Strong Women Creating Value Season 1, Episode 4: Stacy Lequire

This week we wrap up our Strong Women Creating Value series for 2019 sharing the story of Stacy Lequire, Co-Owner of Vitality Chiropractic.

"I'm always in awe of people, women entrepreneurs, because I know from the handful of people that I interact with regularly, that it's a huge juggling act." -Stacy Lequire

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

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

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

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

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

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

gift cards.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018: Predictions and Asks for the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community

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

#Emerge Episode 9 with Amanda Leightner and Jamie Sundsbak

This week in the #Emerge video series, we sit down with local entrepreneur Jamie Sundsbak and talk about career change, the value of good timing, dealing with fear and uncertainty, and entrepreneurial perserverance.

“I think timing is a huge thing. If I had tried to do something even two or three years earlier, it would have failed drastically and immediately.” –Jamie Sundsbak

Desks of Rochester: A Case Study

A desk, or workspace, can say a lot of things about a person. Most of us likely spend a lot of our day at our desk. This piece of furniture encompasses a large portion of our lives and serves as a testament to a person’s creative process. Each of our desks are spaces that are truly unique in basic structure, contents, and organization and can give an intimate perspective into a person’s daily habits, work flow, and thought process.

A desk is, in essence, an extension of ourselves.

With those ideals in mind, here are the desks of some of Rochester’s very own innovators including the highly unique, the exceedingly organized, and the just plain messy.

Desk of Jeff Kiger, Business journalist and blogger at the Post-Bulletin.

Desk of Jeff Kiger, Business journalist and blogger at the Post-Bulletin.

Desk of Lynn Bounds, Owner of EDGE FITNESS.

Desk of Lynn Bounds, Owner of EDGE FITNESS.

Desk of Adam Ferrari, Architect at 9.square.

Desk of Adam Ferrari, Architect at 9.square.

The desk pod.

The desk pod.

Desk of Patrick Seeb, DMC Director of Economic Development and Placemaking.

Desk of Patrick Seeb, DMC Director of Economic Development and Placemaking.

And for bonus...

My desk.

My desk.

Rochester Rising and RAEDI to Present at Next 1 Million Cups Rochester

Join the entrepreneurial and small business community at the next 1 Million Cups Rochester on Wednesday April 5th from 9-10AM. This month, one Rochester based business will speak. We’ll also hear about an economic development fund that’s been fueling business growth in the city.

About Rochester Rising

Rochester Rising is an online news site that tells the stories of Rochester entrepreneurs through original, insightful articles and podcasts. Rochester Rising was launched to fill a hole in local media coverage and provide a voice to the city’s emerging entrepreneurial community.

Launched in: 2016

Founder: Amanda Leightner


About Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. (RAEDI)

RAEDI assists new and existing companies in Rochester obtain funding for business growth. Xavier Frigola, Director of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, will speak about the Rochester Economic Development Fund, which RAEDI utilizes to make investments up to $250,000 to assist in business development, diversify the local economy, create jobs, and generate property tax revenue.

About 1 Million Cups

1 Million Cups is a free, national education program developed by the Kauffman Foundation. 1 Million Cups takes place every Wednesday at 9AM across 114 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.

Find more information and register for the event here.

The Rochester Startup Part Fifteen: Cube Coworking

This series is in partnership with Ambient House Productions, a Rochester based full service video production company specializing in high quality corporate, commercial, & promotional videos.

In a series talking about coworking spaces in Rochester, it would be remiss to not mention the original coworking facility in Rochester, Cube.

Cube validated the concept of coworking in Rochester and was groundbreaking for the coworking and incubator facilities that exist here today. Five years ago, the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rochester was fragmented, explained Erik Giberti, local SmugMug photographer, web developer, and Cube co-founder. He and other freelancers in town were searching for a spot where they could work outside of their homes and achieve better work/life balance.

Giberti explained how entrepreneur and current Narrative owner David Hewitt found this one car garage behind The Running Room. The pair set up the very first coworking facility in Rochester in the space in May 2012. For the first time, Cube brought a collection of the Rochester entrepreneurial community under one roof and “led to a variety of networking opportunities, which is valuable anywhere, but especially in Rochester because it’s such a close-knit community,” said Nate Nordstrom, Founder of BrandHoot.

Cube operated out of the garage space for seven months- with no bathroom- before moving into its final location on South Broadway. When the doors of Cube finally closed in August 2016, it truly left behind a legacy and fueled the growth and development of several Rochester startups. Cube provided a springboard for the city’s entrepreneurs before anything else like it ever existed here.

“[Cube] was incredibly valuable to have both a place for our team to exist and a community to be a part of from the beginning,” said Chris Lukenbill, Founder of Able.  

The Rochester Startup Series is sponsored by:

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.

Name *

The Rochester Startup Part Ten: Perseverance is Key as PayGo Thrives in Collider Coworking Space

PayGo founder Chris Peterson. Photo courtesy of PayGo.

PayGo founder Chris Peterson. Photo courtesy of PayGo.

About the author: Ryan Cardarella is a freelance writer who recently moved to Rochester after spending 12 years in Milwaukee.

This series is in partnership with Ambient House Productions, a Rochester based full service video production company specializing in high quality corporate, commercial, & promotional videos.

After nearly 15 years in the software business, PayGo founder Chris Peterson has proven able to consistently adapt in a market that continues to evolve.

Formed in Buffalo, Minn., PayGo is a point-of-sale (POS) software business that has served independent brick and mortar retailers since 2002. In addition to handling POS payments and many additional services, PayGo offers businesses the ability to track and control their inventory, provides robust data on customer interactions and purchases, and integrates stores with their website via the PayGoCart feature.

Through their diverse service offerings, PayGo built up a strong customer base and grew to employ 20 team members by 2008. However, just as the company introduced a product that addressed the emerging need for cloud-based software solutions, a crippling recession that hit small businesses particularly hard during that period knocked PayGo on its heels.

“Things happen in business and you just need to find a way to persevere,” Peterson said.

He responded by downsizing, as many of his clients were forced to close, and eventually relocated the PayGo office to Rochester, a move that has reinvigorated the organization.

After operating remotely for a time, PayGo joined downtown Rochester’s Collider Coworking space in November 2016, a move that appealed to Peterson as his company was once again ready to grow. Peterson has spent much of the last year updating PayGo’s cloud-based software and exploring additional IT services as the company continues to add staff and expand the breadth of their offerings.

“The flexibility of the space was appealing. It has everything we need,” Peterson said. “We feel like a startup again.”

Collider is an entrepreneurial hub that allows occupants to work, learn, and collaborate in a dynamic office setting. The open workspace includes desk and conference room areas, quiet rooms, and perhaps most importantly, a collaborative environment comprised of innovative, like-minded people that are helping to fuel entrepreneurial growth in Rochester.

“Operating out of Buffalo began to feel a bit isolating and there’s more programming in more relevant areas here,” Peterson said. “It’s been great to be around so many other like-minded people who are experiencing some of the same challenges.”

PayGo currently services a wide variety of clients, primarily independent retailers and owners of boutiques, arts and crafts stores, and consignment shops, which includes companies such as Happy Sleeper, Nina, Everyday Wines, and many more.

Looking ahead, Peterson is focused on developing a mobile app, increasing their customer base and providing additional value to that base, and continuing to improve the customer experience for the small businesses they serve.

“The industry continues to shift and we are exploring new ways for our software to appeal to and improve the customer experience,” he said.

The Rochester Startup Series is sponsored by:

Summer Prototyping Festival makes Permanent Impact on City

Yesterday morning, the first in a series of three Art + Business = Innovation breakfast events was presented by Rochester Downtown Alliance, Destination Medical Center (DMC), and Rochester Art Center. The purpose: to discuss how art and business intersect. While the connection between these entities may not seem so straightforward, they are linked. Art can not only make a city environment more unique, it can spur creativity among the city’s residents, including innovation in the business sector.

The first installment of the Art + Business = Innovation series focused on “Creative Place Making: the Rochester Prototype.” In a city best known for strong medical roots, this past year the PlaceMakers | Rochester Prototyping Festival activated the creative side of Rochester. This event engaged Rochester residents in a community-wide discussion of what the future of Rochester could look like and got residents to consider how they could transform the urban environment around them into something that could better support a healthy city.

The germ of an idea for the prototyping fest began back in December of last year when it was first introduced by Patrick Seeb, DMC Director of Economic Development and Placemaking. An Idea Jam event took place in early June to brainstorm ways that we, as ordinary Rochester citizens, could transform aspects of Rochester along seven selected foci that residents associated with a healthy city including: nature, food, connectedness, inclusivity, accessibility, diversity, and art. Over fifty-five community members attended this event and twenty individual ideas emerged from the session. By the end of June, teams submitted these ideas as proposals to construct prototypes, or small creations to test their ideas. Sixteen designs in total where chosen to be developed into full prototypes. Teams then had three months to bring their ideas to life. In September, a three day PlaceMakers Prototyping Festival took place in downtown, displaying these concepts on the streets of Rochester to encourage engagement and feedback from the community.

The "Rocker Talker" built by Tyler Whitehead and Chuck Stewart.

The "Rocker Talker" built by Tyler Whitehead and Chuck Stewart.

The PlaceMakers Prototyping Festival had three main goals: to test ideas, to engage the community, and to demonstrate change. As stated by Patrick Seeb, Rochester is undergoing a tremendous change right now. And it’s important for us, as residents of this community, to own and shape the change that is occurring around us. The prototyping festival demonstrated the intersection of creativity and place. It encouraged the idea that “place” is something that we live in, but it is also something that we very much have the power to change. All we have to do is just ask and try.

Five to six thousand people attended the festival, as demonstrated by statistics shared by the organizers. 89% of the attendees felt more creative after the event, while 89% also felt more engaged with the downtown area. Prototype Maker Dee Sabol related that people, in general, want to feel more connected, and the festival offered them the opportunity to meet in a new place. Besides creating a sense of community, the festival also spurred discussions about belonging, or feelings of not belonging, in the city.

And as Rochester Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jenna Bowman stated, the PlaceMakers Prototyping Fest brought something else to the surface, something that might not be quite as apparent. Risk taking, and even failure, were almost requisite to this experience. The makers creating these prototypes not only gave up large chunks of their time to bring their ideas to life, they also had to stand up next to their work at the festival and engage with the community, witnessing first-hand the reactions to their idea.

Now that the festival is over, how will this event impact the future of Rochester?

As Maker Rene Lafflam stated, lessons learned during the Prototyping Festival could have lasting impact on the city. Rene and her team developed the prototype “Creative Crosswalks.” This concept not only brought art into the crosswalks to make them more aesthetically pleasing, it made pedestrian crossings more noticeable, promoting a safer downtown walking environment. Painted crosswalks are not a new concept, even in Rochester. But the festival taught Rene and her team the correct protocol to follow to get a work like this implemented into Rochester neighborhoods, potentially allowing “Creative Crosswalks” to start popping up around the city soon.

Some of the prototypes found permanent homes. The Rochester Art Center purchased two of the structures, the “Rocker Talker,” a large rocking platform that can seat multiple people, and “Chime In,” a set of life-size, multicolor chimes, for Mayo Park. This space will, hopefully, slowly be transformed into a public art park.

"The Artery" built by Eric Anderson, Rose Anderson, Diane Klein, Matthew Moore, Anthony Huber, Nel Pilgrim-Rukavina, and Grace Wengler.

"The Artery" built by Eric Anderson, Rose Anderson, Diane Klein, Matthew Moore, Anthony Huber, Nel Pilgrim-Rukavina, and Grace Wengler.

There are plans to permanently house the “Artery,” a three-dimensional installation that relays significant health events in the city by changing colors, in the 3rd Street Parking Ramp. A storm water waste management system will also be installed in this ramp as part art project, part educational piece to encourage public interaction and learning.

PlaceMakers | Rochester Prototyping Festival activated and showcased a part of Rochester that often goes unrecognized. It allowed residents to get a taste of what role they can play as this city develops. Now it’s time for us to play our parts and help to mold the future of our city into an inclusive place for all of our residents.

Local Entrepreneur Fulfills Long Time Vision with Launch of Collider Core Business Incubator

Jamie Sundsbak has been dreaming about this moment for a long time. 

“Collider’s always existed off and on in a notebook that I had, I would say sketched out about four years ago.”

Jamie’s concept is finally coming to fruition as he moves into a role as Community Manager at a new business incubator in town.  This 3000 sq. ft. space in the Conley-Maass Building, called Collider Core, opens later this month to grow and support Rochester’s entrepreneurial community.

“We have to acknowledge that entrepreneurs have always been a part of Rochester,” Jamie said.  At their very core, William Worrall Mayo and sons William James and Charles Horace Mayo were entrepreneurs.  The Conley-Maass Building itself is steeped in innovation.  The Rochester Woolen Manufacturing company first occupied the building in the early 1900s.  They were followed by Conley Camera Company, a competitor to what was then Eastman-Kodak.  Around 1910, a plumbing and mechanical contract company, called Maass and McAndrew, occupied the space and routinely developed products for Mayo physicians and researchers.

“But in terms of what I would call more modern entrepreneurship, your tech scene, your biomedical companies, things like that.  When I arrived ten years ago, it was pretty lacking.”

Entrepreneurship may have thrived in Rochester in the early 1900s, but in the early 2000s, the scene was pretty slim.  Large, internationally known organizations like Mayo Clinic were essentially offering people their dream jobs.

“People who are in research or medicine dream of coming to the Mayo Clinic to practice medicine and do research.  And that leaves a smaller proportion of people that may be comfortable sort of jumping off and becoming entrepreneurs,” Jamie explained.

He started assessing holes in Rochester’s entrepreneurial scene, searching for missing pieces he observed in other successful communities across the country.  It all came down to a central gathering space.

“What I conceived of was an area, which ironically is about the size of this area, that would serve as a hub or core for a space.  I called it Collider.”

He envisioned several different entities radiating off of the core space including a wet lab, tech, and maker space.   Jamie mentioned the idea to former University of Minnesota Rochester Capstone and Community Engagement Relationship Manager Jenny Hegland, and the two started the shell of what was to become Collider.

Jamie formed a group with Rochester entrepreneurs AJ and Becky Montpetit, Dave Beal, and Jim Pringnitz.  “We assembled a group of people of very interesting walks of life.  People who had dreams and ideas and really just hadn’t been able to take that leap into entrepreneurship or into embracing social causes.”  The met at Cube and called themselves Collider.

The group worked with motivational and leadership coach Travis Wilson to navigate through their personal fears in a moving and powerful month of classes.

Jamie took the lessons he learned from this experience, his observations from other entrepreneurial communities, and his experience with BioAM, an entrepreneurial group that supported biobusinesses in Rochester, and weaved them together to create perhaps what we can call Collider 2.0.

Jamie met and forged a bond with Hunter and Traci Downs during this formative time.  A few years later, the Downses acquired the Conley-Maass building.  The couple hoped to set up a coworking space in the facility and were looking for someone to run it. 

“So all the ideas that had been kind of running around in my brain just suddenly came out.  And [Hunter and Traci] kind of loved that high level summary of what I was thinking.  And it really started from there.”

The Collider that will open its doors soon is actually two entities: Collider Core and Collider Community. 

Collider Core is the physical piece on the second floor of the Conley-Maass Building.  “We just wanted a great space in an old, historic building where we can push entrepreneurship forward, have great events, and really get people to work on creating the businesses of the future here in Rochester,” Jamie explained. 

Collider Core is a blend between a traditional co-working facility and a business incubator. 

“And so really the mission of Collider Core is to provide that physical space for someone to get started with an idea or a small business that they already have and plug them into the community in any way, shape, or form.”

The first piece of Collider Core is the physical space were businesses can grow side by side.  There are several pricing options for entrepreneurs interested in Collider Core.  For $100 a month, the “toe in the water plan”, members can be in the space eight hours a week at a non-dedicated desk.  For $220 a month, members can use a “hot” desk five days a week.  Finally, for $325 a month, members receive a “dedicated” desk and can leave their tools, things like monitors and office supplies, in the space.  Collider Core also has security with 24/7 access, a kitchen, and a dedicated assistant.

The second piece of Collider Core is business development.  This portion will be the focus once the Collider Core doors have opened.

“We talked about Destination Medical Center and we talk about all the initiatives.  But I think what we really miss sometimes is the fact that entrepreneurship around the world plays a major role in the economy.  More and more people are starting to embrace entrepreneurial philosophies, even in large corporations and intrapreneurship movements within large corporations.  And I want that, the Core, to sort of be the hub for all of that.”

Collider Community makes up the final piece of this puzzle.  Collider Community is similar to Jamie’s former group, BioAM.  Just bigger.  “What we’re doing with the Collider Community is where we’re taking that one step further and we’re encompassing all entrepreneurship here in the city of Rochester,” he said.  Collider Community will support all types of entrepreneurship in Rochester, beyond just the life science and medtech spaces.

“We don’t want to be about selling desks and things like that.  We want to be about growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Rochester and we think that’s what the Collider Community will be all about.”

In the past three years, Rochester’s entrepreneurial community has changed almost on a logarithmic scale.  First, we had the growth of spaces for entrepreneurs in Rochester.  Cube, Rochester’s original co-working and event space, was the pioneer in 2012.  Then the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator opened its doors in 2013.  Now, the community has a third option with Collider.

“I don’t think we see ourselves as competitors.  We see ourselves as a community,” Jamie explained.

The next piece to growth are more entrepreneurial events.  We’ve brought Startup Weekend and Global Entrepreneurship Week to Rochester.  Maybe a 1 Million Cups Rochester is in the near future.  Jamie has a soft spot for events and sees them as one of the most important ways to become involved in the entrepreneurial community.

“We just want to continually have these events that keep people engaged, keep people motivated, and hopefully convert some people who may be on the fence with entrepreneurship into becoming entrepreneurs and realizing that they had some great options in town.”

How Entrepreneurship is like a Foreclosed Home

I recently made several large changes in my life.  I quit my job, I moved, I launched my own business, and I bought a home.  So needless to say, the day to day is pretty hectic.  When I do have a moment to just stop and take stock of things, I sometimes wonder ‘What am I doing this to myself?  Why can't I just be normal?’  But as an entrepreneur, sometimes you just have to take things step by step. 

All of these changes were stressful by nature, but the home purchase was elevated to a whole different level.  There was not much on the housing market at the time when I needed to make a purchase- see above change in job situation- so a lovely foreclosure came into my life. 

Not to say that the foreclosed home was a hopeless piece of rubble.  Yes, it was neglected.  It needed, and still needs, a lot of TLC.  I am not handy, but I have hopes the house will flourish despite my well intentioned efforts, and we will both become something shiny on the other side of this grand adventure.

During this process, I’ve learned that dealing with a foreclosed home is a lot like entrepreneurship.


1. There will always be surprises.

Some are good and some are bad.  Despite creating an entire Excel sheet detailing all of the predicted expenses, there were still a lot of special surprises that sprung up.  One issue came when trying to convert a separate tub and shower into a combined tub and shower.  Who wants to clean two spaces, right?  The old shower was ripped out, only to discover it was custom built.  There really are no 40 x 32-inch shower bases available from Home Depot or Menards.  Whoops.  So now, the old custom built shower has to be replaced with a new custom built shower.  Some surprises were good though.  I originally thought the decks were rotten and the chimney flue cracked, neither of which was the case.

In entrepreneurship and when launching a business, there are so many little expenses or parts that you overlook.  Things like paying for your own bus pass, navigating through independent health insurance, and the volumes of coffee you will drink, which incidentally also are not free.  But again, there are also good surprises.  I’ve been amazed at the openness and willingness to help in the entrepreneurial community here.  Most people will never turn down a meeting over coffee to help or listen to a fellow entrepreneur.


2. The first time you hit a barrier, it’s a big deal.  Then you learn to give zero f@!ks.

Not really, but maybe this will make it clearer.

For reasons too complicated and boring to dive into here, my house was a special type of foreclosure.  It could not be inspected and the utilities were not turned on.  The house has radiant heat, so the major concern was the boiler system.  When the water finally got churning through the boiler pipes, water started trickling across the ceiling and down the wall from a focal point.  One of the pipes had cracked.    When I heard that, I was irritated bordering on enraged.  I thought that the entire ceiling and floor would have to be ripped out (it did) as well as all the piping and boiler system replaced (it did not).  It will end up being more time and personal labor than financial cost, which most entrepreneurs will take as a win.  That was not the only leak in the boiler pipes.  I believe there were three more.  But at that point, the damage was done.  Now it’s time to find a solution.

The biggest thing to me that we’ve struggled with in building Life Science Nexus and the now pivoted Rochester Rising is devising a sustainable financial model.  In the early stages, I was devastated when one method hit a wall or when one resource fell through.  Now, I’ve learned to diversify and have several different, hopefully, viable options to keep the whole thing churning forward.


3. It’s important to find a solution, not complain about the problem.

Sometimes this simply means asking for help.

The above mentioned pipes were the largest and most pressing difficulty in the house that I could not wrap my head around and did not have the capabilities to fix.  When the third or fourth (I really can’t remember.  I think I blocked this out as a horrifying moment in life.) pipe burst in a very inaccessible recess inside a wall, it was time to call in the reinforcements.  I placed a phone call to the big D.A.D. and he and my mother drove through six states to help.

When I first took over most of the operations of Life Science Nexus, I was working a full time job.  It was fairly difficult to maintain the flow of content on the site, fulfill the duties of my job, and still do things like sleep.  I needed someone to help with the content, but I couldn’t pay them.  A partnership with my former coworker and friend Aaron Broege and his science writing students at Carleton College were like a breath of fresh air.  They produced some great stories, got that professional experience in science writing, and helped me to not rip my hair out all at the same time.


4.  Take things one step at a time.

When I first walked into my new house, I wanted to repair and update everything at once.  That’s of course impossible.  First of all, it’s overwhelming.  Second, it takes time and money.  I’ve learned the key is to tackle one room at a time, make priorities, and don’t think too much magic is going to happen during the workweek.

The same thing happened with Life Science Nexus.  We wanted to have some many aspects to the product.  We wanted to be everything to everyone in the entrepreneurial and life science community, whether they were an entrepreneur or were a researcher or postdoctoral fellow trying to make that leap.  It was too much and had little direction.  So we slimmed down and focused the scope of Life Science Nexus as the business developed.  We slimmed down even more, for now, with Rochester Rising.  I learned it’s much better to grow in a lean manner, add things piece by piece, and test what works.


5. Things always cost more and take more time than you think.

Who knew paint costs so much?  You don’t unless you have to repaint an entire house.  Even after constructing a whole itemized spreadsheet of potential costs, it still will probably cost more than those calculations in the end.  I originally thought I would go in, start fixing and rebuilding, with help of course, and the whole house would be finished and updated by the fall.  Right.  Maybe fall 2017.

The same thing with business development.  You can spend a crazy amount of time getting the website just right and crafting and reshaping the value proposition.  It takes time to acquire customers, or consumers in our case.  Beyoncé was not built overnight.

You also learn what small things you can do without when business financials are tight.  Yes, it’s great to have Buffer put out all my social media for me.  But really, I can do that myself.


6. It’s essential to have help and a good support system.

This is probably the most important.  My parents were really instrumental in helping with the move and swooping in to the rescue with the house.  I’m lucky to have a family that knows how to do this kind of stuff and can take the time to do it.  My parents constantly remodeled their home all through my childhood.  What some people see as disarray or unfinished architecture, I see as familiar.

Without interacting with other like-minded people in the same boat, entrepreneurship can be pretty miserable.  I’ve had a great sounding board with my Cofounder Jamie Sundsbak, who introduced me to so many great people in the Rochester community.  Without seeing and interacting with these people, people like AJ Montpetit, like Xavier Frigola and others at the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, like Nick Moucha and Adam Salmi, without the encouragement of people like Austin Bogestad from 1 Million Cups, and the CoCreateX community, the experience would just lose a lot of flavor.    

Nothing would have been accomplished without standing on these shoulders.