Grand Rounds Brew Pub

#Emerge Episode 17 with Innovationology

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

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

Rochester's Female Entrepreneurs Start Something at Women's Demo Night

Rochester Rising’s first event, Women’s Demo Night, was meant to demonstrate the emergence of entrepreneurs in Rochester and highlight the strong female leadership the city can look towards. Demo nights are usually tech-centric events, where entrepreneurs walk through how their product works to provide an innovative solution. While the four female entrepreneurs who spoke at Women’s Demo Night may not have all been fully in the tech field, they completely represented the diversity and range of Rochester’s innovation community right now. This is another step forward in sharing the stories of the people taking risks in Rochester and demonstrating that people are stepping forward and starting things in this city. These are the stories we feel need to be told.


Shruthi Naik, Founder and VP, Comparative Oncology at Vyriad


Vyriad is an expanding biopharmaceutical company in Rochester that’s utilizing technology developed in the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Molecular Medicine to treat cancer. Vyriad’s oncolytic viral therapies are delivered through Vesicular Stomatitis Virus and measles oncolytic platforms. Patients receive the treatments intravenously, allowing the virus to selectively infect and amplify within tumor cells. Infected tumor cells are eventually killed by the virus and the resultant tumor fragments cleaned up by the immune system to eradicate the cancer. Vyriad partnered with Mayo Clinic for preclinical studies of their therapies. The company’s products are currently at the clinical stage. Vyriad has several clinical trials running or soon to launch treating patients with a variety of cancers including: solid tumors, multiple myeloma, T cell lymphoma, and lung and bladder cancers. Many of these trials will be run at Mayo Clinic. One patient, Stacy Erholtz, has been particularly vocal about her treatment experience with Vyriad therapeutics. Erholtz battled multiple myeloma for ten years, received two bone marrow transplants, and failed every available therapy. She participated in a clinical trial as a last resort, receiving a single high dose of the Vyriad measles platform. Erholtz went into remission following treatment and has been cancer free for three years.


Brittany Baker and Amanda Steele, Owners of MedCity Doulas


Doulas offer physical, emotional, and educational support for women during pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. Doulas are distinct from midwives and receive no medical school training. Instead, they can work to make the birth process a positive experience through things like holding the mother’s hand and offering words of encouragement. Post-partum doulas can aid mothers anywhere from six weeks to two years after birth. These doulas provide education, especially for first time mothers, and work to complement the support and parenting style already in place. Post-partum doulas may also make meals, grocery shop, do laundry, and provide any other help a new mom needs. Baker and Steele founded MedCity Doulas in July 2016 as a doula agency to help decrease the doula burnout rate- which is two years outside of the agency model- and elevate other women in the profession. Steele has been a doula for six years and has a Health Education background. Baker has a background in design and learned about doulas during her second pregnancy, where Steele was her doula. MedCity Doulas is currently in the building and education phase. Only 5% of mothers currently receive doula care. Baker and Steele hope to increase that number to 40% over the next five years. Now, they’re tasked with educating their market and explaining how all mothers could benefit from a doula.


Alaa Koleilat, Founder of GoAudio

Twenty percent of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. However, they are often unaware of the full degree of hearing reduction due to low screening rates in the United States. Hearing tests are performed in elementary school children, but hearing threshold levels in adults are not examined until noticeable loss occurs. Once hearing is damaged it cannot be regained, making hearing loss prevention pivotal. Mayo Graduate student Alaa Koleilat and her team of Mayo Clinic specialists hope to solve this problem with GoAudio. Koleilat’s graduate research centers on genetic hearing loss; she looks to take her passion to patients with GoAudio. GoAudio uses iPad technology and noise cancelling headphones to provide portable, accessible hearing screening. The GoAudio app examines hearing threshold levels in users, asking them to press down and hold a button until a certain tone can no longer be head. The higher the threshold level recorded, the more challenging it is for the patient to hear that tone. The GoAudio team aims to have their screening tool implemented as part of an annual physical exam. The product is still in the early developmental stages, with the major focus on functionality. GoAudio hopes to soon launch a pilot study at Mayo Clinic comparing results from the app to hearing tests administered by audiologists. Koleilat says there are numerous applications for this product, perhaps even a suite of medical screening tools.


Tessa Leung, CEO of Grand Rounds Brewing Company

Grand Rounds CEO and Stewartville native Tessa Leung has been an entrepreneur in Rochester for a long time. Leung has a BSN/RN degree and worked as a nurse for several years at Mayo Clinic. However, she always dreamed of being a chef. After six years in medicine, Leung attended the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and studied to become a level two sommelier. In 2006, she opened a restaurant called Sontes in downtown Rochester and runs a wine shop, called Tessa’s Office. When Sontes closed its doors, the 150-year-old space was revamped and reopened as Grand Rounds Brewing Company on April 15, 2015. Most readers have (hopefully) tasted some locally brewed craft beer. But how much do you know about the brewing process? As Leung explained, beer is an alcoholic beverage that’s made from malted cereal grain- called barley- gets flavored by hops, and is brewed by slow fermentation with yeast. There are two types of beers: ales and lagers. Grand Rounds primarily brews ales, using a warm fermentation system and top fermenting yeast. Several key ingredients go into making beer, including: water, roasted barley, hops, and of course yeast. Water is highly regional and can really make or break a product. Rochester’s water has some of the highest mineral content in the US, which Leung said can be problematic to brew certain styles of beer. Hops, which Leung says are getting increasingly more difficult to source, provide flavor, bitterness, and smells to the beer. The Grand Rounds brewing process begins bright and early, at 6AM, and includes equipment like a boil kettle, wort chiller, and mash tun. Grand Round’s fermentation chiller, the place where the yeast is added, is actually a white wine fermenter. Leung explained that the normal conical beer fermenters would not fit with the shape of the building, so they had to get creative “because that’s what entrepreneurs do.” The ingredients are crushed, boiled, separated, extracted, pumped, fermented, and carbonated to get to the final product. Leung recommends consuming craft beer within four to six weeks after carbonation for the freshest taste.

Thanks to the Women's Demo Night Sponsors:

Rochester Rising Unveils Lineup for Women-Focused Entrepreneurial Event

Rochester Rising is pleased to bring Rochester’s very first Women’s Demo Night to the city. The event will take place Wednesday March 22nd from 6-8PM at the Rochester Area Foundation. We have handpicked four Rochester-based startups and businesses to speak at the event including: Shruthi Naik of Vyriad, Alaa Kolelait of GoAudio, Brittany Baker and Amanda Steele of MedCity Doulas, and Tessa Leung of Grand Rounds Brewing Company.


What is a demo night?

A demo night is the perfect way to explore and visualize a piece of the entrepreneurial community of Rochester. There are no awards; there are no prizes. The night is more a celebration of community and a way to see, firsthand, innovative products, services, and solutions that were developed right in Rochester.

During the event, these female entrepreneurs will tell their unique stories and walk through how their product, or service, works for the audience. There will then be a few minutes for some questions, but the gathered startup and business enthusiasts will have more time to interact with these innovators at their individual tables after the presentations.


6:00 PM: Doors open.

6:15 PM: Opening remarks.

6:30 PM: Demos.

7:30 PM: Networking.

8:00 PM: Doors close.

Who are the speakers?

Shruthi Naik is a trained Virologist who obtained her PhD at Mayo Graduate School. She is currently the Vice President of Comparative Oncology at Vyriad. Vyriad is a biomedical startup developing oncolytic viral therapies to treat cancer. Their products are currently in several Phase I and Phase II clinical trials.

Alaa Koleilat is currently a PhD candidate in the Mayo Graduate School in Clinical and Translational Sciences and cofounder of GoAudio. GoAudio is a mobile application that makes hearing testing more accessible. With this app, users can test and examine their hearing thresholds anywhere. All you need are noise cancelling headphones.  

Brittany Baker is trained in Postpartum doula and Birth doula and studied Design Technology at Bemidji State. Amanda Steele is a trained Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula (DONA), and Child Passenger Safety Technician. She received a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from the University of Minnesota Duluth. MedCity Doulas is Rochester's premier doula agency, providing childbirth education, birth and postpartum planning, and babywearing consultation.

Tessa Leung is a longtime entrepreneurial resident of Rochester. She is currently the Chief Operations Manager at Grand Rounds Brewing Company. She also runs Tessa’s Wine Boutique, Sontes Catering, and The Vault coworking space. Grand Rounds was Rochester’s very first brewpub, where friends can meet to solve the world's problems, one brew at a time. 

Who Should Attend?

Women’s Demo Night features female entrepreneurs, but it is a night for anyone interested in learning more about and become more involved in Rochester’s entrepreneurial community.


Where do I find tickets?

Click here to go to the Eventbrite page. Online ticket sales end Tuesday March 21st at 1AM. Tickets will then be available at the door. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the event.


What do I get out of the ticket cost?

There will be lots of appetizer-style food, excellent company, and even better conversation.


My business would love to become more involved in something like this

We’re glad to hear that. We have space for a few more sponsors to make this event even better. Sponsors are listed in the event promotional flier, have ad space on an online event ad on Rochester Rising, will be listed as sponsors at the event, can bring promotional materials to the event, receive a Friday social media shout out on Rochester Rising, and get ad space in one weekly Rochester Rising newsletter. Please fill out the contact form below, and we will get back with you shortly.

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How to Pivot your Business Model: Transforming Sontes into a Rochester Brewpub

“But that’s part of being an entrepreneur, is forward thinking about where you’re going to be.  What do you want to do?  Where do I want to be in ten to fifteen years?” explained Tessa Leung, owner of Grand Rounds Brew Pub

Tessa has been innovating in Rochester’s food and drink scene for a long time.

This female businesswoman previously owned and ran Sontes, an upscale, locally sourced food and wine bar that used to sit right on the corner of 3rd Street SW and South Broadway.  While business at Sontes was great, Tessa could see that it was time for a change.  On April 15th last year, tax day for those keeping score, Tessa and her business partner/head brewer Steve Finnie opened up Grand Rounds Brew Pub, the very first brewpub in over twenty years in Rochester. 

Tessa previously met Steve at an event where he was serving up his beer and she absolutely loved his product.  “Then we looked at what was missing in Rochester and asked what did we really like,” she explained.  Tessa was passionate about wine.  Sontes was her “first baby”.  But when looking at Sontes’ business model, she realized the opportunity to really engage the local community and grow with Sontes was limited.

"Wine in the Midwest doesn't really scream camaraderie like it does in California, because we don't yet have that sense of wine culture, yet.  Wine is not a known commodity like beer in the Midwest.  But beer, it really is part of our Midwestern collective memories and consciousness."

Adding a community-focused piece was important for Tessa in this phase of her career as a food and beverage innovator.  While growing up in Stewartville, one of her favorite jobs was working at this local pizza place, a restaurant that was really inclusive and drew in everybody from the community.

“And it was the best pizza ever.  I’m not going to lie. …The whole town stood behind that.  The whole town got it.  The whole town was proud of that,” she said.

“I think in any business, and especially small business, I think involving the community and the local people, that’s what makes your business your business.  And that’s what makes your business really cool. …And it’s nice for Rochester people to say, ‘This is our beer.  We have this,’” Tessa explained.  

Even the Grand Rounds name is rooted in connectivity and community.  Grand rounds are part of the medical education process where physicians, students, and residents come together to talk about problems and to learn.  Gathering around the table over some beers at the end of the day is just an extension of this process. 

“What do people do when you get together and drink a pint?  You talk about problems.  You try to figure things out.  It’s kind of a grand round.”

The name Grand Rounds is a nod to Rochester’s past, but it also acknowledges Rochester’s future.  A future beyond these medical ties.  A future in entrepreneurship.  A future in beer.

The craft beer scene in Minnesota is one of the best in the country.  Minnesota has 105 craft breweries, or about 2.7 breweries per 100,000 people 21 years of age or older, according to the Brewers Association.  The beer scene in Rochester is starting to grow.  Kinney Creek set the pace, becoming the first brewery to open in Rochester since prohibition. 

“Rochester’s really starting to get this massive education on food and wine and beer and entrepreneurship.  Things aren’t what they were ten years ago.  And that’s good.  That’s really good,” said Tessa.

Now we have Kinney Creek Brewery, Grand Rounds Brew Pub, Forager Brewery, and LTS Brewing Company.  People are starting to take notice of our Rochester beers and breweries.  You don’t need to trek to the Twin Cities any more for a good, local craft beer.

“I’m so hopeful that this city becomes more like you see in Minneapolis or what you see in Portland or Seattle or Sonoma.  It’s a city that embraces that you have quality products and quality chefs and quality producers here and that Rochester does have a lot to offer,” Tessa explained.

Rochester has brewers making some phenomenal, award-winning beers from locally sourced ingredients.  As residents of this city, we’re starting to work through our beer primer and finally understand the difference between a brewery and a brew pub.  Our brewers are creating some innovative products.  Grand Rounds themselves just brewed their 100th batch of beer last month.  That’s 1400 kegs of beer. 

As a southeastern Minnesota born and bred girl, Tessa loves Rochester and the talent held within.  With all the changes happening in the community, Rochester is becoming an entrepreneurial hot spot in Minnesota and more and more people are finally starting to take risks

“I was the only one by myself for a quite some time that was doing something so different that it felt pretty lonely at times.  I really don't feel alone anymore.  It is nice be amongst fellow adventurers in the community, that are inspiring me!”