Episode 117: Products & Services, Who Are You Designing Them For? (Part 2) with Ahmed Makkawy

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Today on the show we listen in to part 2 of a talk from local user experience design expert Ahmed Makkawy: “Products & Services: Who Are You Designing Them For?”

 This talk is part of the Business Experts Series organized by Winona State University and Collider Coworking. On the podcast today, Ahmed wraps up this discussion talking about the importance of the whole environment in user-centered design. Lastly, he takes a brief glimpse at the designing and framing process, where you listen to capture the voice of potential users of your product or service and begin to design a product or service based on user needs.

Listen in to Episode 116 for the first part of this talk.

 

Links from the show today:

Saharafox Creative Agency

Website: http://www.saharafox.com/

Facebook: @saharafox

Twitter: @saharafox

 

Link to the survey about mental health in the entrepreneurial community: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdxH1smaPlosg31-fv5XsIxClU4sU7FaTBbcVv0_U8w5cJYJA/viewform?usp=sf_link

 

Send nominations for the “Strong Women Creating Value” series to: rochesterrising@gmail.com

 

Thanks to our sponsors for making this podcast happen!

This podcast is brought to you by:

Brandhoot

Website: https://brandhoot.com

Facebook: @BrandHoot

Twitter: @BrandHoot

Episode 116: Products & Services, Who Are You Designing Them For? (Part 1) with Ahmed Makkawy

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Today on the show we check in with local user experience design expert Ahmed Makkawy for the first part of his talk: Products & Services: Who Are You Designing Them For?  

This talk is part of the Business Experts Series organized by Winona State University and Collider Coworking.  

On the podcast today, Ahmed talks about his diverse user design experience, starting with his first job in Rochester as a software engineer for IBM. Since that time, Ahmed has worked with a variety of different local businesses getting experience in design for multiple target markets, including real estate and healthcare. In his talk today, Ahmed discusses how to best align and task your team to maximize your chances for success in product design and to avoid costly design errors. He talks about the value of charging your whole team to create a user-centered design. And finally, he discusses the value in getting user feedback on your product design and the utility in creating user personas.

 

Links from the show today:

Saharafox Creative Agency

Website: http://www.saharafox.com/

Facebook: @saharafox

Twitter: @saharafox

Thanks to our sponsors for making this podcast happen!

This podcast is brought to you by:

Alsbrook Accounting

Website: https://www.alsbrookaccounting.com/

 And

Brandhoot

Website: https://brandhoot.com

Facebook: @BrandHoot

Twitter: @BrandHoot

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Episode 115: Talking Business Development with the Realty Edge Team

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Today on the podcast we chat with Dan Kingsley and Kyle Swanson, co-owners of the Realty Edge team, a residential real estate business in Rochester, Minnesota. This interview is part of our #Emerge video series. Check out the abridged version of this show, video-style, on our website! Today on the podcast we talk about Dan and Kyle’s excitement in regard to the growing brewery scene in Rochester. We also chat about their approach to brand development and brand message with Realty Edge, the value of a social network in growing a business, and how they’ve been able to implement a team-based approach with their company.

 

Links from the podcast today:

Realty Edge Website: https://www.therealtyedge.com

Facebook: @TheRealtyEdgeTeam

Twitter: @realtyedgeteam

 

Thanks to our sponsors for making this podcast possible. Today’s show is brought to you by:

Brandhoot: https://brandhoot.com

Facebook: @Brandhoot

Twitter: @Brandhoot

Episode 114: From the Edge with Chris Peterson

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Today we launch a brand-new series on the Rochester Rising podcast: From the Edge. For this series we brought on a co-host, Jamie Sundsbak, Community Manager of Collider Coworking. We also welcomed Chris Peterson, CEO of PayGo, a Rochester company creating retail software, to the podcast as our first guest for this series. On the show today, we asked all the guests to bring one trend taking place in the Rochester community to the podcasting table to enable a low key, sometimes humorous, chat about the culture of our entrepreneurial ecosystem. We covered a lot in our first From the Edge podcast including the value of giving honest and open feedback to businesses, the exit of old businesses and entry of new businesses into our ecosystem, and the many developments that have already taken place this calendar year. There was also some talk about a new Sasquatch-based VR/AR ad system. You pretty much just have to listen in.

Links from the show today:

PayGo: website (https://paygopos.com/);

Facebook (@paygopos)

Twitter (@paygopos)

Instagram (@paygopos)

 

Thanks to our sponsors for making this podcast happen! This podcast is brought to you by:

The Musicant Group: website: http://www.musicantgroup.com/employment.html

Twitter: @musicantgroup

Instagram: @musicantgroup

Episode 113: 1 Million Cups Rochester with Lake City Boat Club & Rentals and Busy Bee Meal Prep

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This week on the podcast we catch up with the latest 1 Million Cups Rochester. 1 Million Cups is an educational event for entrepreneurs that takes place the first Wednesday of every month in Rochester and in 184 different communities across the United States. This month we heard the stories of Lake City Boat Club & Rentals and Busy Bee Meal Prep.  

Lake City Boat Club & Rentals rents boats- currently two pontoons and one speed boat- out of the Lake City Marina. Boats can be rented for a half day, a full day, or through a membership. The business hopes to open up a second location this year.

Busy Bee Meal prep was launched this October to deliver frozen, fully prepped meals within a twenty-mile radius of Rochester. Busy Bee delivers three, five, or ten meal packs and utilizes local ingredients as much as possible. The Busy Bee meals are completely prepped, no chopping or measuring required, and can go directly into a crock pot.

Join the community at the next 1 Million Cups Rochester on Wednesday February 6th.

 

Links:

·      1 Million Cups Rochester

o   Website: https://www.1millioncups.com/rochester

o   Facebook: @1MCRochester

o   Instagram: @1millioncupsrochester

·      Lake City Boat Club & Rentals

o   Website: https://lakecity-boatclub.com/

·      Busy Bee Meal Prep

o   Website: https://busybeemealprep.com/

o   Facebook: @busybeemealprepllc

o   Instagram: @busybeemealprep

o   Twitter: @BusyBeeMealPrep

 

Thanks to our sponsors for making this podcast happen! This podcast is brought to you by:

o   The Musicant Group

o   Website: http://www.musicantgroup.com/employment.html

o   Twitter: @musicantgroup

o   Instagram: @musicantgroup 

Episode 112: Ritz Crafters with Danni, Michaelene, and Shelly

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Today on the podcast we sit down with three entrepreneurs and talk about handmade goods! This week we chat with Danni Trester, organizer of Ritz Crafters, and local makers Michaelene Karlen of Ballerina Botanicals Organic Skincare and Shelly Daood of Bound to be Creative. Michaelene is a professional dancer and Miss Minnesota 2018. She founded Ballerina Botanicals a few years ago with her mom after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Shelly always felt the need to be creative, leading this mom of three to start selling her handmade, one-of-a-kind hats, even some right off her head.

Today we had a great time recording this four-person podcast (the first that I’ve ever recorded solo!), which included the lights in the room frequently turning off as we were serenaded with dog toys in the background.  

Today on the podcast we talk about how these ladies got started with their maker-style businesses and what strategies they’ve used to grow their companies.

 We also chat about Ritz Crafters, a new-to-Rochester indie craft show coming to the city February 9th. This event will take place at the 4H Building at the Olmsted County Fair Grounds, showcasing new ideas and unique, technical crafting skill sets. Forty-five different vendors will participate in the event.

 

Links from the show today:

Ritz Crafters: https://www.ritzcrafters.com/

Facebook: @RitzCrafters

Instagram: @ritzcrafters

 

Ballerina Botanicals and Organic Skincare: https://www.ballerinabotanicals.com/

Facebook: @BallerinaBotanicals

Instagram: @Michaeleneaballerina

 

Bound to be Creative: https://boundtobecreative.com/

Facebook: @boundtobecreativeshop

Instagram: @boundtobecreative

 

Thanks to our sponsors for making this podcast happen! This podcast is brought to you by:

o   The Musicant Group

o   Website: http://www.musicantgroup.com/employment.html

o   Twitter: @musicantgroup

o   Instagram: @musicantgroup

Episode 111: Top Podcasts of 2018

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Today on the show we take a look back at some of the top podcasts of 2018!

First off, we listen in to Episode 66 from January with Garret Sorensen of Mandala Tea. Mandala Tea is a thirteen-year-old business that imports and sells Chinese and Taiwanese teas. On the show today, we listen to a portion of Episode 66 where Garret talks about the foundation of Mandala Tea, the keys to running a business for thirteen years, and how different perspectives can revitalize a company.

o   Website: https://www.mandalatea.com/

o   Twitter: Mandala_Tea

o   Instagram: @mandalatea

Next we listen in to Episode 90, recorded in July, where we had a discussion about mental health and entrepreneurs with local innovators Chris Lukenbill and Rosei Skipper. This was one of my favorite podcasts of the year, talking about a largely overlooked, and sometimes taboo, topic. On the show today, we talk about the reality of mental health issues in entrepreneurs and why founders might be more susceptible to mental illness. This was a two-part series, with a continued conversation on Episode 92. Here at Rochester Rising, we feel that mental health is such an overlooked issue in entrepreneurs that we are developing some new wellness programming for 2019. Please take a few moments to fill out this survey to help us provide what is needed in the community.

o   Twitter: @roseiskipper, @ChrisLukenbill

Then we fast-forward to August with Episode 95 talking to the owner and studio manager of Orangetheory Fitness Rochester, Mackenzie McCormack. Orangetheory Fitness is a one-hour total body workout focused on endurance, strength, and power using heartrate-based interval training. This studio just opened its doors in December in the Apache Mall. On the show today, we listen to a portion of Episode 95 where Mackenzie talks about Orangetheory Fitness, what it was like to open a franchise, and why she wanted to launch this type of business.

o   Website: https://rochester.orangetheoryfitness.com/

o   Instagram: @orangetheoryrochestermn

And finally, we check back in with Episode 104, recorded in October, where we sat down with the new president of Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) Ryan Nolander. RAEDI is a private/public partnership for economic development that serves Rochester and the surrounding four county area. Ryan began his career with RAEDI this June after spending close to thirteen years with the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency. On the show today, we hear Ryan talk about RAEDI, how the organization works with local businesses, and what initially drew him to economic development in Rochester.

o   Website: http://www.raedi.com/

o   Twitter: @RaediInfo

 

Thanks to our sponsors for making this podcast happen! This podcast is brought to you by:

Riverwalk Rochester

o   Website: https://riverwalkrochester.com/

o   Instagram: @riverwalkrochester

The Musicant Group

o   Website: http://www.musicantgroup.com/

o   Twitter: @musicantgroup

o   Instagram: @musicantgroup

Alsbrook Accounting

o   Website: https://www.alsbrookaccounting.com/

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

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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 109: How to Maintain Customer Relationships and when to Cut Ties

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Today on the podcast we sit down with local entrepreneur, licensed realtor, and real estate investor Zoey Jantsan to discuss customer relationships and how to recognize when it’s time to cut ties. On the show today, we talk about:

 

o   How Zoey manages her customer relationships, especially with the long-term clients she sees in real estate.

o   How she turns leads into clients.

o   Zoey’s methods to keep in touch with clients including texting, emailing, and calling, which she finds a natural fit. She also does “old school stuff” like sending handwritten notes to clients.

o   How to recognize when a point is reached in a customer relationship when it’s clear both parties needs are not being met.

o   We talk about how Zoey tried to acquire “any and every” client in the beginning phase of her business.

o   She explained how, later on, she learned to perform a risk assessment of her time to decide if what she could give would meet a particular customer’s needs.

o   The value of prioritizing what you do in your business and how this also affects your personal life.

o   How to personally move on and pick yourself up after a “failed” customer relationship.

o   We talk about the value in setting expectations early on in the customer relationship.

o   Zoey chatted about past experiences that helped her understand what processes and procedures she needed to have in place in her business to establish better expectations with her clients.

 

You can find out more about Zoey on the web at www.CharlieAndZoey.com, on Facebook @CharlieandZoey, and on Instagram @charlieandzoey_realtors.

Episode 108: GEW and the Founding Story of Sonex Health

Sonex Health founding member Dr. Darryl Barnes.

Sonex Health founding member Dr. Darryl Barnes.

This week on the podcast we take one final peek back at this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week and recap one of the best kept tales of Rochester, the founding story of Sonex Health. Sonex Health was launched in 2014 by local physicians Darryl Barnes and Jay Smith alongside business operations expert Aaron Keenan. The company was founded to improve patient outcomes, enhance the patient experience, and increase practice efficiencies, especially in the field of ultrasound guided surgery. Sonex Health addresses compression neuropathies, with specific focus on carpal tunnel syndrome. Their solution, the SX-One MicroKnife with Meerkat Technology, allows physicians to treat carpal tunnel patients in their office, with local anesthetic and 5-millimeter incision in a “walk in, walk out” procedure. This allows patients to recover in 3-6 days instead of the normal 2-6 weeks seen in the current gold standard surgical carpal tunnel practice.  Sonex Health has raised $1.87M in seed funding and $2.5M in a convertible debt round. They are now looking to raise Series A funding to commercialize their product.

Founder Darryl Barnes said the Sonex team was one of the biggest reasons for the success of the company.  He explained, “I think if there’s anything I would say if you’re going to do this is to really partner with people who have a passion for what they do and are able to share the vision.”

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

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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

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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 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 103: Janessa Nickell and Sacred Circle

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Today on the podcast we sit down with local entrepreneur Janessa Nickell and learn about her brand-new business Sacred Circle. Sacred Circle is a space for people to learn, connect, grow, and understand more about themselves through introspection and reflection. Today on the podcast we talk about:

 

·       The energy that Janessa sees in Rochester’s entrepreneurial community right now.

·       The need for authenticity and being able to form deeper connections with ourselves and with others.

·       The initial classes and programming offered by Sacred Circle.

·       What the transition from a long-term career to full-time entrepreneurship with Sacred Circle has been like.

·       Janessa’s personal mission with Sacred Circle, which was born to reduce major burnout in her own life and has resulted in a significant shift in her mind set over the past year.

 

“I’m encouraged to look around and see how people are willing to take risks and are willing to try something different and build something unique.” -Janessa Nickell, founder of Sacred Circle

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 101: Abbey Sass with Civil Sass Hops

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This week on the podcast we check in with Abbey Sass of Civil Sass Hops. Civil Sass Hops is a hops yard on a third-generation family farm in Chatfield, MN, owned by Abbey and her husband Jake Sass. Civil Sass Hops is a woman and veteran owned business. On the show today, we sit down with Abbey and talk about:

 

·      Her introduction to southeast Minnesota as a Kansas native and the rural tourism she sees taking place now outside of Rochester.

·      How the dichotomy of the name Civil Sass Hops reflects the culture of the business.

·      The history of hops growth in Minnesota.

·      The value of fresh hops in local beers.

·      How hops factor into the beer brewing process.

·      Abbey’s career as an interior designer, designing hotels nationwide.

·      Her husband Jake’s entrepreneurial passion from a young age and how they collaborate as a husband/wife team to run Civil Sass Hops.

·      The importance of open and honest communication in running a business.

·      The next steps for Civil Sass Hops, including an expansion of acreage and increased collaboration efforts, both with new breweries and with markets that might be just a bit unexpected for hops.

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

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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 99: Sean Williams and Comicker LLC

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Today on the podcast we sit down with founder of Comicker LLC, Sean Williams. Comicker is a diversity focused, digital first, creator friendly comics publisher that Sean operates out of Austin, Minnesota. Sean is a New York Times best-selling comics writer and Montana native who cut his teeth in the LA film scene. Today on the podcast we talk about:

 

·      The growth and creation of Comicker.

·      The business model behind the publishing company.

·      Trends Sean is seeing today in the comics industry, including expansion of paper comics into library systems.

·      Lessons Sean learned from his first business endeavor Foot in the Door Entertainment, a film and television production company.

·      The pivot Comicker is currently in away from digital and towards print.

·      The difficulties of “operating in isolation” as an entrepreneur.

·      The prep work Sean is currently doing for an exciting new iteration of Comicker.

 

“I saw how hard it was to basically break in as a creator…. There was no bridge between school and the real world. I wanted to create that opportunity for other creators, in particular.” -Sean Williams, Founder of Comicker LLC

Episode 98: 1 Million Cups Rochester with Fit Box Mobile and SuraMedical

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This week on the podcast we listen in to some storytelling at the latest 1 Million Cups Rochester, featuring Minnesota companies Fit Box Mobile and SuraMedical. 1 Million Cups Rochester is an educational event for entrepreneurs that takes place in over 178 different entrepreneurial communities across the United States. The next 1 Million Cups Rochester will be held on Wednesday, October 3rd at 9AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event space.

 

This week on the podcast we hear from:

·      Shane Levernez, owner of Fit Box LLC, a mobile on demand gym. Fit Box delivers a unique fitness experience in an eight-foot shipping container. The business was originally envisioned as a B2B business but has recently morphed into a pop-up fitness event in partnership with local businesses.

·      CEO of SuraMedical, Marja Engel. SuraMedical is developing a medical device to take the guess work out of caring for chronic leg wounds. Their product contains a remote monitoring system, moisture and pressure sensors, and an activity tracker to challenge the current standard of care.