Six Startups from across U.S. Aim to Improve Patient Care through Devices, Software, and Care Management in gBETA Medtech Fall 2018 Cohort

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 Minneapolis, MN – gBETA Medtech, a program of the nationally ranked accelerator gener8tor, has selected six startups for its Fall 2018 cohort from an international applicant pool. gBETA Medtech is funded by Boston Scientific with additional support from Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota and Medical Alley Association. 

“gBETA Medtech’s success this year is a testimony to the demand for even greater collaboration between early-stage ventures, influential institutions and corporate leaders,” said Dave Knapp, vice president, Corporate Research at Boston Scientific. “As we build more and closer relationships across this ecosystem, we move closer to our ultimate goal: an even greater impact on patient care, lives changed and lives saved.” 

 gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with medical device, healthcare-related software, biotech, and diagnostics startups for no fees and no equity. Each gBETA program is capped at six companies to ensure meaningful engagement with sponsors and other resources. 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 can make them competitive applicants for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment. 

“Demand for programs like ours is only growing in the wake of our first two cohorts’ success. We believe that the solutions these companies offer to address diverse clinical needs have the potential to be truly disruptive, and we can’t wait to integrate these companies into Medical Alley,” said Adam Choe, director of gBETA Medtech. 

 The gBETA Medtech Fall 2018 cohort includes: 

CorInnova (Houston, Texas) designs and develops a revolutionary soft robotic non-blood contacting biventricular cardiac assist device for the treatment of heart failure (HF) that would eliminate 40% of the adverse events associated with existing cardiac assist devices. 

CEO: William Altman | william.altman@corinnova.com | www.corinnova.com 

Drug Free Therapeutix (Indianapolis, Indiana) designs and develops an intelligent, networked non-invasive closed-loop vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to treat a variety of pain and gastrointestinal disorders. 

CEO: Stephen Hourigan | shourigan@dftxllc.com | www.drugfreetherapeutix.com  

HabitAware (Minneapolis, Minnesota) makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps people manage compulsive behaviors including trichotillomania (hair pulling), skin picking, nail biting and more. 

CEO: Sameer Kumar | sameer@habitaware.com | www.habitware.com 

Nutrimedy (Boston, Massachusetts) improves the outdated care delivery model for clinical nutrition connecting patients with expert registered dietitians to provide education, support, and counseling for over 50 conditions through a web platform and mobile app.

CEO: Karolina Starczak | karolina@nutrimedy.com | www.nutrimedy.com 

Phraze (San Francisco, California) automates physician electronic medical record (EMR) data entry and documentation requirements utilizing an AI scribe. 

Co-Founder: Brandon McCutcheon | brandon@phraze.co | www.phraze.co 

Vital Health Links (Woodbury, Minnesota) specializes in helping medical practices and healthcare organizations realize new revenue and improve quality metrics through Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program. 

CEO: Saurin Patel | saurin@vitalhealthlinks.com | www.vitalhealthlinks.com 

Startups interested in learning more 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. 

Allianz Life and Securian Financial Team up with gener8tor to Invest in, Accelerate Insurance Innovation

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New “OnRamp Insurance Accelerator” invests in tech startups, and annual “OnRamp Insurance Conference” coming to Twin Cities.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--To invest in the next generation of insurance technology and innovation, Allianz Life Ventures, part of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, and Securian Financial have joined forces with nationally ranked startup accelerator, gener8tor, to establish the OnRamp Insurance Accelerator. 

Each year, five startups will be accepted into the three-month, concierge accelerator program in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Each will receive a cash investment of $100,000, office space and access to gener8tor’s global network of mentors and investors. Applications are now open for the first OnRamp Insurance Accelerator cohort. Startups may apply at onrampinsuranceaccelerator.com/apply. 

“We are pleased to partner with gener8tor to support the insurance tech startups that are developing the tools and technology for tomorrow’s insurance industry,” said Walter White, president and chief executive officer of Allianz Life. “We have a common vision of the potential of new technologies, and a commitment to finding new, innovative and efficient ways to serve our contract and policyholders both today and for years to come.” 

The creation of the OnRamp Insurance Accelerator builds off the success of the industry-leading OnRamp Insurance Conference. As part of the new Allianz Life Ventures, Securian Financial and gener8tor relationship, the annual OnRamp Insurance Conference will be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The 2019 OnRamp Insurance Conference will take place on April 11, 2019 at Target Center. 

Started by gener8tor in 2016, the OnRamp Insurance Conference brings together the insurance industry’s leading corporations, investors and startups. The event specifically focuses on connecting insurance startups and investors with insurance executives in corporate venture capital, innovation, M&A and strategy. The conference highlights innovations disrupting the insurance industry, the leaders making such innovations possible and how new technologies and business models will reinvent the industry. The one-day event, which always takes place in a sports stadium, includes a full day of programming. 

“The OnRamp Insurance Conference will bring thousands of insurance executives, investors and startups to the Twin Cities. To build off of those relationships, we are thrilled to team up with two of the best carriers in the business to invest in the best insurtech startups via the OnRamp
Insurance Accelerator,” said Troy Vosseller, co-founder of gener8tor.

About Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America 

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, one of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For® in 2018, has been keeping its promises since 1896. Today, it carries on that tradition, helping Americans achieve their retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and life insurance products. In 2017, Allianz Life provided a total of $2.7 billion in benefit payments that supported policyholders’ financial objectives. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services industry with 142,000 employees in more than 70 countries worldwide. More than 85 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz knowledge, global reach, and capital strength to help them make the most of financial opportunities. 

About Allianz Life Ventures 

Allianz Life Ventures, part of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life), makes investments in North American companies with potential market traction and a demonstrated ability to drive innovation. Allianz Life Ventures is uniquely positioned to leverage the financial strength and in-house expertise of Allianz Life to help our partners succeed. Active in all investment stages from seed and early stage to growth, current partners include: Core Innovation Capital, blooom, tomorrow, LifeYield, Gainfully, Vestwell, Ladder, and Covr. 

About Securian Financial 

At Securian Financial, we’re here for family. And we’re here because of it. We’re guided by our purpose: helping customers build secure tomorrows. Since 1880, we’ve been building a uniquely diversified company that has outlasted economic ups and downs while staying true to our customers. We’re committed to the markets we serve, providing insurance, investment and retirement solutions that give families the confidence to focus on what’s truly valuable: banking memories with those who matter most. 

About OnRamp Insurance Accelerator 

Each year, the OnRamp Insurance Accelerator, with Allianz Life and Securian Financial, invests in five insurtech startups who participate in a three-month, concierge accelerator program in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Each startup receives a cash investment of $100,000, office space and access to gener8tor’s global network of mentors and investors. 

About OnRamp Insurance Conference 

The OnRamp Insurance Conference brings together the insurance industry’s leading corporations, investors and startups. The event specifically focuses on connecting insurance startups and investors with insurance executives in corporate venture capital, innovation, M&A and strategy. The conference highlights innovations disrupting the insurance industry, the leaders making such innovations possible and how new technologies and business models will reinvent the industry. 

About gener8tor 

gener8tor is a turnkey platform for the creative economy that connects startups, entrepreneurs, artists, investors, universities and corporations. The gener8tor platform includes pre-accelerators, accelerators, corporate programming, conferences and fellowships focused on entrepreneurs, artists and musicians. gener8tor is a nationally ranked, GOLD-tier accelerator in the U.S. as ranked by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project. 

R.A.V.E. Honors Local Entrepreneurs at Fifth Annual Celebration

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Last week the fifth annual Recognizing Awarding Valuing Entrepreneurs (R.A.V.E.) event took place in the Rochester community to celebrate and share stories of regional innovation. R.A.V.E. is hosted by Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI), Journey to Growth, and 504 Corporation as part of Rochester’s Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The 2018 R.A.V.E. event drew in over two-hundred attendees including entrepreneurs, supportive services, established businesses, and community leadership.

“Look around the room. Look at the crowd we have,” explained Ryan Nolander, President of RAEDI. “It’s a wonderful evening, a wonderful event where we get to showcase our entrepreneurs and the future they have in front of them and the great things they provide for the community.” 

This year, R.A.V.E. honored local companies: Sprouts Childcare and Early Education Center, Trailtopia Adventure Food, and Vyriad.

Sprouts Childcare and Early Education Center was founded by husband and wife team Krystal and Patrick Campbell in 2018 to fill a growing childcare need in Stewartville, Minnesota and the surrounding communities. The facility is licensed for up to ninety-nine children from six weeks to twelve-years-old. Trailtopia was founded in 2013 by local entrepreneur Vince Robichaud. This Byron-based, family-run company creates and sells freeze-dried and dehydrated foods in specially engineered bags, in which the food can both be cooked and eaten. Vyriad is a Rochester clinical stage biopharmaceutical company founded in 2015 by Mayo Clinic investigators Dr. Stephen Russell and Dr. Kah-Whye Peng. Vyriad is developing multiple oncolytic viral platforms to deliver cancer therapeutics with proprietary reporter gene technology.  

From 2014 to 2017, R.A.V.E. has honored sixteen regional businesses, ranging from biotech to pet product companies, including: Mill Creek Life Sciences, BrandHoot, Imanis Life Sciences, DoApp Inc., Transfuse Solutions, LiquidCool Solutions, Ambient Clinical Analytics, GoRout, Rochester Home Infusion, Area 10 Labs, Resoundant, Enlightened Equipment, Licks, Sonex Health, Envirolastech, and River Bluff Technologies.

A 2014 R.A.V.E. honoree, Mill Creek Life Sciences, a Rochester company producing clinical grade cell culture media, has grown sales by twenty-five percent annually over the last three years. The company also placed second this year in the Minnesota Cup Life Sciences/Health IT Division. Mill Creek is additionally expanding from a research reagent into a cancer therapy company.  

Since being honored in 2014, Rochester website and mobile app development company BrandHoot moved into a new, larger office space. This business has also more than quadrupled their revenue since 2014 to add on additional team members.

 A 2015 R.A.V.E. honoree, hardware and software football technology company GoRout has more than doubled their sales over the past three years. The company has customers in every major college football conference and recently made their first international sale. In 2017, GoRout deployed their own private national network exclusive to their technology. Since this time, over 300,000 plays have been sent over this network. The company has recently moved to a larger location in Rochester to accommodate their growth.

Sonex Health, a 2017 R.A.V.E. honoree and creator of the SX-One MicroKnife to enable minimally invasive carpal tunnel release surgery, has more than doubled in growth and revenue from 2017-2018. The company recently graduated from the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator and has moved into a larger space in Rochester to assist their 100% increase in staff over the last year. Sonex additionally built a specialized training facility in their new location for physicians to learn how to use their technology.

Steve and Umbelina Cremer, CEO of Harmony Enterprises and Executive Director of Harmony Kids Learning Center respectively, were also honored as R.A.V.E. Lifetime Achievement Honorees. And finally, the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund was granted the R.A.V.E. Warrior Award for their advocacy work for Rochester entrepreneurs.

All Major Sectors in Medical Alley Break $100 million Raised for First Time

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Medical Alley’s third quarter ended with new industry records and new milestones set across the board. 27 Medical Alley-based companies raised $176,089,457 in Q3, the second-best Q3 in the last five years.

“Medical Alley's portfolio of growing companies across the healthcare spectrum continues to demonstrate that this region is the best place to solve healthcare's biggest challenges, regardless of what sector you are in.” said Shaye Mandle, President and CEO, Medical Alley Association.

Medical Alley device companies raised $90 million this quarter, continuing a steady growth trend that began in 2009. Biotech companies also set new milestones in Medical Alley, breaking $100 million in capital raised in a year for the first time in Medical Alley history. Digital Health investment continued its strong run with $32 million raised in the third quarter for a year-to-date total of $116 million.

Most noteworthy in Q3 is that all major sectors in Medical Alley broke $100 million in year-to-date funds raised for the first time.

The top-raising companies included Recombinetics with $34M in Series A funding, Urotronic Inc. with $20M in Series B funding, 4C Medical Technologies with $17M in Series A funding, and Vireo Health LLC and Cardialen each raising $16M.

To see the full report click here.

About The Medical Alley Association

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

What's Happening in the Rochester Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Startup Weekend, The Assistive Tech Challenge, and Global Entrepreneurship Week

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The past two weeks have witnessed a significant amount of activity in Rochester’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Beginning with Startup Weekend and ending yesterday with twenty-two different events taking place across the community, the last fifteen days have offered a wide taste of the culture and diversity of Rochester’s current innovation community.

 

Techstars Startup Weekend (Oct 26-28th) 

Startup Weekend is a fifty-four-hour event, powered by the global Techstars accelerator program. Approximately forty individuals joined in Startup Weekend this year as participants, coaches, judges, and organizers. At this event, many began the weekend on Friday evening as strangers and quickly formed strategic teams around the top ideas. Teams spent the remaining hours building out a business canvas, performing customer validation in the community, and preparing business pitches. Six teams pitched to a panel of judges on Sunday night, which included Julie Henry, Enterprise IP Contract Manager at Mayo Clinic; Xavier Frigola, Director of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator; Stephen Ekker, Director of the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship; Sarah Miller, Owner of White Space; and Matt Smyth, President and Chief Strategist at Headland Law.

The Smarter City team, composed of Garrett Lieffring, Josef Chlachula, and Jeremiah Harbach, won third place in the competition. Smarter City helps Rochester residents and visitors wayfind and locate food, activities, lodging, and key information around the city of Rochester using Smart City QR tags. These tags could serve as catalysts to direct individuals to local resources and experiences and to facilitate self-guided city tours.   

Sajal Kherdo, Anthony Kyle, and Phil Stubbs took second place at Startup Weekend with their 20 x 20 concept. 20 x 20 is an online platform for local artists to sell their oil paintings and wall hangings. The platform also provides analytics and includes a story about the art and the artist behind the creation. By Sunday evening, the team already had artists signed up to use their platform.

Team E3, composed of Grace Pesch, Jay Franson, and James Perreault, won Startup Weekend with their “What Were You Thinking?” card game. This game, based on the nine Enneagram personality categories, could function as a unique way to teach empathy, improve personal relationships, and provide team building opportunities. The team marketed their game on Facebook and had preorders by Sunday evening. 

If you missed out on the event, you can catch up with the pitches by checking out the Facebook live video on our social media. You can also visit our video of the weekend to better understand the impact an event like Startup Week has on the Rochester community.

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 The Assistive Tech Challenge (November 3rd) 

The Assistive Tech Challenge pitch event took place on Saturday November 3rd as part of the Assistive Tech Expo at the Rochester Technical and Community College Heintz Center. This business pitch competition sought solutions to eliminate employment barriers, reduce dependency on caregivers, enable richer social interactions, and elevate access to community infrastructure for people living with disabilities. The competition was facilitated by the Destination Medical Center Discovery Square Team, The Arc Minnesota Southeast Region, and the disABILITY Mayo Clinic Employee Resource Group.

Twenty-eight teams applied to compete in this inaugural competition, DMC’s very first tech pitch event, including a team from Naples, Florida. Teams competed in two divisions, an Open Competition for ideas from the community and a Professional Division, for businesses with less than $250,000 in annual revenue. First and second place in each division received $5,000 and $2,500 respectively from The Arc Minnesota.  

In the Open Division, Samantha Grover came in second place with her concept AbleKitchen. AbleKitchen is an all-in-one recipe, meal planning, and shopping application to make cooking more accessible for people with, and without, disabilities. Rochester team of Cody Schmidt and Nick Elliott won first place in the Open Division with their “Adapt-A-Cart” prototype, a device that allows for seamless attachment and detachment of a wheelchair to a grocery cart to make shopping simpler and more efficient.

In the Professional Division, Minneapolis business Mobility 4 All won second place with their “kinder, gentler ride service for senior and people with disabilities.” Vitals Aware Services, also from Minneapolis, took first place in the Professional Division. This business created technology that enables real time communication between first responders and persons with mental illness during times of crises.

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Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 5th-9th)

Rochester’s Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is a grassroots, weeklong effort to celebrate entrepreneurship across the city. Twenty-two events took place over the course of the week, organized by multiple components of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, including: Rochester Rising, Collider Coworking, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc., 1 Million Cups Rochester, Community and Economic Development Associates, The Commission, Destination Medical Center, Grand Rounds Brewing Company, Gray Duck Theater, The Half Barrel, the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship, Mayo Clinic Ventures, Mortenson, NAMI Southeast MN, Rochester Entrepreneurial Network, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, Café Steam, Taco Jed, Techweek, Winona State University, Women in Science and Engineering Research, BrandHoot, and Narrative Experiential Designs.

These events brought in over 600 participants, offering a wide taste of this city’s entrepreneurial culture. Events such as these are essential for an entrepreneur-led community. You can see all that happened by searching for the hashtags #gewroch on social media. Check back in over the next week for more in-depth stories about some of the events that took place during the 2018 Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week.

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#Emerge Episode 23 with Bucky Beeman and Peter Andrews

Today on #Emerge we visit local entrepreneurs Bucky and Peter at Offices at China Hall. Offices at China Hall is Rochester's newest coworking space, located on 1st Avenue SW in the heart of downtown Rochester. This space includes a conference room, open workspace with a kitchenette, and six private offices. This 2nd floor location was last used as a china shop and later turned into Rochester Restaurant Supply. Offices at China Hall is activating a space that has not been in use since the 1950s.

Rochester Team “Adapt-A-Cart” Wins Open Division of the Inaugural Assistive Tech Challenge

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(Rochester, MN) November 3, 2018 – Adapt-A-Cart from Rochester won big in the Open division at the inaugural Assistive Tech Challenge on Saturday, November 3.  Adapt-A-Cart provides an adaption on grocery carts for the wheelchair user that is light, compact, assistive and easily attachable and detachable.  This device allows wheelchair users the opportunity to easily shop with the standard cart from the comfort of their own chair.  Adapt-A-Cart team collaborators are Rochester residents Nicholas Elliott and Cody Schmidt.  

AbleKitchen from Minneapolis placed second in the Open Division.  Vitals Aware Services, Inc. and Mobility 4 All - both from Minneapolis took top honors in the Professional Division.

First place teams in the Open and Professional divisions were awarded $5,000 by The Arc Minnesota.  Second place teams received $2,500 from the Arc Minnesota.  All first and second place teams are automatically eligible to participate in the Walleye Tank pitch competition in Rochester, MN on December 7, 2018.

Thirteen teams came from the greater Rochester area, the Twin Cities and nationally from Naples, Florida.  University teams participating included: University of Minnesota, Minnesota State University Mankato and University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. 

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

Special thanks to Fredrikson and Byron, P.A. and Home Federal for their support of the Assistive Tech Challenge.

The Assistive Tech Challenge Debuts November 3 in Rochester

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(Rochester, MN) November 1, 2018 - Destination Medical Center is pleased to introduce the Assistive Tech Challenge - a pitch competition presented by Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square in collaboration with The Arc Minnesota Southeast Region and the disABILITY Mayo Clinic Employee Resource Group to facilitate greater independence for individuals with disabilities and the daily challenges they face. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the Assistive Technology Expo 

Heintz Center, 1926 Collegeview Rd E, Rochester, Minnesota 

Expo Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 

Assistive Tech Challenge Pitch Competition: 12 Noon – 3:00 p.m. 

 The Assistive Tech Challenge seeks solutions to: 

● Alleviating barriers to employment; 

● Providing support for care providers; 

● Enhancing social skill development to cultivate meaningful relationships; and 

● Improving access to the community through public infrastructure 

There are two divisions: 

Open (community-based teams and students) 

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

Thirteen participating teams come from the greater Rochester area and the Twin Cities and universities, including: University of Minnesota, Winona State University, Minnesota State University Mankato and University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. 

Teams will address the following questions in a five-minute presentation to an expert panel of judges, followed by two minutes of Q&A: 

● What problem are you solving? 

● How are you solving the problem? 

● Why is your team the one to solve it? 

● What do you need to further develop your idea? 


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

First Prize: $5,000 

Second Prize: $2,500 

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

Special thanks to Fredrikson and Byron, P.A. and Home Federal for their support of the Assistive Tech Challenge. 

Global Entrepreneurship Week Kicks Off Monday as Five Day Celebration of Innovation in Rochester

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It has arrived. On Monday November 5th, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) will launch in Rochester for five days, bringing twenty-one different events to the community to celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation. GEW is not just for entrepreneurs. It’s for anyone interested in learning more about Rochester’s entrepreneurial culture and how to plug in. So, block some time off on your calendar and get ready to participate in “The Week of the Entrepreneur,” as proclaimed by Rochester’s Mayor Ardell Brede for the second consecutive year.

GEW Rochester will kick off at 7:30AM at the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce with a morning reception with some coffee and light refreshments to network and launch into the week. 

The celebration will be capped off on Friday with a very special presentation from Kira Blackwell, Program Executive at NASA, about the NASA iTECH Program, an innovative way for agencies like NASA to interact and work with entrepreneurs. Kira is an executive management professional with expertise in aerospace, biotechnology, and technology management. The NASA iTECH program is an initiative through NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) to discover and vet innovative technologies to solve problems both on Earth and in space exploration.  

In addition to these events, Rochester Rising will also be hosting some programs during the week. Our first is an Entrepreneurial Book Club Discussion and Happy Hour in collaboration with The Commission. This event will take place on Wednesday November 7th at 4:30 PM at Grand Rounds Brew Pub. The first hour of the event will be an open networking happy hour, similar to our “Elevating Women Happy Hour” events. The second half of the event will include a book discussion about John Carreyrou's "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” the story of Theranos. Come to discuss this riveting story of biotech fraud.

Our second hosted event of the week is a “Mental Health for Entrepreneurs Workshop with NAMI SE MN.” This event will take place on Thursday November 8th at 7:30 am at the Café Steam Broadway location. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. Join us for this timely and vital discussion about mental health issues in entrepreneurs and ways to work toward better overall health.

Our final hosted event of the week will take place at 6PM on Thursday with a Founders Talk with Sonex Health CEO Darryl Barnes. Sonex Health is a Rochester based medical device company that developed the SX-One Microknife, a device for minimally invasive carpal tunnel release surgery. Since Sonex Health graduated from the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, the company has continued to grow in size and impact in the community. 

Check out the Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week page for the full details and complete event listings. I challenge each of you to attend at least one event this upcoming week to learn more about our entrepreneurial culture.

Here's What you Missed at Startup Weekend Rochester 2018

Techstars Startup Weekend Rochester is a 54 hour event to take a concept from the idea stage to the beginning states of a startup over the course of a single weekend. Startup Weekend is a great chance to explore entrepreneurship in a collaborative, encouraging environment while learning lean startup skills.

Locally Designed Prototypes on Display in DMC's Heart of the City Subdistrict for Next Month

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Three Rochester innovators will see their creations come to life this month as part of this city’s downtown infrastructure. After a two-year journey, these public health prototypes, created during a city-wide prototyping festival, are on display in Destination Medical Center’s Heart of the City subdistrict for further development as the structures seek their final home.

All three concepts- “the Artery,” “Info Alley,” and “Multilingual Pedestrian Signage”- were born in June 2016 at the Rochester “Idea Jam,” an event to engage the community to tap its creative side and transform the built environment to better support public health. This initiative- supported by DMC, the Rochester Art Center, and Downtown Rochester Alliance- brought together fifty-five community members to develop concepts engaging nature, food, connectiveness, inclusivity, accessibility, diversity, or art to improve health. Twenty different ideas for prototypes, or small models to test a concept, emerged from this session.

Over the next few months, ideas for prototypes were submitted as proposals, with sixteen concepts chosen to be built and displayed during a three-day PlaceMakers Prototyping Festival in September 2016. During that time, about five thousand people interacted with the prototypes.

Now, three of these original concepts have been scaled to an even larger level and are on display for the next month for further refining and testing in the Peace Plaza. These prototypes include: “The Artery,” “Info Alley,” and “Multilingual Pedestrian Signage.” 

Development of “The Artery” is led by local artist Eric Anderson. This art piece displays “the profound moments of hope and healing happening within our healthcare institutions every day.” This installation changes color based on real-time data from Mayo Clinic to signal health events such as a birth, organ transplant, or chemotherapy treatment completion. 

The “Info Alley” prototype team is led by local business owner Sean Baker. This installation is “an interactive multimedia display that enhances an otherwise underutilized space by projecting live video, event listings, social media activity, and other relevant community information.”

Development of the final community prototype, “Multilingual Pedestrian Signage,” is led by Edgar Mtanous. This prototype is designed “to advocate for a collaborative, healthy, and vibrant community by forming stronger cultural and infrastructure links between Rochester, its citizens, and visitors.”

All three prototypes were unveiled on October 17th as part of DMC’s 2018 Annual Meeting. The installations will be on display in the Peace Plaza for thirty days.

New Childcare Center Hosts Open House Today!

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Stewartville, MN (Wednesday, October 24, 2018) – Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC, a newly constructed childcare center in Stewartville with capacity for 99 children, will be opening its doors next week. The Center is holding an open house to showcase their progress to the public for the first time on Thursday. The open house details are included here: 

When:  Thursday, October 25, 2018

Time:    4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Where: 200 Schumann Drive NW, Stewartville, MN

Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center is hosting this open house to help families understand the significant features and services offered by their facility and talented team of caring professionals.  The open house will include tours of the premises and light refreshments. 

“Now that construction is completed, we are ready to start inspiring life-long learning in all of our children,” said owner Krystal Campbell. “We’re excited to welcome the public in to experience how we plan to celebrate and the uniqueness of all of the children we will serve!”

This open house is free to attend and is 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 six 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 www.sprouts-childcare.com

#Emerge Episode 22 with Janessa Nickell

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

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

Where Are They Now? Escape Challenge Rochester

 Photo courtesy of Escape Challenge Rochester.

Photo courtesy of Escape Challenge Rochester.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Photo courtesy of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

Photo courtesy of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Emerge Episode 21 with Abbey Sass

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

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

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

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

In entrepreneurial ecosystem building, no one community stands alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1.     Just show up.

2.     Trust and support each other.

3.     Let your actions speak louder than your words.

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

5.     Include everyone who wants to participate.

6.     Encourage and uplift those who have failed.

7.     Let the entrepreneurs lead.

8.     Be patient.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 Workshop #1: Assistive Tech and the Caregiver Experience 

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

Description 

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


Workshop #2: Assistive Tech and Public Infrastructure 

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

Description 

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

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

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

Description 

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


About the Assistive Tech Challenge 

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

The Assistive Tech Challenge seeks solutions to: 

  • Alleviating barriers to employment 

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

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

  • Improving access to the community through public infrastructure 

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


About Our City 

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

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

About Our City 

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

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

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

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

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

More at ourcity.is. 

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

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

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

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

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

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