tech

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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Allianz Life and Securian Financial Team up with gener8tor to Invest in, Accelerate Insurance Innovation

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New “OnRamp Insurance Accelerator” invests in tech startups, and annual “OnRamp Insurance Conference” coming to Twin Cities.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--To invest in the next generation of insurance technology and innovation, Allianz Life Ventures, part of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, and Securian Financial have joined forces with nationally ranked startup accelerator, gener8tor, to establish the OnRamp Insurance Accelerator. 

Each year, five startups will be accepted into the three-month, concierge accelerator program in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Each will receive a cash investment of $100,000, office space and access to gener8tor’s global network of mentors and investors. Applications are now open for the first OnRamp Insurance Accelerator cohort. Startups may apply at onrampinsuranceaccelerator.com/apply. 

“We are pleased to partner with gener8tor to support the insurance tech startups that are developing the tools and technology for tomorrow’s insurance industry,” said Walter White, president and chief executive officer of Allianz Life. “We have a common vision of the potential of new technologies, and a commitment to finding new, innovative and efficient ways to serve our contract and policyholders both today and for years to come.” 

The creation of the OnRamp Insurance Accelerator builds off the success of the industry-leading OnRamp Insurance Conference. As part of the new Allianz Life Ventures, Securian Financial and gener8tor relationship, the annual OnRamp Insurance Conference will be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The 2019 OnRamp Insurance Conference will take place on April 11, 2019 at Target Center. 

Started by gener8tor in 2016, the OnRamp Insurance Conference brings together the insurance industry’s leading corporations, investors and startups. The event specifically focuses on connecting insurance startups and investors with insurance executives in corporate venture capital, innovation, M&A and strategy. The conference highlights innovations disrupting the insurance industry, the leaders making such innovations possible and how new technologies and business models will reinvent the industry. The one-day event, which always takes place in a sports stadium, includes a full day of programming. 

“The OnRamp Insurance Conference will bring thousands of insurance executives, investors and startups to the Twin Cities. To build off of those relationships, we are thrilled to team up with two of the best carriers in the business to invest in the best insurtech startups via the OnRamp
Insurance Accelerator,” said Troy Vosseller, co-founder of gener8tor.

About Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America 

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, one of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For® in 2018, has been keeping its promises since 1896. Today, it carries on that tradition, helping Americans achieve their retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and life insurance products. In 2017, Allianz Life provided a total of $2.7 billion in benefit payments that supported policyholders’ financial objectives. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services industry with 142,000 employees in more than 70 countries worldwide. More than 85 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz knowledge, global reach, and capital strength to help them make the most of financial opportunities. 

About Allianz Life Ventures 

Allianz Life Ventures, part of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life), makes investments in North American companies with potential market traction and a demonstrated ability to drive innovation. Allianz Life Ventures is uniquely positioned to leverage the financial strength and in-house expertise of Allianz Life to help our partners succeed. Active in all investment stages from seed and early stage to growth, current partners include: Core Innovation Capital, blooom, tomorrow, LifeYield, Gainfully, Vestwell, Ladder, and Covr. 

About Securian Financial 

At Securian Financial, we’re here for family. And we’re here because of it. We’re guided by our purpose: helping customers build secure tomorrows. Since 1880, we’ve been building a uniquely diversified company that has outlasted economic ups and downs while staying true to our customers. We’re committed to the markets we serve, providing insurance, investment and retirement solutions that give families the confidence to focus on what’s truly valuable: banking memories with those who matter most. 

About OnRamp Insurance Accelerator 

Each year, the OnRamp Insurance Accelerator, with Allianz Life and Securian Financial, invests in five insurtech startups who participate in a three-month, concierge accelerator program in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Each startup receives a cash investment of $100,000, office space and access to gener8tor’s global network of mentors and investors. 

About OnRamp Insurance Conference 

The OnRamp Insurance Conference brings together the insurance industry’s leading corporations, investors and startups. The event specifically focuses on connecting insurance startups and investors with insurance executives in corporate venture capital, innovation, M&A and strategy. The conference highlights innovations disrupting the insurance industry, the leaders making such innovations possible and how new technologies and business models will reinvent the industry. 

About gener8tor 

gener8tor is a turnkey platform for the creative economy that connects startups, entrepreneurs, artists, investors, universities and corporations. The gener8tor platform includes pre-accelerators, accelerators, corporate programming, conferences and fellowships focused on entrepreneurs, artists and musicians. gener8tor is a nationally ranked, GOLD-tier accelerator in the U.S. as ranked by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project. 

Five Rochester Girls Seeking to Advanced their Mobile App to Final Round of Minnesota Cup

B.A.S.I.C. BALSA Team. Back row (from left to right): Simran Sandhu, Anjali Donthi, and Alexandra Bancos. Front row (from left to right): Audrey Whitney and Bailey Klote. Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN],

B.A.S.I.C. BALSA Team. Back row (from left to right): Simran Sandhu, Anjali Donthi, and Alexandra Bancos. Front row (from left to right): Audrey Whitney and Bailey Klote. Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN],

Five Rochester middle and high school girls are aiming to improve quality of life with their mobile phone application called Bridge. Team B.A.S.I.C. BALSA- comprised of Anjali Donthi, Simran Sandhu, Audrey Whitney, Alexandra Bancos, and Bailey Klote- placed first in the senior division of a state-wide tech competition. The girls are now making their way through the semifinal round of Minnesota Cup as the new school year approaches.

Bridge helps immigrants, refugees, and visitors locate necessary resources within their new communities like food, shelter, educational resources, and places of worship.

“Most of the members of our team, we have family who are immigrants. So that is how we chose to make an app that solved problems that immigrants faced,” explained Donthi, an incoming tenth grader at Century High School.

Users can search for resources within Bridge using six different languages including English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi. Overall, the app aims to improve quality of life. The team hopes to scale Bridge to benefit other communities beyond Rochester.

The Bridge app was coded over fifteen weeks this past school year- primarily by sixth grader Whitney- as part of the Technovation Challenge. Technovation is a global competition that encourages girls to solve problems they encounter in their everyday lives with technology. Throughout the challenge, teams of five work with volunteer mentors to create mobile app “startups”; many teams have no coding experience prior to the competition.

Technovation has proven success of increasing young girls’ interest in coding fields. Fifty-eight percent of Technovation alumni enroll in additional coding classes after the competition. Twenty-six percent of alumni major in computer science in college, compared to the 0.4% national average of first year female computer science majors.

This year, ~19,000 young girls registered for the Technovation Challenge.

The Minnesota branch of the competition, called Technovation[MN], culminated in a statewide competition called Appapalooza in May, where teams showcased their mobile technology and business plan, which included marketing and financial strategies. This year, a record high seventy-five teams competed in Appapalooza, with nine teams moving on to the semi-final round of the global competition.

B.A.S.I.C. BALSA walked away from the state competition as the Senior Division winner, advancing to the Technovation semi-finals. Although their journey with Technovation this season ended in the semi-finals, the team spent the summer refining their business plan and pitch to compete in the Youth Division of Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide business pitch competition in the nation. The girls submitted their application to Minnesota Cup last week and learn if they will advance to the final round on August 21st.

Now, B.A.S.I.C. BALSA is refining their technology, building category filters for optimized searches, and adding additional languages to their app. The girls plan to ultimately turn over ownership of Bridge to Rochester’s Diversity Council for long term maintenance and support.

Overall, the girls of B.A.S.I.C. BALSA said they enjoyed the Technovation experience and plan to continue with the program throughout their middle and high school careers. In addition to learning coding, the competition also taught them teamwork, business development, and other valuable skill sets.

Plus, they just had a good time.

“[Technovation] is really fun and [other girls] should do it because it can be a really good learning experience. If you never ever thought of doing it and you try, maybe you’ll really like it and you can go into the field of coding someday,” said Klote.

Teams from Rochester and southeast Minnesota have historically performed well in the Technovation Challenge. Three years ago, a team of seventh graders from Kasson-Mantorville Middle School were one of four teams that qualified to compete in the Technovation finals in San Francisco. Last year, Rochester high school team SKeMAs finished as runners up in the global semi-final round for their app to minimize distracted driving.

#Emerge Episode 19 w/ Solomon, Ken, D'Angelo, and Haron

This week on the #Emerge we sit down with Solomon Antoine, Ken Nguyen, D’Angelo Tines, and Haron Arama of SolKen Technology. These young entrepreneurs are local high school and college students focused on building their current product FAVR. This web-based platform matches freelancers with jobs, such as yard work and errand-running, in the community.

“You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. It takes a lot to start a business and you have to have a lot of confidence.” -Solomon Antoine

Statewide Initiative "Ignite Minnesota" Launches Today to Keep Greater Minnesota Competitive

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Ignite Minnesota, a new, statewide initiative, launches today out of Red Wing. This regional partnership works to convene, elevate, and promote the work of innovative businesses, entrepreneurs, and technologies in Minnesota to keep the region connected and globally competitive in an ever-evolving digital space. Ignite Minnesota aims to support students, businesses, and entrepreneurs throughout Greater Minnesota.

The program officially takes off this evening from the Red Wing Ignite coworking space; Red Wing Ignite is a non-profit that provides a work space, gigabit internet access, business programming, connections, and more to help entrepreneurs turn their innovations into reality.

The steering committee for Ignite Minnesota includes 3M, Xcel Energy, Winona State University, Minnesota State College SE, the City of Red Wing, Collider Coworking, Rainsource Capital, Goodhue Country, and multiple entrepreneurs.

The goal is to create a connection point for people, ideas, and resources in Minnesota to foster innovation and develop technology in clean energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, education, and agtech.

“Our work will help rural America and Greater Minnesota stay competitive,” explained Neela Mollgaard, Executive Director of Red Wing Ignite.

The ground work for Ignite Minnesota began in 2013 when Red Wing Ignite became an original member of the brand-new non-profit, US Ignite. This program was launched to help communities and entrepreneurs develop new technology to influence the way people “work, learn, and live.”

After linking up with other US Ignite communities, Mollgaard said that Red Wing Ignite “really started focusing on entrepreneurs and startups and trying to give them the resources that they need to succeed.” In 2015, US Ignite, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, launched a Smart Gigabite Communities (SGC) Program to develop and deploy these newly developed technologies in the real world. Red Wing Ignite became the very first rural community to be designated as an SGC by the program and the only SGC focused on agtech.

Now, Red Wing Ignite is looking to expand its mission to fuel innovation in Greater Minnesota, connect entrepreneurs and institutions, and further support and elevate the innovation already occurring in this region with Ignite Minnesota.

While the program officially opens today, the work is far from over to implement Ignite Minnesota across the state. A number of tech ambassadors have been hired in outreach positions for the program. These ambassadors will link up with meetup groups, developers, students, stakeholders, and other entrepreneurs across the state to provide education about Ignite Minnesota and to discover needs and gaps in these communities.

“Throughout the whole year, we will also be planning events to gather these key stakeholders to continue to work together to help foster new innovations,” explained Mollgaard.

Red Wing Ignite serves as the community piece in this puzzle, forming a tech hub for Minnesota’s entrepreneurs and reaching out to other Ignite communities to share best practices.

Learn more about this new initiative by attending the Ignite Minnesota launch this evening in Red Wing.

Ignite Minnesota is also interested in connecting with entrepreneurs in need of resources, potential business mentors, and any individuals interested in hosting or co-hosting events with the program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankfully, fate and strategic partnerships helped just a bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the Biggest Rochester Startup Stories that You Don't Know: Meet DoApp

DoApp Founders (from left to right): Wade Beavers, Joe Sriver, and David Borrillo. Photo courtesy of DoApp.

DoApp Founders (from left to right): Wade Beavers, Joe Sriver, and David Borrillo. Photo courtesy of DoApp.

Serial entrepreneur Wade Beavers has built his companies. Now, this tech executive is ready to give back to the Rochester entrepreneurial community. After launching the mobile application development startup DoApp Inc. in 2008, Beavers and his leadership team sold the business off as three separate companies from 2012 to 2016. Beavers believes the Rochester community is ripe for growth and wants to share his unique experience and expertise with the startup culture emerging in this city.

While others in Rochester have certainly exited companies, and exited them successfully, the story of DoApp is truly unique and authentically Minnesotan.

Beavers himself began his tech career right at IBM in Rochester, working as a user experience architect in 1998. During his time with that company, he met visual designer Joe Sriver; the pair’s fate have been tightly linked ever since.

Beavers said that he and Sriver hatched several ideas during their early days at IBM, “but we had no idea of business. That wasn’t even on our radar. It was more of the creative juices kind of flowing,” he explained.

Searching for something a bit more, Sriver left IBM for a position with Google in 2001, at a time when the now tech behemoth was a relative unknown, becoming the company’s very first user experience designer. Google, of course, takes off; Sriver continued with the company until after they went public. He then moved back to the Midwest with his family, searching for the next challenge.

Cue old friend Beavers.

“We basically decided on a whim that we’re going to start a company,” Beavers explained.

With no real plan, except for the nagging idea that mobile technology was going to be the next big thing, Sriver, Beavers, and fellow IBM-er David Borrillo launched DoApp in 2008. From his success with Google, Sriver single-handedly funded the startup, preventing the team from bootstrapping or seeking outside funding. From the start, they focused on product development and growth.

“The idea of starting a startup in 2008, specifically in Rochester, the ‘DNA’ of that option was pretty limited,” Beavers explained.

He found few avenues for business assistance in Rochester, especially for a tech startup. It was also extremely difficult to convince potential employees to leave positions at established companies such as IBM.

“Most of my employees that we had during this time were engineers that had five years at a big company, at least. And wanted more. Wanted independence,” Beavers said.

Like every other tech business in the spring of 2008, the freshly formed team applied to become an Apple developer for the launch of the company’s brand new App Store later that year. Apple was only accepting 500 apps from 2500 companies. DoApp had absolutely no reason to succeed.

But they had not just one, but three apps chosen for the App Store’s opening in July 2008.

After that initial success, Beavers said the team was just burning through cash, trying to figure things out. “Figuring things out” included completing some demo work for Purina, landing a seven-app deal with Sony BMG, and creating an app for American Idol winner David Cook.

“We didn’t know what we were really doing,” Beavers laughed. “We just did it to keep paying the bills.”

To put a cork in the cash hemorrhage, they needed to focus on their core strengths, their “DNA”, and develop some sort of profitable business plan. Beavers had a hunch- which turned out to be remarkably accurate- that with the advancement of tech capabilities, consumers were going to want to perform the same activities on their mobile phones as they could on their computers using the web.

He thought these basic activities would include: transactions, entertainment, education, and added utility.

At the time, the software as a service (SaaS) model, where software is licensed as a subscription service, was not as ubiquitous as it is today.  After surviving for one year, the team committed to SaaS and began developing mobile solutions for the news and broadcast industry, landing their first client in WCCO-TV.

“You have to have a business model in place. We didn’t initially. But then I realized, here’s how we’re going to make our money. It was all about software as a service,” Beavers explained.

This is where the story starts to get even more…intense.

As DoApp was building this first product for WCCO-TV, another portion of the team also began creating a mobile solution to tap into the enormous real estate market. The goal, Beavers explained, was to provide a SaaS product for every Multiple Listing Service (MLS) association.

They didn’t end up replacing MLS, but at its height DoApp’s real estate solution provided MLS subscription members with data-rich listings right on their mobile devices in ten of the top twenty real estate markets in the United States.

Then in 2009, Do App formed a partnership with Mayo Clinic and Dr. Amit Sood to launch an app teaching relaxation and breathing techniques. After completion of this product build, DoApp and Mayo continued the partnership to create additional health and wellness-focused mobile applications.

“So basically, I’ve built three companies, thinking one of these three is going to take off. In their own weird way, they were all surviving,” Beavers explained.

Check back in on Thursday for the second part of this story where Wade talks about successfully exiting all three companies that were built within DoApp and gives his insight on the Rochester entrepreneurial community.

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 Startups Hiring: PayGo

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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:

Rochester

Full Time, Part Time, or Contract:

PT – 30 hours. More as we grow.

Contact information:

Melissa McNallan- consultant@paygopos.com

Call to Action: Eligible MN Tech Startups, Apply to Participate in SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event

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Minnesota startups are highly encouraged to apply to showcase their emerging tech product or service at the 2018 South By Southwest (SXSW) Accelerator Pitch Event. Participation in this event is a unique opportunity to improve your pitch, build product awareness, network, and attract venture capital. The event takes place March 10th-11th in Austin, Texas. The registration deadline is Friday November 10th at 11:59PM CST.

The SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event features fifty tech companies across ten different categories: Augmented & Virtual Reality, Enterprise & Smart Data, Entertainment & Content, Health & Wearable, Hyper-Connected Communities, Payment & FinTech, Security & Privacy, Social & Culture, Sports & Performance Data, and Transportation.

At the event, early stage companies pitch their tech product or service to a live audience and a panel of expert judges. Past judges have included Laurie Segall of CNN, Guy Kawasaki of Alltop, and Tim Draper of DFJ.

This is the tenth annual SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event to showcase early stage technology to industry experts, venture capitalists, and high profile media.

Since the event inception in 2009, 70% of the 403 alumni companies have a combined funding near $4.63B. Sixteen percent of these businesses have been acquired.

To be eligible for participation in the 2018 SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event, the product or service must have launched or be launched between March 10, 2016 and June 10, 2018. Each company can only enter one product or service into the pitch event and cannot have raised over $10M in combined funding.

The SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event is part of the SXSW Startup & Tech Sectors Track Conference taking place March 9th-15th.

SXSW was founded in 1987 to help creatives achieve their goals. SXSW is most noted for their festivals and conferences, which “celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries.”

Eligible Minnesota tech companies are encouraged to apply to participate in the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event to promote their story, raise awareness of their product or service, and help to tell the story of the budding Minnesota entrepreneurial ecosystem.

For more specifics about the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event, click here

Tech Startups GoRout and EverGreen to Present at Next 1 Million Cups Rochester

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Join the entrepreneurial community at the next 1 Million Cups Rochester on Wednesday, September 6th from 9-10AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event Space. This month we have two entrepreneurs from the tech scene telling their story: Mike Rolih with GoRout and Louis Abramowski with EverGreen.

 

About GoRout

GoRout is a hardware and software tech startup based in Rochester, Minn. GoRout creates on-field wearable products to enhance communication between coaches and athletes during football practice at the high school, college, and professional level.

Launched in: 2014

Presenter: Mike Rolih

Industry: Information/Communication Tech

About EverGreen

EverGreen is developing a media marketing product to help small to medium sized businesses schedule Facebook and Twitter content.

Launched: 2016

Presenter: Louis Abramowski

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 133 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.

Five Rochester Teens Hoping to Advance Through Semifinal Round of Minnesota Cup

SKeMAs team. From left to right: Stela Baltic, Sophia Fulton, Anushri Walimbe, Maurine Macharia, and Keerthi Manikonda.

SKeMAs team. From left to right: Stela Baltic, Sophia Fulton, Anushri Walimbe, Maurine Macharia, and Keerthi Manikonda.

“SKeMAs”- a team of five Rochester-area students- are developing an app, called Via, to limit distracted driving among teens. This group of young women advanced all the way to the semifinal round of the global tech competition Technovation a few months ago. Now, they are working their way through the Youth Division of Minnesota Cup, making the roads safer one driver at a time.

Stela Baltic, Sophia Fulton, Maurine Macharia, Keerthi Manikonda, and Anushri Walimbe saw a problem affecting their peers and everyone around them. The girls originally designed an app, called Via, to log hours while training for a driving permit. However, they soon recognized a larger problem than missed driving hours: teenage distracted driving.

“We’re all teens ourselves and we all run these super busy lives, where we’re constantly communicating with different people,” Fulton explained. “It’s so easy to get caught up and start texting while you’re driving or even looking at your messages while you’re driving.”

To combat this issue, the team expanded the functionality of their mobile app Via to lower distracted driving rates among teens, and adults, to make the roads a little bit safer.

Once installed, Via reminds users to mute all notifications while driving. The app sends automated replies to anyone texting the user while they are driving and can even notify the text-er once the car has reached its destination.

Now, the girls are beefing up some features of Via to enable multiple user accounts and other capabilities. They hope to ultimately link the app to the on-board diagnostic system of the car.

“If we can get the phone on the same level as the car itself, that can allow parents to monitor driving habits as well,” explained Manikonda.

Such a connection could enable speed threshold monitoring, where parents could be alerted when their teen accelerates over a set speed limit. It could also allow for supervision of braking and reckless driving behaviors.

The team began building the app last summer and homed in their concept during the twelve-week long Technovation Challenge. This international competition encourages teams of four to five girls create, design, and build mobile apps to solve real world problems to inspire technology, entrepreneurship, and STEM careers in young women.

Since 2010, ten thousand girls from seventy-eight countries have participated in the tech challenge.

The Minnesota branch of the program, Technovation[MN], culminated in a state-wide pitch event, called Appaplooza, on May 7th at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This year, approximately two hundred fifty girls participated.

Two high school and six middle school teams advanced from Appaplooza to the semifinal round of the global Technovation competition, including the SKeMAs team. In the end, SKeMAs finished as runners up in the world for their category in this round.

Although the five girls on SKeMAs got to Technovation through different paths, it was clear that the experience was unforgettable to them all. Some, like Fulton, were always interested in entrepreneurship and saw the competition as an opportunity. Others, like Manikonda, were coerced into it.

However, “Technovation,” Baltic explained, “is all about expanding your horizons.”

As part of the competition, the girls learned to communicate and function as a team. Some learned how to code. And some learned about business development. They also connected with and got input from leaders in the community, including Techstars Product Manager Rachelle Oribio.

They also, most importantly, learned how to support other young women, friend or foe.

“You see all these unique, brilliant ideas coming from girls your age. And it just reminds you that we’re just as capable as boys of helping to change the world,” summed up Baltic.

Now, the team is in the middle of the semifinal round of the Minnesota Cup- the largest statewide startup competition in the United States. They’re working to make Via just a little bit better than it was during Technovation.

“For Technovation, they were really big on idea. Are you actually helping the community and are you using your…coding skills to do that?” Manikonda explained. “Minnesota Cup is all about the actual entrepreneurship.”

She said the team is a bit inexperienced in navigating the business side of things, whereas some of their competitors already have a viable product with sales.

Plus, they’ve run into a major competitor along the way: Apple. In June, a beta version of iOS 11 launched with a “Do Not Disturb While Driving Mode” to block texts, incoming calls, and notifications while the car is in motion.

However, the team doesn’t seem to be all that discouraged.

“One of our mentors, Rachelle [Oribio] spoke to us about this,” Walimbe said. She told the girls they just had to be better and one step closer than the competition to succeed.

Manikonda said the team is expanding some capabilities of the app that Apple doesn’t have yet and believes that integrating changes into the actual phone operating system itself is limiting.

“As app developers, I feel that we can take in feedback and get new updates out on the app quicker than software updates could do the job,” she explained.

With Apple looming on the horizon, the team is laser focused on Minnesota Cup and seeing where that experience can take them. They’ll learn if they advance to the final round this Friday.

Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Vic Gundotra Shares Stories of Risk, Uncertainty, and Failure with Rochester Startup Community

From left to right: Dr. Dave Albert, Vic Gondotra, and the author. Photo courtesy of Jamie Sundsbak.

From left to right: Dr. Dave Albert, Vic Gondotra, and the author. Photo courtesy of Jamie Sundsbak.

It was my immense pleasure to be asked to interview Vic Gundotra and Dr. Dave Albert last week at this event “A Conversation with Vic Gundotra.” Thanks so much to Jamie Sundsbak of Collider Coworking for this opportunity, which I will never forget.

Last week, the Rochester community was privileged to hear from Vic Gundotra and Dr. Dave Albert, senior leaders at the Mountain View, California healthtech company AliveCor. The event was organized by Collider Coworking and sponsored by Rochester Home Infusion and Mayo Clinic Ventures.

Both Gundotra and Albert are entrepreneurial leaders with extensive careers in disruptive technology. Albert, Founder of AliveCor, left academic medicine in the late 1980s to launch his first company. At that time, he already held fifty-seven patents and had sold three inventions. An expert in startup growth, Albert sold three companies before beginning AliveCor.

The journey of Gundotra, CEO and President of AliveCor, is just ever so slightly different. Gundotra, a man of Indian heritage, said his parents expected him to have one of two jobs.

“You can either be an engineer or a doctor,” he explained.

Instead, Gundotra became interested in coding during high school and figured out how to redirect the graphics buffer of his video game, the 1980s classic Lode Runner, to the LPT port of his printer.

“I had never been cool in my life until the day I went to school and my book covers had screen shots of video games. And people talked to me! It was amazing!” he reminisced.

These coding skills eventually became very useful when meeting Bill Gates during Gundotra’s time at George Washington University. Gundotra dropped out of college in the middle of his freshman year to join, as his mother called it, “that Meekrosoft company.”

Gundotra entered the tech world of Microsoft in 1991, just a few years after the company’s IPO. He says it was “Bill [Gates’] little company” at that time. “It was all driven by Bill. Startups are driven by their founders and culture is driven by their founders.”

Gundotra said people forget that Microsoft was a company under siege at that time. The business spent six years prior to the IPO pushing Windows, which was not successful then, and was going through a very public separation from IBM. Gundotra explained that IBM had more people in one building than were employed by all of Microsoft at that time, “which is how I got hired,” he explained. “Nobody wanted to work at Microsoft. The hiring standards were very low. Bill was just desperate for any engineer.”

In the early 1990s, there was no Microsoft Office. No Microsoft NT. The company essentially bet everything on Windows 3.0 in 1990, which was thankfully very successful.

“Everyone forgets those early days when Microsoft was struggling and it wasn’t clear that we were going to be successful,” said Gundotra.

Gundotra spent fifteen years at Microsoft, eventually working up to the position of General Manager, and was responsible for the overall platform and all of Windows development. He launched the very first developer’s conference, called the PDC, a precursor to today’s Worldwide Developers Council and Goggle I/O, and one of the first efforts to build a community of platform developers.

However, Gundotra famously “got sideways with Bill [Gates] because [Gundotra] believed in the internet. Bill did not believe in the internet.” Gates insisted that the internet was not a platform, but instead was a series of webpages with limited capability.

In 2007, Gundotra got courted by Google, also during the early stages of development, and left Microsoft for a business that he says was essentially just a search company at the time. While at Google, Gundotra ran Google Maps for mobile and all mobile application development. In the early stages, both his Gmail and Google Maps teams consisted of only five people.

Eventually, Gundotra became responsible for all the social efforts for Google, an attempt to stop top talent leakage to Facebook, leading the drive on projects like Google Photos and Google+. Neither product was as successful as the business hoped.

“Google does not get social. Google is the most anti-social company there is,” Gundotra admitted. Google failed to comprehend, and Facebook clearly saw, that people wanted their social networks prioritized.

“Facebook really understood what matters to people the most is other people. Like Microsoft missed the web…I think Google really missed social.”

Please check back in tomorrow for the second half of this story, where Vic Gundotra and Dr. Dave Albert speak about AliveCor and a “tsunami” they say will revolutionize healthcare as we know it.

Press Release: All American Games and GoRout Announce an All-American Partnership

ROCKAWAY, NJ (April 20, 2017) – All American Games today announced a partnership with GoRout, the on-field wearable playmaking technology for football teams across the country.

GoRout is the only playmaking technology that combines intelligent software and on-field wearable products to enhance practice for high school, college, and professional football teams. U.S. Army All-Americans will use GoRout products to help players track their practice performance and perfect their game.

GoRout brings several different products to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. One of the products to be included is Vue, football’s only on-field display technology worn by players. With Vue, coaches send digital play calls, coaching tips, and assignments to every player instantly. Players select their position, see the play, and execute perfectly.

At the NFL’s 1st and Future Competition at Super Bowl LI, GoRout was named the “Most Innovative Athlete Communication Technology” in football. In addition, GoRout was awarded “Product of the Year” by Football Scoop in both 2016 and 2017. GoRout is currently being used by some of the best high schools, FCS/FBS colleges, and professional football teams in America.

For 18 consecutive years, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has been the nation’s premier high school sporting event and serves as the preeminent launching pad for America’s future college and NFL stars. Odell Beckham Jr., Andrew Luck, Patrick Peterson, Adrian Peterson, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffrey made their national debuts as U.S. Army All- Americans. A total of 330 U.S. Army All-American Bowl alumni have been selected in NFL Drafts. The 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl drew a record crowd of 40,568 to the Alamodome and was watched by more than 5 million unique viewers on NBC.

For more information on GoRout, visit gorout.com and noscoutcards.gorout.com. Connect with all GoRout activity at fb.com/gorouttech, or at the official Twitter (@Go_Rout) and Instagram (@Go_Rout) accounts.

For more information on All American Games, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and its related events, visit usarmyallamericanbowl.com, goarmy.com/events/aab, allamericangames.com, and footballuniversity.org.

Connect with all #ArmyBowl activity at fb.com/ArmyAllAmerican, or at the official Twitter (@ArmyAllAmerican) and Instagram (@armyallamericanbowl) accounts.

For more information contact:

Mike Ulatoski

All American  Games

[E] mulatoski@allamericangames.com

[O] 973 2981103 [C] 203 808 6601

GoRout Launches Football's First In-Helmet Display Right from Rochester

Last night GoRout, a Rochester-based football hardware and software startup, launched their newest product, Vue-Up, during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Vue-Up is football’s first in-helmet, heads-up display, which will change the way that players and coaches approach the sport.

Vue-Up is a lightweight, military grade display that is embedded into the helmet, allowing for instant communication between players and coaches and enabling each player to see the exact route they need to run for each play. Vue-Up has a 1280 x 720 bright HD display with the largest focal plane ever for this type of product. Vue-Up comes with a 4MP instant-on video camera, capturing the viewpoint for each player on the field. The device is also voice controlled and learns and identifies individual voices through artificial intelligence.

GoRout also announced the release of GoRout Air, their newest update to on-field networking. Now you can just turn on any of their products anywhere in the continental United States, and it’s ready to go. No more routers or syncing required.

And all this was developed right here in Rochester, Minnesota.

Congrats to Mike Rolih and his team on this latest success and thanks for letting us all be a part of it.

You can read more background about Mike and GoRout by clicking here.


Bootstrapping: Why Do Entrepreneurs Do It, and How?

Graeme Thickins is a 30-year startup consulting veteran as the founder of www.gtamarketing.com.

The word “bootstrapping” actually has several meanings according to Wikipedia. But in a business context, it means “to start a business without external help (capital).” You can read more about that specific meaning, also called “bootstrap funding,” here on Wikipedia — lots of helpful information there. Okay, now that I'm sure you know what it means…

What got me thinking about bootstrapping recently was tripping on an old blog post of mine, which is still very timely in our current startup climate. It was called “Raising Startup Money? Here’s 20 Ways.” Note the “Big List” included in that post, called “20 Way$$ to Feed Your Startup Habit.” A large number of those 20 ways fit into the spirit of bootstrapping. Yes, the money you save as a bootstrapping entrepreneur is as good as any other money — maybe better.

Before I wrote that piece above, I got inspired about bootstrapping by a blog post written by a guy named Jeff Cornwall. He heads the entrepreneurial studies program at Belmont University (and used to teach here in the Twin Cities at the University of St. Thomas). That blog post was entitled “Why Do We Bootstrap?” The interesting thing Dr. Cornwall said he’d found in his work was that entrepreneurs bootstrap for a wide variety of reasons, and only some of them relate to necessity. Some just do it because they like it, I guess -- and to allow them to keep more ownership of their company, which is no small benefit. (Jeff’s web site is here, and he also runs a well-followed community site called The Entrepreneurial Mind.)

The other reason I find the topic of bootstrapping interesting is that I’ve practiced it myself and worked with many founders who’ve done the same over my 30+ year career working with tech startups. In addition, I think there’s especially a need here in the Midwest for founders to get more educated on this topic. Why? Because, try as we might, startup venture funding is never going to flow as freely here as it does in Silicon Valley, or Boston, or Austin, or you name it.

Entrepreneurs in these parts, and in so many areas of the country away from the major VC hubs, have to be one thing above all else: clever. And there’s a lot they can learn from people who study this phenomenon, and people who’ve practiced it for a long time. We have tons of those here in Minnesota (and all over, really) — serial entrepreneurs who’ve proved bootstrapping works. Many of these folks are friends of mine, and they've accumulated a large amount of knowledge on bootstrapping based on hard experience. The key, of course, if you’re a budding entrepreneur, is to learn how to tap into the expertise of those folks — find them and learn from them. (Think mentors.)

Let me also suggest a couple of great, short books on bootstrapping. Dr. Jeff Cornwall, mentioned above, published one in 2009 simply called Bootstrapping. Way before he published that book, he recommended one by Seth Godin, called the “Bootstrapper’s Bible.” It’s certainly not a new book, but no matter — it’s a timeless classic. (Here’s some background on it from Seth’s blog.

But, wait — here’s a big tip for you: don’t buy it. That’s right, save your money! Because you can download an ebook version of it that Seth published for free. He calls his ebook a “manifesto” and you can get it as as a PDF file right here.

How’s that for a bootstrapping move! Go grab it while you can, before Seth changes his mind. Then, read up, go forth, and continue bootstrapping your way to startup success. Ka-ching!