helmet foam material, increasing helmet safety. The technology requires no fundamental re-design of the helmet. Liquid crystal elastomers are documented by over forty years of research but are difficult to make, according to Impressio. The team has a patented procedure to manufacture the material in bulk.

Curv.ai, based in Toronto, Ontario, walked away as winners in the Technology to Improve Athletic Performance category. This startup is developing software that transforms the camera on any smart phone into a tool to test athletic abilities, track athletic progress, diagnose injury, and compare athletic advancements socially. The application can capture data such as throwing speed, vertical jump, knee kinematics, and reaction time to create a “revolution in athletic testing and athlete development.” The platform is free to use, with a paid premium model available to track data over time. The software is geared toward young athletes. A variety of wearables do exist to quantify these same types of data. However, these items are expensive, complicated, and cannot be integrated onto one platform, according to Curv.ai.

The Mountain View, California startup Recover X won the final division, New Therapies to Speed Recovery. This startup is “building the next generation of injury recovery devices to help speed recovery…and keep players accountable to their actual treatment.” The startup is developing a smart phone-controlled electric cold and hot therapy device that warms up or cools down to the optimal therapy temperatures in under thirty seconds. The device can also alternate between heat and cold for optimal recovery. The device is portable, runs on batteries, and requires the use of no ice. It even tracks data to ensure that players are performing their therapy as prescribed. The device is currently targeted to the knee, the cause of 28% of Injury Reserve issues in the NFL last year. However, the design is modular and can be adapted to target other portions of the body.

The NFL’s 1st and Future Competition was sponsored by Mayo Clinic, Sports Engine, and Comcast NBCUniversal. The event was hosted by Scott Hanson of the NFL Network. The expert panel of judges included Amy Banse, Managing Director and Head of Funds for Comcast Ventures; Jonathan Finnoff, Medical Director of Mayo Clinic Square with the Sports Medicine Center in Minneapolis; Courtney Hall, Managing Director of Hillcrest Venture Partners and former NFL athlete; Justin Kaufenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Sports Engine; Laurie Locascio, Vice President for Research at the University of Maryland; Eric Sugarman, Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer with the Minnesota Vikings; and Jennifer Wethe, Neuropsychologist for Mayo Clinic Arizona Sports Neurology and Concussion Program.

Last year, Rochester’s own GoRout participated in the 1st and Future Competition the day before Super Bowl LI in Houston and won their division, Communication with the Athlete. GoRout is a hardware and software company that elevates “scout team execution with football’s most powerful on-field practice gear.”

This year, no Minnesota companies made it to the final round of the competition.

Rochester Startup Spark DJ Accepted into Techstars Music Accelerator Program

Spark DJ Founders James Jones (left) and John Gavin Boss (right) speaking at a previous 1 Million Cups Rochester.

Spark DJ Founders James Jones (left) and John Gavin Boss (right) speaking at a previous 1 Million Cups Rochester.

A big congratulations and good luck to Spark DJ founders John Gavin Boss and James Jones. This Rochester music startup is off to Los Angeles to participate in the Techstars Music Accelerator. Techstars is a premier accelerator program and global network that provides entrepreneurs with the resources and connections they need to succeed.

The accelerator program begins on Monday and runs for thirteen weeks in LA. Only ten music startups were accepted into the program. During their time in the accelerator, Spark DJ will have the opportunity to receive mentoring from a variety of experts in music, media, tech, and venture capital to move their business forward. Techstars Music also invests $120K into each honoree.

Spark DJ is a mobile application that uses artificial intelligence and data science to deliver live-curated music right from a cell phone to provide high quality, well mixed music. The startup has also made significant strides in Minnesota. They are previous High-Tech division finalists in Minnesota Cup, the state’s premium startup competition, and were Golden iPod Champions in Beta.MN Startup Showcase in Minneapolis.  

Public Art, Oil Paintings, and Social Activism- The Work of Eric Anderson

Image of Anderson's painting that will be featured at Forager show. Photo courtesy of Eric Anderson.

Image of Anderson's painting that will be featured at Forager show. Photo courtesy of Eric Anderson.

Local artist, writer, and social activist Eric Anderson is witnessing his visions take form.

This Rochester creator has not one, but two public art installments that will hopefully come to fruition in the near future. Next week, his first ever solo-artist show will take place at Forager Brewing Company, where people will attend to exclusively experience his art.

Photo of Eric Anderson from the Discovery Square Community Celebration and Innovation Showcase in November.

Photo of Eric Anderson from the Discovery Square Community Celebration and Innovation Showcase in November.

A transplant to the Rochester area, Anderson grew up in a military family and frequently moved as a child. The longest time he spent in one place was in a rather bleak sounding region of southeastern Virginia, aptly called “the Great Dismal Swamp.” This area, as the name suggests, is a marshy, wildlife-filled area where Anderson lived with his family on a military communications base.

“I think that’s where the creativity side kicked in. You have the world to play with, but you didn’t really have anything to do,” Anderson joked.

Eight years ago, he moved to Rochester from Boston with his wife Rose, a Product Manager at Mayo Clinic. Since that time, the pair have become deeply engaged in the Rochester community with different social justice and entrepreneurial endeavors. Just this past year, they worked with four high school students to remove gender bias from the Rochester Home Charter Rule, a document that establishes how the city is governed.

In 2016, the couple became involved in the Rochester PlaceMakers Prototyping Festival- an event hosted by Destination Medical Center, the Rochester Art Center, and Rochester Downtown Alliance- where teams of city residents developed small prototypes that could transform public space, revolving around the concept of health and the built environment.

Anderson had several ideas for his team’s design, most of which involved some sort of wayfinding. During the process, however, he was struck by a vivid memory. While doing his undergraduate studies in Boston, Anderson worked a nighttime security detail at a local hospital to earn some money. At times, the hospital received patients who needed to be restrained, for their safety or for the safety of others. After he assisted in restraining a patient for the first time, Anderson said a lullaby immediately began playing over the intercom system in that same room. Later, he learned this signified the birth of a baby just a few floors above in the hospital.

This experience, Anderson said, exploded the context of the moment; the sound of the lullaby was so removed from the experience he just had within that same building. The event helped him to “realize the complexity of life, almost right there before you in a very strange way.

During the Prototyping Festival, Anderson wanted to create a similar experience to relay individual health events- like the completion of a final round of chemotherapy or the awarding of a 24-hour Alcoholic Anonymous token- to the public. He saw this as a way to connect people to their neighbors and to share these significant health moments with the Rochester community. And as a bonus, Anderson’s concept would use infrastructure that was already in place- Mayo Clinic Information Technology (IT) and the actual landscape of downtown Rochester.

By the end of the process, Anderson’s team developed a working prototype that utilized Mayo technology in a de-identified and safe way. His three-dimension structure, The Artery, would share significant health events occurring within the clinic as different, ever changing colors of light.

The design was one of four prototypes selected by the Heart of the City Design Team to potentially be included in the final DMC Heart of the City sub-district. Anderson says a massive 40 x 30-foot Artery is currently part of the design schematics for the revitalized Peace Plaza area. Hopefully, he will see his concept come to completion in the community in 2019.

Anderson said there will likely be a key near the base of The Artery to help identify the significance of the colored lights displayed by the art piece. Eventually, he hopes the meaning of the colors will become “part of the language of the city,” where people will just understand what it means when the installation turns violet, red, or blue, for example.

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“[The Artery] creates new interaction points as well as conversations. Once people have it, I think they’ll have it,” he explained.

Public art pieces, like The Artery, are important additions for a healthy community, Anderson said. They can act as magnets and draw people to under-utilized regions of the city. They can also help people to interact with and think differently about their surroundings. Plus, art, such as the new installation outside of the Rochester Civic Center, means different things to different individuals.

“There’s no right answer to what it is. I think that’s important in a city, especially one that’s so predicated on clinical practice and checking a box ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” he said.

As an artist, Anderson is juggling several projects at the moment. In addition to The Artery, he’s also designing an installation for the 2018 Open Source Pharma conference in Bangalore, India.

He also works in oils.

“What I like about oil painting is that it’s very forgiving,” Anderson explained.

He spent several years persistently learning the technique of master painters. Unlike public art, he says it’s sometimes difficult to paint, knowing the limited amount of people who may experience it, especially if the work is purchased by an individual.

“But that’s fascinating to think about making something someone passively or non-passively interacts with for the rest of their life,” he said.

Anderson will display some of these works next Monday at Forager Brewing Company as a Gallery 24 featured artist.

“This will be my first time having a lot of [my art] in one big place and then everyone maybe going to look just at it. So, it’s a little terrifying,” he admitted.

Anderson says that writing, which he thinks is much more personal than painting, helped him prepare for moments like this. He has a “folder full of rejections” from sending writing pieces off to different literary journals. But, he’s learned to not take these “failures” too personal.

“I realize it’s not me, ever. It’s not the piece, typically. It’s other reasons,” he explained. “There’s limitations on something that someone else is looking for. So, it was the rejection, the acceptance, that helped so much to go through that with writing.”

Although there are no dedicated collegiate art programs in Rochester, Anderson says it’s a healthy time to be in the art community here. Local art can be shown at a variety of places around town like Rochester Community and Technical College, Gallery 24, Forager Brewing, Café Steam, 125 Live, SEMVA Art Gallery, and Dunn Brothers North.

“There’s all these outlets and all these things happening,” he stated. 

Female Entrepreneurs of Rochester: What Events are you Looking for in the Community?

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Event planning is difficult. Anyone who has ventured into events understands all the issues related to them including managing the general cost, gaging the actual interest, and putting in the effort to successfully run the event.

Everything we’ve done at Rochester Rising is entrepreneurial; each thing we try is one small experiment. Over the past two years, we’ve certainly run a fair share of tests and had several failures, and successes, in the event running department, from hosting demo nights, to throwing one-year birthday celebrations, to holding business breakfasts.

Throughout this process, we discovered a clear need for open (and cost-effective) events for entrepreneurs- particularly female innovators- for people to connect with other like-minded individuals in a low-key, minimal pressure setting. There’s a need for a space where entrepreneurs do not need to receive an invitation to attend and do not need to pay any dues to be included. Because as entrepreneurs, let’s face it. We’re on a pretty shoestring budget.

During Global Entrepreneurship Week this November ourselves, along with Rochester Home Infusion, held a Women’s Entrepreneurial Happy Hour to gather together female innovators and small business owners with no agenda other than to connect and learn more about the community. The response to this event was large, hitting on a true need in the city.

Last week we held another happy hour event at Bleu Duck Kitchen. Over thirty local female entrepreneurs attended, and more than 130 people expressed an interest in the event. The women who joined in spanned a range of industry from biotech, to real estate and travel, to food entrepreneurs. But one thing was the same. All of these women had started, or were starting, a business in the greater Rochester area and were seeking out others walking along that same path.

While I’m all for women taking charge and leveling the playing field in a male dominated business world, I believe that these types of women-focused events have clear value and purpose. The overall goal is to provide a safe and non-intimidating environment to share ideas and, ideally, help one another get to that next level in business through connections and community.

We hope this is the first of many of these types of gatherings to help build up and fuel this sector of our entrepreneurial community.

Foremost, these events must be driven by the needs of the community. If you attended the event, and even if you did not make it out, we’re interested in hearing what types of events you are seeking for female entrepreneurs in the Rochester area.

Please take a few moments to fill out the following survey and let us know what you think. Let’s build some community.

And if you are a business in Rochester that would be interested in the happy hour coming to your location, please send us an email.

Market Assessment: Why it's a 'Must' for Any Business

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“Some people are just visionaries and they’re able to come up with new ideas like the next Amazon.com or maybe Bright Health or whatever that can totally disrupt the market,” said Mary MacCarthy, a Twin Cities based Marketing and Project Management Consultant. “But for the majority of us, we’re not quite that much of a visionary. Maybe the product that we’re coming up with is just an incremental improvement over what’s currently out there.”

For those of us not creating the next Uber, it’s in our best interest to thoroughly understand if our product or service could support a sustainable business. This involves executing some market analysis to understand product potential.

MacCarthy, an entrepreneur herself, has performed strategic marketing and consulting services for several major players including Medtronic, Cardiovascular Systems, and 3M Health Care.

“I’ve made so many mistakes in the past. So, I really want to just hand along that information so that people don’t go through the pain that I went through in launching their startup,” she explained.

When MacCarthy was building her company, she says she spent too much time behind a desk working on a business plan and not enough time with “boots on the ground” trying to sell to customers right away and figuring out what they actually wanted to purchase. She instead suggests performing a lean market assessment to obtain answers to strategic questions. This helps for informed decision making to move the business forward.

“Generally, you want to spend a proportional amount of time doing your market assessment as you have to amount of risk you’ve got going in,” MacCarthy explained.

If you are going all in with a large portion of your savings on the line, spend a bit more time on your market assessment. But if you’re not taking as much risk, you don’t have as much to lose.

Identifying a target market is one key component to the lean market assessment.

“You have to know exactly who you’re going after,” MacCarthy explained.

This includes understanding the geography of that target market, the demographics of the decision makers, and comprehending who will influence the ultimate success of the product.

Identifying drivers of satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the market is another essential piece of lean market assessment. This includes understanding what satisfies key decision makers in the market and what factors go beyond satisfying them. This process involves comprehending how each of your competitive offerings compare along each of these ‘satisfiers’ and ‘dissatisfiers’, which is also key for marketing and sales of the product.

Market sizing and primary and secondary market research are additional pieces of the lean market assessment puzzle.

“You don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on market research to answer every question,” MacCarthy explained.

Entrepreneurs need to identify their competitors and understand what they are doing in the market. But a lot of this information can be obtained right from a laptop. This data is essential when speaking with investors but is frequently left out of fundraising pitches.

[See what MacCarthy has to say about perfecting a fundraising pitch.]

“You need to at least show the investors that you know who your competitors are and what their weak points are, and then how to apply your offerings to meet those needs and alleviate those 'dissatisfiers',” said MacCarthy.

Join Mary MacCarthy to learn more about market assessment next Tuesday at her Market Assessment 101 Expert Series at Collider Coworking.

Press Release: Medical Device Excise Tax Suspended Thanks to Strong Leadership

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Golden Valley, MN – Medical Alley Association President & CEO Shaye Mandle issued the following statement regarding the suspension of the medical device excise tax:

"The Medical Alley Association is pleased that Congress and the President have prioritized health consumers and Minnesota’s leading health technology economy with a two-year suspension of the medical device excise tax, retroactive to January 1, 2018. We will continue to work with Congressional leaders to ensure that health consumers can have confidence in treatment options and improved outcomes through a full repeal.

We are thankful for Minnesota’s strong leadership on this issue and the continued support provided, led by Congressman Erik Paulsen and Senator Amy Klobuchar. Their tireless efforts are greatly appreciated by health consumers and innovators. We want to thank the members of our delegation who voted for this suspension, Congressmen Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis, Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson, and Senator Tina Smith.”

About the Medical Alley Association

Since 1984, the Medical Alley Association has been the front door to Medical Alley. We are the collective voice and expertise of Medical Alley; the strategy, implementation and execution vehicle of the Medical Alley Community. We deliver the collective influence, intelligence and interactions that support Medical Alley’s global leadership.

The State of the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community- 2018

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As we transition into another year, it is a prime opportunity to examine the state of the Rochester entrepreneurial community, take stock of our achievements over the past year, examine our losses, and assess the future direction of this city’s innovation sector.

2017 brought several significant ongoing programs to Rochester. February saw the launch of 1 Million Cups Rochester, a monthly educational program for entrepreneurs that takes place in 163 communities across the United States. This event gave fourteen different Rochester startups the opportunity to share their story and gain input from the community on pressing business issues. November brought Rochester’s first full Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event where teams went from idea to a working prototype over a single weekend. Rochester also participated in Global Entrepreneurship Week for the fifth time this year, attracting over five hundred attendees across eighteen different events. The week was also officially proclaimed Entrepreneurship Week in Rochester by Mayor Brede. 

This year, two Rochester tech companies, Brandhoot and Xylo Technologies, were nominated for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards, a significant honor for the community. In 2017 Binding Site, a global immunodiagnostic and instrumentation company, established a facility in northwest Rochester. This summer we also saw the addition of several new flights at Rochester International Airport, creating increased opportunity for business travel out of Rochester and improved connectivity to the global workforce.

In 2017 the entrepreneurial community experienced positive momentum in funding, with hopes to continue this trend in 2018. In August, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) announced the launch of the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund to provide equity financing for startup development. While the new fund has not yet made any investments, Rochester companies raised over $17.5M in 2017 (according to Crunchbase), which includes a $5.4M Series A funding round by Ambient Clinical Analytics, as well as additional private equity and venture capital raises. RAEDI’s startup seed capital fund, the Economic Development Fund, to date has invested in fifteen local companies, of which eighty-two percent are women or minority owned. On the state-wide level, 2017 saw a record number of investments in Minnesota’s Medical Alley with $735M raised by eighty-five companies. 

Growth in Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square sub-district also occurred over the past year. The district now has six current projects, including the Mortenson Building, the first new construction building in Discovery Square. Groundbreaking at this site occurred in November.

This year also brought a general increased interest in entrepreneurship within Rochester and increased coverage of this community by the city’s traditional news media. We also experienced increased organization of Rochester’s innovation sector with a larger number of local organizations beginning to partner with the city’s entrepreneurial community. One example of this increased connectivity was manifested in June, when Vic Gundotra and Dave Albert, senior leaders of the Silicon Valley healthtech company AliveCor, shared their stories of risk and uncertainty in an open forum with Rochester entrepreneurs.

Our entrepreneurial sector also experienced losses in 2017. Perhaps one of the most significant was the exit of architect Adam Ferrari, a leader in the creative community who designed inspiring spaces like Collider Coworking, Grand Rounds Brew Pub, Forager Brewing, Cube, and Café Steam where people could connect, learn, and build businesses. This year also saw the acquisition of Rochester startup Able, a tech startup that built software for farmers by farmers, which resulted in the dissolution of the startup and loss of four local tech jobs.

Although the community had setbacks this past year, 2018 offers opportunity. We look forward to potential increased international and national interest in Rochester, especially in the Discovery Square sub-district as it continues to grow. We also hope to see increased investment in Rochester-based companies and to experience continued recognition as an emerging biotech hub.

Special thanks to Jamie Sundsbak, Community Manager at Collider Coworking, and Xavier Frigola, Director of Entrepreneurship at RAEDI, for their input on the state of the Rochester entrepreneurial community.

Ten Marketing Trends to Have on Your Radar in 2018

As we enter into the new year, here are some marketing trends to keep your eye on in 2018. These insights are delivered from local eCommerce and digital marketing manager Ethan Herber. Ethan is a Regional eCommerce Marketing Manager at Interstate Hotels and manages the digital marketing efforts of fifteen hotels around the United States, working with Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Crowne Plaza, and other independent brands.

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Return of Medical Device Tax Expected to Disproportionally Hurt Minnesota Innovation

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As the federal budget deadline looms on the horizon, much remains at stake for Minnesota’s startup community. After a two-year suspension of a medical device excise tax, manufacturers of products like pacemakers, catheters, and artificial knees may have to start paying up by the end of the month. These expenses are expected to hit Minnesota harder than anywhere else in the country, costing the state in investment, research and development efforts, and jobs.

Let’s break it down.

The medical device tax, a 2.3% excise tax placed on the sale of medical devices within the United States, was developed as part of the Affordable Healthcare Act in 2010 to help finance the expanded health insurance coverage provided under this federal statute.

The medical device tax was highly unpopular in Congress, with particularly strong opposition from the medtech-heavy states of Minnesota and Massachusetts. With dual-party support, the tax was suspended on the sale of medical devices for two years, between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017.

“The suspension itself was a bipartisan package that was signed by President Obama. The history of this tax and its suspension included the architect of the Affordable Healthcare Act. This is something that we’ve felt was well understood and there was broad agreement on it,” explained Shaye Mandle, President and CEO of Medical Alley Association, a Twin Cities-based organization that influences policy, fosters connections, and gathers intelligence to support Minnesota’s health industries.

The tax was originally predicted to generate $30B annually to help fund the Affordable Healthcare Act, Mandle explained.

“The thirty billion never really materialized. It was a smaller number, more like twenty to twenty-one billion,” he said.

This tax was paid on revenue- not profits- and was expected to drastically impact medical device manufacturers, eighty percent of which, at least in the United States, employ less than fifty people.

With President Trump’s tax reform plan that was signed into law this December, the corporate income tax rate was lowered from 35% to 21%. However, repeal of the medical device tax was not included in the $1.5T tax reform package, allowing the suspension of the medical device tax to expire for sales of medical devices in the U.S. starting on January 1, 2018.  

So, instead of seeing a tax break, the medical device industry will actually see a tax come back that had not been contributing to the federal budget for a few years.

“For the last two years, we’ve seen medical device companies make significant investments in Minnesota,” said Mandle. “Investments in early stage companies across healthcare but also in devices, keeps going up. We’ve had record years for the past couple of years.”

The investments included a record high $735M raised in 2017 by 85 companies in Minnesota, $399M of which was raised by 44 medical device companies in the state, according to Medical Alley Association’s latest numbers.

The U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation predicts that repeal of the medical device tax will reduce federal revenue by $1.37B in this year alone. Other advocates of the tax say that medical device manufacturers will benefit from the corporate tax decrease enacted by the current administration. But Mandle says that besides massive, profitable companies like Medtronic and Boston Scientific, this tax cut is not even relevant to the majority of medical device companies.

There may be a prime opportunity for a congressional repeal of the tax in conjunction with the latest federal budget, which must be approved by January 19th. If the tax is not suspended once again as part of this deal, medical device manufacturers selling products within the U.S. will have to start paying the tax this month, which Mandle says will disproportionally affect Minnesota companies, especially early stage startups.

“The very first thing that the device tax will do is have an impact on existing companies and how many people they have and what they can invest in or not,” Mandle explained. “But the long term, I think and this is particularly important for Rochester, is how there can be growth in [the medical device] marketplace. Uncertainty about the device tax alone has an impact. Actually having the device tax has a significant impact.”

Mandle says the tax will likely influence hiring and spending in small medical device companies in the state. This ultimately could impede research and development efforts, innovation, and ultimately slow down technologies from getting to the patient. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 29,000 U.S. jobs were lost while the tax was previously in effect, leading to a $2B decrease in research and development efforts.

Minnesota’s ‘Medical Alley’- a region stretching from Duluth, through the Twin Cities, down to Rochester- houses the “most densely concentrated cluster of medical technology companies in the entire world,” said Mandle. This region has a denser concentration of medtech than even Boston and Silicon Valley. Recoil from the medical device tax is expected to hit Minnesotan small medical device manufacturers harder than anywhere else in the U.S.

If (or more likely when) the tax comes back, Mandle predicts it will be worse for companies than when it was originally instated in 2013. He said the industry was just not prepared for the tax burden, especially since the issue had previously been resolved. He said the medical device industry, advocates like Medical Alley Association, and Minnesota’s federal delegation are working hard to get their message across in Washington.

If not repealed or suspended, the medical device tax will not only affect the Twin Cities, it could also have significant impact in Rochester, especially in a region like the Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square District, an area aimed at the rapid commercialization of technology to improve health. Mandle says a healthy medical device sector is essential to “grow and be successful along with digital health and biotech and all of the things that the Mayo Clinic and Rochester are world leaders in.” Uncertainty in the medical device industry from an unstable market or unclear timeline to get to sales or profits hurts investment for early stage companies, disrupting this piece of the puzzle.

“With Rochester being one of those places that is going to help define what economic and healthcare growth looks like, this is not helpful,” advised Mandle.

 

Further reading and References:

1.     Medical Device Excise Tax.

2.     Medical Alley Association.

3.     Medical-Device Industry Boosts Efforts to Fight Excise Tax

4.     ObamaCare Medical Device Tax

5.     Repeal the Medical Device Tax

6.     Medical Technology Firms to Trump: GOP Forgot to Ax The Device Tax

7.     Medical Device Tax, AdvaMed

Press Release: Feasibility Study Confirms St. Charles Hospitality Center Viable

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St. Charles, Minnesota- The City of St Charles has taken another key step toward the development of a new hotel to anchor a new Hospitality Center project in the Chattanooga Industrial Park in St Charles.  At the direction of the EDA, Cris Gastner, CEDA Sr. Vice President and St. Charles City Administrator Nick Koverman worked with Hospitality Consulting Group to complete an update of the community’s hotel feasibility study. This independently completed study will provide valuable information to the potential developers of the project.

Gastner and Koverman have been working very closely with Steve Hedberg and Jim Kelley from HK Hospitality Management, LLC on this project in 2017 when the City and HK signed a letter of understanding for the exciting development project. The preliminary information provided by the report has been viewed very favorably by the development team.

“The draft information in the report validates the developers’ financial performance,” Gastner stated. “The fact that an independent agency’s report has reinforced the group’s positive outlook on the site will help them secure the best financing partners for their project.”

HK Hospitality is working on a large-scale development project that would include a nationally branded hotel and conference center along with a restaurant and convenience store on a site in St. Charles’ Chattanooga Innovation Park on Interstate 90.

The feasibility study will be formally accepted by the St. Charles EDA and City Council later in January.

About St. Charles, MN Economic Development Authority (EDA)

The St. Charles EDA is a volunteer board of citizens that meets monthly. The EDA acts as an advisory board to the St. Charles City Council. The goals of the St. Charles EDA are to create job opportunities, grow the tax base, foster an entrepreneurial culture, and enhance the quality of life for residents.

About HK Hospitality Management, LLC

HK Hospitality Management, LLC. specializes in management, marketing, asset management and hotel ownership in the hospitality industry. HK’s management is designed to the uniqueness of each brand, understanding the best way to deliver service that exceeds guest’s expectations while practicing sound business principals to grow the business, along with marketing and communications that deliver results which are phenomenal… a true integration of advertising, public relations, and promotions with sales.

About Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA)

CEDA was created in 1986 as a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation then called the Southeastern Minnesota Development Corporation. In 2010, the agency became Community & Economic Development Associates (CEDA) as a result of increased interest and inquiries received from communities outside of the agency’s original service area of Southeast Minnesota. The name change reflects CEDA’s commitment to providing services to fit the needs of any rural community. CEDA provides onsite and/or project based economic and community development services to rural communities and counties in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa currently. Our team brings with it over 150 years of collective development experience. For additional information about CEDA and the services we provide, check out our website at www.cedausa.com.

2018: Predictions and Asks for the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community

Hot Chip Burger Bar, Rochester's Newest Eatery, Opens its Doors Today

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Forget your New Year’s resolutions, at least for one day. After dropping teasers on social media since October, Rochester’s newest restaurant, Hot Chip Burger Bar, opens today. This beef-centric eatery is located in the former ZZest Café space on 16th Street SW.

Restaurateur LeeAnn Zubay said that after eight years with ZZest, it was time to branch out into something new. The Zubay family has quite a depth of experience in running restaurants in Rochester- they’re the force behind Porch and Cellar as well. However, they felt there was no single restaurant in the city focused only on one thing, burgers.

“We feel like we have researched, planned, [and] created the best burger we can with the emphasis on the four key ingredients (beef, tomato, lettuce, bun) being local,” explained Zubay.

Hot Chip is led by the brother and sister team of Lindsay and Jason Zubay, alongside head chef Justin Schoville.

Although the interior of the restaurant may look vaguely familiar to frequent ZZest patrons, guests should expect a completely different experience and vibe from Hot Chip. The space has a younger, hipper feel and is a distinctly more casual setting. The walls are adorned with graffiti-like paintings, including the tongue-in-cheek cartoon burger mascot Chip, who delivers some adult-flavored messages because he just doesn’t “give a chip.” Hot Chip is full of industrial, recycled elements, such as concrete bars and countertops. Checks are delivered in CD cases, complete with the original compact disc.

This experience, of course, also includes the food. The Hot Chip menu currently has sixteen different burgers, including a made-from-scratch chickpea burger option. The eatery also boasts cheese curds with kimchi dipping sauce, adult (and kiddie) milkshakes, $2 shots, beer for the kitchen, and an Old Fashioned featuring Jason Zubay’s signature bitters.

The Zubay family has been involved in the restaurant scene in Rochester for a long time, but the business still has its challenges.

“At this point for us, nothing is a surprise. However, it does continue to amaze us that the restaurant scene is not about food only,” LeeAnn explained. “For us, food is the most important element. But for the majority of people, restaurants are a combination of things. Good food doesn’t necessarily mean success.”

They’ve taken this lesson to heart with Hot Chip; Jason Zubay said the team will be very strategic with the branding and message of Rochester’ newest burger establishment.  

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Rochester Brothers Seeking to Grow Medical Writing Startup Superior Medical Editing

Superior Medical Editing CEO Keith Kallmes during Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017.

Superior Medical Editing CEO Keith Kallmes during Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017.

Brothers and Rochester natives Keith and Kevin Kallmes are looking to take their business, Superior Medical Editing, to the next level. This nimble company provides customizable medical writing and editing services to make physicians more productive. Business for the brothers has taken off within the last six months; they are currently looking to nearly double their team to keep up with demand and continue to fulfill the evolving needs of their customers.

The basic idea of Superior Medical Editing is quite simple. The business essentially is a connector, linking people who have research experience and time to those who have research needs. Incorporated in 2015, the company offers a suite of medical writing and editing services to increase research physicians’ writing and publishing productivity. While the company can tailor their services to each customer, their real expertise is in medical writing- the creation of scientific documents such as case reports, journal manuscripts, and medical regulatory documents.

“Our vision is to take every bit of work that a non-expert can do off an expert’s hands,” explained Kevin Kallmes. “When a physician is writing a paper, the physician should give physician-level input. They don’t need to do anything below that.”

Beyond developing the main idea of the manuscript, gathering the data, and providing the methodology and final approval, the Superior Medical Editing team performs all of the paper writing process for the physician to help them submit more medical papers and have increased time for their patients.

“In addition to taking all of the non-expert work off of a physician’s plate, without our own organization, we never have someone doing something below his paygrade,” explained Keith Kallmes.

The Superior Medical Editing team utilizes a “hierarchy of competence” to draft, edit, and write medical documents, provide literature review, analyze and interpret data, and churn out statistics for medical papers. This hierarchy typically involves a team of four- depending on the complexity of the manuscript- including a medical writer, who is the leading force on the paper, a research assistant, who does the bulk of the literature review and figure making, a biostatistician, and a highly specialized physician consultant.

In the beginning stages of the business, Kevin thought he might be the sole medical writer, while brother Keith would bring in the clients for the business. The budding entrepreneurs quickly understood that a single medical writer, unless operating in a specific field in which they had lengthy experience, would not be very effective.

“If you want to freelance, you cannot do it efficiently. You have to have a system and you have to have a hierarchy of competency,” explained Kevin.

Currently, the brothers have five specialists who work day-to-day with Superior Medical Editing as either medical writers or research assistants to the medical writers. These positions are typically filled by graduate or recently graduated students from biomedical or biological science programs or those looking to gain experience before medical school. The company also contracts with ten physician specialists on a per-project basis for their specific, expert input.

The team is entirely virtual, although most contractors with Superior Medical Editing reside in the Twin Cities area.

The business does have competitors- particularly the freelance medical writer- but no one is following quite the same path. Instead of providing medical writing services in all medical fields, the team is instead focused primarily in neurology- including neuroscience, neurosurgery, and neuroradiology- to provide hyper-specialized expertise. They have also expanded into radiology and orthopedic fields.

A neurology focus was the perfect spot for the brothers to start. They grew up “with the language of aneurism and stroke” from neurointerventional radiologist father David Kallmes. Additionally, the brothers say this field usually includes physicians from the top of their medical class who are academically interested, but don’t have the time to churn out as much writing as they would desire.

“We came in thinking, what would a physician want to make their lives easier,” explained Kevin Kallmes. They did not want to teach physicians how to use another platform or another mobile application.

“We don’t think that that’s what’s going to drive productivity gain,” explained Keith. “I think people have lost sight of humans helping other humans.”

Instead, the team sees themselves as “extenders” for physicians, helping them to submit five or six times as many medical papers each year with the same effort on the part of the physician.

“We don’t think we’re better than the physician. We think that we make the physician better,” said Kevin.

The business has experienced a massive inflection point over the past six months and is responding to customer needs by developing new services.

“We’re very risk avid, but we also like to see the payoff from what we’re doing,” explained Kevin.

Their latest push involves development of an improved patient data management platform, which would dramatically enrich their overall business.

“Just like our writing service is intensely trying to help the individual physician write, we want something that intensely helps the individual physician manage their own data,” Kevin explained.

If the team received all the necessary data from the physician right away, the brothers predict they could complete a paper in two weeks instead of their current sixty-day average. Most of this hold-up is from “communication friction,” something they’ve had to tackle in dealings with both the physicians and their virtual writing team. The brothers say there’s still much streamlining that could be done to make the process more efficient.

Developing their management skills has been essential to overcome this issue, especially when dealing with people sometimes twice their age.

“We’re always younger than people expect when we show up to a meeting with someone that we were collaborating with,” explained Kevin.   

The brothers say they are “strange ducks” in medical entrepreneurship, with non-traditional backgrounds. Kevin is a current law student a Duke University; Keith is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a double major in Economics and History.

Now, the brothers are embarking on a major hiring push to, hopefully, double their staff within the next three months.

“We’re very ambitious to expand our mission. We don’t want to sit around and be a five-person deal. We need to tap into that youthful energy,” said Kevin.

The team is looking to add on self-driven individuals with biological science training who want to begin writing. The brothers say this is excellent experience for anyone looking to develop their science career, especially those getting ready for medical school.

For those interested in the position, please contact Superior Medical Editing via their Facebook page or by emailing the team at outreach@supedit.com.