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


(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.

Local Student on Route to be National Finalist in Doodle 4 Google Contest


John Marshall student Rebecca Frei’s doodle is set to have global reach. Frei is one of only fifty-three students to become a State and Territory Finalist in the annual Doodle 4 Google student contest. The public has until 12AM PDT on May 18th (tomorrow) to vote Frei’s doodle through to make her a National Finalist, earning her a $5,000 college scholarship and a trip to Google Headquarters in California.

The Doodle 4 Google contest has taken place yearly since 2008. The program is open to students grades K-12; participants compete in K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, or 10-12 grade groups. Frei is contending in the grades 10-12 division.

Doodles are drawings featured on the page that are “meant to surprise and delight people,” according to Google. This year’s Doodle 4 Google contest centered around the question “What Inspires Me?”.

Frei was already chosen as a State and Territory Finalist based on the artistic merit, creativity, and theme communication of her doodle, allowing her drawing to be featured in the Doodle 4 Google gallery. This year’s guest judges for the contest included the likes of Ty Burrell, Carlos Beltran, and Laurie Hernandez.

Public voting, which ends tomorrow, could allow Frei to become one of only five National Finalists. From this pool, one winner will then be chosen, awarding the student a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 tech package for their school.

Frei’s doodle was inspired by her Great Grandma Blennie, who Frei depicts playing a banjolele in the bed of the family’s garden truck. In her submission, Frei explained that Great Grandma Blennie uplifted everyone with whom she interacted. Frei says she feels connected with her grandmother while playing the banjolele herself and aims to make her grandmother proud.

The public can vote for Frei’s design, and view the other doodle submissions, by clicking here. Voting will close at 12AM on May 18th. 

Dayton Declares Today "Medical Alley Day in Minnesota"

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Governor Dayton has proclaimed today “Medical Alley Day in Minnesota.” This designation is in recognition of the “unique contributions to health care delivery and management, medical technology innovation, and entrepreneurship” that take place within our state. Medical Alley houses the world’s densest cluster of medtech innovation and was recognized as one of only six “Places of Invention” in the Smithsonian’s American History Museum.

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Groundbreaking Accelerates Momentum In DMC's Discovery Square Sub-District


Momentum in Discovery Square, a sixteen-block sub-district of Destination Medical Center (DMC), accelerated yesterday when the Minneapolis-based developer Mortenson Company, DMC, the State of Minnesota, and local leaders broke ground on the site of the first new construction facility in the sub-district. 

Virtual reality gear from Area 10 Labs during the Discovery Square Community Celebration.

Virtual reality gear from Area 10 Labs during the Discovery Square Community Celebration.

This event launched Phase 1 of Discovery Square to create a four-story, ~90,000 square-foot building to house life science and medical innovation and attract talent from around the world to accelerate the translation of medicine and health technology.

This first new building will be located near Mayo Clinic’s downtown campus, near their Guggenheim and Stabile buildings, on the corner of 4th Street SW and 2nd Avenue SW.

David Mortenson, Chair of Mortenson Company, called the vision and strategy behind Discovery Square bold.

He asked, “Where else in the world could you stand and say, ‘We are here to revolutionize medicine, to change history, and to have an impact not just on millions, but perhaps on billions of people across the world’?” 

This first new building is designed to foster collisions and collaboration featuring an integrated, open-work space and centralized common areas.

Image from Discovery Square Community Celebration prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

Image from Discovery Square Community Celebration prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

Mayo Clinic is an anchor tenant in this first Mortenson building and will occupy three floors, bringing their Individualized Medicine, Regenerative Medicine, and Advanced Diagnostic programs into the space. Mortenson is continuing their tenant recruitment process for the building and is currently in talks with both high growth and early phase companies in four different countries.

“Just to get to this point is pretty incredible,” said Lisa Clarke, Executive Director of DMC Economic Development Agency. This moment, Clarke explained, is truly a milestone in the history of the Rochester community.

“The celebration today, it’s about investments and it’s about partnerships. And it’s about science, and research, and technology,” Clarke stated. “And it’s about all of us coming together and colliding and creating greatness in innovation. And we want to keep it right here in this community, and in this region, and in the state of Minnesota.”

The groundbreaking serves a catalyst to position Rochester as a global health destination, said Lt. Governor Tina Smith, that builds upon the city’s and state’s rich legacies of innovation.


“A legacy that includes the first pace maker, the first open heart surgery, not to mention snow blowers, Twister, Bisquick, and Spam,” she said. “Minnesota’s inventions have made this state and this world a better, healthier, more fun place.”

DMC developments, in total, are expected to add 30,000 new jobs in Minnesota and to establish more businesses that incorporate Mayo Clinic intellectual property.

“With the groundbreaking in Discovery Square, the Destination Medical Center continues to garner attention of investors around the country, life science companies, corporate organizations, and indeed patients from all over the world,” explained Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy. “As we make this a reality, the opportunity remains to attract even more startups to our city, to our region, and to our state.”

Events of the day did not forget the startups and entrepreneurs already innovating in the Discovery Square sub-district. All current neighborhood collaborators gathered for a community celebration and innovation showcase prior to the groundbreaking ceremony. Discovery Square tenants Limb Lab, GoRout, Area 10 Labs, and Collider Coworking participated in the showcase. Food was provided by the Discovery Square residents People’s Food Co-op and Pasquale’s Neighborhood Pizzeria. The art installation “The Vast and Empty Ballrooms of the Double Helix’s Heart” by Rochester creative Eric Anderson was also displayed to explore the fabric and culture of the Rochester community.

(Click on the photos below to below to advance through images from the Discovery Square Community Celebration.)

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 ( 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.

TEDxZumbroRiver Speaker Says We Need more Frauds and Imposters to Spur Innovation

The second running of TEDxZumbroRiver, an independently organized TEDx event, took place last week “to share ideas, network, and catalyze innovation in the Rochester-area.” This year’s event brought in ten speakers, five from Rochester and five from across the country, to share their thoughts on some big ideas. The talks all centered around the theme “What’s Possible”, with many direct implications on Rochester’s entrepreneurial community.

Perhaps one of the more thought provoking ideas for Rochester’s innovation ecosystem came from local writer Ayodeji Awoskia.

“I don’t feel like I belong on this stage right now,” Awoskia said to begin his talk. He explained he sometimes feels like an imposter or a fraud and asked the audience if they have ever felt out of their depth in their careers or completely unqualified to do what they are doing.

“Are you plagued by the sneaking suspicion that eventually you’re going to get found out?” he asked. “Someone’s going to realize that you actually don’t know what you’re doing and they’re going to expose you for the fake and the phony that you really are.”

He said if you feel like this, you might just have “imposter syndrome”- feelings of self-doubt that you are just not enough, regardless of your experience and talent.

However, Awoskia said, people experiencing “imposter syndrome,” these so-called frauds, are the innovators who are moving towards their passions.

Awoskia explained that these “imposters,” the people pursuing their dreams and working on the big ideas, can alleviate feelings of self-doubt by taking the safest pathway, the linear progression of school, a job in one industry for life, and eventual collection of a pension.

“That’s what a lot of people do,” he explained.

However, industries once viewed as stable are falling apart. “Set it and forget it” careers are now dead.

Instead of playing by these old rules, Awoskia suggested leaning into the fear that comes along with pursuing greatness. The economy and business landscape is changing quickly and “doing work that matters to you, on a personal level, is more important now than it ever has been before.”

“The future belongs to the imposters. Frauds will inherit the earth,” he predicted.

Awoskia said that you can never be a fraud while pursuing something great, something big.

“You’re only a true imposter if you ignore the work that you’re meant to do and the life you’re supposed to live.”

Awoskia said “imposter syndrome” really stems from ego and advised that we stop looking inward, focusing solely on ourselves, and start observing the world around us. We need to realize that our choices and actions affect not only ourselves.

“When you fail to face uncertainty and shy away from challenges, you don’t just rob yourself. You rob the rest of us. The world needs what you have to offer. Give your gifts to us.”

TEDxZumbroRiver: In Photos

Yesterday I had the distinct opportunity and pleasure to attend TEDxZumbroRiver. This is the second year running of the Rochester-based TEDx event, with the goal to "share ideas, network, and catalyze innovation in the Rochester-area."

TED- or Technology, Entertainment, and Design- is a nonprofit that spreads innovative, powerful ideas in the form of TED talks. These talks are eighteen minutes or less and cover a range of global issues and "ideas worth spreading." TEDx events are locally organized, independent TED events, bringing TED-like talks into the community. This year, TEDxZumbroRiver showcased ten different speakers from Rochester and around the United States, all focused on the theme "What's Possible." 

TEDxZumbroRiver was a night of inspiration and emotion, encouraging listeners to push boundaries, both real and perceived, to truly live life and recognize our own full potential.

Here are some photos celebrating the evening event. Check back for the full story next week.

Photo courtesy of Lilly Sundsbak.

Photo courtesy of Lilly Sundsbak.

Photo courtesy of Lilly Sundsbak.

Photo courtesy of Lilly Sundsbak.

Photo courtesy of Lilly Sundsbak.

Photo courtesy of Lilly Sundsbak.

Lotus Health Foundation Promotes Hope of Self-Care to Transform Rochester into a Healthier City

“Sixty-eight percent of Olmsted County residents are overweight or obese. …And twenty-eight percent of Olmsted County residents have two or more chronic conditions. And we’re considered one of the healthiest counties in Minnesota,” explained Dr. Jengyu Lai, Chief Manager of the Rochester Clinic.

Treatment of chronic disease in the United States accounts for eighty-six percent of healthcare costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps instead of prescribing more medications to relieve American’s health symptoms, we should take a step back and examine the root cause of these problems. Could a portion of these costs be eliminated by simple lifestyle changes?

Meiping Liu believes this is possible.

Liu- Founder of Lotus Health Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Rochester Clinic - thinks that each person has a responsibility to maintain their own health, which she says can help decrease dependency on medications and remove some pressure on today’s bloated healthcare system.

Lai, Lui, and the team of health care providers at Rochester Clinic aim to perpetuate this “hope of self-care” in their seven-year-old, community-based medical practice. Clinic staff believe in lifestyle medicine, a holistic approach with an emphasis on prevention wellness.

The best way to fulfill this mission for self-care, Lai explained, was to provide lifestyle medicine education within the community. Just last year, Lotus Health Foundation emerged to promote healthy living, collaborate with like-minded organizations, and receive funds to educate the community about lifestyle medicine.

The Complete Health Improvement Program, or CHIP, is one significant educational push made by Lotus Health Foundation to promote wellness in Rochester.

This evidence-based, comprehensive wellness improvement program was developed by Dr. Hans Diehl in 1988 and is one of the few community-focused lifestyle medicine programs with a strong history of success. The 30-year initiative has helped 80,000 people and is the focus of more than twenty-nine scientific review papers.

Healthy behaviors, Liu explained, are not learned in a single day. Instead, CHIP teaches lifestyle habits- such as exercise and stress management- in a twelve-week program that heavily relies on peer support. Guest speakers, like local dieticians or physicians, are also invited to select classes.

“[CHIP participants] always learn something at each session. And we have fun,” said Liu.

Healthy meal prep is a major focus of CHIP. “We believe in the meal. The food, really is the key part. Because a lot of people want to make changes, but they don’t know how to cook!” explained Liu. She said people often have no idea how to begin preparing their own wholesome meals and have been overwhelmed by confusing information about “healthy” foods or weight loss products.

“Weight loss doesn’t mean anything! You can have a weight loss, but you’re still not healthy,” she said.

Liu tells her “CHIPers” they don’t need to beat themselves up on the treadmill to work toward wellness. She explains that many people are in pain or are overweight and this method just causes them to give up. CHIP, instead, has no focus on weight loss, calorie counting, or portion control. The program promotes a whole-food, plant-based diet with less sugar, less oil, and less salt (SOS) where “you eat until you’re full. You eat more, weigh less,” Liu explained.

Liu first learned about CHIP at a lifestyle medicine conference in 2014 and became a CHIP certified instructor to implement the program among the Rochester Clinic staff. The first Rochester community CHIP class took place in 2015 at Hy-vee Barlow. Last fall, the class outgrew that space and moved community sessions to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Over the course of the twelve-week CHIP program, Liu says she can see people’s personalities open as the group collectively pursues wellness. “The bonding is so valuable. They find they are not alone,” she explained. She said that graduation from the program does not mean that “CHIPers” will be 100% consistent with a healthy lifestyle. But when they get off track, they now have the training and education to work back toward wellness.

CHIP is not only about the health of the individual. It’s for the whole community. When you educate one person about healthy living, that person can implement wellness concepts to their entire family.

“CHIPers” still eat at restaurants. Liu explains CHIP graduates often loose the desire to order foods they normally would have before the program. Instead, they are looking for healthier options. Liu has personally worked with Rochester restaurants to get CHIP meals on their menus, even if it’s just for one, special day. “When you have one of these events, people take notice,” she explained.

Lotus Health Foundation also held their very first weeklong Community Health Fair this April to celebrate graduation of both a community and UMR student group of participants from the CHIP program. The banquet event had 200 attendees and featured CHIP founder Dr. Diehl and Tony Buettner of Blue Zones as speakers. Liu explained that community-wide events like these are the “fastest way and a fun way to get more people involved” in lifestyle medicine.

CHIP and Lotus Health Foundation are passions for Liu. She is the main contact for CHIP registration and personally sits down and speaks with each participant before the program starts. She’s the one going out and seeking involvement from local restaurants, schools, and the Rochester community. She’s the one who gets deeply attached to each group of her “CHIPers”. Liu is one of the selfless few who pursue a business with a small profit margin because she cares so deeply about the community and about the people seeking to making themselves better.

Both Rochester Clinic and Lotus Health Foundation are small and still relatively new in the community’s eyes. Now they are tasked to raise brand awareness and form lasting bonds within Rochester.

“We want to partner with the other organizations in the community. We want support from the community. We want them to know our mission and what we can do to help the community in general,” Liu explained.

Lotus Health Foundation is seeking funding sources who support their mission so they can provide more lifestyle medicine programming in the community and offer CHIP free to participants without the financial resources.

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.

Café Steam Brews Artistic Expression Through Limited Edition Mug Series

Photos courtesy of Will Forsman.

Photos courtesy of Will Forsman.

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

Artistic expression has been a hallmark of Café Steam since they opened their doors in 2015. Their latest collaborations with local artists have taken that expression to another, more personal, medium—your coffee mug.

The designs created for Café Steam’s limited edition artist mug series provide valuable exposure for several talented Rochester-area artists while continuing to bolster the strong connection between the coffee shop and the local arts scene. The first design in the series was the handiwork of local artist Nick Sinclair, which debuted in March and quickly sold out.

“We wanted to encompass the Steam experience into something you could enjoy from home,” said Café Steam general manager William Forsman. “Other coffee shops generally have branded merchandise like mugs and t-shirts, but we wanted to take it a step further by promoting the work of local artists. Nick has been a powerhouse in terms of cultivating the local art scene, and we could not have thought of a better person to start this series with than him.”



The second design in the series, launched just last week, features the artistic stylings of Beth Sievers, who has had several pieces of her encaustic art displayed at the café, along with a spring show entitled “DISCARDED.” This continued support has been instrumental to Sievers as she pushes her artistic career forward.

“It’s very important for local businesses to support local artists. Often, I see a disconnect between the art community and the medical/business community,” said Sievers, who works at Mayo Clinic as a clinical nurse specialist as her day job. “When businesses like Café Steam make art part of their environment, it’s easier for patrons to take note of the art community and start to appreciate it.”

In addition to the mug series, Café Steam hosts an Open Mic each Thursday night, live musical performances on Friday and Saturday evening, and an eclectic mix of visual art throughout the café—elements that help make it a unique Rochester institution. To Forsman, outlets such as these are critical as Rochester continues to develop as an artistic community that supports and promotes local talent.

“The Arts are the soul of any good city,” Forsman said. “We see a budding community in Rochester that wants to foster their more creative side, but doesn’t necessarily have access to the resources or the social acceptance that larger cities have. It’s been our mission to not only serve great coffee, but to open doors and connect artists with individuals who share their interests.”

Mugs can be purchased for $15 at the café and the series will continue with new designs in the near future. Announcements on future collaborations will be made via social media.

“We definitely plan on continuing the series with future artists,” Forsman said. “There’s been such a warm reception and it’s really taken on a life of its own as a great way for artists get their name out there and as a great way for us to connect with them."

IMPACT Program Connects Mayo Clinic with Minnesota Undergraduates to Create Innovative Ideas for Patient Care

IMPACT Symposium Participants. March 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of IMPACT Program.

IMPACT Symposium Participants. March 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of IMPACT Program.

The Mayo Clinic Innovative Minds Partnering to Advance Curative Therapies (IMPACT) Program seeks innovative solutions to pressing healthcare issues by partnering Mayo Clinic with Minnesota undergraduate students. Since its inception in 2014, the program has expanded in size and capability yearly. Founder and director Katie Campbell says the competition is a “platform that engages students in idea generation,” bringing fresh minds to issues that can directly impact patient care.

Katie Campbell has a passion for teaching. Midway through her PhD training in Molecular Pharmacology at Mayo Clinic, she was challenged by mentor Dr. Tim Nelson to create a program that would engage undergraduate students and integrate them into the innovation process at Mayo. The IMPACT Program developed as a direct result.

The IMPACT Program is a crowdsourcing competition with the goal to “encourage creative solutions to critical health questions through collaboration between Minnesota undergrads and Mayo Clinic.” Campbell sees the program as the first step in learning new concepts and generating ideas as an “innovative complement to the traditional research experience.”

During the competition, teams of two to four students select one of three narrowly defined challenge questions, which are directly applicable to patient health. The questions are, ideally, areas of active investigation at Mayo. Over the course of three months, students take a deep literature dive into their topic. By February, teams develop a three-page proposal describing their hypothesis to address their challenge question. A panel of judges ranks the submissions and selects the top groups for each question to give an oral presentation at the IMPACT Symposium in March.

All teams are invited to give a poster at the symposium regardless of where their proposal ranked, allowing students to interact with each other and gain conference experience as an undergrad.

The winning team for each challenge question is awarded $1,000 per student and offered a paid summer internship at Mayo, usually in a lab studying their challenge question. Silver and bronze winners receive plaques to hang in their home institutions.

Cash prizes are certainly a motivator to participate, but the students’ experiences and scientific contributions are the real value adds of the program. The IMPACT Program engages a fresh set of innovators, bringing potential solutions to biomedical issues from all different angles. The program may have strong value for rare disease research where there’s a “low cost to high yield investment opportunity to access a huge platform of innovative ideas for diseases with less national visibility or funding,” Campbell said.

Campbell hypothesizes that the competition increases student’s scientific confidence, helps them identify as valuable contributors to the scientific community, and hopefully encourages them into further science education. Over the course of the competition students research their challenge question so extensively, they become experts in that defined topic.



“One of the things that comes up over and over again in student feedback is how surprised they are that Mayo Clinic values their ideas. I think they come to Mayo thinking they’ll be impressed by us. But we’re just as impressed by them, if not more,” she said.

Campbell wants to keep barriers of entry to the program as low as possible. No actual experiments are required for participation; students propose their hypotheses purely from literature analysis. “It’s much more accessible to smaller liberal arts schools and smaller community and technical colleges who might not have the capacity to do some of these research projects in the lab,” she explained.

The IMPACT Program first began in 2014, with 52 students participating from 4 Minnesota colleges. This year in the competition’s fourth iteration, 240 IMPACT students and 60 faculty mentors from 23 different private colleges and universities, state universities, and community and technical colleges in Minnesota participated.

Campbell says that funding has increased the capacity of the competition. In the early stages, she received an Endowment for Research Education Award from Mayo Clinic, bringing in $100,000 over two years. She was also awarded grant funding from Regenerative Medicine Minnesota to expand the program statewide. Now, she’s seeking funding from the National Science Foundation to expand the IMPACT Program nationally.

Photo courtesy of the IMPACT Program.

Photo courtesy of the IMPACT Program.

“Our goal is really to expand the program throughout the country and in doing so not only increase the visibility of education and research here at Mayo Clinic, but also tap into what I think is a huge potential audience of undergraduates who don’t think about [these issues] every day and begin posing these questions beyond the state limits,” she explained.

The IMPACT Program increases accessibility of Minnesota undergraduate students to Mayo Clinic regardless of their GPA, home institution, or major. Campbell has even had an IMPACT student take an internship at Mayo right after freshman year, something that’s rare through other programs at the clinic.

She also sees immense potential of the IMPACT Program to expand the visibility of Mayo Clinic beyond the reach of the local college and university system.

The IMPACT Symposium this year took place on March 18th. Challenge questions examined underlying causes of hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), effects of obesity and type 2 diabetes in increasing the risk of pancreatic cancer, or approaches in surgical residency programs to improve patient outcomes after inguinal hernia repair.

Winning teams included: Achai Biong, Vivian Ma, Brian Nguyen, and Kurt Schwieters (University of Minnesota-Rochester); Kaitlin Chrastek, Salar Kadhium, Jagneet Kaur, and Rupinder Kaur (Northwestern Health Sciences University); and Rebecca Martin, Kali Weiss, Jessica Pakonen, and Shannon Holder (St. Olaf College).

Student-Led Entrepreneurship in Medicine Interest Group Fosters Innovation in Mayo Medical Students

Mayo Clinic School of Medicine’s Entrepreneurship in Medicine Interest Group looks to bridge the gap between medical students, Mayo Clinic entrepreneur/physicians, and the Rochester innovation community. With the one year inception of the group on the horizon, the organizing team is looking for new ways to demonstrate the value of industry and develop skill sets in Mayo’s medical students to help bring their ideas to life.

Second year medical student and Entrepreneurship in Medicine Interest Group cofounder Claudia Gutierrez has seen firsthand how entrepreneurship can translate ideas into viable businesses or products. Gutierrez is a trained biomedical engineer and learned early on the importance of incorporating business into design.

While Gutierrez had seen organizations similar to the Entrepreneurship in Medicine Interest Group at other schools, nothing like it existed at Mayo. She and her cofounder, 7th year MD/PhD student John Scott, felt it was time for change. With faculty mentor Dr. Joaquim Garcia, they launched the group last year.

The mission of the Entrepreneurship in Medicine Interest Group, explains Gutierrez, is to “get rid of that ‘ick’ factor that a lot of medical students have toward industry.” She says these large companies are often portrayed as unethical giants, but are really the entities that bring new treatment options and medical devices into the clinic. She doesn’t want her own classmates to back away from potential interactions with industry due to preconceived notions.

In addition, she says that medical students often are not really exposed to entrepreneurship and business development during college. She learned herself that incorporating business with engineering was essential to understand and create viable, marketable products.

“You can have an amazing design. But if there’s no market for it or if it’s not affordable, you’re never going to bring that product to life and you’re not going to be able to improve whatever it is that you’re trying to improve,” she explained.

And Gutierrez would know. While studying at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she completed three six-month internships, gaining invaluable innovation experience. These experiences included a stint in a cancer bioengineering lab in Switzerland and a venture capital firm in Philadelphia. But perhaps her first internship made the largest impact. Gutierrez spent six months working in R&D at a small medical device company and experienced what life was like in an emerging business. Some days she would be designing software. Other days everyone in the company, including the CEO, would be slapping stickers on devices right before they went to clinical trial. She even got to travel with some of the senior engineers to Argentina as an interpreter.

“It helped me realize that while being an engineer and being able to design something is fascinating, being the physician that gets to test it and understands the limitation of the device, that was kind of the side I wanted to be on,” she said.

Like in engineering, Gutierrez sees similar trends in medicine, where a general understanding of how to move an idea from the research stage, into the clinic, and ultimately into a product or company is lacking.



She hears stories in the news all the time about the rising costs of healthcare and other issues plaguing today’s medical industry.

“People are entering medical school with the intention of trying to fix those problems. And entrepreneurship and understanding what it’s like to work with a company or even start your own company, it’s just giving you another set of tools that you could potentially work with in the future,” she said.

To help Mayo medical students gain these tools, the group curates a list of Mayo Clinic events of interest to medical students. But more importantly, they hold their own monthly speaker series focused on the intersection of innovation, business, and medicine. This year’s talks included an in-depth look at patents. The group also hosted Kathy Bates, Senior Director of Laboratory Services at Mayo Clinic, and John Black, Co-Director of Mayo’s Personalized Genomics Laboratory.

The group also wants to introduce medical students to the local innovation industry. This starts by connecting with Mayo physicians who are working with industry or have started companies, to help dispel the myth that you can’t be both a doctor and a founder. Gutierrez also wants to partner with organizations within Mayo, like the Surgical Accelerator, with the hope to bring to life viable ideas developed by medical students.

She says the interest group is “trying to connect medical students not just with Mayo, but also with the Rochester community.” Students are drawn to Mayo from all over the world, but often have limited access to the city outside of the clinic. These interactions help them understand all that the ecosystem here has to offer.

While the original idea for the Entrepreneurship in Medicine Interest Group developed last June, Gutierrez and Scott recently added two first year medical students, Adeet McCoy and Elias Sayba, in leadership positions. Gutierrez says this has helped to make the project more fun and increased the impact.

She’s especially excited to bring another female into a leading role in the group. She says it’s easy for women to be dissuaded from these positions, especially in a tech culture that has a perceived domination by men.

“I think it’s really important with anything that has to do with innovation, or science, or whatever it may be, to have a good female presence,” she said.

Spark DJ Utilizes Artificial Intelligence and Data Science to Set the Bar for DJing

Photo courtesy of The Commission.

Photo courtesy of The Commission.

Spark DJ aims to disrupt the music entertainment industry by “replacing DJs with data science.” The app allows for live curation of music and seamless transitions between songs to keep a party going, delivering high quality music every time. Spark DJ earned accolades at both Minnesota Cup and Beta.MN and recently told their story at 1 Million Cups Rochester. The Spark DJ founders will showcase the app tomorrow night and invite all of Rochester to come out for the party.

Spark DJ creators John Boss and James Jones both have a deep love of music. Boss, a New Jersey native, began DJing at age thirteen after being gifted hand-me-down DJ equipment from a favorite cousin, a DJ in Pittsburgh. Boss would host parties for kids, as a kid himself, and even DJed a Gap store opening.

Jones, a self-described “data nerd,” was interested in the construction of music and beats. While in college, he needed a job but was limited on time while pursuing a dual degree in engineering and economics. He made an extensive list of ways to earn cash as a student, which included anything from cutting grass to day trading. Jones enjoyed DJing and could “spin for like three to four hours at a time.” He found that DJing was by far the best return on investment per hour for a college student.

“I was already into music and then when I started DJing, people really liked what I was doing,” Jones explained. He had the opportunity to open for some major acts like Big Sean, Girl Talk, and Bones Thugs-N-Harmony.

Boss and Jones both got to be such in-demand DJs that they had too many gigs. Both worked to solve this problem in amazingly unique ways. Boss started Apollo Music Group, a Rochester-based DJ management service, where he could vet and hire top-rate DJs to staff his increasing number of bookings.

“I was the weird one where I was like, I’m going to make this algorithmic clone of myself and try to use that instead,” Jones said.

Jones actually got hired on by Boss to DJ with Apollo Music Group. “I was telling him about this idea. And he got really excited about it and then I got really excited about it,” Jones explained. And it all snowballed from there to create Spark DJ.

The Spark DJ app uses artificial intelligence to deliver live-curated music right from a cell phone, providing “high quality music, mixed well, every time.” Hosts choose their favorite artists on the app and set up parameters for guests. Party-goers can then connect with the app using geolocation to submit song requests.

Spark DJ is not meant to replace DJs but to set the standard for DJing.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be able to compete with someone who’s really mastered their craft and is really taking a very artistic approach to what they’re doing and engaging the crowd, creating a really unique experience. Those guys, those are guys we want to be as DJs,” said Jones.

The pair explained how the bar for DJing was so much higher twenty years ago, when you had to buy tons of equipment like records, CDs, and a turntable. “The talent level at the time was respected. It was a craft,” explained Boss.

Now with MP3s, people can just download songs onto their laptop and start playing music, which has created a surplus of subpar DJs.

Spark DJ aims to raise the bar for all DJs. “If you can’t DJ better than Spark DJ…you shouldn’t be a DJ,” explained Jones.

Boss and Jones are now both in Spark DJ full time, learning the ropes of entrepreneurship. Before launching the startup, Jones was a statistics analyst at the Target headquarters in Minneapolis and Boss a financial analyst at IBM. Although both studied some degree of business or economics in college, Boss said you “can throw that out the door on many occasions.” Right now, the founders are connecting with other entrepreneurs, learning from their mistakes, and understanding how to navigate the startup lifestyle.

Plugging themselves into the entrepreneurial community has paid off big. Spark DJ was a High-Tech division finalist last year in the Minnesota Cup, Minnesota’s largest startup competition. Just last week, the pair were Golden iPod champions at the Beta.MN Startup Showcase in Minneapolis. Boss and Jones said these experiences were validating and helped them connect with people who loved what they were doing.

“It’s easy to go in a corner and code…but it doesn’t work like that. We’re all connected. …Going through the Minnesota Cup really helped us meet a lot of different people and learn a lot of stuff that we probably wouldn’t have learned just sitting in the corner,” said Jones.

Now the founders are deciding where to base the company, Minneapolis or Rochester.

“[Rochester’s] a little more in its infancy stage. But it’s in a healthy, fun one. It’s fun to be here. It’s fun to see what’s happening…you start to really see things,” said Boss. “If we can give people hope to stay in Rochester and start something great, that’s something that would be exciting for us as well.”

Boss and Jones invite everyone to link up with the founders and try out the Spark DJ app at their showcase event tomorrow night. The party starts in the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event Space at 5PM and moves to The Doggery at 8PM. Click here for more information.

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

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


Shruthi Naik, Founder and VP, Comparative Oncology at Vyriad


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


Brittany Baker and Amanda Steele, Owners of MedCity Doulas


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


Alaa Koleilat, Founder of GoAudio

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


Tessa Leung, CEO of Grand Rounds Brewing Company

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

Thanks to the Women's Demo Night Sponsors:

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:

The Rochester Startup Part Eleven: Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator

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.

This week we move on with the final piece of “The Rochester Startup” series and talk about the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator.


Name: Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator.

Location: 221 1st Avenue SW, Suite #202

Parking Available: No, but connected to 3rd Street Parking Ramp through the skyway.

Contact: Xavier Frigola

Social Accounts: Facebook, @MayoClinicBusinessAccelerator; Twitter, @mbusaccel

This 3,000-square foot space in the Minnesota BioBusiness Center opened in March 2013. The facility consists of nine closed offices- six small and three large- sixteen open desk spaces, one conference room, and two lounge areas. The Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator offers tenants internet service, heat, cleaning, snacks and beverages, and monthly educational and networking opportunities. The cost to work out of the accelerator start at $100/month. The space is nearly full; one small office is currently available for rent.  

The Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator is primarily filled with life science entrepreneurs and startups spun out of Mayo Clinic. Twenty-three startups have called the space home at some point during their growth process. The accelerator offers connections to Mayo Clinic, student interns, and access the funding sources.

Xavier Frigola, Director of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, says he’s seeing a “general interest in entrepreneurship, which was not there a few years ago.” He’s noticing “people young and more seasoned wanting to start companies and service providers willing to provide support and interest in angel investing.”

While the community has made significant recent strides, Frigola notes that a “risk averse profile” continues to hold back Rochester’s entrepreneurs.

This series is sponsored by:

Press Release: Bleu Duck Kitchen Brings On Chef de Cuisine Jordan Bell to Kitchen

Rochester, MN: Bleu Duck Kitchen is set to expand its kitchen staff as well as its palette with the hiring of Jordan Bell as Chef de Cuisine. Jordan brings with him a unique experience that was guided by Greg Jaworski at Nosh, and he joins co-owners Erik Kleven, Jennifer Becker, and Aynsley Jones to lead a new a focus on building relationships with local farmers, nutrition, and proper food sourcing. Jordan and Co-Owner and Executive Chef Erik Kleven will be a powerhouse to push the food scene in Rochester even further in the upcoming years.



“I love everything about food, especially finding and experimenting with new flavors,” says Jordan Bell. “Cooking for me is an expression of myself. It's a communication between me and our guests. I enjoy lightly pushing people out of their comfort zones and bring out emotion with my food. On one side of me I have food producers and on the other side I have food consumers, and I care greatly for both. A large passion for me is working with farmers knowing where my food comes from.” 

  • Jordan will be coming onto the staff full-time on February 28th, 2017.
  • Bleu Duck Kitchen’s menu will be featuring new dishes weekly that will work with local farmers and the best choices of what’s in season.
  • A new bar menu was recently introduced for guests wanting to enjoy smaller portions and additional offerings.
  • Sunday Brunch, Happy Hour, and special events in The Venue at Bleu Duck are in the works for 2017.


About Bleu Duck Kitchen : Bleu Duck Kitchen is a full service restaurant that provides a familiar and welcoming atmosphere where the kitchen is the focus, and the atmosphere and food drives each customer’s experience.  Chef Owner Erik Kleven regards each customer as a welcomed friend, and aims to provide them with a new experience that is both personal and unique every time they visit. Bleu Duck also features an exhibition to show off where the action is to create an environment of not only “fine-dining” but also “fun-dining”.