Business Development

110: 1 Million Cups Rochester with Trail Creek Coffee Roasters and MedEd Web Solutions


This week on the podcast we listen in to the audio from the most recent 1 Million Cups Rochester. 1 Million Cups is an educational event for entrepreneurs that takes place in over 180 different communities across the US. At this latest event we heard from local small businesses Trail Creek Coffee Roasters and MedEd Web Solutions

·      Trail Creek Coffee Roasters is a Kasson, Minn. based business with the mission to provide high quality, small batch roasted coffee. Owner Crystal Whitmarsh and her husband began the business roasting out of a single popcorn popper. Now, they’re renovating a space in Kasson to expand their production capacity.

·      MedED Web Solutions is developing a solution to address healthcare worker burnout, called the Well-Being Index. The Well-Being Index is an anonymous online assessment tool that analyzes wellbeing of a particular healthcare worker compared to their peers. The tool has been implemented in over six hundred healthcare institutions to date.

Join the community at the next 1 Million Cups Rochester on Wednesday January 9th at 9AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen event space. Next month, we hear from Busy Bee Meal Prep.

Can’t make it to 1 Million Cups? Join us for a livestream of the event on our Facebook page and ask your own questions to the presenters!

Episode 107: 1 Million Cups Rochester with Beth Fynbo and Busy Baby LLC


This week on the podcast we listen in to the audio from the most recent 1 Million Cups Rochester featuring local mom, veteran, and founder Beth Fynbo of Busy Baby LLC. Inspired by her father’s welding business, Fynbo always wanted to start a business, but just needed to find her passion. After graduating from high school, she spent ten years in the US Army “living an exciting life with a lot of twists and turns.”

“But the biggest twist of all came last year when at age forty I had my son and I found my passion. I wanted to start my own business because I wanted to have control of my own life so that I could be more present in his,” explained Fynbo. 

As a solo entrepreneur, Fynbo is in the pre-revenue, pre-manufacturing stage of Busy Baby LLC with the startup’s flagship product, the Busy Baby Mat. This product is a 100% FDA approved silicone placemat that suctions to the bottom of surfaces and contains a proprietary tether system to attach baby’s toys, utensils, and other items so they remain connected to the mat and not on the floor. The Busy Baby Mat has been market tested by local babies. After getting this initial product to market, Fynbo plans to develop upgraded mats, such as products with LED lighting. The business could also expand the original product to secondary markets, including adults with Parkinson’s disease and children with sensory sensitivities. Now, Fynbo is seeking funds to finish her current production run. She’s also learning how to list the Busy Baby Mat on Amazon and is locating a manufacturer for initial packaging of the Busy Baby Mat.

Episode 106: Offices at China Hall


This week on the podcast we travel to Offices at China Hall for a chat with the owners of that business, Bucky Beeman and Peter Andrews. The Offices at China Hall is Rochester’s newest coworking space, located in the heart of downtown Rochester right across the street from the Minnesota BioBusiness Center. This coworking space is situated on the second floor of a building, which originally was a china store as well as office space at another point in its lifetime. The location has likely been unutilized since the 1950s. The Offices at China Hall is a coworking space that includes a conference room, kitchenette, and six private offices. Bucky and Peter are open to using the space for events and for general support of Rochester’s entrepreneurial community. They see the space as a natural next step for businesses that need to graduate from the open coworking concept.

“We really want to create that sense of community for those that want more than just an office without having a neighbor that they can go and talk to.” -Bucky Beeman, Co-owner of Offices at China Hall

Episode 104: Ryan Nolander and RAEDI

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This week on the podcast with sit down and chat with Ryan Nolander, President of Rochester Area Economic Development Inc, or RAEDI. RAEDI is a private/public partnership for economic development that serves Rochester and the surrounding four county area including Olmsted, Dodge, Fillmore, and Wabasha Counties. Ryan began his career with RAEDI this June after spending close to thirteen years with the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency. On the podcast today, we talk about:

·      How RAEDI assists local businesses and performs economic development in the region.

·      RAEDI’s focus on entrepreneurial development with the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, the Economic Development Fund (EDF) and the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund.

·      Progress with the EDF over the past years, including the lending of $1.8M (all approved by Rochester City Council) for fifteen different projects. These loans have allowed the recipient businesses to go on to raise $72M in funds and to create one hundred jobs.

·      Progress with the Southeast Minnesota Capital fund, which closed at $2M in June with fifty-six total investors and has invested $500,000 thus far across five different projects.

·      Ryan’s time performing economic development in Albert Lea and how that differs from activity currently taking place in Rochester.

·      What attracted Ryan to the Rochester area.

·      Ryan’s view on entrepreneurial activity taking place in this city.

Episode 102: Thaddeus Medical Systems and Extreme Sandbox

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This week on the podcast we listen in to some audio from 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. At the most recent 1 Million Cups Rochester, we heard from Rochester based biotech business Thaddeus Medical Systems and Minnesota based company Extreme Sandbox.

·      Thaddeus Medical Systems is making a smart packaging solution for temperature sensitive products.

o   $35B is wasted in the cold supply chain each year through temperature excursions and lost packages.

o   Currently, only passive tech exists, like gel packs and Styrofoam, to protect temperature sensitive products during shipment.

o   Thaddeus Medical Systems is addressing this problem through their active, reusable, battery powered solution that includes real-time tracking of packages, temperature history profiles, and package content descriptions to increase transparency in the cold supply chain process.

·      Extreme Sandbox is a heavy adventure equipment company that allows adults to play on construction equipment for fun.

o   Extreme Sandbox was launched in 2012 and pitched on the show Shark Tank in 2016.

o   The business has three locations, two in the Twin Cities area and one in northern Texas.

o   Extreme Sandbox utilizes three primary revenue streams: individuals, corporate team building events, and student experiential learning excursions.

Join us at the next 1 Million Cups Rochester on Wednesday November 7th (during Global Entrepreneurship Week) at 9AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen event space as we hear from local business Busy Baby LLC.

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 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:

“Shedding The Light on Mental Illness and Entrepreneurship” Foundr


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:

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

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 73: 'Should You Build Your Business in Stealth Mode?' with Chris Lukenbill and Jan Hagenbrock


This week on the podcast we sit down with local entrepreneurs Chris Lukenbill and Jan Hagenbrock and have a focused discussion about building a business in stealth mode. We talk about what stealth mode is in business development, why some businesses may build in this manner, and why some choose to grow their business outside of stealth mode. This was a great conversation today and hopefully the first of many focused debates on our podcast.

"The challenge that you're running into of going into stealth mode is that your only feedback is from this eco-chamber of people that think it's a good idea." -Chris Lukenbill

"When you [build a business] on your own, you waste your most precious resource, which is your time. You can't get that back." -Jan Hagenbrock

Episode 57: Examining the Multiplier Effect of Inclusion to Expand Your Business

This week on the podcast, we talk about a recent Supplier Diversity Summit held in Rochester. The summit was hosted by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce to highlight the benefits of engaging with diverse suppliers and to explain the importance of diversity and inclusion in today’s workforce. In the podcast today, we dive into the keynote speech at the event, which was given by Dr. Tony Byers. Dr. Byers has over twenty years of experience with diversity and inclusion initiatives, including roles at Starbucks, Heinz, and Cargill. In his talk, Dr. Byers explained the importance of diversity and inclusion for growth of a business and spoke about how the “multiple effect of inclusion” helps businesses capture new markets, expand their existing markets, and truly innovate.

“We want to not just count heads, but make heads count.” –Dr. Tony Byers

Episode 56: David Edmiston and the U.S. Commercial Service

This week on the podcast we speak with David Edmiston, Senior International Trade Specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service. The U.S. Commercial Service is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and serves as a “public facing agency that exists to work with companies that produce goods and services here in the U.S. to help those goods and services get to international markets.” Today on the podcast we talk about international trade and exporting, the first steps Minnesota businesses should take to enter the global market, and the role of the U.S. Commercial Service in this process.  

“A lot of folks don’t realize that actually 95% of potential customers are outside of the U.S.” –David Edmiston, U.S. Commercial Service

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s 2017 Q2 export statistics.

Diverge Part 1.3: Kim Gordon and HGR Real Estate Investment Cooperative and Management

This week on the podcast we listen in to the full transcript from the latest installment in our Diverge series. In Diverge, we explore the stories of four Rochester entrepreneurs who left long careers to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. First in the series is local business woman Kim Gordon. Kim left a sixteen-year career in physical therapy to launch HGR Real Estate Investment Cooperative and Management with business partners Beth Nordaune and Erin Nystrom. Kim has previous entrepreneurial experience as a co-owner of Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Rochester.

“I think we have a good concept. But yeah, there’s doubt all the time. I think too, when you doubt it, then you keep challenging yourself, how can I make it better? How can I make sure that what I’m creating will last?” –Kim Gordon

Episode 53: Talking Entrepreneurship with City Council Representative Nick Campion

This week on the podcast we talk about entrepreneurship with Rochester City Council Representative Nick Campion. Born and raised in Rochester, Nick received a degree in Computer Information Systems from the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he minored in Entrepreneurship. In Rochester, he joined the mobile app development startup DoApp during the early stages of the company and stayed with the business after it was acquired. This week on the podcast, we talk about Nick’s first-hand experience in startups, the growth of entrepreneurship in Rochester, and what role he thinks government should play in business development.

“I think we have a lot of work to do in figuring out how to make Rochester an accessible place to start a company. I think a lot of people are struggling and starting to feel the pinch with the costs of renting space, the costs of paying property taxes, the cost of finding employees.”

Episode 46: Funding Your Business with MNvest Equity Crowdfunding

This week on the podcast, we recap a recent event held in Rochester, “Funding Your Business with MNvest Equity Crowdfunding”. This event was organized by Collider Coworking and hosted by the Well Living Lab. The program featured Rick DeVoe, owner of Fair Trade Books, and David Duccini , Founder and CEO of Silicon Prairie Portal and Exchange. MNvest is a law that permits equity crowdfunding in Minnesota, opening a new revenue stream for Minnesota-based small businesses. MNvest provides the first opportunity in over eighty years for anyone to invest in public offerings from private companies. Under this law, Minnesota businesses can raise up to $1M or $2M in capital. Non-accredited investors can invest up to $10,000 per offering. There is no investment cap for accredited investors and founders of that company. is a nonprofit organization in Minnesota that provides education around the MNvest equity crowdfunding law.

Featured Story: Singer/Songwriter Opens Carpet Booth Music Production Studio to Fill Gap in Rochester Music Scene

Tickets for Rochester Rising’s 1 Year Birthday Party and Community Celebration:

Episode 33: MNvest- Investment Crowdfunding for Private Minnesota-based Businesses

This week on the podcast we speak with Zach Robins, a securities attorney and board member of the 501(c)(4) nonprofit, This nonprofit was launched in 2014 to advocate on behalf of intrastate investment crowdfunding and worked to pass and draft MNvest legislation to democratize investment opportunities for any Minnesotan. MNvest provides privately owned Minnesota businesses the opportunity to raise capital through investment crowdfunding. Currently three funding portals are operational for investment crowdfunding in Minnesota: Venture Near, Silicon Prairie ,and MNstarter. Five investment campaigns are currently being run through these portals

Rochester Rising Episode 21: Sunny Prabhakar and The Commission

This week I got to sit down and talk with Rochester resident Sunny Prabhakar about The Commission, a young professionals group in Rochester.

  • The Commission is a young professionals’ organization that gives young people in Rochester a platform to make an impact in the city.
  • The Commission is made up of three pieces: relationship building, mentorship, and professional development.
  • Their most popular relationship building event, Cards & Coffee, is an informal morning gathering that takes place once a month at different businesses in Rochester.
  • The Commission began when Sunny was starting a smoothie business in Rochester but noticed a large disconnect between younger and older professionals in the city. The Commission started out as a monthly breakfast to connect the community and grew from there.
  • Sunny recommends any books written by Gary Vaynerchuk, including his newest book #AskGaryVee, to anyone looking to make a big impact with their business in the community.
  • To learn more about The Commission and keep in touch, visit their Facebook or Instagram page.

Highlighted Rochester Rising article of the week: Summer Prototyping Festival makes Permanent Impact on City

Rochester Rising Episode 20: Roo Yori, the K9 Ninja, and the Wallace the Pitbull Foundation

This week I got to sit down and speak with Rochester resident Roo Yori. This year, Roo competed on the NBC show American Ninja Warrior as the K9 Ninja. During the show, he wore a shirt with the message “Adopt a Dog,” championing for shelter dogs everywhere. Roo has been a dog advocate in Rochester and beyond for several years. He entered the national limelight with his rescued Pitbull, Wallace, when the pair became disc dog sensations. Roo founded the Wallace the Pitbull Foundation with his wife, Clara, to aid shelter dogs and the people dedicated to them. Roo’s is a fantastic story of how one person, with some help of course, can get their message onto a national level. And he does all this while working a full-time job as a lab technician.

  • American Ninja Warrior (ANW) is a television show where competitors try to make their way through extremely challenging obstacles with the opportunity to win a $1M grand prize, which only one person has ever won.
  • Roo competed this past year, in ANW Season 8, and made it to the National Finals in Las Vegas.
  • Roo’s passion to help shelter dogs began when he and his wife adopted not one, but two, dogs from Paws and Claws Humane Society here in Rochester. They wanted to support the dogs they were not able to adopt, so they both volunteered at the shelter and Clara worked at Paws and Claws for some time.
  • One of these Paws and Claws dogs, Ajax, was Roo’s first disc dog. The other, Angus, is now 14-years-old and tagged along with Roo and Clara on the American Ninja Warrior set.
  • The couple later adopted a Pitbull from the shelter who needed a little bit more help, named Wallace. Wallace became a positive symbol for Pitbulls everywhere and even had a book written about him and his journey as a disc dog champion.
  • The Yoris later adopted one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, named Hector, and trained him to be a Certified Therapy Dog.
  • Roo continues to learn with the Wallace the Pitbull Foundation. He says it’s important to find a good team with people who can take over some of the responsibilities necessary to keep a non-profit running and establish a good system for them to follow.

“If we challenge ourselves, that’s how we’re going to learn and grow and improve as people.” –Roo Yori

Rochester Rising Episode 10: Exclusive Pet Sitting with Kim Radke

This week I got to speak with local entrepreneur, Kim Radke, and learn about her business Exclusive Pet Sitting. This is my very first podcast with a female entrepreneur! Listen in to hear how Kim grew Exclusive Pet Sitting, learn the unique challenges of running a pet sitting business, and takeaway some lessons for your own business.

  • Kim has years of expertise in dog training. She received training in kennel management and advanced dog training early in her career. She later moved into a job as a nanny in the Twin Cities and then as a nanny, not for a child, but for a dog.
  • In 2006, she moved to Rochester and focused again on dog training and worked at both Paws and Claws and Leashes & Leads. She now also has a full time job as a dog trainer with Invisible Fence.
  • Around 2007, Kim started her customer-tailored pet sitting business, Exclusive Pet Sitting, which went hand and hand with her job as a dog trainer. She successfully gained and retained customers through word of mouth and doing her job well.
  • One of the hardest lessons Kim had to learn in starting her business was how to put her service pricing together.
  • She now has two assistants with Exclusive Pet Sitting, but at first she had a hard time not doing everything herself, similar to many other business owners.

“And one thing that I have learned is, set your prices for what you’re actually worth. And make it worth your time and don’t be afraid if you think it’s too much.”- Kim Radke

Rochester Rising Episode 8: Stewartville's Medical Device Serial Entrepreneurs, Jim and Philip Conway

This week, I had the unique opportunity to chat with two serial entrepreneurs that call southeast Minnesota home: Jim and Philip Conway, President and Vice President, Production Technologies at MN Medical Technologies in Stewartville, Minnesota.

  • Jim and Philip are brothers from a family with deep entrepreneurial roots. Their brother, Peter Conway, founded Halcon Furniture, also located in Stewartville. The Conway family immigrated to Chatfield, Minnesota from England when Jim was eight years old.
  • MN Medical Technologies provides a solution for fecal incontinence, a massive global problem.
  • The brothers cofounded Arcon Corporation in 1979 and later founded Rochester Medical Corporation in 1988.
  • Rochester Medical Corporation began by selling silicon folding catheters and silicon male external catheters. By the time the company was sold to C.R. Bard in 2015, Rochester Medical had developed an entire line of intermittent catheters and accessories. Rochester Medical products were sold in 76-78 companies and globally employed ~450 people.
  • The Conway brothers and their team collectively hold over 50 patents.
  • MN Medical Technologies broke ground in the Schumann Business Park in Stewartville, Minnesota in October 2015.

“The one thing that you have to be able to do is recognize other people’s talent and allow them to run with it. It’s all about having good people.” – Jim Conway, President of MN Medical Technologies.