startup

Rochester's Tech Startup GoRout Selected as Finalist in NASA iTech Competition

Photo courtesy of GoRout.

Photo courtesy of GoRout.

Rochester company GoRout was selected as one of only ten competitors for NASA’s prestigious NASA iTech competition. NASA iTech, an initiative of the organization’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, challenges entrepreneurs to apply their technology to solve pressing issues related to space exploration.  Ten finalists remain in the competition , including GoRout, and will present their ideas at the upcoming iTech Forum in Sunnyvale, California on July 10-11th. Chief technologists from NASA, additional federal agencies, and industry will then select three winners from these finalists for the 2019 NASA iTech Cycle I competition. The ten NASA iTech finalists span a range of industry including medical, data, and materials. The three Cycle I winners will receive no monetary compensation but will gain on-going mentoring to help commercialize their product.

 Congratulations to GoRout and best of luck in the competition! GoRout, run by CEO Mike Rolih, is a Rochester-based hardware and software company eliminating the need for huddles and scout cards. GoRout’s technology works to improve on-field communication for hundreds of high school and small college football teams across the US. GoRout won the NFL’s 1st and Future startup competition in 2017. CEO Rolih was also named among SportsTechie’s 20 Innovators in 2017.

Four Rochester Biotech Teams Showcase Technology at Seventh Walleye Tank Business Pitch Competition

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Four Rochester biotech startup teams competed in the seventh Walleye Tank business pitch competition this May in Minneapolis for the chance to enter into the semifinal round of the Minnesota Cup. Eighteen total startups pitched their technologies at this event. At the end of the competition, Twin Cities startups Ascension and Morari Medical walked away as overall winners.  

Startups enter into this biotech competition in two different categories: the Junior Angler or Professional Division. Junior Anglers are newer teams with ideas at the pre-prototype stage. Professional teams are further along in the business development process and may have a minimal viable product, market traction, and sales. 

Teams are judged by a panel of startup and business development experts called Walleyes. This year, Junior Anglers were judged by: Perry Hackett, serial entrepreneur and Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development at the University of Minnesota; Susan Kimmel, market research expert and Gopher Angel; Traci Downs, serial entrepreneur and founder of Collider Coworking and Area 10 Labs; Mary MacCarthy, entrepreneur and Venture Center Program Manager with the University of Minnesota’s Office of Technology Commercialization; and bio tech expert Fernando Bazan. Professional teams were judged by: Sara Russick, entrepreneur and founder of investment groups Gopher Angels and Capita3; Julie Henry, Director of Business Operations for Mayo Clinic Ventures and Mayo Clinic’s Department of Business Development; Russ Straate, Associate Director of the University of Minnesota Venture Center; and Meg Steuer, Manager of Forge North with Greater MSP.

Four teams from Rochester participated in Walleye Tank including Smart Lead and MD to Me in the Junior Angler Division and Phenomix and Phraze in the Professional Division.

Smart Lead, presented by Dr. Alaa Sada, is tackling an uncomfortable garment, the radiation shield, that’s required to be worn by healthcare providers anytime they are exposed to radiation. The vest weighs about ten pounds and is often worn for very long hours. Use of the garment can lead to discomfort, bodily pain, burnout, and musculoskeletal injury. To solve this problem, the team behind Smart Lead is developing a more ergonomic vest that will continue to provide radiation protection with increased comfort due to added technology. The Smart Lead team of Mayo Clinic physicians is now working with Mayo Clinic’s Department of Business Development and Division of Biomedical Engineering to develop their first prototype. They estimate a $2.75M market for their product at Mayo Clinic alone. 

MD to Me, presented by Mayo Clinic graduate student Chris Paradise, aims to “take back control of high blood pressure.” Approximately 100M Americans are affected by high blood pressure. Only 50% of these patients have the disease under control with about 1,000 deaths occurring each day from hypertension related conditions. To solve this problem, MD to Me is developing an IoT blood pressure cuff paired with an app platform to provide real time blood pressure data to patients. Blood pressure data will additionally be monitored by a physician. The team aims to reduce medical and ER visits with their technology.

Phenomix Sciences, presented by COO Ross Higgins, is a Mayo Clinic startup founded by two physician researchers. The business aims to provide a precision medicine, multi-omics approach to treat obesity. Over 40% of the US adult population is obese, leading to $480B of direct costs to the healthcare system annually. In addition, two-thirds of obesity patients do not respond to their prescribed treatments. To solve this problem, Phenomix is pairing an AI-driven algorithm with a panel of biomarkers, which they’ve licensed from Mayo Clinic, to develop the first blood test to segment obesity patients for therapeutic targeting.

Phraze, presented by COO Jack Schneeman, has developed an AI-driven medical scribe to automate a significant portion of physician medical note taking requirements. More than 50% of physician time is spent on Electronic Medical Record (EMR) documentation. This amount of documentation is the number one cause of physician burnout. Burnout, in turn, can cause a 300% increase in the medical error rate. Phraze’s technology was shown to save about 1.5 hours per day for physicians based on simulations and testing. 

Twin Cities-based team Ascension was named the overall Junior Division winner of Walleye Tank. This startup, presented by product design engineer Lyndsey Calvin, is developing innovative solutions for transgender health. Vaginoplasty, a current care option for transgender women, involves the surgical reconstruction of the vagina. This procedure has a 50% complication rate, costing over $25,000 per patient to treat. To solve this problem, Ascension is creating a single use flushing stent to provide an improved care option. The stent is placed in the vagina during the vaginoplasty procedure and is replaced monthly for the first ninety days with a larger sized stent. This process replicates dilation and reduces the burden of compliance barriers for vaginoplasty patients. Ascension is currently targeting a $1.5B marketing that’s growing at a 41% rate.

Minneapolis-based Morari Medical won this spring’s Professional Division of Walleye Tank. This startup, presented by CEO Jeff Bennett, is developing the first ever device-based solution to premature ejaculation (PE). PE is the number one sexual dysfunction in men. It affects one in three men and results in decreased quality of life for both men and women. The Morari team is addressing this problem through neuromodulation with a small, band-aid sized device to inhibit neural activity and delay an ejaculation.

Congratulations to all the Walleye Tank participants. Best of luck to Ascension and Morari Medical in the Minnesota Cup! Look for Walleye Tank to return to Rochester for the eighth edition on December 6th. 

Local Businesses Ambient Clinical Analytics and FAVR Inc. Share their Startup Stories at Latest 1 Million Cups Rochester

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Last week two local startups earned the spotlight at 1 Million Cups Rochester: Ambient Clinical Analytics and FAVR Inc. Ambient Clinical Analytics, led by CEO Al Berning, is a digital health startup delivering innovative bedside predicative analytics. FAVR, an app-based tech startup led by CEO Solomon Antoine, serves as a peer to peer platform allowing customers to request a task at their own set price.

Serial entrepreneur Berning has started four companies in the last twenty-five years including LiquidCool Solutions, a Rochester company developing cooling solutions for electronics, and Pemstar, an electronics manufacturing firm. Berning’s newest startup, Ambient Clinical Analytics, is based on Mayo Clinic technology, which was developed over the past ten years in the Mayo Clinic ICU and emergency departments. Ambient Clinical Analytics sells real time clinical decision-making support tools to reduce clinical staff decision rate time and to eliminate errors. The startup has been in operation for five years selling to hospitals and hospital systems across the globe. The company has raised $7M in funding to date and is in the process of closing a $1M convertible note bridge round. Ambient Clinical Analytics has four products on the market, all aimed to reduce information overload on clinical caregivers and to organize and present data to enable rapid and informed clinical decision making. 

FAVR Inc.’s iOS app connects users with freelance workers to perform on demand lawn care and home chores. The app solves the users’ need to complete these tasks without use of their limited time while allowing a younger demographic of freelancers to earn money in their spare time. FAVR fills a unique space, allowing users to request tasks at their own set price. The app currently has two hundred fifty users on the platform, including customers and freelancers, all based in Rochester. The startup plans to expand its reach into four communities with a strong college base including Minneapolis, Brookings, Winona, and Mankato.

1 Million Cups is an educational event for entrepreneurs that takes place in one hundred eighty-two communities across the United States. 1 Million Cups Rochester occurs the first Wednesday of every month at 9AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen event space. Join the community at the next event on Wednesday June 5th to hear the stories of two more entrepreneurs in our ecosystem.

Busy Baby LLC Wins Fourth Annual Ignite Cup

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Tuesday night entrepreneurship took center stage at the Ignite Cup in Red Wing. Five startups, including four with Rochester ties, pitched their innovations for a guaranteed spot in the semifinal round of the Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide business pitch competition. Oronoco-based business Busy Baby LLC walked away as the winner of the 2019 Ignite Cup and will compete in the Minnesota Cup for the second consecutive year. 

Busy Baby LLC was launched by entrepreneur, US veteran, and mom Beth Fynbo. This innovator has created and manufactured a 100% FDA-approved silicone mat with a proprietary tether system to keep babies from tossing toys and other items onto the floor, keeping these objects germ-free. Since Fynbo’s run at the Minnesota Cup last year, where she made it to the semifinal round, she developed a prototype of the Busy Baby mat and has earned $12,000 in sales this year. Fynbo currently manufactures the mats in China but hopes to move production to the US at some point. She currently sells the product from her website and is beginning to formulate retail packaging. 

Additional startups pitching at Ignite Cup included GoAdvntr, Phraze, Shrpa, and SkyWorks.

GoAdvntr is a Winona-based business to help people seek adventure and “experience something new.” This business, pitched by CEO and Founder Brian Kugel, is an online marketplace where local businesses can list their experiential adventures and connect with consumers. GoAdvntr aims to use a “community first approach” and is focused on launching their product in southern Minnesota. GoAdvntr currently has sixteen host businesses offering twenty-eight different adventures in line for when the product launches. They aim to scale to 125 hosts by the end of 2019.

AI medical scribe Phraze was pitched by current Rochester resident and co-founder Brandon McCutcheon. Phraze automates documentation for physicians, reducing physician burnout and beginning the documentation process before the physician even enters the exam room. The startup’s four co-founders estimate that Phraze will save ~1.5 hours of physician time per day based on early testing, leading to over $9M per month in cost savings. Phraze filed a provisional patent on their technology in March and aims to obtain one hundred users by the end of 2019. The startup has raised $135,000 of seed funding to date.

Shrpa, a Rochester-based app to connect people to their communities, was pitched by co-founders Chris Lukenbill and Andy Vig. Shrpa provides users with handcrafted itineraries created by local guides, allowing users to experience a community and navigate the logistics of that experience like a local. The idea for Shrpa was created this January and the MVP will launch this month. By the end of the summer Lukenbill and Vig aim for 20K trips to be taken via Shrpa. The original focus for the product is on Rochester and the immediately surrounding area. 

SkyWorks, also based in Rochester, was the final pitch of the night. This startup was founded by Sam Barsness, AJ Hawkins, and Ahmed Makkawy. SkyWorks aims to provide a new standard in commercial real estate transaction processing to create less work for agents, reduced risk for brokers, and more loyal clients. The startup is tackling a $65.1B target market.

Congratulations to all the teams that pitched at the fourth annual Ignite Cup. Best of luck to Beth Fynbo as she represents the region at Minnesota Cup. And a big ‘thank you’ to Red Wing Ignite Executive Director Neela Mollgaard and her team for creating another engaging platform for entrepreneurship.  

Meet Rochester's Newest Startup: Shrpa

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Entrepreneurs Chris Lukenbill and Andy Vig are modernizing tourism with Rochester’s newest tech startup, Shrpa. This soon to launch service connects people to communities to experience the community like a local with highly customized itineraries to help people “get out and discover.”

The original concept for Shrpa stemmed from an experience Lukenbill had with his own family. He had visited LARK toys in Kellogg, Minn. several times with his wife and children. But instead of their normal one-stop trip to the store, Lukenbill received a handcrafted itinerary from a colleague, which led to a multi-phase adventure at several businesses and tourist spots in that region.  

“All these other things were there, but we had never been to them. And the fact that we did that in a whole event was a memory,” he explained. “That was an experience that was a full memory that wasn’t something that we would know how to put together on our own.”

Prior to that experience, this entrepreneur was working on a different startup concept, which he quickly reduced to its most basic elements into what he calls Shrpa: a service that “connects people to their communities by providing guided itineraries that match a user’s interest and available time.” 

Lukenbill paired up with Vig to bring this vision to life. Vig, a software engineer, brings extensive knowledge in building architecture software systems that scale for large companies to the Shrpa team. Vig spent over eleven years at Microsoft and most recently worked at the computer gaming company NCSOFT.

Shrpa, Lukenbill explained, is like micro-travel agency that puts together a set of experiences in a way that make sense for each set of users. The service helps to reduce the friction associated with visiting a location for the first time by providing users with “tips and tricks” to reduce uncertainty, to achieve a memorable reduced-stress experience, to allow users to experience a community like a local. 

Shrpa is not a service users would seek out every time they left home.

“This is going to be the thing you use to go to have a new experience and along that experience you’re going to find cool stuff that you are going to want to go back and do again,” Lukenbill explained.

 Shrpa will be a highly customized service driven by locality. To get that authentic experience, itineraries in each community will be built by local people, which Lukenbill and Vig call Sherpas, with a high level of passion and knowledge about that particular location.

“We want to make sure there is a feel of this high touch type of connection because there is the experience of it, this human side of it, to be able to put all these things together. That’s again where all the value is,” Lukenbill explained. “It’s not just like here are five cool things that we created, some randomly created itinerary to go and see those things. Here is what actually makes sense to put together to experience because this is somebody who knows what these places are and knows how to experience it because they’ve been there before.”

Lukenbill and Vig have identified some of their first Sherpas, people already providing this type of work or creating similar content. They plan to plug into additional experience and adventure resources as the scope of Shrpa grows. 

As a serial entrepreneur, Lukenbill knows how to grow a startup. He previously founded a greenhouse business called Fresh with Edge and an agtech startup called Able.ag. His plan with Shrpa is to start small, get a minimal viable product onto the market, and really understand how people use and derive value from the service. Right now, he sees information obtained from Shrpa’s early adopters as useful as the itineraries these users will gain from the service. Once Lukenbill and Vig better understand the direction of Shrpa, they’ll pursue monetization strategies. 

Now, the pair is excited to provide a highly customized, modern way for people to explore their community and experience brand new adventures. Look for the first version of Shrpa to launch this month. 

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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/.

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. 

Press Release: Vyriad Announces Collaboration with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer to Evaluate Oncolytic Virus in Combination with Anti-PD-L1 Antibody in Phase 1 Clinical Study

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ROCHESTER, Minn., July 18, 2018 – Vyriad Inc., a clinical-stage, privately held biotechnology company focused on the development of powerful first-in class oncolytic virotherapies, is pleased to announce a collaboration agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer to expand its ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial program in solid tumors to include a combination study of its lead asset, Voyager-V1, with avelumab*, a human anti-PD-L1 antibody. For more information on this novel immuno-oncology combination study, please see clinicaltrials.gov.

“We are delighted to be working with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt Germany, and Pfizer on this innovative combination treatment approach,” said Stephen Russell, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Vyriad. “Voyager-V1 is being administered to inflame the tumors, and avelumab has been shown to release the suppression of the T cell mediated antitumor immune response in preclinical models.”

“We are encouraged by the potential of Voyager-V1, which has demonstrated early clinical activity in patients with solid tumors,” said Alise Reicin, Head of Global Clinical Development at the Biopharma business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates in the U.S. and Canada as EMD Serono. “We look forward to investigating how combining Voyager-V1 with avelumab may advance patient care.”

“A primary focus of our clinical development program for avelumab is to evaluate the role and potential of immunotherapy combination regimens, in an effort to support patients with challenging cancers,” said Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Immuno-Oncology, Early Development and Translational Oncology, Pfizer Global Product Development. “We look forward to working with Vyriad to explore this novel combination for patients with solid tumors.”

Avelumab has received accelerated approval** by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) and previously treated patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC), and is under further clinical evaluation across a range of tumor types under a global strategic alliance between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer.

*Avelumab is under clinical investigation for treatment of various solid tumors and has not been demonstrated to be safe and effective for this indication. There is no guarantee that avelumab will be approved for specific solid tumors by any health authority worldwide.

About Voyager-V1
Voyager-V1 (VSV-IFNβ-NIS) is derived from Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), a bullet-shaped, negativesense RNA virus with low human seroprevalence, specifically engineered to replicate selectively in and kill human cancer cells. Voyager-V1 encodes human IFNβ to boost antitumoral immune responses and increase tumor specificity, plus the thyroidal sodium iodide symporter NIS to allow imaging of virus spread. Three first-in-human Phase 1 clinical studies of Voyager-V1 are exploring intravenous and intratumoral routes of administration.

About Avelumab
Avelumab is a human anti-programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) antibody. Avelumab has been shown in preclinical models to engage both the adaptive and innate immune functions. By blocking the interaction of PDL1 with PD-1 receptors, avelumab has been shown to release the suppression of the T cell-mediated antitumor immune response in preclinical models.1-3 Avelumab has also been shown to induce NK cell-mediated direct tumor cell lysis via antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) in vitro.3-5 In November 2014, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and cocommercialize avelumab.

Avelumab is currently being evaluated in the JAVELIN clinical development program, which involves at least 30 clinical programs, including seven Phase III trials and nearly 8,300 patients across more than 15 different tumor types. For a comprehensive list of all avelumab trials, please visit clinicaltrials.gov.

Indications in the U.S.**
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval for avelumab (BAVENCIO®) for the treatment of (i) adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (mMCC) and (ii) patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy, or have disease progression within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy. These indications are approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for these indications may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

Important Safety Information from the U.S. FDA-Approved Label
The warnings and precautions for avelumab (BAVENCIO®) include immune-mediated adverse reactions (such as pneumonitis, hepatitis, colitis, endocrinopathies, nephritis and renal dysfunction and other adverse reactions), infusion-related reactions and embryo-fetal toxicity.

Common adverse reactions (reported in at least 20% of patients) in patients treated with BAVENCIO for mMCC and patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC include fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, diarrhea, nausea, infusion-related reaction, peripheral edema, decreased appetite/hypophagia, urinary tract infection and rash.

For full prescribing information and medication guide for BAVENCIO, please see www.BAVENCIO.com.

Alliance between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer Inc., New York, U.S.
Immuno-oncology is a top priority for Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer Inc. The global strategic alliance between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer Inc., New York, U.S., enables the companies to benefit from each other’s strengths and capabilities and further explore the therapeutic potential of avelumab, an anti-PD-L1 antibody initially discovered and developed by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The immunooncology alliance will jointly develop and commercialize avelumab and advance Pfizer’s PD-1 antibody. The alliance is focused on developing high-priority international clinical programs to investigate avelumab as a monotherapy, as well as in combination regimens, and is striving to find new ways to treat cancer.

About Vyriad
Vyriad is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel oncolytic virus therapies for the treatment of cancers that have significant unmet need. Vyriad’s oncolytic immunovirotherapy product candidates are based on the company’s engineered Oncolytic Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) and Oncolytic Measles Virus platforms that enable selective destruction of cancer cells without harming normal tissues.

Vyriad’s product development pipeline encompasses multiple clinical- and preclinical-stage programs that target a broad range of cancer indications, as well as programs that pair the company’s oncolytic viruses with other cancer immunotherapy modalities, traditional cancer therapy, and newer targeted therapies. Vyriad’s lead program, Voyager-V1, is in Phase 1 clinical research in solid tumors and hematological indications (please see
clinicaltrials.gov). In addition, Vyriad is developing novel diagnostic/theranostic tests for more accurate prediction of immunovirotherapy response.

References
1. Dolan DE, Gupta S. PD-1 pathway inhibitors: changing the landscape of cancer immunotherapy. Cancer Control 2014;21(3):231-7.
2. Dahan R, Sega E, Engelhardt J et al. FcγRs modulate the anti-tumor activity of antibodies targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 axis. Cancer Cell 2015;28(3):285-95.
3. Boyerinas B, Jochems C, Fantini M et al. Antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity activity of a novel anti-PD-L1 antibody avelumab (MSB0010718C) on human tumor cells. Cancer Immunol Res 2015;3(10):1148-57.
4. Kohrt HE, Houot R, Marabelle A et al. Combination strategies to enhance antitumor ADCC. Immunotherapy
2012;4(5):511-27.
5. Hamilton G, Rath B. Avelumab: combining immune checkpoint inhibition and antibody-dependent cytotoxicity. Expert Opin Biol Ther 2017;17(4):515-23.

Contact:
Titus Plattel
Chief Operating Officer
tplattel@vyriad.com

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 Rising Publishes Insta-zine to Showcase Stories from Winter 2018

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Welcome to our first Insta-zine edition of Rochester Rising (click the link the head over to our Instagram site to check it out)! I have to give complete credit to this idea to Becky Montpetit of Rochester MN Moms Blog for bringing this creative concept to my attention. It’s so important as an entrepreneur and a content creator to keep innovating and trying new things. We did put out a print version of Rochester Rising last fall, but the cost of doing that was so high that we could only print 100 copies to distribute in the community, in addition to an online edition. While you’ll have to do a bit more work to access our stories from this insta-zine, it’s still yet another method to amplify the stories of our entrepreneurs.

Our first Insta-zine contains most of our stories and podcasts published from January through March of 2018.

I wanted to thank all of you so much for continuing to support our mission. As you all (hopefully) saw in my letter to the community, I’m stepping back just a bit from content creation on Rochester Rising, but this news site and podcast is by no means going away.  Please continue to submit your press releases and opinion pieces to us at RochesterRising@gmail.com so this can continue to be a voice for all of our entrepreneurs.

You can find any of the stories mentioned on our Insta-zine on our website and on iTunes (search for “Rochester Rising”). The best way to follow us is to sign up for our weekly newsletter. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, and of course Instagram.

Thank you for your continued support. Please help us share this content so we can continue to amplify the stories of our entrepreneurs.

-Amanda Leightner

Bike Repair, Apps, and Improved Shared Decision Making: Here's What Happened at the Latest 1 Million Cups Rochester

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The community heard from two Rochester-based entrepreneurs at the past 1 Million Cups Rochester who are operating in very different spheres.

First up was Ken Zaiken with KZaiken Enterprises. Zaiken is developing a patient-oriented app to improve the process of Shared Decision Making (SDM) called EZSDM.

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SDM- the process where the physician and the patient work together to plan out tests and treatments based on the patient’s values- is a well-documented method. The problem is, the actual implementation of SDM into the clinic does not always happen. Poor communication between patients and physicians, Zaiken explained, is a large part of the issue. When talking to physicians, patients may be overwhelmed or completely zone out and fail to effectively communicate during these challenging moments.

Zaiken said there needs to be a better way to tap into the patient mindset and have their values and desires play a role in their own healthcare. He believes that his app, EZSDM, is a viable solution to this problem.

Zaiken is using his twenty-eight years of software and project management experience to develop this tool to break down communication barriers and take into account the value of five different factors to the patient: duration of treatment, pain, life expectancy, success rate, and cost. Zaiken envisions EZSDM as a modern tablet interface where the patient can rank the importance of these five values to their treatment. The patient can then share graphical output of these rankings with the physician to influence the treatment plan.

“The important thing is to have a meaningful discussion,” Zaiken explained.

So far, he’s received positive feedback on EZSDM from the medical community. Now, he’s looking for a physician flagbearer for the product, which he hopes will help to drive funding to fuel the creation of a beta version of his vision.

Next up at 1 Million Cups Rochester was Charly Tri, Founder of My Bike Guy. My Bike Guy is a mobile bike repair business that Tri runs out of a van. This emerging startup is built off of Tri’s twenty-five-year history of bike repair.

Tri, a self-described “go-getter,” began working in a bike repair shop in Rochester at age fifteen. He first conceptualized his business four or five years ago but put the idea on the backburner until his oldest child entered kindergarten. Tri built his business as conservatively as possible to save funds, designing the website, logo, and even the wrap for his van himself.

Tri’s mobile bike repair shop is nearly as well supplied as any brick and mortar facility. The best part is the convenience of Tri’s service; My Bike Guy comes to you to repair your bike, regardless of location.

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“You literally don’t have to get out of your pajamas,” Tri joked.

The biggest threat to My Bike Guy, Tri explained, is the establishment of other mobile bike repair businesses in Rochester. However, he’s not too concerned. Tri thinks that you should have at least ten years of bike repair experience before launching into a mobile endeavor. Bike sales are the biggest opportunity for his business that Tri sees right now. He’s done fairly well in this avenue so far and can currently source any type of bike to retail.

1 Million Cups is a free, national education program developed by the Kauffman Foundation. 1 Million Cups takes place every Wednesday at 9AM across 174 US communities to support and encourage entrepreneurs. The program is based on the idea that entrepreneurs connect and discover solutions over one million cups of coffee.

Join the community at the next 1 Million Cups Rochester on Wednesday April 4th.

Press Release: Bringspring Meehealth and Ambient Clinical Analytics Sign Cooperation Agreement in Beijing

Al Berning, CEO of Ambient Clinical Analytics and Dr. Zhang Jiwu, CEO of Meehealth. Photo courtesy of Ambient Clinical Anaalytics. 

Al Berning, CEO of Ambient Clinical Analytics and Dr. Zhang Jiwu, CEO of Meehealth. Photo courtesy of Ambient Clinical Anaalytics. 

Beijing, China – October 26, 2017 Ambient Clinical Analytics announced today that it has signed a Cooperation Agreement with Meehealth (The wholly owned subsidiary company of Bringspring Technologies Co., Ltd, hereinafter referred to as Bringspring Meehealth or Meehealth) in Beijing. Bringspring Meehealth plans to sell Ambient Clinical’s products in China and the companies plan to develop new products for China and the world markets. Founded by a Mayo Clinic academic clinical team and seasoned technology entrepreneurs, Ambient Clinical is located in Rochester, MN, USA. Ambient Clinical’s software enhances the way critical care providers operate. The company sells real time clinical decision support systems and alerting tools to hospitals which result in reduced errors, lower health care costs, and improved patient outcomes. 

"Bringspring Meehealth and Ambient Clinical met in the United States in 2014. Bringspring Meehealth has an international professional team and culture, and places a high value on technological innovation and product quality. Meehealth is honored to cooperate with excellent partners such as Ambient Clinical. “Benefiting society and benefiting mankind is the mutual mission and foundation of the cooperation, and the companies will jointly contribute to the development of world health service." said Dr. Zhang Jiwu, CEO of Meehealth. 

“At Ambient Clinical Analytics, we’re excited to be working with Bringspring Meehealth to cooperate on products for China and the world health IT markets”, said Al Berning, CEO of Ambient Clinical Analytics. “Bringspring Meehealth’s strong support of hospitals across China combined with Ambient Clinical’s products, which are based on Mayo Clinic technologies, make a strong combination to improve healthcare through the use of advanced real time clinical decision support products.” 

“We’re looking forward to working with Bringspring Meehealth and Ambient Clinical to deploy the unique Mayo Clinic real time clinical decision support technology in China.” said Brian Pickering, M.B., B.Ch., of Mayo Clinic, one of the co- inventors of the technology. 

"Bringspring Technology acquired Meehealth, which is the industry's leading health IT company, supporting the company's leading edge in the field of clinical application subdivision. Meehealth has established a cooperative relationship with Ambient Clinical, and we are very pleased and excited about the future. We will fully support and have full confidence in the development of the companies’ cooperation." said Qi Zheng, the vice president of Bringspring Technology. 

Bringspring Meehealth are health care high-tech enterprises with an international perspective, the domestic first-class level, with research focused on medical software products and leads the market by operating room, ICU, emergency department and other clinical information application market customers across the well-known 3A hospitals. With strong technical ability in data processing, data modeling and system architecture design, the company has entered the medical health big data, artificial intelligence and other innovative research applications, relying on the research center in Boston in the United States and the international first-class scientific research talents, Bringspring Meehealth has made remarkable achievements in the research of the health care field, with a mission to improve the efficiency and quality medical services and improve health outcomes. 

Ambient Clinical has licensed Mayo Clinic technologies which include over 1,000 rules and algorithms to give critical care providers real-time access to vital process-of-care information and analytics at the point-of-care, as well as from a central Clinical Control Tower. The CERTAIN product provides critical clinical resuscitation information in the first “Golden Hours” of critical care. Bedside based alerts for conditions like Sepsis allow physicians and medical personnel to spend more time with patients rather than reviewing data. Ambient Clinical’s products are designed to support a hospital’s Lean Quality and Six Sigma initiatives. Ambient Clinical has achieved FDA Class II Clearance for the AWARE and Sepsis DART software platform. 

Mayo Clinic and Dr. Brian Pickering have a financial interest in the technology referenced in this news release. The revenue that Mayo Clinic receives is used to support its not-for-profit mission in patient care, education and research. 

About Bringspring Meehealth
Bringspring (300290) is a technology listed company established in 2005. Driven by ongoing innovative, focus on health data and intelligent cloud services areas. We have established a cutting-edge technologies portfolio in cloud computing, big data, internet of things, artificial intelligence and service. With more than ten years efforts, Bringspring is committed to building a better intelligent and healthier world, and we have grown into a considerable investment value and development potential company. In 2017, company jointly launched the China health big data Limited company, led by National Health and Family Planning Commission, to build a healthy medical big data ecosystem. Meehealth is a leading Health IT company that supports hospitals across China. It has from the world's leading technology and management team, to provide emergency clinical information system (ECIS), Intensive Care Clinical Information System (ICIS), Anesthesia Clinical Information Management system (AIMS), Hospital Unified information Solution (HUIS), mobile Ward Rounds system and the medical industry IT system products , combined with cloud computing, big data, networking, AI and other new generation of information technology to provide the critical patients cloud platform, regional emergency for overall customer collaborative cloud platform and other medical information solutions. In 2016, Bringspring wholly owned Meehealth, has strengthened the company's leading edge in the field of clinical application subdivision. Bringspring integrates high-quality resources, and actively explore the clinical medicine artificial intelligence and big data application platform, build health care big data ecosystem, and promote more intelligent health new service model. 

About Ambient Clinical Analytics
Ambient Clinical Analytics sells powerful real-time bedside healthcare data assimilation, communication, and analytics based clinical decision support tools that support the general hospital floor, Emergency Department, ICU and other critical care areas. At Ambient Clinical Analytics, we understand the power of data to save lives and our analytics based, real- time, point-of-care solutions like Sepsis DART rely on real-time data to improve Sepsis detection and the monitoring of Sepsis treatment. Our business model is supported by software license fees, SaaS, Cloud and system integration support. Ambient Clinical Analytics has an MD and executive team with strong track records in medicine, clinical research and informatics, medical products and IT. Ambient Clinical’s investors include Social Capital, Mayo Clinic, Waterline Ventures, Bluestem Capital, Rock Health and Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.

Rochester Home Infusion Seeking Ground in Destination Medical City- Part 2, The Ask

Missed Part 1 of this story? Click here for the first of this two part series on Rochester Home Infusion.

Rochester Home Infusion Founder Joselyn Raymundo. Photo courtesty of Rochester Home Infusion.

Rochester Home Infusion Founder Joselyn Raymundo. Photo courtesty of Rochester Home Infusion.

Rochester Home Infusion (RHI) Founder Joselyn Raymundo and her team strive to provide their patients with the best care possible so they can achieve some sense of normalcy.

“What matters is the patient," she tells her team. "They’re the ones who are sick. They’re the ones who may be having financial difficulties, medical crises, family crises. It touches so many aspects of their lives.”

RHI is currently licensed in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Colorado. Raymundo hopes to soon move into markets in Nebraska, North Dakota, and Michigan to cover seventy percent of patients who travel to Rochester for the Mayo Clinic.

She says RHI has taken the time to understand the patient experience at Mayo and is well poised to deliver that final, positive impression.

“We can augment the Mayo experience. We can collaborate with [Mayo] and deliver something very special. Not just for the patient, but also for Mayo Clinic,”
 she stated.

RHI utilizes an extensive clinical monitoring program to extend medical expertise from the hospital to the home.

“We try to really, truly respect what the patient needs and what the hospital needs,” Raymundo said.

When a Mayo Clinic patient requires an infusion, they are given the option to use the clinic’s Infusion Therapy Center (ITC) or a home infusion service. RHI should be included on a list of in-home providers- alongside giants like CVS, BioFusion, and Option Care- which is then given to the patient.

RHI clean room. Photo courtesty of Rochester Home Infusion.

RHI clean room. Photo courtesty of Rochester Home Infusion.

If RHI is chosen as the provider, Clinical Nurse Manager Kris Gillard arrives at the hospital within an hour to instruct the patient about their medication and how to infuse at home. If the patient lives in Rochester, Gillard would then visit their home at least once a week to assess and monitor recovery with a carefully curated list of questions and measurements. Then, RHI pharmacist Steven Ly follows up with a phone call.

If a patient does not live in Rochester, RHI works with a local nursing agency provider and again supplies the attending nurse with list of questions to ask and measurements to take to ensure that patients are recovering and to address potential relapse as quickly as possible.

“That prevents rehospitalization and ER visits. It’s good, all around, for everybody,” Raymundo explained.

To launch RHI and fill a healthcare gap in southeastern Minnesota, Raymundo took a huge risk in relocating her entire family- three kids and a husband- to Rochester. RHI was the first and only medically-focused tenant in the BioBusiness Center with absolutely no ties to Mayo Clinic.

“Nobody ever asked me to come here. And I didn’t ask anyone’s permission,” she said. Raymundo self-funded the whole business, taking money from no one to launch her vision.

Now, she’s just asking for a fair shot and working to raise awareness that an alternative to the ITC exists in Rochester. She says RHI is not in competition with Mayo; it would be a major success to even get a small fraction of the clinic’s infusion patients.

“ITC is not for everybody. Some patients actually would want to go back to work sooner. Some patients cannot even drive to get there,” she explained.

Unfortunately, RHI does not always get presented to patients as a viable option.

“Awareness is big. Just being given a fair chance. We’re not asking for any special treatment from anybody. We just want to be presented to patients in a way that is objective so they are aware that they have options,” explained Raymundo.

She says that Mayo needs to create a more competitive environment for people following some of their patients, like RHI.

“If they make it competitive, then everybody will be trying to do their best to outdo each other,” she said.

The Destination Medical Center draw pulled Raymundo to Rochester in the first place. However, she says DMC needs local success stories to inspire other entrepreneurs, especially those without ties to Mayo, to pick up and move to Rochester.

She thinks DMC needs a homerun with a large company.

“But guess what? That’s not how it’s built. You need to hit a lot of singles. …You need a lot of people like me to hit the singles. That creates the entrepreneurial environment. And I’m trying to get the double. I’m sprinting for the double but I’m kind of in a pickle,” she said.

Raymundo could easily move her family back to the Twin Cities and commute to Rochester for her business. But she wants to be part of the community, including all the ups and downs.

“Because if you’re part of the community, then you’re invested. And if you’re invested, then you really take it to heart what your community’s trying to establish,” she explained.

Rochester Home Infusion Seeking Ground in Destination Medical City- Part 1, Nuts and Bolts

Photo courtesy of Rochester Home Infusion.

Photo courtesy of Rochester Home Infusion.

Rochester Home Infusion- the only home infusion provider in Rochester, Minn.- brings intravenous (IV) therapies to the patient in the convenience of their home or temporary residence and gets patients back to a normal life as quickly as possible. This four-year-old healthcare startup is revolutionizing in-home patient services in Rochester and augmenting Mayo Clinic care outside of the hospital walls. Now, Founder Joselyn Raymundo says Rochester Home Infusion (RHI) is just asking for an even playing field so they can continue to grow and build upon this city’s strong history of healthcare.

Raymundo herself has a lengthy history of experience in entrepreneurship and just starting something. The Saint Paul native spent several years at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, where she launched both their Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Home Infusion programs. Her vision allowed Children’s to dominate the child-specific home infusion market in the Twin Cities for several years and be a fierce competitor to their main rival, Pediatric Home Services.

Raymundo pioneered the home infusion program at Children’s for eleven years before being courted by Accredo- a Tennessee-based specialty pharmacy- to run their multi-state Midwestern division as well as their home infusion department, called Critical Care Systems.

Rochester Home Infusion Founder Joselyn Raymundo. Photo courtesy of Rochester Home Infusion.

Rochester Home Infusion Founder Joselyn Raymundo. Photo courtesy of Rochester Home Infusion.

After Raymundo ran Critical Care Systems for about a year and a half, Accredo was acquired by Express Scripts, a massive pharmacy benefit management organization based out of Saint Louis. The focus of Express Scripts was much different than her own; Raymundo felt it was a good time to cut ties with the organization and strike out by herself. She dreamed of launching her own home infusion company for several years and decided the time was ripe.

The stint with Accredo had opened Raymundo’s eyes to the entire home infusion market in Minnesota. She realized that southeastern Minnesota was drastically underserved in this regard.

The breadth of this market gap really struck home one night during some 2AM internet market research when Raymundo came across the old Destination Medical Center (DMC) website. DMC is a massive public private partnership to make Rochester, Minn. a global destination for healthcare and wellness. At the time, the site contained a map of all destinations for medical treatment in the United States. Places like Cleveland Clinic, MD Anderson, Johns Hopkins, and Mayo Clinic. She then mapped all home infusion centers within one hour of these medical cities.

“Pretty much every single one of them had at least five, if not eight, home infusion providers,” Raymundo explained.

All except for Rochester.

People who travel to these centers for their first, second, or even third opinions need to take that tailored expertise back home to continue with their work and life. Home infusion centers serve to “extend that excellence of care really from the hospital to the patient’s home, wherever they are.”

To solve this problem, and bring Rochester up-to-speed with other medical destination cities, Raymundo launched Rochester Home Infusion out of the BioBusiness Center in downtown Rochester in late 2013.

Raymundo and her team of pharmacists and clinicians at RHI work with the patient and their physician to create personalized care plans for in-home IV medical treatment. RHI provides common infusion therapies like antibiotics, magnesium balls, immunoglobulin treatment, and home parental nutrition where it’s convenient and comfortable for the patient.

All the medications are prepared in RHI’s state-of-the-art clean room, right here in Rochester. Treatments are packaged into an ambulatory device that works best for the patient- like a backpack, fanny pack, or other small package- so the patient can medicate at home or infuse discreetly at work or during social events- like proms and weddings- so that patients can continue with their lives as normally as possible.

Without a provider like RHI, transplant patients could spend up to four hours, daily, receiving treatment. This includes traveling from a residence- temporary or permanent- in Rochester to Mayo’s Infusion Therapy Center (ITC), parking, checking-in, waiting, and then finally infusing for two hours.

With RHI, patients instead are set up with an infusion device, which they are carefully instructed by a RHI clinical nurse how to care for and use. Patients can then fill the device with their pre-packaged medication, connect to their PICC line, and are quickly ready to infuse their treatment at home or while they go about their daily lives.

“Being in your own home is a critical part of the healing process that gave us a sense of feeling normal again,” explained one RHI patient.

Offset Printing and Collider LLC to Present at Next 1 Million Cups Rochester

Join the entrepreneurial and small business community at the next 1 Million Cups Rochester on Wednesday, August 2nd from 9-10AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event Space. This month we have two entrepreneurs from Rochester telling their story, and both work out of the same historic building in the downtown area: AJ Montpetit with Offset Printing and Jamie Sundsbak with Collider LLC.

 

About Offset Printing

Offset Printing is a very new business that works with artists and businesses to create and print T-shirts and mugs with both sublimation and screen printing.

Launched in: 2017

Presenter: AJ Montpetit

Industry: Other

About Collider LLC

Collider LLC is a coworking hub for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and startups in a historic building in downtown Rochester.

Launched: 2016

Presenter: Jamie Sundsbak

Industry: Other/Technology

 

About 1 Million Cups

1 Million Cups is a free, national education program developed by the Kauffman Foundation. 1 Million Cups takes place every Wednesday at 9AM across 132 US communities to support and encourage entrepreneurs. The program is based on the idea that entrepreneurs connect and discover solutions over one million cups of coffee.

Rochester Native and Former US Army Ranger Launches Executive Protection Business Ehni Enterprises

Photo courtesy of Ehni Enterprises.

Photo courtesy of Ehni Enterprises.

Rochester native Bryan Ehni always felt the need to protect people. The former US Army Ranger launched his first business, Ehni Enterprises, last October to “protect the life, reputation, and property of our clients with real, physical security.” Ehni and his team capitalize on technology advancements and continual training to meet customer needs. Ehni sees Rochester as a prime location to germinate his business and prepare for the future.

Ehni Enterprises provides executive protection for foreign dignitaries, celebrities, and corporate executives in a manner consistent with the highest models in business security.

From a young age, Ehni was driven to protect others. This mission began in the second grade after standing up to older bullies for a childhood friend and later motivated him to pursue a degree in law enforcement. After graduation, Ehni enlisted in the United States Army and attended the Ranger Indoctrination Program, a Special Operations selection process for the 75th Ranger Regiment. Ehni was selected and served for four years in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“I enjoyed the idea that I could make a difference,” he explained.

The germ of an idea for Ehni Enterprises was conceived early in his career, right after completion of his law enforcement training. While serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, Ehni identified a unique opportunity to leverage his military skill set toward this personal mission of protection. Once hatched, the concept for Ehni Enterprises grew and evolved in his mind for the next seven years.

Apart from working in the hardware department at Menards and selling Cutco knives door to door, Ehni really had no formalized sales or business training. To fill this gap in his educational experience, he enrolled in the business management and business administration program at Winona State University. He spent the next few years learning and continuously sharpening his business plan with the guidance of advisers such as Dr. Hamid Akbari at the university.

Now, Ehni Enterprises is seeking a foothold in Rochester as the “first choice for executive protection.” Ehni’s team is a mixture of highly skilled, experienced former military and law enforcement individuals on both the executive and protective sides of the business.

Ehni sees an immense need for increased executive protection in Rochester, and on a worldwide scale, due to evolving risks and a changing geopolitical climate.

Photo courtesy of Ehni Enterprises.

Photo courtesy of Ehni Enterprises.

“Even though Rochester is a relatively safe city, it is growing because of Destination Medical Center. With growth comes the need for additional vigilance,” he explained.

Ehni says that Rochester currently does not offer services that provide an adequate level of protection for these individuals.

Executive protection is certainly a challenging market to break into, but Ehni has been persistent. A market analysis and assessment of the need in Rochester for his services posed its own unique challenges; information about the presence of potential clients in the city is highly sensitive and difficult to obtain. Ehni successfully collaborated with key members of the Rochester business community to identify local opportunities and needs for his specialized protection services.

Ehni says his experience in Army Special Operations prepared him well for business, where you’re “faced on a daily basis with challenges that you don’t know how to deal with.” To others interested in launching their own business Ehni says, “You have to be willing to push yourself to the limits and then beyond what you think you can do.”

For more information on Ehni Enterprises, please call (507) 251-2309, send an email to Services@EhniEnterprises.com, or check out the website at http://www.ehnienterprises.com.

Join us for our 1 Year Birthday Party and Community Celebration

Rochester Rising is turning 1 year old! This online news platform was created last July to amplify the stories of Rochester entrepreneurs and give a voice to our emerging entrepreneurial community.

Join us for a celebration of this milestone!

This evening is not just for Rochester Rising. It's a time to celebrate the entire entrepreneurial community of Rochester and its growth over the past year. 

All tickets include a buffet style meal from Grand Rounds and 1 beer, wine, cocktail, or soft drink.

As part of this event, we have also invited one entrepreneur from the community to tell more of their story, as chosen by the Rochester entrepreneurial community. Look for an announcement of this speaker early next week.

We will also have a $2 raffle with items from Rochester Rising and GoRout up for grabs. All proceeds from the raffle will go toward keeping Rochester Rising alive and running.

This event was made possible by: Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza, Sonex Health, and Brandhoot.

and by: AM Fitness, Community and Economic Development Associates, TerraLoco, Penz Dental Care, FireFly, Carpet Booth Studios, BubbleBall Rochester, GoRout, and COVR Medical

This incredible businesses helped to subsidize the food costs for members of our community, to lower the barriers for everyone to attend. Be sure to buy your ticket at the low $10 price before funds from our amazing community partners run out!

Event Schedule: 

4:30-5:30: Happy hour 

5:30-6:00: Food and Programming

6:00-6:30: Happy Half Hour

Ticket sales end July 12th at 1:30PM.

Funding Sources for Rochester Startups and Small Businesses: Tax Credits, Venture Competitions, and Investment Groups

Funding Sources for Rochester Startups and Small Businesses: Part 1- Business Subsidies

Capital drives any business. Lack of an angel investment fund in southeastern Minnesota or strong venture capital presence here can hinder cash flow. Here are some business subsidies that can serve as funding options for startups and small businesses in Rochester. Check back in later in the week for Part 2, detailing tax incentives, venture competitions, and other funding sources that all Minnesota businesses should have on their radar.

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