entrepreneurship

Join Us for Our June Communication Session on Mental Health for Entrepreneurs

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Join us for our June Communication Session focused on Mental Health and Wellness on Wednesday June 26th at 5:30 PM at Collider 424. This session will be a safe space to communicate mental wellness challenges with the goal to help create a community of support for Rochester entrepreneurs.

***THERE IS LIMITED SEATING FOR THIS EVENT SO PLEASE REGISTER TO SECURE YOUR SPOT.***

The session will be moderated by Jay Franson of JF Coaching. Jay Franson is a Life and Business Coach in Rochester and has been working with business owners and business professionals for the past three years. He has a degree in Counseling Psychology and has worked with company teams to improve communication, collaboration, and connection through education and group events.

Disclaimer: The organizers are not licensed therapists. This event is meant to be an informal, supportive gathering of entrepreneurs to provide peer-to-peer support for mental wellness issues we're facing while running our businesses.

This event will be held in Collider 424 (not Collider Coworking, which is located above Bleu Duck). Collider 424 is located on the Mayo Clinic Campus on the corner of 4th Ave SW and 3rd Street SW. The building is directly north of the Mayo Clinic Opus Building and directly south (and across the street) from the Baldwin Parking Ramp. The building is also marked with the orange "C" Collider logo. There is plenty of street parking available around Collider 424 for parking. The doors to Collider 424 are along the west side of the building off the patient parking lot. Please enter through the door closest to 3rd Street SW.

***All ticket sales go directly toward making this a sustainable event in the community.***

Klobuchar Staff to Hold Public Entrepreneur and Small Business Resource Roundtable Discussions

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MINNEAPOLIS – On Thursday, June 20, representatives from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office will hold meetings with small business owners and entrepreneurs, economic development specialists from federal, state, and local government, and local organizations dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start and scale businesses. Meeting participants will have the opportunity to hear from successful local businesses, learn about government resources available to local entrepreneurs, and discuss the challenges faced when starting and expanding a business. The conversation will focus on the local entrepreneur ecosystem and improvements that can be made in delivering government resources to better support Minnesota’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

 Business owners large and small, as well as anyone considering starting their own business are encouraged to join these public discussions to learn about government resources available to them and share their thoughts on how to better align government resources with the needs of entrepreneurs.


Thursday, June 20

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

The Garage Co-working Space

123 Lafayette St.

Winona, MN 55987

 

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

LAUNCH Co-working Space 
109 1st Ave SE 
Suite 4 
Austin, MN 55912

 

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Riverland College, Room 140

965 Alexander Dr. SW

Owatonna, MN 55060

 

In March, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tim Scott (R-SC) launched the bipartisan Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus to address the most pressing issues facing entrepreneurs. Startup rates have recently fallen to near 30-year lows, threatening the fundamentals that lead to sustained economic growth and the caucus will work to diagnose the causes of this “startup slump” and formulate a comprehensive strategy to counteract it. The caucus will also serve as a clearinghouse for proposals from interested groups who wish to share their ideas with policymakers who are committed to supporting our nation’s entrepreneurs.

The caucus is supported by the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE), Economic Innovation Group (EIG), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Majority, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Main Street Alliance, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, Small Business Investor Alliance, the American Investment Council, and the National Venture Capital Association.

Join Us For a Communication Session on Mental Health for Entrepreneurs

Spring has sprung!.png

Join us for our first Communication Session focused on Mental Health and Wellness. This session will be a safe space to communicate mental wellness challenges with the goal to help create a community of support for Rochester entrepreneurs.

The session will be moderated by Jay Franson of JF Coaching. Jay Franson is a Life and Business Coach in Rochester and has been working with business owners and business professionals for the past three years. He has a degree in Counseling Psychology and has worked with company teams to improve communication, collaboration, and connection through education and group events.

***THERE IS LIMITED SEATING FOR THIS EVENT SO PLEASE REGISTER TO SECURE YOUR SPOT.***

Redefining Entrepreneurship: A Look At The Current Model

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“It’s your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take the calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed.” -Ewing Marion Kauffman

What is an entrepreneur? Why does entrepreneurship matter? 

According to Investopedia an entrepreneur is “an individual who, rather than working as an employee, founds and runs a small business, assuming all the risks and rewards of the venture.” A simple web search indicates that an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.” Finally, the Kauffman Foundation defines entrepreneurs as “people who turn ideas into reality, charging directly into the headwinds to create something of value where there was no value before.” 

These definitions have several common threads, with room for additional thoughts to be added to the concept.

Consider these thoughts. 

An entrepreneur is someone who: 

1.     Takes some sort of calculated risk. Entrepreneurs are not pursuing an idea that is a “sure thing”; failure of some sort is on the table. The risks involved can include a novel product or service or an aggressive business model. Entrepreneurs face financial risks and have their own money as some of the first invested to launch their businesses. Entrepreneurs may also face job insecurity. Exploring entrepreneurship often involves leaving long and stable careers behind to pursue the uncertain.

2.     Has expertise that gives them a competitive advantage in their target market. This knowledge, experience, and insight allows only this particular entrepreneur to bring forth this business in a specific market.

3.     Has created a product or service that a business can be built around. An entrepreneur develops a product or service that’s driven by market demand and customer need. Even if no sales have been made, an entrepreneur has identified a customer base that will pay for their product or service.

4.     Is driven by passion to bring forth a solution that no one else is currently providing.

We often think of entrepreneurs as individuals operating in the tech space, creating high growth potential businesses that can reach multiple markets with expansive revenue streams. However, anyone with a solid business idea bringing something of value to the market is an entrepreneur. This includes people building highly scalable startups. But it also includes small business owners, including people with zero or few employees. This definition also includes franchise owners. These individuals are creating a business in a specific geographic market in which the business did not exist. This still involves risk, market research, and financial investment.

Why is entrepreneurship important?

Entrepreneurs are economic drivers. They create new businesses, jobs, and opportunity for themselves and for others. Entrepreneurs are driven by a need to solve real problems facing our society. They often encourage a different way of thinking and doing. The entrepreneurial mindset and problem solving based on a defined need and customer feedback is of value in small and large organizations alike.

 Entrepreneurship matters. It’s time to start rethinking our definition of an entrepreneur.

State of the Art Cancer Therapeutics Manufacturing Headquarters Celebrates Grand Opening in Rochester Next Week

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This month Rochester clinical stage biopharmaceutical company Vyriad is set to open the doors at their brand new 25,000 square foot facility. This custom build-out, constructed on leased space at the IBM Campus, will be the new Vyriad headquarters and manufacturing site. The facility is expected to increase the capacity of the company to produce and develop viral oncolytic cancer therapies and to potentially add new biotech jobs in Rochester.

Vyriad is developing viral therapies, based on Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) or measles platforms, to treat a variety of cancers. Spread and localization of Vyriad’s oncolytic therapies can be monitored non-invasively to ensure viral targeting to the cancer site. The company currently is running several Phase I and Phase II clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of their viral therapies in patients.

Custom build-out of the Vyriad facility in northwest Rochester began this May, propelled by $9M of convertible debt financing. This funding included participation from Mayo Clinic, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc., and the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund.  

Photo courtesy of Vyriad.

Photo courtesy of Vyriad.

The new facility includes two clean room suites where the viral manufacturing process is initiated and product is purified. Virus will be packaged and labeled in a separate room for compliance with new FDA regulations for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) investigational drugs. These rooms are also modular so they can be taken apart and re-organized as needed for future growth within the facility.

The buildout also includes an entire corridor dedicated to quality testing of both Vyriad’s end viral oncolytic products and of patient samples collected through sister company Imanis Life Sciences for sponsored clinical trials.

Vyriad’s leased space on the IBM Campus includes an additional 18,000 square feet for any future expansions of the biotech company at this location.  

Design and buildout of the Vyriad facility was very intentional and forward thinking, with cleanliness being of utmost importance. The manufacturing, purification, packaging, and testing processes will all be uni-directional, with no backward flow of products or personnel within the isolated clean rooms to eliminate contamination. The rooms are additionally airlocked to restrict air and particle flow. Any breach or contamination in the system would shut down all production for about one month.

After an eight-month construction process, Vyriad will host an invitation only grand opening of its new manufacturing facility and headquarters on Wednesday January 30th. Buildout of the project was led by Benike Construction. RSP Architects served as lead design, with Madison-based Flad Architects crafting the Good Manufacturing Practice areas of the facility.

The new facility is expected to vastly increase the product run capacity of the company; currently Vyriad utilizes Mayo Clinic as a Contract Manufacturing Organization (CMO) for their viral therapies. The increased square footage also allows Vyriad to develop and create new viral products to add to their pipeline, increasing the capabilities of the company and allowing for potential expansion of their preclinical team. 

Photo courtesy of Vyriad.

Photo courtesy of Vyriad.

Vyriad was founded by Mayo Clinic virologist Dr. Stephen Russell, Mayo Clinic oncologist Dr. Kah Whye Peng, and University of Miami cell biologist Dr. Glen Barber in 2012. Dr. Russell has served as CEO since 2016.

Learn more and follow the progress of this emerging local biopharmaceutical company on their website http://www.vyriad.com/.

State of the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community- January 2019

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2018 was a significant year of growth and change for the Rochester entrepreneurial community. Here are some of the highlights.

 

Events and Competitions 

This year saw record interest in existing competitions, development of brand-new pitch events, and continued elevation of ongoing initiatives in the community. 2018 saw continued growth of 1 Million Cups Rochester, a monthly educational event for entrepreneurs, providing a platform for seven different Rochester startups to tell their story and leverage the help of the community. This year the community hosted its second Techstars Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event to go from idea to minimal viable product. The sixth Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week also took place this November, with over six hundred people attending twenty-two different events.

Walleye Tank, a Minnesota based life science business pitch competition, hit record numbers this year with a standing room-only event at Mayo Clinic’s Mann Hall with twenty-two different companies pitching their life saving technologies.

This year also saw the development of a brand-new pitch competition in Rochester, the Assistive Tech Challenge. This event was organized by Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square team to prototype and seek solutions for persons with disabilities. Twenty-eight different teams applied to compete in this inaugural event.

 

Investment

2018 was also a strong year of regional investment, forecasting opportunities for growth. $725M was raised by eight-six companies in Minnesota’s Medical Alley, including $319M in digital health, $259M in medical device, and $144M in biotech sectors. The Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund closed in June with $2M raised from fifty-six different investors. To date, the fund has invested over $500,000 in seven different healthcare companies including Rochester based Sonex Health, Vyriad, Geneticure, Marblehead Medical, and Ambient Clinical Analytics.  

Vyriad, a Rochester biotech company developing cancer therapeutics, also secured $9M of convertible debt note funding this year, facilitating the buildout of a 25,000 square foot Good Manufacturing Process facility for the company on the IBM campus in northwest Rochester. This financing included participation from Mayo Clinic, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc., and the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund. Vyriad also secured a $370,000 commitment from the state of Minnesota and the City of Rochester for equipment funding.

 

Opportunities 

This past year saw much opportunity for space in downtown Rochester for entrepreneurs and established businesses. This included the opening of two new co-working spaces, the Offices at China Hall and Collider 424. Construction on Destination Medical Center’s One Discovery Square Building also saw significant progress over the past year, with space commitments from Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota Rochester, and Epic. 

Teams from Rochester showed a strong performance in the 2018 Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide business pitch competition. Five Olmsted County teams advanced to the semifinal round including Mill Creek Life Sciences, Thaddeus Medical Systems, B.A.S.I.C. BALSA, Busy Baby LLC, and LipiQuester, LLC. Two of these teams, Mill Creek and Thaddeus Medical Systems, advanced to the semi-final round in the Life Sciences/Health IT Division. 

Team B.A.S.I.C. BALSA, composed of five Rochester Public Schools girls, entered Minnesota Cup through Technovation, a global competition to teach girls coding to solve real-world problems. The team was the top-ranking high school group at the state’s Technovation competition, called Appaplooza, and also won $10,000 at Minnesota Cup. 

This year, Rochester artificial intelligence startup Spark DJ was admitted to the Techstars Music Accelerator program in Los Angeles. The Hatchery, a wet lab space for life science entrepreneurs, also opened early this year within Mayo Clinic. In 2018 the Ignite Minnesota regional partnership was also launched to convene, elevate, and promote the work of innovative businesses and entrepreneurs in Minnesota to keep the region globally competitive.  

Rochester also had an entrepreneurial presence at several national events in 2018 including the NFL’s 1st & Future startup competition in Minneapolis early in the year. A contingent from Rochester also attended the Kauffman ESHIP Summit in Kansas City this summer to create regional and national partnerships to build and strengthen our entrepreneurial ecosystems.

 

Notable visits 

Several distinguished guests also visited the Rochester entrepreneurial community this year. This included serial entrepreneur, author, and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk who headlined the Stationary Astronauts inaugural Meeting of the Minds event in July. The community was also visited by Kira Blackwell, Program Executive for NASA iTech, an initiative that searches for solutions to NASA’s most pressing issues. In December, Rochester was also visited by Jun Axup, Scientific Director and Partner at the San Francisco life science accelerator IndieBio


Losses

The community saw several businesses shut their doors in the downtown area including The Doggery, Soul Purpose Boutique, and Firefly Barre Fitness. This year also ended with the closing of EDGE Fitness in the southwest portion of the city.

 

Threats

Rising downtown rental costs threaten to push small and emerging businesses and entrepreneurs out of downtown Rochester. However, this creates an opportunity for clustering of businesses in other portions of Rochester, such as the IBM campus.

Five Local Biotech Student-Led Teams Advance to Walleye Tank

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Allisa Song, Nanodropper.

Allisa Song, Nanodropper.

Last Thursday local student-led innovation stole the limelight at the Entrepreneurial Student Showcase + Walleye Tank Student Qualifying Round, a collaboration between Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Collider Coworking, and the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship. Seventeen different student teams from around the region competed in the event. Twelve of these teams pitched with the hope to enter Walleye Tank, a Minnesota-based biotech business pitch competition. From this student qualifying round, five teams were deemed ready to compete in Walleye Tank, which will take place tomorrow in Rochester. Advancing teams included Nanodropper, NeuroCog, Malleus, UVCanopy, and Intelligent Parking Solutions.

Nanodropper, presented by Mayo Clinic Medical Student Allisa Song, is addressing wasted eyedrop medications from unnecessary overflow during application of meds; the normal amount of liquid dispensed from eye drop bottles is five times that which can be absorbed by the human eye, according the Nanodropper team. In glaucoma treatment alone, excessive waste from eye drops can cost up to $500 per bottle. This waste is a large problem for low income patients or patients that run out of medication before their prescription can be refilled. To solve this problem, the Nanodropper team has developed a medical grade, single-use silicone eye drop adapter that reduces the size of dispensed eye drops to a volume that can be absorbed by the human eye to reduce medical eye drop waste. This adapter has a universal fit and is patent-pending. The team plans to deliver the product to customers through eye care clinics at a cost of $12.99, resulting in an 86% profit margin. By 2020, ~80M patients will be diagnosed with glaucoma, resulting in an estimated market size of $90M in revenue in the US market alone. Nanodropper qualified for the Mid-Level Reeler division of Walleye Tank.

Logan Grado and Ian Kitchen, Malleus.

Logan Grado and Ian Kitchen, Malleus.

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities students Logan Grado and Ian Kitchen won first place in the Junior Angler Division with Malleus, a hearing aid technology startup. By 2020 an estimated 45M people will be diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing deficiencies, requiring the use of a hearing aid. However, hearing aids are normally tuned by audiologists in a controlled clinical setting, which can be non-functional in a real-world environment. Consequently, when patients need to have their hearing aid adjusted, they have to return to the audiologist, resulting in a costly and inefficient process. Malleus aims to pair artificial intelligence with Bluetooth capable devices to create more personalized, self-directed hearing fits for patients to reduce the need for excessive hearing aid tuning in a clinical setting.  

James Perreault, UVCanopy.

James Perreault, UVCanopy.

Mayo Clinic Florida researcher and physician team of David Restrepo, Daniel Boczar, Toni Turnbull, and Karim ReFaey won second place in the Junior Angler division with their concept, NeuroCog. Brain surgery patients, the team explained, require frequent pre- and postoperative evaluations of cognitive function, which can be very time and resource consuming. To address this issue, they propose the development of a tablet-based application providing standardized, automatized cognitive testing to complement routine postoperative monitoring of neurosurgery patients. This app would incorporate artificial intelligence-based voice, facial, and text recognition to perform cognitive assessments, targeting the 13.8M neurosurgeries occurring globally each year. 

Also qualifying for the Junior Angler Division of Walleye Tank, and winning the Audience Favorite Award, was Saint Mary’s University Finance Student James Perreault with his concept UVCanopy. UVCanopy is addressing the lack of sanitation on items like wheel chairs and other hospital equipment, primarily targeting nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. The UVCanopy uses germicidal UV-C light to kill bacteria in a tunnel-shaped device. Medical equipment could be pushed through the tunnel for sterilization purposes, additionally eliminating human error involved in the sanitation process and reducing dependency on hazardous sterilization chemicals. UVCanopy proposes to make profits through subscription sales and purchases of replacement parts. The team is currently working with the Saint Mary’s University Science Department to test different light volatility in the disinfection process.  

Sinibaldo Romero, Intelligent Parking Solutions.

Sinibaldo Romero, Intelligent Parking Solutions.

The final team to qualify for the Junior Angler Division of Walleye Tank was the Intelligent Parking Solutions concept, led by Mayo Clinic Post Baccalaureate Fellow Sinibaldo Romero. This concept aims to utilize data analytics to increase parking efficiencies in healthcare organizations. The team proposed using cameras in parking spaces to identify unused spots. The product would leverage machine learning to understand parking patterns for patients and staff to determine more efficient mechanisms for healthcare parking. Parking is a multi-million-dollar industry for healthcare institutions. Missed medical appointments due to lack of parking in the US is documented to cost $150B to healthcare institutions each year.

Student showcase teams were judged by Heather Holmes, Vice President of Marketing at Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc.; Chris Lukenbill, Founder at Fresh Edge; Sunny Prabhakar, Account Strategist at Corporate Web Services, Inc., Jon Ninas, Career Awareness Specialist at Mayo Clinic; Sam Gill, Workforce Development Manager at the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce; and Brady Olson, Human Resources Administrative Assistant at Mayo Clinic. The Walleye Tank Student Qualifying Round was judged by Chris Schad, Director of Business Development for Discovery Square; Joselyn Raymundo, Founder of Rochester Home Infusion; Xavier Frigola, Director of Entrepreneurship at Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc.; and Shuai Li, Lab Manager at Mayo Clinic.

Watch all the Walleye Tank student qualifying round pitches on the YouTube channel. Catch these teams live as they pitch in Walleye Tank tomorrow starting at noon in Rochester. Walleye Tank is a free event that is open to the public.

New Cowork Space Offers Hub for Winona Entrepreneurs

Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

Located just one block from the Mississippi River in Winona, Minn., The Garage Co-Work Space aims to promote and foster entrepreneurship. The coworking facility, Winona’s first, is the fruition of a two-year collaboration among dedicated community members to fuel entrepreneurship and provide a local hub for innovation. 

The Garage Co-Work Executive Director Samantha Strand, far left. Garage Co-Work Owner Eric Mullen, right. Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

The Garage Co-Work Executive Director Samantha Strand, far left. Garage Co-Work Owner Eric Mullen, right. Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

“The Winona Community is and always has been a very entrepreneurial place. One thing it has been lacking is a center for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial events. This is a key void The Garage can fill,” said Owner Eric Mullen. “The Garage Co-Work Space plans to be a place to host and coordinate these types of things to further connect the community.”

The name of the coworking facility pays homage to the humble beginnings of businesses started in basements or garages, to entrepreneurs who just needed some type of space in which to create. The coworking facility offers a central location for Winona’s entrepreneurs to link up, problem solve together, and allow their businesses to thrive. 

“If you just give people space to think and to dream and to do and to reach out and connect to people, sometimes that’s all they really need,” explained Samantha Strand, Executive Director of The Garage Co-Work Space.

After a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 14th, the coworking facility is officially open to the public. Now, Strand says she’s excited to share the space and help others understand the benefits of coworking in Winona.

The Garage Co-Work has an open space coworking format, with no private offices. The facility also houses two conference rooms, a lounge area, kitchenette, and two private phone booth areas. Desk space can be rented daily, weekly, monthly, or permanently.

The Garage Co-Work is the pinnacle of a two-year brainstorming partnership between many local supporting entities in Winona who wished to create a focal hub for entrepreneurs within the city. Winona State University School of Business, the City of Winona, the Port Authority of Winona, and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Strand said, were all instrumental in the ideation and launch of the coworking facility.

In addition to the physical space, The Garage Co-Work will also provide business development programming and networking events to help facilitate local business growth and education. Upcoming events include 1 Million Cups Winona on December 12th and The Garage Co-Work’s first Fireside Chat with the Founder of WinCraft on December 17th.

Strand, a Twin Cities native, was drawn back to the area after completing her bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship at Baylor University. Although she has ideas for starting a business of her own someday, now she’s driven to help others succeed.  

“At the core of what I really love is entrepreneurship and helping other people believe that they can be entrepreneurs…and they can go out and do big things and they can make a difference,” she explained.

Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

Strand said there’s a definitive energy around entrepreneurship and strong grassroots entrepreneurial movements already occurring in Winona. She thinks, however, that even more innovation activity could be occurring, which the Garage Co-Work Space could help to facilitate.

Even if you don’t consider yourself entrepreneurial, Strand suggests just placing yourself on the mailing list of your local coworking space. You never know when you might benefit or be able to help someone in that extended network.

Rochester Rising Launches Second Annual Fall Supporting Member Drive

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It’s time again for the Rochester Rising Fall Supporting Member drive! If you enjoy reading our articles, listening in the podcasts, and watching our video content about the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rochester, Minnesota and our surrounding communities, considering become a Supporting Member of Rochester Rising to help keep this platform going.

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And most importantly, I want to say a big thank you to the many Supporting Members who have been here since the start. Your support was instrumental to make this news platform operational.

Rochester Rising was launched in July 2016 to tell stories of Rochester-based innovation that would otherwise remain untold. Today, we still remain the only entrepreneurially-focused news site in the community.


During the past ~2 years that Rochester Rising has existed, we’ve told the stories of over 143 different entrepreneurs, startups, and innovation initiatives in Rochester and the surrounding communities. Many of these stories were in biotech and healthtech. However, we’ve shared the journey of many other entrepreneurs, including those operating in retail, food and beverage, fitness, tech, and social entrepreneurship. 

We feel that it’s important to tell the stories of people taking risks, taking chances with no safety net, innovating, creating, and not following the expected route. These stories are valuable tools to inspire others, showcase the creativity that is already occurring here, and build up the entrepreneurial community piece by piece.

With more activity in our community than we ever seen before, now is the exact time for something like Rochester Rising to exist to document and begin to record the rise of entrepreneurship in Rochester. We do have a small and young entrepreneurial community, but it’s growing daily. We feel that it’s essential to tell this story. As an entrepreneurial myself, Rochester Rising is has the most advantageous vantage point to amplify this content.

Rochester Rising has had steady impact in the community. The articles, podcasts, and videos that we generate allow people to see the faces and hear the voices of our local creators. 

Starting in this year, we’ve also begun launching some women-focused entrepreneurial events to connect and engage the entrepreneurial community, with our partners at The Commission. We have also begun to produce educational materials to help people understand and connect to the community. This includes our “Roadmap to the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community”, which is updated yearly as well as self-published print and online magazines to share these stories in a different way. This past year we've also launched an ongoing #Emerge series to showcase the faces and voices of Rochester's entrepreneurial community, a “Strong Women Creating Value” series to showcase local female leaders, and a “Minnesota Innovation Hub” series to demonstrate the multiple entrepreneurial hubs across Minnesota.

This whole process has involved an immense amount of learning, failing, and growing. 

Why do we need to have Supporting Members and why should you consider becoming one?

Well foremost, Supporting Memberships help to keep this platform running and help us to run events around the community. Additionally, our Supporting Members receive a range of perks, including access to online, supporting member only content and deeply discounted advertisement packages.


We run our Supporting Membership through an online platform called Patreon, where our Supporting Members, or “Patrons,” can give anything from $1 to $25 each month. Unlike many other membership drives, our Supporting Members get new rewards each year, which they receive as long as they stay a Supporting Member.

If you’re not ready or interested in a monthly contribution, one time donations are also highly appreciated. 

If you think Rochester Rising is something that should continue to exist in this community, please consider becoming a sustaining member. You can find out more information on our Patreon page

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 Kherde, 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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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.

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.

It's Our Two-Year Anniversary!

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Today, I am pleased to say, is the two-year anniversary of Rochester Rising. This online news platform was officially launched on July 12, 2016 to fill an unmet need in the community: to amplify stories of Rochester entrepreneurs that would otherwise remain untold. Since our launch date, Rochester Rising has told the stories of over 143 unique startups, innovative small businesses, and entrepreneurial initiatives in the community.

Last year, we threw a party to celebrate our one-year birthday. This year is a bit of a different occasion as I attend the ESHIP Conference in Kansas City over the next two days to collaborate and learn from other entrepreneurial ecosystem builders from around the country. The name “entrepreneurial ecosystem builder” is certainly a nebulous, relatively new term. For a generally introverted person, it’s something that I never envisioned myself doing. But today, as the conference opened, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be- with Rochester Rising and other efforts in the community- even though this realization has taken ­a very long and non-linear path. ­­ I’ve learned many lessons even in the half day that I’ve been at ESHIP so far that I’m excited to bring back to the community.

Building and developing Rochester Rising has been a passion of mine and something that I think is of great value. This would not have been possible without an immense amount of help and support from several close friends, family members, mentors, and collaborators, for which I am truly grateful.

And of course, Rochester Rising would not be possible without all of you, the community. The people who read the stories, listen to the podcasts, watch the videos, and provide me with support and encouragement.

Thank you.

Here’s to another year of amplifying stories of Rochester entrepreneurs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Ngah.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Ngah.

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

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

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

Rochester Brothers Seeking to Grow Medical Writing Startup Superior Medical Editing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Exits, DoApp Founder Looking to Give Back to the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community

This article is the second, and final, installment telling the story of DoApp, a mobile development company and Rochester's biggest startup story that you didn't know. In part one we discussed how founders Wade Beavers, Joe Sriver, and David Borrillo launched DoApp on a whim in 2008. After spending a year with little direction, the team focused in and developed three portions of the business: a news and broadcast solution, a real estate market solution, and a healthcare solution, called mRemedy. If you missed part one, click here to catch up with the story.

DoApp founding member and CEO Wade Beavers. Photo courtesy of DoApp.

DoApp founding member and CEO Wade Beavers. Photo courtesy of DoApp.

Beavers tried to perform a complicated juggling act, functioning as CEO of both the news and real estate portion of DoApp as well as the active CEO of mRemedy, the health and wellness mobile application solution in partnership with Mayo Clinic.

None of these three were failing, or at least none were failing fast, but the company needed to focus once again to home in on their “DNA” and capitalize on their intellectual assets.

“I think all three would have gained traction, but I think there’s no way you could have focused on all three,” Beavers said.

Thankfully, fate and strategic partnerships helped just a bit.

mRemedy was gaining traction all by itself. In 2010, the care transitions provider Axial Exchange did an asset acquisition of mRemedy, obtaining the knowledge and infrastructure of that portion of the business, while allowing all the employees to remain with DoApp.

With the focus now on the news and real estate portions of the business, both started to take off. In 2012, the DoApp team was looking to exit, or sell the company. Beavers began running a dual process to sell both the news and real estate sides of DoApp to separate companies.

However, fate reared its head again. Near the very end of the due diligence process, the buyer for the news portion of DoApp backed out, while the real estate piece was successfully acquired by the property solutions provider CoreLogic. This mishap resulted in, essentially, the fragmentation of the company. But the most difficult part, Beavers said, was having to dust himself off and start running what was left of the company again.

“So, imagine you’re spending all your time prepping for that piece and now you have to pick up the pieces and go. So that was really hard,” he explained.

Now whittled down from three to just one company, DoApp doubled down on the news solution. They focused only on providing mobile applications and web solutions for broadcast, radio, and news agencies, building out an impressive portfolio. The company grew so much, Beavers said, that he started to stash away money in case the business eventually went south.

Beavers continued to grow DoApp for two full years until another potential partner came forward. In just July of last year this final portion of DoApp was successfully acquired by NEWSCYCLE Solutions, a leading tech provider for global media based in Bloomington, Minn.

As part of the acquisition deal, DoApp remained in Rochester and all the employees will stay on for at least two years after the acquisition.

“A great product goes away if great people go away,” Beavers rationalized.

Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week. November 13th-17th.

Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week. November 13th-17th.

He said there’s a lot of talent in Rochester and it was important to him to keep these jobs in the area.

“We were doing that for Rochester. …Those are average wage jobs of $90,000 or above, minimum. That’s real money,” he said.

Beavers agreed to stay on as President of Mobile at NEWSCYCLE for at least one year, with all his employees still directly reporting to him. Although that year has passed, he has given no indication of his intent to stay or leave the company. Now with a little bit more time on his hands, he’s begun investing in some other local startups.

One thing that helped Beavers succeed was a perceptive understanding of the “DNA”, or culture, of his company. And not just what he desired for the business’s “DNA”, but really comprehending what his employees valued.

“I think you have to know your character and you have to be true to yourself,” he explained. “You’ve got to be comfortable with yourself and what you are and know that that’s how you’re going to succeed or fail based on those conditions.”

Beavers knows a thing or two about fostering company culture. In his over eight years at DoApp, only one employee has left the business.

Even though the Rochester startup and entrepreneurial community has changed since 2008, Beavers said it’s still in its infancy. He thinks the community in Rochester has to be comfortable with its own “DNA” and understand that unicorns are not going to be built here. But that doesn’t mean the community is lacking in great ideas, sharp talent, or rising potential.

Beavers said while building a business you have to be laser-focused on just the business.

“You have to put everything away and get the thing to the finish line,” he advised.

Now that his own exits are complete, Beavers is looking to give more of his time to the Rochester entrepreneurial community and offer up his advice and unique experience as guidance.

As part of these efforts, the DoApp founding team of Beavers, Joe Sriver, and David Borrillo as well as other key service providers in the community will host an event during Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week to candidly talk about fundraising, acquisitions, pivots, and everything else you want to know about startups but are afraid to ask.

Link up with the team and hear their first-hand account of how they built a startup in Rochester on Wednesday November 15th at 6PM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen. Click here for more information and to register.

Rochester Rising Releases First Magazine to Amplify Stories of Entrepreneurship

Welcome to the first magazine edition of Rochester Rising. Rochester Rising was created last July to amplify the stories of entrepreneurship and innovation occurring in the Rochester, Minn. area through original, in-depth content. We aim to tell the stories that weren't being told and show that Rochester has a young, but emerging and diverse entrepreneurial community.

Each week we put out several articles, one podcast, and the occasional video to tell these stories.

Link up with us on iTunes, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, in our weekly newsletter, and on our webpage (www.rochesterrising.org) to never miss a story. If you are a business looking to support a mission like ours or to connect with startups and entrepreneurs, we are always looking for community partners to help support this platform through advertisement and sponsorship.

As with most things we do, this first magazine is a test, a hypothesis, to try and share these stories of entrepreneurship and risk taking with as many people as possible. Please pass along this publication to help us amplify the innovation taking place right now within our city. If you would prefer a PDF, please contact us to receive one.  We also have placed several print copies out into the Rochester community. If you would like some at your place of business, please also send us an email

This publication includes the majority of the stories that were published on Rochester Rising during Summer 2017. We hope this is an effective method to begin to catalog and document entrepreneurial activity and the stories of innovation within this city.

Join in and be Inspired at Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017

This story is brought to you by Rochester Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017:

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Plug in and be inspired to innovate during Rochester’s Global Entrepreneurship Week. Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is the largest celebration of innovation and community in the world, which occurs in 170 countries and touches 10M people. GEW 2017 will take place November 13th through November 17th.

Rochester GEW will involve a full of week of events and programming, allowing community members to come together to celebrate the entrepreneurship and innovation that this city has to offer. Rochester GEW is an opportunity to leverage connections and engage all levels of the startup, entrepreneurial, and innovation ecosystem, from the solopreneur to the seasoned business leader.

“This is our fifth GEW celebration in Rochester.  As our entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to prosper, we need to celebrate our risk takers and inspire the next generation of local entrepreneurs,” said Jamie Sundsbak, Rochester GEW organizer.

Most importantly, GEW is a time to be inspired. It’s a platform not only for entrepreneurs to connect with each other, it’s an opportunity for all community members to explore their potential as innovators and to connect with like-minded individuals who are just looking to start something in this city.

The theme of this year’s Rochester GEW is honoring the past and embracing the future. It’s a time to explore and celebrate our entrepreneurial roots and engage in what the future of innovation could look like in our community.

GEW Rochester will include a wide range of events to engage and connect the innovation ecosystem of Rochester and the surrounding communities. Programming will include a student showcase, displaying innovations and prototypes developed by students in southeast Minnesota. The team from DoApp, a Rochester mobile application business, will also tell their story and walk through their successful acquisition last year. Events will also include a Women’s Entrepreneurial Happy Hour and a panel discussing business from the media perspective. The week will wrap up with the RAVE (Rochester Area Values Entrepreneurship) capstone event- hosted by Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. and Journey to Growth- to celebrate and honor local entrepreneurs.

The Rochester GEW organizing team is still seeking potential sponsors for the week. If your organization is interested in sponsorship opportunities or could donate space for programming, please contact Jamie Sundsbak at Jamie@collider.mn.

The organizing team encourages members of the community to spread the word about this week, to invite their friends, and to attend as many events as possible to celebrate, engage with, and learn about Rochester’s startup culture.

Keep up with the latest news about GEW Rochester by subscribing to their newsletter. You can also link up by liking the GEW Rochester Facebook page and by following the Twitter hashtags #gewroch and #gew2017.