Episode 94: Andy Smith and Gray Duck Theater

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This week on the podcast we sit down with Andy Smith of Gray Duck Theater. Gray Duck Theater is a micro-cinema set to open in Rochester this October, offering a “mid-level experience of theater and cinema.” Today on the show we talk with this former teacher turned entrepreneur about:

·      His process getting to know Rochester as a new resident of the city.

·      His vision and goals for Gray Duck Theater to create a local cinema that fosters community and conversation around film.

·      Why Andy chose to open Gray Duck in Rochester.

·      What he wants the film-going experience to be like at the theater.

·      The current construction state of the theater.

·      His focus on community support for this new to Rochester business, especially for Gray Duck’s Indiegogo campaign, which just launched this Monday.

This week on the podcast we also check in with SCORE Southeast Minnesota mentor Barm Alsbrook with a quick sound bite about the importance of keeping good financial records.

Episode 93: 1 Million Cups Rochester with OmniTier and Vitals Aware Services

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This week on the podcast we check in with the latest 1 Million Cups Rochester. 1 Million Cups is an educational program for entrepreneurs that takes place in 183 different communities across the United States.  At the latest 1 Million Cups Rochester two different Minnesota-based startups presented: OmniTier and Vitals Aware Services.

·      OmniTier is a software development startup that works to address issues involving big data.

·      Vitals Aware Services is a SaaS product that provides for safe interactions between first responders and vulnerable individuals.

The next 1 Million Cups Rochester will take place Wednesday September 5th at 9AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen event space.

Episode 92: Discussing Mental Health and Entrepreneurs with Rosei and Chris, Part 2

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This week on the podcast, we wrap up the final part of our discussion talking about mental health and entrepreneurs with Rosei Skipper and Chris Lukenbill. Check back in with Episode 90 to hear the first part of this podcast.

Today on the show we talk about:

·      The stress and anxiety that results from tying your self-worth to your business.

·      Having contingency plans.

·      Why this is the prime time in Rochester to be an entrepreneur.

·      The importance of tying your identity to something outside of your business or career.

·      Methods that we can use as a community to start removing the stigma around mental health in our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

·      The negativity of a culture that glorifies working excessive hours.

·      Moments that have kept us going as entrepreneurs.

·      The idea that when you say “yes” to one opportunity, you by default say “no” to other opportunities.

·      The danger of living at the excessive extremes.

·      Thoughts on the use of technology to facilitate meditation and stress relief.

This week we also check in with SCORE Southeast Minnesota to answer the question, “Does SCORE provide loans or financial capital to small businesses?”

Episode 91: Lynn Bounds and Edge Fitness


This week on the podcast we got to record off-site with one of my favorite business owners in the community, Lynn Bounds Founder of Edge Fitness. Edge Fitness was launched 3.5 years ago in Southwest Rochester as a unique gym experience and continues to evolve in its offerings. Today on the show we talk about:

·      Edge Fitness’ Zumba on the Plaza events taking place this summer.

·      The importance of work/life balance.

·      Lessons Lynn has learned in business and about herself in growing Edge Fitness over the past few years.

·      Lynn’s personal motivation for Edge Fitness to further personal wellness at an affordable level.

·      Being kind to yourself and taking time for self-care.

·      Business resources in the community.

·      The importance of reaching out and asking for help when you need it.

“If you really have a drive for something or a passion for something, you can make it happen. …You need the passion, anything can be learned.” -Lynn Bounds, Founder of Edge Fitness

Episode 90: Discussing Mental Health and Entrepreneurs with Rosei and Chris, Part 1


Today on the podcast we air the first in a two-part conversation about mental health and entrepreneurs with local innovators Rosei Skipper and Chris Lukenbill. On the show today, we talk about:

·      Our own experiences with depression, anxiety, and stress as entrepreneurs.

·      The importance of talking about our experiences with mental illness.

·      Feelings of isolation during entrepreneurship that may help to exacerbate mental health issues.

·      Methods of stress relief.

·      Expectations and managing the ups and downs associated with entrepreneurship.

·      Reasons why entrepreneurs may be more prone to develop mental illness than the general population.

·      What happens when your self-identity becomes deeply rooted to your business.

·      “Skill stacking” and how past experiences help you develop unique abilities, which are not necessarily linked to your business.

·      The fallacy of “finding your passion.”


“Some of the times being self-aware and understanding that part of entrepreneurship, the biggest part of entrepreneurship, is that it’s a constant roller coaster. The ups and downs are just a part of the game. That’s how it always goes. It’s usually a lot of downs and it’s a lot of downs that don’t have immediate successes following. You have to be okay with that. You have to be able to find somebody to talk to.” -Chris Lukenbill

Also on the podcast, we link up with SCORE Southeast Minnesota mentor Brian Alwin to answer the question, “Do I really need a business plan?”.

Episode 89: Mental Illness in Entrepreneurs & SCORE SE MN

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Today we provide a teaser to our next new podcast where we sit down and talk about mental illness and entrepreneurs. Recent data suggests that mental illness rates are higher in entrepreneurs than in the general population; entrepreneurs may also inherently possess traits that make them more likely to develop mental illness than the general population. With the recent deaths of entrepreneurs Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, it’s time we open up this conversation. Be sure to check back in with our next podcast where we sit down with local entrepreneurs to talk about mental illness in our innovation community and how we can all work toward an overall healthier well-being.

In the final part of the podcast, we also check in with SCORE Southeast Minnesota Mentor Stephen Troutman to learn more about SCORE and what it has to offer to the local entrepreneurial community.

Resources mentioned on today’s podcast:

Let’s Open the Conversation About Mental Illness and Entrepreneurs: Part 1, Part 2

NAMI Southeast Minnesota

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

7 Cups of Tea: https://www.7cups.com/

“Shedding The Light on Mental Illness and Entrepreneurship” Foundr

Calm: https://www.calm.com/

Episode 88: New MILE Program to Provide Financial Options for Minnesota Entrepreneurs


This week on the podcast we talk about a new program offering financial assistance for entrepreneurs in MN, called Minnesota Innovation Loans for Entrepreneurs (MILE). This program provides interest free loans between $20K-50K, targeting early stage businesses developing high tech products or services to encourage the growth and sustainability of early stage startups in Minnesota and to increase job creation in the state. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is accepting applications for the MILE program now through 4:30 PM July 16th.

Today on the podcast we talk about:

·      MN DEED’s MILE loan program, targeting early stage startups in aerospace, ag and food processing, biotech, energy efficiency and conservation, information technology, materials science, medical device, pharmaceuticals, process control, and telecommunications.

o   Apply and find out more about the scoring criteria for the MILE loan program by clicking here.

·      SBIR (Small business innovation research)/STTR (Small business technology transfer) grants, which qualify as a 1:1 financial match required for a MILE loan.

o   SBIR/STTRs are NIH programs to facilitate the commercialization of research. These grants are one of the largest sources of early stage financing for early stage life science companies.

o   Find out more about SBIR/STTR programs by clicking here.

·      MN-SBIR, a program that provides free, confidential assistance to early stage startups, specifically to prepare the startups to submit SBIR/STTR applications.

o   Pat Dillon from MN-SBIR will be in Rochester next on June 22nd.  Schedule time to meet with Pat by emailing her at: Pdillon@mhta.org

·      For more detailed information on our criteria for press releases and opinion piece submissions, click here.

Episode 87: 1 Million Cups Rochester with Technovation[MN], the Assistive Arc Challenge, and Spanish and Go


This week on the podcast we check in with the latest 1 Million Cups Rochester. 1 Million Cups is an educational program for entrepreneurs that takes place in 180 different communities across the United States. Here are the startups and local groups that spoke to the community at the June 1 Million Cups Rochester:

·      Technovation[MN], a program in southeast Minnesota. This global challenge encourages middle school and high school aged girls to pursue careers in technology and computing. The Technovation program was brought to the local region in 2014.

·      The Arc Assistive Technology Challenge, a fall tech program supported by Arc Minnesota, Destination Medication Center, and Mayo Clinic. This challenge works to create and support solutions for disabled individuals in southeast Minnesota and will culminate on November 3rd.

·      Spanish and Go, a resource for learning real world, travel Spanish. Spanish and Go blends together co-founder Jim Fricker’s passion for audio technology with his wife, and also co-founder, May’s love for teaching. Currently, Spanish and Go is working to launch their first product, Travel Spanish Confidence. The business has over 10,000 followers on their YouTube channel.   

1 Million Cups Rochester takes place the first Wednesday of every month at 9AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen event space.

Episode 86: Meet the Team behind SolKen Technology

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This week on the podcast we sit down with Solomon Antoine, Ken Nguyen, D’Angelo Tines, and Haron Arama of SolKen Technology. SolKen Technology is a Rochester-based tech startup specializing in cryptocurrency mentoring, web development, and e-commerce development. Their current focus is on the product FAVR, a web-based platform that matches freelancers with jobs, such as yard work and errand-running, in the community.

This week on the podcast we talk about:

·      FAVR, a platform that pairs freelancers with local demand and the SolKen team’s plans to grow the product.

·      The drive and rationale for creating FAVR.

·      How the team balances their education as high school and college students and their other activities with business development.

·      The journey of building FAVR in Rochester and the connections the team has leveraged to jump start the product.

·      Their advice for anyone else looking to #startsomething in Rochester, Minnesota.


“Take risks. You never know the outcome until you try it out.” -Ken Nguyen

Episode 85: The Ladies Behind The Commission


This week on the podcast we sit down with Grace Pesch and Crystal Heim, ladies on the Executive Board of The Commission, a young professionals group in Rochester, Minnesota. This week on the podcast we talk about:

·      Events and initiatives going on the community that Grace and Crystal are excited about, including new ownership of Canvas & Chardonnay and The Commission’s Salute to the 4th celebration.

·      Their work to develop and launch women-focused events in the community, including monthly women’s happy hours and their first roundtable discussion, which will take place on June 12th.

To learn more about these events and other initiatives and networking opportunities from The Commission, check out their Facebook page.

“I want to meet more awesome women because I feel like when I go out to networking events or I want to get engaged with other business and entrepreneurial people, I find myself meeting a lot of men. …But I also want to see a lot more women out there.” -Grace Pesch

Episode 84: Rochester Rising's Spring Sustaining Membership Drive


This week on the podcast we talk about the Rochester Rising Spring Membership Drive to help make this platform a sustainable part of the Rochester entrepreneurial community. Rochester Rising was launched in July 2016 to fill a real gap in this city and to amplify the stories of our entrepreneurs. Since that time, we’ve told the stories of over 134 unique startups and entrepreneurs to give a face and voice to this city’s entrepreneurial culture. Sustaining memberships help to keep Rochester Rising running and reduce our dependency on advertising and sponsorship. Plus, you get some cool rewards from becoming a sustaining member and know that you’re helping to grow our entrepreneurs, grassroots-style.

Today on the podcast we talk about:

·      The basics of Rochester Rising and what we’ve accomplished in the almost 2 years since the inception of this business.

·      How the crowdfunding campaign Patreon works and what you get for using it.

·      Why you should care.

·      How to become a sustaining member.


To become a sustaining member, just click here to get started. Not ready to become a sustaining member? Think about giving a one-time donation to help amplify the stories of our entrepreneurs.

Episode 83: 1 Million Cups Rochester with HipStar and Pandora Cybernetics


This week on the podcast we share the latest audio from 1 Million Cups Rochester. 1 Million Cups is an educational program for entrepreneurs that takes place in over 179 different communities across the United States. 1 Million Cups Rochester is held the first Wednesday of every month. Today on the podcast we hear from participants at the May 1 Million Cups Rochester, HipStar and Pandora Cybernetics. HipStar is a universal travel cart that provides a new way to carry heavy luggage for balanced, hands-free travel. The product is currently in prototype-mode; fundraising efforts are underway for further product design. Pandora Cybernetics aims to convert emotion into money by leveraging the power of big data analytics for brick and mortar. Their product, TeleMetrix, is a small sensor that integrates into store displays to capture the consumer experience.

Episode 82: Innovationology with Limb Lab and Grand Rounds Brewing Company


This week on the podcast we talk about Innovationology, an upcoming adults only fundraiser for the Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester. This event will take place on May 17th in the Bleu Duck Kitchen and Collider Coworking. The evening event features “Experience Teams” showcasing their innovation with a paired small food and drink to highlight innovation occurring in the Rochester community. Today on the podcast we hear from one Experience Team for this year’s event: Limb Lab and Grand Rounds Brewing Company. The podcast today features Becca Stiles-Nogosek, Development Manager of Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester; Brandon Sampson, Founder of Limb Lab; Andrew Nelson, Resident at Limb Lab; and Aaron Espy, Lead Brewer at Grand Rounds Brewing Company. Today we learn more about Innovationology, what people can expect at the event, and how innovation and play as a child influenced the members of this Experience Team.


“We know that by providing inspiring opportunities for young people, it allows them to grow up into adults that are more creative, more innovative, and more collaborative.” -Becca Stiles-Nogosek, Development Manager of Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester

Episode 81: Ari Kolas and Apollo Liquor


This week on the podcast we have a very special episode from the latest Collider Coworking Experts Series with serial entrepreneur Ari Kolas of Apollo Liquor. Ari and his family business are living proof that many other successful businesses beyond medical exist and thrive in Rochester. This was a great talk by Ari with valuable advice for anyone thinking about or running a business anywhere.


On the podcast today, Ari talks about:

·      The launch of the first Apollo Liquor store in Austin, Minnesota in 1965.

·      Growing up in the liquor store business.

·      The reality of running a family owned business.

·      The necessity of doing the unexpected as an entrepreneur.

·      The value of not taking on debt and sticking with what you know.

·      His love of work, which he says is both a strength and a weakness.

·      The bad business deals and mistakes that he’s made along the way.

·      How the Apollo Liquor stores allowed Ari to invest in other business opportunities including: a convenience store, hotel, Greek restaurant, car dealership, and an office building.

·      How Ari eventually sold all of the Apollo Liquor stores in December 2017 and what’s in his future.


“You always have to invest in the business, put in your own time, and don’t take on too much debt, and don’t pay yourself first.” -Ari Kolas, serial entrepreneur and former owner of Apollo Liquor

Episode 80: Bekkie, Dustin, and Jonny of My Town My Music


This week on the podcast we sit down with Bekkie, Dustin, and Jonny of My Town My Music, an emerging Rochester music platform that gives the community a voice for live musical entertainment in Rochester. My Town My Music successfully held a sold-out performance on a Wednesday night just a few weeks ago featuring local rapper Dessa. The team is set to bring Minneapolis indie musician and big-name Jeremy Messersmith to town this May.  


This week on the podcast we chatted about:

·      My Town My Music’s upcoming “Evening of the Songwriter” event with headliner Jeremy Messersmith and local artist Sam Butterfass.

·      The purpose of My Town My Music as a community driven resource to bring big names and big acts to Rochester, while always including Rochester artists.

·      The challenge of finding venues, attracting high level musical talent to play in this city, and getting Rochester residents out to support live music.

·      What people should expect from My Town My Music for the remainder of 2018.

·      My Town My Music’s ask for the Rochester music community to go out and support live music this year.


This audio features the full interview from our most recent #Emerge video with My Town My Music. Check back in later this week when that story drops!

Episode 79: 1 Million Cups Rochester with Stationary Astronauts and Solken Technologies


This week on the podcast we share some audio from the most recent 1 Million Cups Rochester. 1 Million Cups is a national education program for entrepreneurs that takes place most Wednesdays in 174 communities across the United States. 1 Million Cups provides a platform for local entrepreneurs to share the story of their business and ask members of the community for help on one particular issue that their startup is facing. Due to a snow storm last week, the original speakers at 1 Million Cups Rochester were not able to attend. Instead, we had two entrepreneurs in the community step up and pitch with very little notice including:

·      Nikolai Zeppa of Stationary Astronauts, a philanthropic event and media company that just celebrated its one-year anniversary in February. Stationary Astronauts is embarking on a huge mission with the launch of their Meeting of the Minds series to bring a world renowned public speaker and paired Netflix comedian to Rochester. The inaugural show will take place this August with serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and comedian Theo Von.  

·      Solomon Antoine, Cofounder and Manager of Solken Technologies. This startup just launched their first product, FAVR, a service platform for users to request low skilled tasks such as errand running, snow removal, or leaf raking, at their own set price. The first live version of the platform launched just the day before Solomon gave this pitch.

We also heard updates on previous 1 Million Cups Presenters: Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza, How to Babysit, and Spark DJ. Xavier Frigola, Director of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, provided an update on the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund.

Episode 78: Community Roundup with gBETA Medtech Accelerator, Minnesota Cup, Sonex Health, and Marblehead Medical


There are so many new, exciting initiatives and developments going on in Rochester and the greater Minnesota community right now. Today on the podcast we take a look at four powerful stories unfolding within the community.


·       First off, we talk about gener8tor and their launch of a brand new medtech specific accelerator, called gBETA Medtech, in Minneapolis. gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator program for medtech startups that’s sponsored by Boston Scientific, Mayo Clinic, and the University of Minnesota. The first six companies are currently working through the program; applications for the summer 2018 cohort are now live.

·       Next, we talk about Minnesota Cup and the addition of a new education and training division to this startup competition. This division is focused on businesses developing technology or services related to education, training, and workforce or professional development. Applications for the 14th edition of Minnesota Cup opened on March 26th and will close on April 27th.

●     Then we chat about Sonex Health, a Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator graduate making huge strides in the community. Sonex Health created the SX-One MicroKnife to enable minimally invasive, ultrasound guided carpal tunnel release surgery. Sonex now has grown to a team of five, has graduated out of the Accelerator, and was one of the first recipients of capital from the Southeast Minnesota Angel Fund.

●      Lastly, we take a brief glimpse at Marblehead Medical, an emerging startup, founded by two Mayo Clinic radiologists, that’s treating ischemic stroke through a novel process called mechanical thrombectomy. The team behind Marblehead Medical has designed a balloon-guided medical device for ischemic stroke intervention and is close to locking in a $1M round of financing.


Guide to Press Releases and Opinion Pieces on Rochester Rising

Episode 77: Zoey Jantsan and Miss Minnesota, RE/MAX, and Chamber of Commerce


This week on the podcast we sit down with entrepreneur Zoey Jantsan to hear about all her latest endeavors. Zoey is the former Miss Minnesota US International. She’s also entering into her second year as a real estate agent with RE/MAX and is the current chair of the Women’s Roundtable for the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

We had a very full discussion on the podcast today including:

·      A chat about a new community kindness initiative in Rochester that Zoey is a part of, called Read Roch, to connect members of the community through books.

·      Other initiatives going on right now that Zoey is excited about including the upcoming Paws and Claws Annual Wine Tasting Fundraiser, EarthFest, and the Rochester Flag Project.

·      What Zoey’s experience was like as Miss Minnesota and how it impacted her public speaking.

·      Zoey’s passion for animal and environmental conservation.

·      The challenges she’s faced in growing her real estate career.

·      The importance of space for business women to share ideas.


“When you’re running and you’re starting a new project, and when you’re starting a new career, no one knows that that’s what you do besides you at that point. And to go from there to have the whole community or have the whole clientele know that’s what you do and that’s what sets you apart, I think that’s the biggest hurdle [to growing a business].” -Zoey Jantsan

Episode 76: Jay Adkins & Godwin Dold


This week on the podcast we chat with local entrepreneur and partner at Godwin Dold, Jay Adkins. Godwin Dold is a local law firm that specializes in business law, criminal defense, estate planning, commercial real estate, DWI defense, and civil litigation. The practice is currently a team of four and was originally founded by attorneys and entrepreneurs James Godwin and Rick Dold.


On the podcast today with talk with Jay about:

·      the basics of Godwin Dold.

·      what it was like to join a law firm at the early stages and help to build it from the ground up.

·      how Jay’s entrepreneur wife encouraged him to take risks and risk failure.

·      why this young entrepreneur enjoys practicing law in his hometown.

·      the value of never burning bridges and building a “web of community.”

·      the dynamics of the young attorneys at Godwin Dold.

·      Jay’s background in public speaking, including his studies in television broadcasting at St. Cloud State, where he used to call college hockey games.

·      Jay’s take on the current business environment in Rochester.


“All of these things that people want- to be their own boss, run their own business, be successful- those end results we see are tied with failures, every step of the way. …The more you fail, the more you succeed.” -Jay Adkins, Partner at Godwin Dold

Episode 75: Talking with Jim and May of Spanish and Go


On the podcast today, we share the full audio from our latest #Emerge video, talking with local entrepreneurs May Larios Garcia and Jim Fricker of Spanish and Go. Spanish and Go is “your resource for learning real-world, travel Spanish” through a series of blogs and videos. This business developed by blending together Jim and May’s passions for teaching, travel, Spanish, and recording. Now, Jim and May spend their time traveling back and forth between Rochester and Spanish speaking regions both inside and outside of the US to inspire their audience to feel ready to land and be able to talk and engage with the local Spanish culture.


Today on the podcast we chat about:

-how May and Jim both developed their love for Spanish.

-their purpose and mission behind Spanish and Go.

-where their next travels will take them.

-their newest product launching soon, Travel Spanish Confidence.

-how they’ve been able to successfully, and rapidly, build up their audience.


“I love teaching and I’ve always been in love with connecting with students….Since I was five years old, I said I wanted to be a teacher.” -May Larios Garcia