General Entrepreneurship

Episode 146: Kayla Fjelsted with Swoon Lash + Beauty Lounge


On the podcast today with chat with Kayla Fjelsted, Owner and Founder of Swoon Lash + Beauty Lounge. This Rochester native opened up shop on Broadway Avenue this June with Swoon, a beauty salon specializing in eyelash extensions, eyebrow tinting, and eyebrow waxing. She also has a second business location in Edina.


One the podcast today we talk about:

·      How Kayla started the business out of her basement.

·      Marketing tools that have been useful to spread word about Swoon locally.

·      Opening of the Swoon location in Rochester in mid-June.

·      How her family worked together to get the space ready for business.

·      The relationships Kayla gets to make with her clients.

·      Her passion to do things differently and prove that you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to be successful.

·      Her determination to put in the hard work.

·      The value of taking your time to figure out what you love doing in life.


Links from the podcast today:

Swoon Lash + Beauty Lounge


Facebook: @swoonbeautylounge

Instagram: @swoon_beautylounge


Music Attribution: Odd News by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist:



Today’s podcast is sponsored by:

Alsbrook Accounting



Twitter: @AlsbrookAccntg

Episode 141: Adam & Bryan of Almond Eye Productions

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This week on the podcast we chat with Adam Helwig and Bryan Lemke, owners of Almond Eye Productions. Almond Eye Productions is a local full video production company, performing field production, post production, and marketing services for a variety of industries. The business was launched in 2017. Both western Pennsylvania natives, Adam and Bryan met while working for the Outdoor Channel and have won multiple awards, including the Outdoor Channel’s Golden Moose Award, for their work.


On the show today we chat about:

  • The value of being self-taught and thinking intuitively.

  • Local marketing trends, including the emergence of video content in the branding and marketing scene in Rochester.

  • Re-locating to the Rochester area.

  • Initial discussions to start their business and early diversification of Almond Eye Productions.

  • Sacrifices associated with entrepreneurship.

  • Internal drive to be an entrepreneur.

  • Navigating the more challenging moments of business growth.

  • Time management.

Links from the podcast today:

Almond Eye Productions


Facebook: @almondeyeproductions

Instagram: @almondeyeproductions


Music Attribution: Odd News by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist:


Today’s podcast is brought to you by:



Facebook: @liveatomnow

Twitter: @LiveAtomNow

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 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

Episode 71: Tyler Aug, Mike Terrill, and The Rochester Posse


Today on the podcast we talk with Tyler Aug and Mike Terrill of The Rochester Posse, a community link to events taking place within the Rochester community. On the show today, we talk about the evolution of the Rochester Posse, what has these innovators excited about the Rochester community, how they approach telling a story about the local business and cultural scene, and the growth they see in the Rochester music community.

Episode 60: Talking Family Business, Buttons, and Digital Marketing with PJ Calkins

This week on the podcast we chat with Rochester resident and longtime entrepreneur PJ Calkins. PJ began his entrepreneurial career at the age of eleven, where he and his siblings manufactured and sold pin-back buttons door to door. A few years later, the family took the business online, becoming the first pin-back button company selling on the internet. On the show today we talk about PJ’s involvement with his family’s business, how digital marketing can help your company, and what the temperature of the entrepreneurial climate is like right now for young professionals.

Diverge Part 3.2: Jackie and Ryan Steiner and UNRAVELED Escape Room

This week we listen in to the latest story in our Diverge series, where we explore the journeys of four Rochester entrepreneurs who left long careers to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Today we listen in to the full interview with Ryan and Jackie Steiner, owners of UNRAVELED Escape Room.

“You surround yourself with people who tell you you can’t do it, and pretty soon you think you can’t do it. …Luckily we’re strong enough individuals.” –Ryan Steiner

Episode 54: Edward Cohen and EZ2See Products

This week on the podcast we sit down with local entrepreneur Edward Cohen and talk about his small business, EZ2See Products. Edward is legally blind and has difficultly reading text. For himself and others with vision difficulties, the large print calendars on the market just were impractical and the numbers were still difficult to see. To make his life easier, Edward created his own portable large print calendar, which ended up quickly turning into a business. On the podcast today we talk about Edward’s journey to launch EZ2See Products, the things he’s learned along the way, and what he thinks his business needs in order to grow.

“I’m not in the medical profession. I don’t change people’s lives… .It just kept gnawing at me. This might be a way that I could give back to my community.” –Edward Cohen, Founder of EZ2See Products

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 18: "Start Something" with Minnesotan Pakistani Entrepreneurs

This week’s episode comes straight from the “Start Something” series from Rochester’s Global Entrepreneurship week. This informational session was about getting started with the small business community. The event featured three Pakistani entrepreneurs from Minneapolis sharing their stories: Arif Altaf, Seema Altaf and Caldoun Abuhakel. This event was sponsored by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

Arif Altaf has an extensive career in healthcare management. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at Saint Mary’s University and Cardinal Stritch University. Mr. Altaf shared the top things he felt it takes to become a successful entrepreneur which included understanding why you want to start a particular business, obtaining legal and accounting advice, and having an exit strategy.

Seema Altaf has been in the United States for 25 years. She said that as an entrepreneur you have to have a dream, even if you never achieve it. Her dream was to start a fashion boutique, but her parents also stressed the importance of obtaining an advanced education in case her business dreams did not pan out. Her story of entrepreneurship involved a delicate balance of these two pieces.

Coldoun Abuhakel also spoke (but was not included in the podcast). He came to this country without knowing any English or having a college degree. His first job was as a cashier at a gas station, and even borrowed money from his boss to start his first business at the age of 23. Years later, Coldoun wanted to help his son’s school serve better lunch food and stop losing money. He ended up successfully overhauling the school’s lunch program founded a business called Done Right Food that serves 7,000-10,000 healthy school lunches each day.

Rochester Rising Episode 17: Roundtable Failure Discussion

This week, I got to do a special roundtable podcast discussion with some local entrepreneurs to talk about the things that no one wants to: failure, fear, and the struggles associated with entrepreneurship.

Here is the esteemed roundtable:

  • Nick Moucha: real estate agent, entrepreneur, and stay at home dad.
  • Shruthi Naik: research associate at Mayo Clinic and co-founder of Vyriad, a startup in Rochester that engineers virus for cancer therapy.
  • AJ Montpetit: local entrepreneur and designer.
  • Amanda Leightner: founder at Rochester Rising.

During the discussion, we defined business failure and talked about how we have failed ourselves in our entrepreneurial endeavors. We also spoke about fears that hold people back from starting their own business and talk about doubts that have held ourselves back.

Want to hear more? There is an extended version of the podcast available to Rochester Rising Patreon supporters.

Rochester Rising Episode 16: The Story Behind Rochester Rising and Hopes for Entrepreneurship in Rochester

This week, I actually got to be interviewed to share a bit more of my story, the inspiration and message behind Rochester Rising, and my thoughts about the entrepreneurship and innovation community in Rochester.

  • I actually have a science background and moved from Pittsburgh to Rochester almost nine years ago to purse a PhD in molecular biology from Mayo Clinic.
  • I used my time during my postdoctoral training to develop my skill set, gain experience, and explore career opportunities outside of science.
  • Rochester Rising was launched four months ago to share the stories of Rochester's entrepreneurs and small business owners and fill a real gap in the community.
  • The name Rochester Rising is meant to symbolize the emergence of Rochester's entrepreneurs and the role they will play in this city's economy as we move forward.
  • Rochester Rising is launching a crowdfunding campaign Monday November 7th to make this news site a sustainable part of the community. More information can be found at

"We're all going to fail. And I think if you're not failing, you're actually not trying hard enough or trying something that's not risky enough that it might not work."

Rochester Rising Episode 14: Summer Laqua and Sola Salon

This week I got the chance to sit down with local business woman and native Minnesotan Summer Laqua. Summer is a professional hair stylist who runs her own salon at Sola Salon Studios in the Shoppes on Maine. There is a second Sola Salon location in northwest Rochester.

  • Sola Salon Studios began in 2004 and currently has three hundred national locations. Sola Salon Studios is made up of hair and beauty professionals who independently rent and operate a suite at a Sola location. These professions are provided with business resources, training, and tools to succeed by Sola Salon.
  • Summer has been a hair stylist for thirteen years. She opened her own suite at Sola Salon this past year where she is surrounded by passionate individuals.
  • Summer has expressed herself creatively throughout her life. She enjoyed crafting and painting as a child and has always loved dancing.
  • The biggest lessons Summer has learned while growing her business are not to settle and to constantly grow. She sets small goals to achieve big ones.
  • You can find Summer at Studio #19 at the southeast Sola Salon Studios location or reach her by phone at (507) 421-1924.

“I realized somewhere in my mid-twenties that if I don’t make changes in my life, my life is going to pass me by. If I don’t create the life that I want, then I’m not going to get it. And I started to believe in myself, that I could have whatever I wanted. It was up to me. And I just needed to go for it.” –Summer Laqua.

Rochester Rising Episode 12: Investors & Innovators: A Day in Rochester

This week, I got the opportunity to pitch Rochester Rising at the “Investors & Innovators: A Day in Rochester” event in town. This event, sponsored by the DMC, Center of Individualized Medicine, and Medical Alley Association, showcased local startups and entrepreneurs and included a walking tour of some of the proposed DMC sub-districts (photos below).

  • The day featured one minute pitches from startups and entrepreneurial support services in Rochester and the Twin Cities.
  • Shaye Mandle of Medical Alley Association also gave a few words.
  • Medical Alley Association has been around for 35 years to champion the Medical Alley area of Minnesota, a range stretching from Duluth through Minneapolis/St Paul to Rochester, as a global center for healthtech innovation.
  • Lisa Clarke from the Destination Medical Center (DMC) also spoke. DMC is a city and state-wide economic development initiative to make Rochester a medical tourism destination.
  • At the end of this week, Rochester Rising will have existed for 12 weeks and have showcased stories from over 27 different local entrepreneurs.

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 9: Details of ArchHacks, a HealthTech, Student Hackathon in St. Louis, with Stephanie Mertz

This week, I got to speak with Stephanie Mertz, a junior at Washington University in St. Louis and co-organizer of ArchHacks, a forty-eight-hour hackathon in St. Louis this November.

  • ArchHacks takes place November 4th through November 6th, from Friday through Sunday.
  • ·Over this weekend, teams of students will build a healthtech-themed, functional prototype by Sunday evening and compete for prizes.
  • The hackathon is exclusively for students, but there are no age restrictions.
  • The application process takes all of ten minutes.
  • For more information, link up with the ArchHacks Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.
  • Any additional questions can be directed to

“It’s really a unique combination that St. Louis has where we have the expansive medical background, the corporate resources, and startup drive, and the technical talent, all in one area. We thought that here in St. Louis, we were uniquely poised to bring the resources together to enable [a HealthTech themed hackathon].” –Stephanie Mertz

Rochester Rising Episode 5: Nate Nordstrom and BrandHoot

Today’s podcast features another entrepreneur operating out of the Conley-Maass building, Nate Nordstrom, and his journey to launch BrandHoot, a team that is passionate about empowering great ideas and impactful brands through innovative apps and websites.

  • This Omaha, Nebraska native moved to Rochester in 2011 after he got burnt out from a job in a daily deal company and decided to leave the job and launch his own company. 
  • Nate left his job and launched his journey in entrepreneurship right when he and his wife were pregnant with their first baby, leaving the couple with no sure source of income or health insurance.
  • BrandHoot has grown and succeeded by doing things well and creating value for people.
  • One of Nate’s biggest lessons was learning how to strategically price BrandHoot’s products and services.
  • BrandHoot just launched a new service product called FanCoach, which provides automated consulting and actionable reports for restaurants.


“I really like Rochester. I think there’s a lot of opportunities and I think we’re really at a great time when there’s more collaboration than ever. Which is fantastic. I think sometimes, still though, people feel like ‘Oh, I can’t do what GoRout, or BrandHoot, or whatever the other company is has done.’ And I would say, ‘Yes you can.’” – Nate Nordstrom