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

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

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

Thursday, June 20

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

The Garage Co-working Space

123 Lafayette St.

Winona, MN 55987


11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

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


3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Riverland College, Room 140

965 Alexander Dr. SW

Owatonna, MN 55060


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

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

New MN DEED Commissioner Steve Grove Stops in Rochester to Hear from SE MN Entrepreneurs

Photo courtesy of RAEDI. Back row from left to right: Ryan Nolander, President of RAEDI; Chris Schad, Director of Business Development for Discovery Square; Samantha Strand, Executive Director at Garage Co-Work Space; Jame Sundsbak, Community Manager of Collider Coworking; Andy Vig, Cofounder of SHRPA; Sean Williams, Cofounder of Comicker LLC. Front row from left to right: Judy Lundy, Innovation Coordinator with Austin Community Growth Ventures; Neela Mollgaard, Executive Director at Red Wing Ignite; Carla Nelson, Minnesota State Senator; Shruthi Naik, Cofounder at Vyriad; Steve Grover, Commissioner at MN DEED; Amanda Leightner, Founder of Rochester Rising; and Xavier Frigola, Director of Entrepreneurship at RAEDI.

Photo courtesy of RAEDI. Back row from left to right: Ryan Nolander, President of RAEDI; Chris Schad, Director of Business Development for Discovery Square; Samantha Strand, Executive Director at Garage Co-Work Space; Jame Sundsbak, Community Manager of Collider Coworking; Andy Vig, Cofounder of SHRPA; Sean Williams, Cofounder of Comicker LLC. Front row from left to right: Judy Lundy, Innovation Coordinator with Austin Community Growth Ventures; Neela Mollgaard, Executive Director at Red Wing Ignite; Carla Nelson, Minnesota State Senator; Shruthi Naik, Cofounder at Vyriad; Steve Grover, Commissioner at MN DEED; Amanda Leightner, Founder of Rochester Rising; and Xavier Frigola, Director of Entrepreneurship at RAEDI.

Newly minted Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove visited with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders from across southeastern Minnesota in Rochester this Friday. His mission: to listen and learn about the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and to receive input on Governor Tim Walz’s proposal to spur innovation in the state.

Grove, a native of Northfield, Minnesota, was appointed into the Commissioner position with MN DEED by Walz after a long career in the private sector. As a trained journalist, Grove spent time at The Boston Globe and ABC News. Although new to MN DEED, Grove is no stranger to tech innovation. He spent over four years as Head of News and Politics at YouTube prior to his most recent post as Director of Google News.

While building his career on the west coast, Grove retained strong roots to the Midwest. He and wife Mary co-founded the nonprofit Silicon North Stars in 2013. This organization connects underserved tech-driven Minnesotan youth with tech startups and venture capital firms in Silicon Valley for an immerse learning experience. Mary Grove currently runs the Minneapolis office for the venture capital firm Rise of the Rest, an organization launched by AOL founder Steve Case to increase investment outside of the coasts. 

Now, Grove and Governor Walz are thinking of ways to grow the innovation economy in Minnesota to help foster the region as a powerhouse to start and grow tech companies.

Grove visited Rochester last week to meet with local entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial ecosystem builders, and local government to tour innovation sectors in Rochester and to better understand strengths and weaknesses in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Grove also received feedback and questions about the Governor’s $9M proposal to create a new Minnesota Innovation Collaboration (MIC). If approved, the MIC would utilize grants and other resources to make Minnesota a more attractive place to start a tech company. The program would be administered by MN DEED.  

“I think it’s great that the Commissioner comes to the position with private world experience in the technology and innovation sector. The program that he and the Governor are proposing seems to be on track and I think it was important that we were able to provide input,” said Ryan Nolander, President of Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. “Hopefully they take that input and create programs that are flexible enough to truly assist us with growing our regional entrepreneur ecosystem.” 

Walz’s MIC proposal includes a number of incentives to help lower the state’s risk aversion and encourage startup growth. Proposed incentives include one year of health insurance coverage and research and development vouchers. Walz’s proposal also includes the revival of the Angel Tax Credit in Minnesota to encourage investment in early stage Minnesotan startups. The credit expired in 2017.

“MIC could mean big things for all of Minnesota. We need to reduce barriers such as access to affordable healthcare to allow our makers, doers, and dreamers to start companies right here in Minnesota,” explained Jamie Sundsbak, Community Manager of Collider Coworking. “The MIC plan will also empower local ecosystem builders and will increase funding for entrepreneurial education at the local level. I applaud Governor Walz, Commissioner Grove, and everyone working on the legislation for their efforts.”

State of the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community- January 2019

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


Events and Competitions 

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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


Notable visits 

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


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



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

New Cowork Space Offers Hub for Winona Entrepreneurs

Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

Photo courtesy of The Garage Co-Work.

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

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

Rochester Rising Launches Second Annual Fall Supporting Member Drive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Startups from across U.S. Aim to Improve Patient Care through Devices, Software, and Care Management in gBETA Medtech Fall 2018 Cohort

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 Minneapolis, MN – gBETA Medtech, a program of the nationally ranked accelerator gener8tor, has selected six startups for its Fall 2018 cohort from an international applicant pool. gBETA Medtech is funded by Boston Scientific with additional support from Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota and Medical Alley Association. 

“gBETA Medtech’s success this year is a testimony to the demand for even greater collaboration between early-stage ventures, influential institutions and corporate leaders,” said Dave Knapp, vice president, Corporate Research at Boston Scientific. “As we build more and closer relationships across this ecosystem, we move closer to our ultimate goal: an even greater impact on patient care, lives changed and lives saved.” 

 gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with medical device, healthcare-related software, biotech, and diagnostics startups for no fees and no equity. Each gBETA program is capped at six companies to ensure meaningful engagement with sponsors and other resources. Participants receive intensive and individualized coaching and access to physicians, researchers, successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, and industry experts. The program is designed to help startups gain early customer traction on their product or idea, and establish metrics that can make them competitive applicants for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment. 

“Demand for programs like ours is only growing in the wake of our first two cohorts’ success. We believe that the solutions these companies offer to address diverse clinical needs have the potential to be truly disruptive, and we can’t wait to integrate these companies into Medical Alley,” said Adam Choe, director of gBETA Medtech. 

 The gBETA Medtech Fall 2018 cohort includes: 

CorInnova (Houston, Texas) designs and develops a revolutionary soft robotic non-blood contacting biventricular cardiac assist device for the treatment of heart failure (HF) that would eliminate 40% of the adverse events associated with existing cardiac assist devices. 

CEO: William Altman | | 

Drug Free Therapeutix (Indianapolis, Indiana) designs and develops an intelligent, networked non-invasive closed-loop vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to treat a variety of pain and gastrointestinal disorders. 

CEO: Stephen Hourigan | |  

HabitAware (Minneapolis, Minnesota) makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps people manage compulsive behaviors including trichotillomania (hair pulling), skin picking, nail biting and more. 

CEO: Sameer Kumar | | 

Nutrimedy (Boston, Massachusetts) improves the outdated care delivery model for clinical nutrition connecting patients with expert registered dietitians to provide education, support, and counseling for over 50 conditions through a web platform and mobile app.

CEO: Karolina Starczak | | 

Phraze (San Francisco, California) automates physician electronic medical record (EMR) data entry and documentation requirements utilizing an AI scribe. 

Co-Founder: Brandon McCutcheon | | 

Vital Health Links (Woodbury, Minnesota) specializes in helping medical practices and healthcare organizations realize new revenue and improve quality metrics through Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program. 

CEO: Saurin Patel | | 

Startups interested in learning more should contact gBETA Medtech Director Adam Choe ( For more information on the program and ways to get involved, please visit 

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.

Here's What you Missed at Startup Weekend Rochester 2018

Techstars Startup Weekend Rochester is a 54 hour event to take a concept from the idea stage to the beginning states of a startup over the course of a single weekend. Startup Weekend is a great chance to explore entrepreneurship in a collaborative, encouraging environment while learning lean startup skills.

Roadmap to the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community (2018)

Sometimes the most difficult thing about entrepreneurship is just figuring out how to get started. This guide serves as a list of local resources, events, and information to get you plugged into the Rochester entrepreneurial community and learn ways to fund your business within the city.

This roadmap is updated annually to provide the most up-to-date information on our entrepreneurial community.

Press Release: gBETA Medtech Announces Summer 2018 Cohort


Minneapolis, MN – gBETA Medtech, a program of the nationally ranked accelerator gener8tor, announced the six startups that were selected for its Summer 2018 cohort. gBETA Medtech is funded by Boston Scientific, with additional support from Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and Medical Alley Association.

gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with medical device, healthcare-related software, biotech and diagnostics startups. Each gBETA program is capped at six companies, and requires no fees and takes no equity. Participants receive intensive and individualized coaching and access to physicians, researchers, successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and industry experts. The program is designed to help startups gain early customer traction on their product or idea, and establish metrics that can make them competitive applicants for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment.

The gBETA Medtech Summer 2018 cohort consists of six startups selected from an international applicant pool. Descriptions for all six companies can be found below.

“As gBETA Medtech builds momentum with this second cohort, we’re encouraged by the increasing diversity of the applicants drawn to Medical Alley,” said Adam Choe, director of gBETA Medtech. “With companies from across the country focused on a wide range of patient needs, we’re confident that this group will maximize the opportunities to engage with mentors, investors and strategic organizations during our seven-week program and will bring the best of Minnesota’s medtech cluster back to their local markets.”

  • InterShunt (St. Louis, Missouri) designs and develops a catheter based minimally-invasive procedure, without an implant, to provide relief for millions suffering from heart failure.
    CEO: Harlee Sorkin ||

  • Lucia Health Guidelines (San Francisco, California) uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to facilitate clinician adherence to American Heart Association guidelines in order to close gaps in care.
    CEO: Mathew Rothway |

  • Morari Medical (Minneapolis, Minnesota) is restoring confidence in male sexual health by eliminating the embarrassment and frustration of sexual dysfunction.
    CEO: Jeff Bennett |

  • Noleus Technologies (Houston, Texas) designs and develops a disposable device that mitigates postoperative bowel swelling to accelerate patient recovery after abdominal surgery.          CEO: Swarna Balasubramaniam, MD ||

  • Sunrise Health (Boston, Massachusetts) provides patients with mental health or substance use conditions 24/7 access to anonymous, text-based group support.                                          CEO: Shrenik Jain ||

  • SuraMedical (Minneapolis, Minnesota) increases the consistency in chronic leg wound treatment by remotely monitoring critical aspects of chronic care.
    CEO: Marja Engel |

    gBETA Medtech is now accepting applications for the Fall 2018 cohort. Applications are open to startups across the globe. Startups interested in applying should contact gBETA Medtech Director Adam Choe ( For more information on the program and ways to get involved, please visit

It's Our Two-Year Anniversary!


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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

Five Legal Issues for all Healthcare Entrepreneurs

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A few weeks ago, the Rochester startup community heard from Fredrikson & Byron healthcare attorneys Ryan Johnson and Marguerite Ahmann for “Health Law 101: Key Legal Issues for Health Care Companies.” This event was hosted by the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator and Collider Coworking.  

Here are five key legal issues that Johnson and Ahmann believe all healthcare entrepreneurs should have on their radar.

1.     False Claims Act (FCA). The FCA is the primary mechanism used by the government to combat fraudulent claims to the federal government. The FCA was originally enacted in 1863 to protect against fraudulent suppliers to the Union Army during the Civil War. This statute holds any person liable who knowingly submits false claims to the government and can result in payment of treble damages- or triple the amount of the actual damages- plus a $5,000-10,000 penalty for each false claim. This statute applies to many areas of healthcare, especially billing and coding and off-label marketing of drugs. It does not hold persons or entities liable for mistakes, including coding errors.

2.     Qui Tam Provision. This is a provision included in the FCA, which allows people not affiliated with the government, called “relators,” to file false claim accusations on behalf of the government.

3.     Anti-Kickback Statute. This statute makes it illegal to offer, solicit, or receive any payments intended to induce a referral of a federal healthcare program business. Safe harbor regulations outline financial transactions that would not be regarded as offenses under the statute. These specific allowances involve transactions at fair market value.

4.     Stark Law. These are a set of federal laws originally intended to protect against unnecessary testing and services that could increase healthcare costs. These laws prohibit a physician from self-referring Medicaid/Medicare patients for a Designated Health Service (DHS) to an entity in which the physician or an immediate family member has a financial interest. This is a strict liability statute, meaning proof of intent to violate the law is not necessary. Violation of Stark Law is a civil, not criminal, penalty of up to $15,000 per claim.

5.     Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Enacted in 1996, HIPAA is a federal statute that safeguards Protected Health Information (PHI). PHI broadly refers to any information about the state of health, healthcare treatment, or healthcare payment that can be linked to a specific individual. HIPAA applies to “covered entities” – healthcare providers and health systems- and “business associates” – third parties who are contracted to work with the covered entities and have access to PHI. HIPAA provides patients with certain rights over their PHI and who can access these data. Sometimes state laws are more strict than federal HIPAA regulations. In these cases, the more restrictive law must be followed. This is the case in Minnesota, where the Minnesota Health Records Act places additional obligations on healthcare providers not covered under HIPAA. 

For more information about healthcare law, please check out these web resources:

·      U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

·      Office of Inspector General

·      Minnesota Department of Health

Free gBETA Medtech Accelerator Program Launches in Minneapolis to Support HealthTech Startups

gBETA Medtech cohort participant Andy Pfahnl of Kobara Medical displaying his technology at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener. Kobara Medical is an early stage medtech company developing solutions for heart failure and cardiac arrthmia.

gBETA Medtech cohort participant Andy Pfahnl of Kobara Medical displaying his technology at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener. Kobara Medical is an early stage medtech company developing solutions for heart failure and cardiac arrthmia.

Gener8tor, a national accelerator that invests in high growth potential startups, recently launched its very first industry specific program, gBETA MedTech, right here in Minnesota. The inaugural gBETA Medtech cohort jump started the program in Minneapolis on March 22nd. This pilot class will culminate with a LiveBETA Medtech pitch session in Minneapolis on May 21st.

Unlike core the gener8tor accelerator programs, where gener8tor invests in startups in exchange for equity, gBETA programs are completely free. Gener8tor invests no funds in the companies and receives no equity in return. With the freshly minted gBETA Medtech in Minneapolis, startups still receive the “same experience of introductions to mentors and introductions to investors throughout the program,” explained Director of gBETA Medtech Adam Choe. “We spend a lot of time making sure their messaging is clear and their critical pathway is well understood.”

This industry specific gBETA accepts medical device, healthcare related software, biotech, and diagnostic companies into their program. Pharmaceuticals are outside of the scope of this particular accelerator.

gBETA Medtech is made possible through a partnership with Boston Scientific, the University of Minnesota Office for Technology Commercialization, Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center, and Mayo Clinic.

Choe says gBETA Medtech occurs from a “perfect intersection” of these three partners with the current Minnesota startup ecosystem. Choe understands the struggles of getting a startup off the ground and wants to help other companies achieve success.

“That first valley of death where you may not know the right people and funding is tight, we can help facilitate a lot of strategic introductions. If we do it right, we can do in seven weeks what would normally take seven months,” he explained.

Participating startups do not need to be headquartered in Minneapolis or even in Minnesota; the program just requires one founder to be in Minneapolis for the duration of the seven-week program.

Adam Choe (at right) Director of gBETA Medtech during a panel discussion at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener.

Adam Choe (at right) Director of gBETA Medtech during a panel discussion at the 2018 Walleye Tank Spring Opener.

“We don’t want to come in and take over for a company,” Choe said. “We want to be there to supplement what they know is a weakness of theirs. Or maybe they don’t know it’s a weakness, but we can help them uncover some things that, when you’re in the thick of it, you kind of lose track of.”

gBETA Medtech’s first six-startup cohort spans a range of stages. Some of the current companies are funded just by the founders at this point; some by SBIR grants. Other startups in the program are led by students. For this reason, Choe says gBETA Medtech is more like a “Swiss Army knife for startups” instead of a one-size-fits-all bootcamp style program.

While this first gBETA Medtech class will continue to be a learning process, gener8tor looks forward to supporting two additional gBETA Medtech cohorts this year, attracting companies from Rochester and even outside of Minnesota. Choe hopes that involvement in gBETA Medtech will help startups attract follow-on funding and even get accepted into additional accelerator programs that can invest funding.

While gBETA Medtech is brand new in Minnesota, the core gener8tor equity accelerator program in Minneapolis has already graduated one class, investing $90,000 in five different companies. This cohort included Kaleidoscope, a company that designs and administers scholarships and locates and manages scholarship applicants and recently closed a $1.3M round of seeding funding. For equity gener8tor programs- located in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Madison- have invested in sixty-five companies.

By the end of 2018, Choe says twelve companies will have graduated from the industry agnostic gBETA that’s also run in Minneapolis. In addition, two more gBETA Medtech cohorts and another for-equity gener8tor accelerator class are anticipated to graduate from programs this year in Minneapolis, for a total of thirty-three startups.

“That’s thirty-three more startups that we’re hoping to help make introductions, facilitate mentors, facilitate investors, and just be their support and network that they need as they try to navigate the startup world,” Choe said.

Currently, gBETA Medtech is seeking more startups and mentors to help propel the program forward.

“It takes a village, it really does for a startup. We are just trying to build up the strongest network. There’s no reason why the strongest healthcare network, medtech network, can’t be in Minnesota,” said Choe.

"The Hatchery" To Provide Lab Space to Emerging Rochester Life Science Startups


Midwestern states are historic dry beds of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding. SBIR and STTR are competitive, federally funded programs for US small businesses to aid in the commercialization of research and development activities to encourage, and in some cases, require collaborations between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions to bring scientific and tech innovations onto the market.

In the approximate thirty-six year history of these programs (SBIR was established in 1982 and STTR in 1992), funding has primarily focused along the coasts, particularly in California (with ~$9.7B in obligations), Massachusetts (with ~$6B in obligations), Virginia (with $2.7B in obligations), and Maryland (with $2.2B in obligations). Only two Midwestern states have garnered over $1B in obligations from these programs over the same amount of time (Ohio leads with ~$1.75B followed by Michigan with ~$1B); the states of Illinois (with ~$839M in obligations), Minnesota (with ~$645M in obligations), and Wisconsin (with ~$519M in obligations) trail closely behind.

Over the past five years (from 2013 to 2017), 4 companies in Rochester were successfully awarded 7 different SBIR/STTR grants, totaling about $5M. For comparison, in these same five years 5 entities in Fargo, North Dakota successfully received 12 different SBIR/STTR grants, totaling about $4.8M. Across this same time span, 55 different companies in Madison, Wisconsin were successfully awarded 162 different SBIR/STTR grants.

Compared to at least some similar Midwestern towns, Rochester is on par. But we can do better to increase the amount of SBIR/STTR grant applications, improve the positioning of Rochester startups, and begin to capture government funds that are leaking to the coastal regions.

One key factor that could fuel the growth of science and tech startups in Rochester, and in turn spur more SBIR/STTR submissions, is wet lab space. Currently, areas for life science startups to build and develop life science technologies in Rochester is slim if not non-existent.

Dr. Stephen Ekker, Director of the brand-new Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship, thinks he may have a solution with “The Hatchery”.

This concept utilizes unoccupied lab space within Mayo Clinic, which would otherwise go unused, to house emerging science startups and fuel biotech innovation in this city. The Hatchery provides some lab equipment including glassware, gloves, water baths, a thermocycler, and incubators along with desk and lab space to startups at low cost: $12/square foot or an equity agreement.

Space is currently available for interested life science startups in Mayo’s Guggenheim building.

Want to learn more about wet lab space and its potential? Check out the suggested stories below.

Coworking: What You Should Know About This Global Trend and Where to Cowork in Rochester


Coworking- office space where an individual or small group can rent open or semi-private workspace- is a business trend on the sharp rise. As of 2017, approximately 13,800 coworking facilities exist globally, growing at a 22% rate each year, according to the 2017 Global Coworking Survey. Over 1,180,000 people around the world work out of these types of spaces. With 12,500 square feet of coworking space in operation in this city, we thought it was time to take a deeper dive into this trend and better understand the true coworking value.

The Vault coworking space in Rochester. The Vault is located above Grand Rounds Brew Pub.

The Vault coworking space in Rochester. The Vault is located above Grand Rounds Brew Pub.

On the surface level, coworking spaces are exactly that- places to work. They typically include some sort of open work area, where people can rent individual desks on a monthly, or even daily, basis. Some coworking facilities offer semi-private office space, like the small group “campsites” at COCO Coworking. Most coworking facilities also contain sound-proof areas to take phone calls, meeting room space, snacks, beer, lots of coffee, and a mailing address outside of your home. Some even have in-house bars, lockers, showers, daycare, and discount partnerships with local business (such as WeWork and Lyft in Minneapolis).

Rochester Area Foundation non-profit incubator space.

Rochester Area Foundation non-profit incubator space.

Coworking spaces are not just for the uber-hipster, either. And they’re not just for the solo entrepreneur. Small teams, freelancers, remote workers, startups, and teams from Fortune 500 companies can and do operate from coworking facilities.

The extreme flexibility of coworking spaces is perhaps their biggest value add in today’s dynamic business climate. Coworking rental agreements are typically no longer than one month and are renewed on a monthly basis. This allows businesses to avoid long-term leases and offers the ability to scale up or down both the real estate and team in a financially responsible manner.

Coworking facilities come in a variety of flavors. There are massive, one-size-fits-all, chain entities like WeWork and Industrious, both of which have locations in Minneapolis. WeWork is the giant, for-profit entity in coworking; the business has a $20B valuation (Crunchbase), with 305 office locations in 62 different cities. Industrious, also for-profit, has 25 locations in the US and just raised $80M (Axios).

While all general purpose coworking facilities can’t all be unicorns, they can be francized, even on a smaller scale. The Beauty Shoppe is a prime example. This private-public partnership began as a single entity, in a beauty shop in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood. Now, The Beauty Shoppe has four additional locations around Pittsburgh and one facility in Cleveland.

COCO Coworking, another for-profit business, is a great example in our region. COCO now has four Twin Cities locations and has set up shop in Chicago. COCO recently rebranded to Fueled Collective, where their facilities will blend into a hybrid coworking space and social club, linking this community to other Fueled Collective spaces in New York and Cincinnati.

Coworking spaces can also be targeted to specific demographics, when the community is large enough to support it. Several examples exist in the Los Angeles region including One Roof Women, a space specifically for females; The Hatchery Press, a work area just for writers; and Kleverdog Coworking, a facility for the dog lover.    

While there certainly are a plethora of coworking facilities on the global scale, only 41% of coworking spaces are actually profitable. The bottom line: they just take a lot of money to run and receive little money in return. On a non-financial level, coworking spaces can also fail if they do not create an identity, offer no or poor business programming to their members, are not involved in the local community, and fail to develop an inspiring physical space.

Inside of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator.

Inside of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator.

“The success of a coworking space depends on the community that you’re in,” explained Jamie Sundsbak, Community Manager of Collider Coworking in Rochester.

Some particular standout successes occur when coworking spaces popup in repurposed, old buildings and activate that space. This helps to drive foot traffic, interest, and activity to perhaps otherwise unutilized areas of a city. This was the case with Collider Coworking, which took space in the over 100-year-old Conley-Maass-Downs Building in 2016.

Success also occurs when coworking facilities bring distinct educational value to their tenants, such as The Corner, a Beauty Shoppe location in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. This facility offers a ten-week training program in conjunction with Penn State University to support product commercialization.

The most effective coworking spaces, by far, are those that add value to both the surrounding community and to their tenants. They are useful tools to cluster creative minds together to generate synergy, spur innovation, and fuel collaborations to solve real problems. They also provide cost-effective office space to get emerging companies off the ground.

Rochester's newest coworking space, Collider, located in the Conley-Maass-Downs building.

Rochester's newest coworking space, Collider, located in the Conley-Maass-Downs building.

In a city the size of Rochester, coworking spaces may be more effective as non-profit entities, where they “turn more into an economic development play than a co-working space alone,” explained Sundsbak.

Red Wing Ignite, a non-profit that provides coworking space in Red Wing, Minnesota practiced this concept since 2013. Red Wing Ignite subsidizes rental costs to tenants and keeps the lights running through a variety of private-public partnerships including support from Xcel Energy, Goodhue County, Red Wing Shoes, the City of Red Wing, and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

In Rochester, we have four different co-working spaces, financed in a variety of ways, including: The Vault, Collider Coworking, the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, and Rochester Area Foundation. We are on par with the global coworking trend; most of these facilities in Rochester are at 75-100% capacity.

To learn more about the coworking options and culture in Rochester, check out our Rochester Startup series that we created with Ambient House Productions.    

How to Build a Startup with Mayo Clinic Technology- Lessons Learned from Mayo Clinic Entrepreneurs


Last week the community received a sneak peek at Global Entrepreneurship Week with the second annual “Lessons Learned from Mayo Clinic Entrepreneurs”. This panel discussion, hosted by the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, gave three entrepreneurial Mayo Clinic employees the opportunity to share their story and discuss lessons learned from building a startup with Mayo Clinic technology.

The panel included: Allan Dietz, Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic and Scientific Advisor at Mill Creek Life Sciences; Kah-Whye Peng, Professor of Oncology at Mayo Clinic and Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer at Imanis Life Sciences; and Karl Clark, Assistant Professor at Mayo Clinic, Technology Consultant at Recombinetics, and Chief Scientific Officer at Lifengine Technologies.

All three startups took very distinct paths to move their technology out of Mayo Clinic and turn it into a company.

Mill Creek Life Sciences, Dr. Dietz explained, had a unique and organic evolution.

“I’m an accidental entrepreneur. I never set out to be one,” he laughed.

From left to right: Karl Clark, Kah-Whye Peng, and Allan Dietz.

From left to right: Karl Clark, Kah-Whye Peng, and Allan Dietz.

Dietz was originally running a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility within Mayo Clinic, developing cells as therapeutics. At the time, his lab was growing cells in media- a liquid that supplies cells with the nutrients and food they need to grow- and calf serum. However, this serum ultimately had to be removed for the cells to be used as therapeutics in patients.

To avoid this issue, Dietz’s lab searched for an FDA approved substitute for serum and stumbled across platelet lysate, a product derived from expired platelets originally donated for blood transfusions. His lab successfully substituted the platelet lysate for calf serum, developing the main product that Mill Creek sells today.

Use of this serum-free media organically gained a commercial customer and, consequently, needed to get out of the Clinic. Dietz took the Intellectual Property (IP) for the product and launched a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to move the product forward. Today, Mill Creek Life Sciences is located on the second floor of the Minnesota BioBusiness Center and will likely outgrow the space soon.

When Dietz first began the startup in 2012, he said there was “almost nothing” to support entrepreneurship or Mayo Clinic startups in Rochester. Over the past five years, he’s learned some key lessons about building biotech startups in Rochester.

“Don’t do it to get rich,” he joked. “Do it because you don’t have enough things going on in your life and you’re bored and you’re tired of watching Netflix.”

He quickly learned that the whole process of product development must go quickly. He advised seeking out experts who can supplement your own knowledge and finding trusted partners in line with your goals for the company that can help you move fast.

“If it’s a good idea, there are other people working on it,” he said.

Dietz said there also must be separation between your role as a founder in your startup and your responsibilities at Mayo Clinic; he said it’s not a great idea to do both and suggested that you’re better off focusing on the Mayo job or the startup to really succeed.

Imanis Life Sciences had a slightly similar path, but a bit of a different outcome. Imanis is a reporter gene imaging company that is developing a range of reagents and services to monitor the fate of cells and viruses in real-time, non-invasively, in animal models.

Since Imanis launched in 2012 as one of the first companies out of Mayo Clinic’s Employee Entrepreneur Program, Dr. Peng said the biotech community in Rochester has grown tremendously.

“Five years ago, it was really kind of lacking,” she explained.

In the early stages of the company, Peng said they struggled to find a wet lab space in Rochester to build their technology, an amenity that she said still does not really exist in the city. Imanis eventually found a home in the lobby level of the Minnesota BioBusiness Center.

“We could afford the cheapest place, which is a place with no windows,” she laughed.

Imanis was self-funded in the beginning stages by Peng and her business partner Dr. Stephen Russell, founder of sister company Vyriad. Two years after the company’s launch, Peng said they had to take larger capital investment to hire staff.

Now, the business is celebrating its five-year anniversary and has global reach. Imanis is currently focused on growing their brand and building their customer base.

Alongside the community in Rochester, the startup hopes to “build a solid foundation for a dynamic biotech industry in Rochester, because it can be done.” Creating such a community, Peng said, offers alternative career options for highly trained scientists and helps to create new industries.

Lifengine Technologies, conversely, is a very new company, launching just last year to manufacture and sell gene editing reagents, products that can very precisely modify the genome- or all the DNA content- of an organism. Dr. Clark said most of the first few months were spent just figuring out direction for the startup.

Clark’s time with Lifengine may be limited so far, but he spent years with two other gene editing companies, Discovery Genomics and Recombinetics, where he witnessed, first-hand, growth from startup to small business.

“The pathway that you think you’re on in the first year, is not the path you’ll be on in your third year,” he advised.

Instead of moving Lifengine into the BioBusiness Center, Clark instead took advantage of a brand-new program within Mayo, called “The Hatchery”. Using this concept, he rented vacant lab space within Mayo Clinic on a month-to-month contract, allowing Lifengine to churn forward with little upfront capital.

Lifengine has its first part-time employee and is currently in bootstrapping mode, where the company is seeking to fund itself without outside investment.

Although the three founders followed different paths, the startups all faced issues with raising capital and identifying qualified workforce.

As far as the funding goes, “The number one source of capital is you,” Dietz explained. To attract significant money from outside investors to fuel the business, investors look for founders to have some of their own skin in the game.

Moreover, if you need to significantly develop the technology within your company, it’s riskier. Expect that process to suck up more capital and be prepared to give more equity away.

Small business grants, such as those provided through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, are also available. These offer an attractive alternative capital option, especially for founders with a strong history in academia, and give away no equity. The process, however, is quite slow.

Attracting trained scientists to a startup can also be tricky, especially when you’re competing with benefit-rich employers like Mayo Clinic. Peng said Imanis de-risked a lot of payroll issues by hiring contractors; their full-time employees are mainly people on their scientific team. She said there are people interested in the technology and the draw of a startup, you just have to pay them more than what Mayo is offering.

Dietz said it’s not too difficult to attract scientists, but hiring on the business side is a struggle.

“The idea that Rochester itself will natively or organically grow a great biotech or entrepreneurial thing is really naïve,” he explained.

Recruitment of qualified talent, he believes, is a significant challenge faced by the city today.

Rochester Startups Hiring: PayGo


Who says that there are no jobs in Rochester startups? Read on to learn more about open job opportunities at emerging businesses in Rochester, Minn. Check back in on Monday for another open position at another small business in the city.


PayGo- Software Support and Design Assistant

Job Description:

We are searching for a sharp, responsible, and energetic person to join our team. The primary function of this position is to provide technical and sales support to our current and potential customers, maintain our company computers, and to assist in ongoing R&D of our software product.

Duties Include:

- Provide first level support to customer support tickets via Help system, email, and phone.

- Assist new customers with installation and configuration of our software via screensharing goodness.

- Develop a specialized knowledge of the software and services that we provide.

- Monitor automated marketing and sale follow-ups and escalate interested leads.

Qualifications/Experience Required:

- You must be tech savvy- You must have a good understanding of Windows OS, MacOS 10.x, and iOS.

- You should have a good understanding of existing technical platforms and trends.

- You should be able to type without looking at the keyboard. If you can't, we'll know you're a phony.

- You must be self-motivated and have a desire to learn.

- Knowledge of things like FileMaker Pro, AWS, WordPress, CPanel/WHM.

- Programming skills.

- Knowledge of what goes on in a retail establishment.

Job Location:


Full Time, Part Time, or Contract:

PT – 30 hours. More as we grow.

Contact information:

Melissa McNallan-

Momentous Events in the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community: A Look at the Past Year

Thanks to everyone who came out to our 1st Birthday Party and Celebration of the Entrepreneurial community on Wednesday. We had a full house of over 40 members of our small business and entrepreneurial community, with some excellent storytelling from Kenneth Ngah and Mike Rolih. Thanks to all of you for your continued support of what we are doing here. And thanks to our supportive business community for helping to make this night happen.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rochester may not be as advanced as others around the nation, but we have much to celebrate. Here are some major milestones from the past year.  

Two Minneapolis Biotech Startups Win Third Edition of Walleye Tank

The third installment of Walleye Tank, a Fishing Opener expedition, was held last Friday at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus. Walleye Tank is a life science business pitch competition that celebrates the entire entrepreneurial community. The event took place in Minneapolis for the first time in the history of the competition. Twin Cities based startups Dolore Biotechnology and Dose Health walked away as divisional winners.

Walleye Tank occurs biannually in Minnesota. The pitch event originated at Mayo Clinic and has brought in competitors from Rochester and Minneapolis/Saint Paul since its inception. Walleye Tank contains two startup divisions: student “Junior Anglers” and more seasoned “Professionals.”

This edition, Junior Anglers featured student groups from both Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. The Mayo cohort developed the entire concepts for their pitches in the four weeks preceding the competition in an entrepreneurial class led by Dr. Ekker. The UMN student groups are under the guidance of Carla Pavone, Associate Director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship and Walleye Tank event planner.

In total, seventeen life science startups pitched their concepts to the “Walleyes”- a panel of seven biotech entrepreneurs, investors, and analyst experts- as well as to the gathered entrepreneurial community.

A group of three UMN student founders at Dolore Biotechnology won the Junior Angler division. Dolore Biotechnology is creating a portable, point-of-care device to provide rapid diagnosis for sickle cell disease from a single drop of blood.

Minneapolis startup RxFunction was runner up in the Professional Division. RxFunction developed a solution for peripheral neuropathy patients afflicted with balance problems called Walkasins. Walkasins consist of a leg unit and foot pad to measure foot pressure and provide immediate sensory input to users.

Minneapolis startup Dose Health walked away as the overall Professional Division winner. Dose Health created a smart pillbox to increase pill-taking compliance. Their device holds fourteen doses of pills in segmented compartments and sounds an alarm when it’s time to medicate. Multiple caregivers can be alerted if the pills are not dispensed.

For the first time in the history of the competition, Walleye Tank winners received entry as semifinalists in the Minnesota Cup, the state’s premier business pitch competition. Look for the next edition of Walleye Tank this fall.

Local Entrepreneurial Experts Predict Momentous 2017

The doors have closed on another year and the blank slate of 2017 is laid out before us. As we slowly roll through January, we asked several Minnesota-based entrepreneurs or experts working closely with startups and emerging businesses what they think 2017 holds. All opinions indicate this year may be one for the books in terms of startup development and growth in Rochester.