Author Archive

Minnesota Hops for your Minnesota Beer

mighty axe hops

Eric Sannerud, a 1 Million Cups St. Paul alumni was interviewed by Jordana Green on WCCO about his business, Mighty Axe Hops.


Click below to listen to the interview

Mighty Axe Hops     

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Two Minnesota Startups are Semifinalists in National Competition

one in a million radio copy

One in a Million Startup Competition

377 startups across the nation applied to the Kauffman Foundation’s One in a Million startup competition that showcases some of the nation’s best new businesses.

Two Minnesota tech startups, Upsie and knectIQ, have made it to the competition’s semifinal round. Both companies were able to participate in the competition because they are alumni of a local program called 1 Million Cups St. Paul. Clarence Bethea, founder of Upsie and Ken Morris, founder of knectIQ joined Jordana Green on WCCO Radio to talk with her about the competition and their businesses.

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Upsie and knectIQ - WCCO Interview     

The finals of One in a Million will be livestreamed on Wednesday, November 18th at 9 AM CST. Join the 1 Million Cups St. Paul community to watch them by following us at www.1MillionCups.com/StPaul.


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Mobile Dealer Data – A James J. Hill Center Entrepreneur featured on WCCO Radio

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Mobile Dealer Data specializes in mobile applications for the auto dealer market and customized applications for mobile devices. Our applications are designed to improve communications between customers and automotive dealers, streamline the sales process and improve marketing effectiveness. We also develop custom mobile applications that drive businesses to success.

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A new roofrack for everyday – Otium


Otium, a Minnesota Startup, presented at 1 Million Cups St. Paul in 2015.

They were featured on Jordana Green’s show, WCCO 830 AM on July 7, 2015.



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Coffee in a keg! – Blackeye Roasting Company

Blackeye Roasting, a Minnesota Startup, presented at 1 Million Cups St. Paul in 2015.

They were featured on Jordana Green’s show, WCCO 830 AM on June 30, 2015.


Kegs, bottles & beans.
We like directly sourced, fair trade organic caffeine…


Hand crafted in the Twin Cities, we roast our own coffee, and keg smooth, flavorful cold brew coffee. Drink our cold brew on tap or in a bottle – it’s bright, floral, and so smooth. We also specialize in Nitro Cold Brew!! A rich and velvety stout-like brew on Nitrous.

We prefer our Cold Brew straight, or over ice, but sometimes mix it with cream or Bailey’s…and it’s perfect for chilling out on the patio, or making it through the morning commute, the 2PM conference call, or that late night study session. We truly think our cold brew is special, and suggest you venture to one of our customers to try us on tap or in a bottle.

Now the official home of Blackeye Roasting Company, Quixotic Coffee 
is proudly serving up Blackeye Cold Brew on-tap, along with a few other pleasurable non-alcoholic beverages

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Startup showcase: He used his own diagnosis to focus on helping others

Startups pitch weekly at 1 Million Cups St. Paul at the James J. Hill Center. These companies range from startups with no customers to those with angel and venture capital funding. Some will be successful, but not all.

Ultimately, our goal is to help these startups grow and survive, thereby creating success for themselves and their communities.

Founder: Thompson Maesaka

Age: 26

City: Minneapolis

City of birth: Burnsville

High school: Rosemount High School

College: University of Minnesota

Thompson Maesaka is a lifelong student of the human condition. He studied kinesiology and psychology at the University of Minnesota and has always been fascinated by the intricacies of how human beings experience life.

After college, Thompson began his career as a personal trainer, mostly because it allowed him to apply his knowledge. Shortly after the start of his first job Thompson got promoted to manage a team of trainers in St. Paul which is where he met his business partner, Jon Schoen.

Thompson and Jon had been trainers for long enough to know it was their passion but also acknowledged they ultimately wanted to figure out a way to use their knowledge to improve the human condition on a larger scale.

As Thompson and Jon become better friends their idea making process also improved and one night their company was born.


Business Start Date: January 2014

Number of Employees: Four.

Number of Customers: 50

Website: www.phocusheadphones.com

Twitter: @myosystems; @ThompsonMaesaka; @SchoenJon


The genesis of this idea is rooted in one simple question, “How could a 20-year-old straight-A student suddenly come down with ADHD?” This question spurred a follow-up question: “Why on earth would a doctor’s first solution be to put said student on powerful stimulant medication to fix the problem?”

Isn’t that like trying to kill a fly with a sledge hammer? Could there be less intense solutions that don’t destroy the body and completely change personality?

I spent the next two years learning everything there is to know about ADHD. I desperately wanted to rid my body of the poisonous medication I was dependent on to concentrate. I learned to meditate, I went to seminars given by renowned doctors specializing in attention disorders, read a small library of books on ADHD and even got to the 99th percentile of Lumosity brain games.

Near the end of this discovery process, it finally dawned on me. I’d been looking internally for an external answer. My external environment got progressively better and better at getting and keeping my attention.

Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, all right next to my stack of books, begging for me to take just a short break from the painful monotony of academia. In hindsight, I didn’t have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. I had A Disorder of Hyperactive Distraction. This led to the creation of our product, Phocus.

Phocus is the homework headphone Generation Z students use during their studies that uses acoustic neuroscience to create and sustain powerful focus. The fly swatter to the doctors’ sledge hammer.

(Note: We are not claiming to treat or cure ADHD. We’re saying that if Phocus is applied correctly, it can create time for parents and more productive study habits for kids.)

Q & A

Thompson, in your opinion, what does it take to be a great entrepreneur?

TM: Grit. When your job is something Elon Musk refers to as “staring into the abyss while chewing on glass”, you need to be able to take one or two on the chin and not lose momentum or faith. Ryan Blair says it best: “It’s about your will. The show must go on. There could be a million things in my physical energy that I’m not happy about. But when you have a commitment and you have a goal, it all boils down to your will to win.” Mark Cuban is right when he says business is the ultimate sport. It challenges every facet of your character, and “it’s 24/7, 365, forever.”

What problems does your business solve?

TM: The ability to remain constantly connected to the digital world has drastically changed the way Generation Zers interact with the world. There are many ways in which they are affected, but the one our business narrows in on is how it affects productivity in school. There are two key differences in the millennial brain:

1) Their reward circuitry gets accustomed to frequent stimulus and immediate reward, which translates to a diminished ability to work at something for long periods of time in the absence of reward.

2) Their hyper-vigilance to their digital world makes it so their brains cannot effectively block out irrelevant stimuli. They save amounts of peripheral attention to make sure they don’t miss out on anything, which leads to less attention spread out over more things.

These problems are magnified during homework. Their attention will quickly be hijacked by either an incoming distraction or the brain’s cry for the stimulation it is used to. Creating a completely isolated, quiet workplace and managing unique environmental factors gives the advantage back to the student and allows them to actually feel what it is like to give all their attention to one thing.

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Advocacy, engagement and mobile apps – Civic Eagle

Civic Eagle, a Minnesota Startup, presented at 1 Million Cups St. Paul in 2014.

They were featured on Jordana Green’s show, WCCO 830 AM on June 2, 2015


Civic Eagle, the first civic-social network.

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The business of stories- A Minnesota Startup Pitch on WCCO

StoryCub, a Minnesota startup, presented at 1 Million Cups St. Paul in 2015.

They were featured on Jordana Green’s show, WCCO 830 AM on May 19, 2015.



StoryCub allows children to have great access to stories told by real story tellers through an online digital library.

Watch StoryCub’s pitch:


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