Community Innovation

Episode 105: Jamie Sundsbak and Collider Coworking

 Photo courtesy of Collider Coworking.

Photo courtesy of Collider Coworking.

Today on the show we sit down with Jamie Sundsbak, Community Manager of Collider Coworking. Collider Coworking is an open coworking space in downtown Rochester, launched on August 15, 2016. Collider was originally envisioned as a space for entrepreneurs to work and connect. But since its opening, the coworking space has become home to many freelancers and remote workers, shifting Collider’s mission to helping these people connect with the Rochester community at large to keep this talent in the city. On the podcast today, we talk a bit about the challenge of launching a coworking space in a city like Rochester, where the concept was new. Since its launch, Collider has primarily grown by word of mouth and by just getting people through the doors to see the space. Collider was born out of Jamie’s mission to create a more robust entrepreneurial community for Rochester. The coworking space has a warehouse feel and includes its own hand-drawn Sasquatch. The business aims to promote creativity, social interactions, and work just getting done in Rochester’s entrepreneurial and innovation sectors. As the year ends, Collider is working on two new initiatives. The first is a nonprofit arm of the business to open up the business to additional funding sources and to support the organization’s work to create an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Collider will launch an additional location soon, called Collider 424. This space is located in a disused building on the Mayo Clinic campus and will primarily be private offices.

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 100: Going Back To Where We Started, An Entrepreneurial Roundtable Discussion


Join us this week on the podcast for our 100th show! To celebrate this event, we went back to where we started from in our very first podcast with an entrepreneurial roundtable discussion with local innovators in the community. This week on the podcast we sit down with Chris Lukenbill, Hunter Downs, and Jamie Sundsbak to talk about entrepreneurship in Rochester.


On the podcast today, we discuss:

·      The definition of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and why they are important.

o   We talk about an entrepreneurial ecosystem as the networks that surround entrepreneurs and help to address the needs of those innovators.

o   Also important to an entrepreneurial ecosystem is the will and spirit to be an entrepreneur.

o   And lastly, a community that is supportive of risk taking and trying new things is also essential to an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

·      Major milestones that have occurred in the Rochester entrepreneurial community over the past two years.

o   These milestones include the continued growth of the community and the emergence of events like 1 Million Cups Rochester and Startup Weekend, which can serve as conduits to the entrepreneurial community as a whole.

o   A very recent milestone is the announcement of the Collider Foundation, a nonprofit focused on building the Rochester entrepreneurial ecosystem.

o   Important events also include the continued growth of companies Sonex Health and GoRout, organizations that are capable of having a large presence in Rochester.

o   The emergence of initiatives like Red Wing Ignite and Minnesota Ignite are also imperative with their efforts to build up communities and augment resources.

o   Over the last few years, we’ve also seen an increased number of applications from Olmsted County to the Minnesota Cup business pitch competition.

o   There is also heightened awareness of businesses starting up in this city, including elevated business growth outside of the medtech space.

·      Gaps existing in Rochester’s current entrepreneurial community.

o   We talked about the difficulty of going outside of early stage growth communities to obtain talent for young companies.

o   Location is also important and marketing the importance of that location is essential to building an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

·      Observations in other entrepreneurial ecosystems of methods to spur entrepreneurial activity or business development.

o   This includes instances of 100% tax rebates for investments in high tech companies and up to 100% matches on SBIR grants.

o   We also need to make a dedicated investment in talent to spur entrepreneurial activity locally.

·      Activity taking place in the community right now that hints to where our entrepreneurial ecosystem is headed.

o   This includes increased construction activity, which might not be matched with the amount of people and workforce being recruited to the city.

o   We’ve seen an increased sprit of entrepreneurship demonstrated from Mayo Clinic.

o   Rochester experienced an increased number of freelancers with versatile skill sets.

o   We have not seen the emergence of quite as many companies as we might have expected over the past two years.

o   There is also a general lack of incentives in the community to be entrepreneurial and a lack of culture for young people.

·      Events taking place over the next few months in the Rochester entrepreneurial community including:

o   Startup Weekend

o   The Assistive Tech Challenge

o   Global Entrepreneurship Week

o   Walleye Tank

o   The Ag Tech Challenge

Episode 97: What Makes a Good Startup City?


Today on the podcast we ask, “What makes a good startup city and how does Rochester rank?” Today on the podcast we talk about:

·      A recent “Best of the Midwest Report” released by the Chicago venture capital firm M25.

o   This report ranks the 54 best tech hubs in the midwest based on measurements in three broad categories including: startup activity, access to resources, and business climate.

o   Chicago ranked first in all three broad categories in this report. Minneapolis ranked second overall. Rochester ranked 53rd out of the top 54 midwestern cities, coming in very last in business climate.

·      We also examine additional ways to examine the strength of a startup community, including a 2015 report from Kauffman Foundation called “Measuring an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.”

o   This report suggests examining three broad categories when assessing strength of an entrepreneurial community including: density, fluidity, connectivity, and diversity.


Which set of measurements do you prefer? How do you think Rochester fares in these categories?

Episode 96: Chris Schad and Discovery Square


Today on the podcast we sit down with Chris Schad, Director of Business Development for Discovery Square. Discovery Square is one of the six Destination Medical Center (DMC) subdistricts and is specifically focused on biomedicine, research, and technology innovation. DMC is the largest public-private economic development initiative in the state of Minnesota to catalyze growth in the Rochester area over the next twenty years.

Today on the podcast we talk about:

·      DMC and the DMC subdistricts.

·      The three current DMC priorities.

·      The dream vision for the Discovery Square DMC subdistrict.

·      How DMC can help entrepreneurs by spreading stories of entrepreneurship on a large scale, identifying gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and bringing programs like the Assistive Tech Challenge to the region to spur prototype development and ideation.

·      The significance of the topping off ceremony at the first new building in the Discovery Square subdistrict, called One Discovery Square.

·      The value proposition for attracting businesses to Rochester.

·      Additional activities in Discovery Square and Rochester as a whole.

·      Challenges that DMC and the city of Rochester face in implementing this large economic initiative in this city.

“The most exciting [challenge] is the challenge of big expectations. The state is watching us. The state has invested a lot of money in what we’re doing here, and we have to rise to the challenge of those expectations.” -Chris Schad, Director of Business Development, Discovery Square

Call for Opinion Pieces and Press Releases: A Guide for Submissions to Rochester Rising

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 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 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 74: Ignite Minnesota and Public/Private Sector Panel Discussion


This week on the podcast it’s all about Ignite Minnesota, a brand new statewide initiative to keep greater Minnesota competitive. 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.

We were lucky enough to attend the Ignite Minnesota launch last week in Red Wing to celebrate the creation of this program in our community. On the podcast today, we give a brief overview of Ignite Minnesota and then take a dive into a panel discussion held at the Ignite Minnesota launch. This panel included several local leaders in private/public sectors including: Rob Anderson of 3M, Ross Lexvold of Xcel Energy, Scott Olson of Winona State University, and Dan Pecarina of Hiawatha Broadband Communications. The panel was moderated by Glenn Ricart of US Ignite.

The panel covered a variety of topics including:

·      The role of innovation in each of these organizations.

·      Specific problems each organization is facing that Ignite Minnesota could help with crowdsourced solutions, including: how to transition to clean energy, how to convert toys into tools, how to improve telemedicine in rural areas, and how to break large problems into smaller deliverables.

·      What they think success for Ignite Minnesota looks like.

Episode 69: Looking Backward to Look Ahead


This week on the podcast we take a look at the past year in the entrepreneurial community of Rochester and talk a bit about where the community is headed. We take a look back at some predictions that were made for the entrepreneurial community in 2017 and break down these predictions to see if they actually happened. We also take a deep dive into what actually was accomplished in our innovation community in 2017. And lastly, we talk about opportunities in 2018 and what some entrepreneurs predict the year will hold.


Further reading:

·      Local Entrepreneurial Experts Predict Momentous 2017

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

·      Local Entrepreneurs Honored at R.A.V.E. Event

·      2018: Predictions and Asks for the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community

·      The State of the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community-2018

Episode 59: Transforming Science Education with InSciEd Out

This week on the podcast we take a trip to Lincoln K-8 Public School to speak with the Integrated Science Education Outreach Program, or InSciEd Out. Today we’re joined by Chris Pierret, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic and InSciEd Out organizer, and Lincoln teachers Liz Koehler and Kyle Casper. On the podcast today we talk about InSciEd Out, an innovative collaborative partnership that is redefining today’s science curriculum, discuss specific science education modules that the program has implemented in Lincoln classrooms, and take a peek at the future of the program.

“InSciEd Out was a great way for us to learn as teachers that it’s ok, we can be scientists too and we learn right along with the students.” –Liz Koehler, Lincoln K-8 Public School science educator

Episode 58: How to Navigate Career Change and Manage Risk and Uncertainty

This week on the podcast we listen in to the latest audio from our #Emerge video series. In these videos, we sit down and have a conversation about entrepreneurship in Rochester and peek into the city’s startup culture with a member of the innovation community. This week, I sit down with Collider Coworking Community Manager Jamie Sundsbak. We talk about navigating career change, how to handle risk and uncertainty, and ways to build your business while maintaining another full-time job. And as always, we end by talking about the current state of the Rochester entrepreneurial community and what it needs to grow.

“That’s what a true entrepreneurial community should do. We give first, we surface what’s going on. We go out of our way to help people in any way that we can.” –Jamie Sundsbak

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 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 52: Weekly Roundup- Apri Health, the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund, and Teen Entrepreneurship

These past eight days have been momentous for the southeast Minnesota entrepreneurial community. This week on the podcast, we look back at our top stories of the week. First, we check in with Apri Health, a machine learning and AI startup that recently pivoted to expand their focus. Second, we take a dive into the Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund and learn what this seed capital source can do for the community. Lastly, we spend some time with the five teenage girls of SKeMAs who are developing a mobile application, called Via, to limit distracted driving. The teens hope to advance through the semifinal round of the Minnesota Cup competition this week.

Episode 51: Chris Schad and Byolincs

This week on the podcast we discuss a recent Byolincs “Meet the Expert” event with Chris Schad, Senior Strategy Consultant at Mayo Clinic. Byolincs is a community group dedicated to training and educating entrepreneurially-minded scientists and medical professionals that meets bi-weekly within Mayo Clinic. At the most recent event, Chris Schad spoke about Destination Medical Center (DMC)- a 20-year economic development initiative to transform Rochester into a destination medical city- the first new building in the life science-focused Discovery Square DMC subdistrict, and availability of wet lab space for emerging biotech startups in the city.

Episode 49: Rochester's Entrepreneurs #Emerge

This week on the podcast, we visit the latest edition in our #Emerge Facebook live video series where we sit down and talk about the past week in the Rochester entrepreneurial community. In this episode, we speak with Collider Coworking Community Manager, Jamie Sundsbak, about the recent “Welcome to the Neighborhood” event with Mortenson, Rochester Rising and Collider’s first year, the “Google Interwebs”, and lessons in being a solopreneur. We wrap up the conversation by discussing some major strides taken by the Rochester entrepreneurial community over the past year.

Episode 39: Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship Examines Startup and Small Business Activity in Minnesota

This week on the podcast, we take an in-depth look at the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship, a new set of indicators to measure entrepreneurial activity coming out of the Kauffman Foundation. This index analyzes entrepreneurial trends in three different categories: startup activity, main street entrepreneurship, and growth entrepreneurship. While several methods exist to measure startup and business activity, the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship takes multiple data points into account to thoroughly examine the spectrum of “economic dynamism”, from the percentage of new entrepreneurs and businesses forming, to the number of businesses experiencing long term success.


Further reading on measuring entrepreneurial activity:

Episode 34: Looking Towards the Future- Entrepreneurship in Rochester

New Data Suggest Minnesota Struggles to Create New Entrepreneurs and Startups, Dominates in Small Business Activity

Episode 38: 1 Million Cups Rochester- Rochester Home Infusion and Med City FC

This week on the podcast, we listen in to some audio from the latest 1 Million Cups Rochester. 1 Million Cups is a free, national education event for entrepreneurs that takes place in 114 different communities across the United States. This month Rochester-based startups Rochester Home Infusion and Med City Football Club shared their stories. The next 1 Million Cups Rochester will be held Wednesday June 7th at 9AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event Space.

Episode 36: Spring Membership Drive and Favorite Rochester Entrepreneurial Quotes

This week on the podcast we talk about our spring sustaining membership drive, which will move Rochester Rising one step closer to becoming a stable part of the city’s entrepreneurial community. Listen in to learn about the drive and how you can become a champion of Rochester’s homegrown innovators. We also share some of our favorite quotes from Rochester’s entrepreneurs that we’ve collected over the past ten months of Rochester Rising.