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Author Archive

Wait Training: Soaring Into the Next Chapter

Junita Flowers is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, mom and the owner of Favorable Treats. With more than 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, she spent her career advocating for families and leading social change initiatives. Junita is starting a blog series with the Hill, called ‘Wait Training’. Over her career, Junita has learned the value of “waiting” with her business and is looking forward to sharing her experiences.

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday. Four decades plus five additional fingers, made me pause and ponder, what’s next for me as an entrepreneur. My previous chapter as an entrepreneur was all about strengthening my current business foundation and doing the work in preparation for take-off. My next chapter…I’m ready to soar!

There is so much life and opportunity in creating the next chapter. It’s an opportunity to learn from and build upon the past, with the freedom to create the future.

My next chapter opens with the excitement and vulnerability of managing a growth cycle in my business. Managing business growth is hard, it’s exhausting and often times, absolutely terrifying. While there are many external factors that can complicate the business growth process, the biggest obstacle can often be the entrepreneur themselves. From making the wrong hiring decisions to being temporarily sidelined by fear, we can get in our own way of achieving the success we’re working so hard to accomplish.

As I create new systems, manage growing pains and execute my growth plan, here are five simple strategies that I use to get out of my own way and soar.

  1. Believe – One of the key foundational principles of my business journey is to believe in myself, my vision and my process. I can tell you, before the resources accumulate, the people gather and the business flourishes, I had to believe that I was creating something bigger than myself.
  2. Find your people, grow your team – We’ve all heard it said a million and one times over…you cannot be successful on your own.  Asking for assistance and widening my circle of supporters has by far added the most value to my growth personally and professionally, and has been the overall success of my business. As I continue to form new relationships and add to my team, the process becomes manageable and my impact dramatically increases.
  3. Measure, Manage, Maximize – I have found these three factors vitally important in every phase of my business journey. While these three factors will look different at various stages in business, creating a system that measures results, manages the growth process and maximizes output, puts a business on a successful growth trajectory.
  4. Face your fears – Here’s what I know for sure: growth and advancement only happen on the other side of fear. Facing fears head-on and devising a plan of action allows me to consistently move beyond limitations and expand the possibilities.
  5. Soar – I’ve built the foundation. I’ve invested the time. I’ve secured and managed my resources. It’s time to live it out. It’s time to soar.

As I share my growth process and lessons learned from my journey as an entrepreneur, I would love to hear from you. “Click here” to send me a note and share how my business journey inspires you to share your journey. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

You can read more about Junita Flowers on her website at favorabletreats.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

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Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know: Dear Investors, Entrepreneurs Spell Love “ T-I-M-E”

Aleckson Nyamwaya has his beat on the pulse of the startup world in Minnesota.  He is an Associate at @gener8tor, contributor for @startupgrind, ambassador for @1millioncupsspl and a lover of all things tech & startups. We are pleased to have his monthly insight with our blog “Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know.”  Check back each month for his thoughts, observations and featured companies.

Dear Investors, Entrepreneurs Spell Love “ T-I-M-E”:
The keys to becoming a prolific angel investor

Angel investors are an integral portion of the early stage funding community!

Who makes a good or bad angel anyways? Traditionally, this boils down to two things:

  1. Good Angels are great for seed money.
  2. Bad angel are great for money and additional headaches.

Return on investment VS community development

Think of angel investing as a means for community development. By helping small businesses succeed in your community, you help create jobs, wealth and help make your community more sustainable!

Money is great! It’s the crucial first step, but that’s not it. The truth is…

Giving entrepreneurs money does NOT buy you access, its only a small part of the equation. Yes, you need it and when you want it you want it badly and you care at that moment. But a year later when you succeed, you’ll clearly remember which investors helped along the way. Support is just as crucial as a financial investment because entrepreneurs spell love T-I-M-E.  Did you spend time in making the necessary intros, were you a great sounding board etc.

Most investors (including VC’s) are not well acquainted with that reality or they have a reality of their own that makes it hard for them to spend that type of time. What will end up happening is the company will do worse, and your deal flow will dry up because surprise, surprise: founders talk to each other.

The role of an angel investor?

  1. Don’t worry about the mechanics — especially if you are starting out. Valuations don’t matter especially in the early stage. The whole point is to be helpful enough to get the company to the next milestone so they can raise more money!!
  2. Be decisive — don’t “strategically” string founders along. Make up your mind quickly and follow through.
  3. Do good. Once you invest in a company, all you should want to do is help it. Help people you haven’t invested in too. Just try to be helpful.

Conclusion

Instead of looking at angel investing as a form of high profits. Let’s change our perspective to looking at it as a way of giving back to our community.  That way, we’ll have more ownership which will lead to added value without the headaches.

For reference, check out this great article written by Paul Graham on becoming an angel investor.


You can tweet me @alecksonn or subscribe to my newsletter

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Culinary Artistry

The Hill is fortunate to be supported by great organizations that believe in our mission to connect business, entrepreneurs and community.  These Minnesota staples are some of the long standing business making this state great. Envision Catering is one of those unique and dynamic institutions. The Hill Center is pleased to have them not only as a vendor, but as exclusive food sponsor for their upcoming 2017 gala. We had the opportunity to chat with Director of Hospitality, Alana Koderick about what makes Envision different.  

When and how did Envision Catering begin?
Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1940 and backed with 77 years of experience, our chefs at Envision Catering & Hospitality have been presenting unmatched, award-winning culinary artistry that delivers not only creative and delicious meals, but a noteworthy experience as well.

What do you want people to know about Envision and what sets you apart?
We skillfully showcase our food artistically and offer innovate menus that can be customized for each individual event. We listen to our clients ideas and dreams and we make them reality. We work hard and take pride in continuing our heritage of being the BEST caterer in the Twin Cities. We serve Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding areas.

The older generation may know us as Prom Catering, a company renowned for its legacy and experience in serving the Twin Cities with delicious food options. When people think of Prom Catering, the iconic Prom Ballroom in St. Paul, is one of their first memories. A legacy created by the Given family that began in the 1940s and has continued to grow. We have a commitment to excellence that has not wavered throughout the years.

What is Envision really great at?
“If you can Envision it, we can create it.” Our motto is carried throughout our menu design and event day presentation and execution. Grand, intimate, luxury or casual, our unique dining experience is grounded in the art of listening to our guests. We do not subscribe to a cookie cutter template. Instead we see each guest as an individual and each event as unique. We are proud of the highest level that our team performs at for each and every event.

What are you most proud of?
Sourcing local, hand designing each display and delivering a pleasant hospitality experience from start to finish, keeps our mission personal. Our all-inclusive service enlists our talented staff to design and execute menus for weddings, corporate events, and everything in between.

What has been the largest hurdle your organization has faced and what are steps you took to turn things around?
Our biggest hurdle has been re-branding from Prom Catering, which was so successful and recognizable in the Twin Cities for decades, to Envision Catering & Hospitality. We are a family owned company that carries and combines those seven plus decades of experience from Prom Catering to where we are now, which is a forward thinking company with a current team of individuals who are savvy to all the new culinary trends while still appreciating and recommending the the classic dishes that will forever be in style when appropriate.

What are your hopes for Envision’s future?
We want to be a leader in the banquet and catering business in our community and to continue to develop new revenue streams in this highly competitive market. We strive to develop the current talent in our kitchens and offices which will continue to help us to grow our business. Most of all we want to retain the trust that our clients have placed in us to make their event beautiful and memorable in a positive way. We have always treated our clients like family and we plan to continue that tradition for as long as we are in business.

For more information about Envision Catering & Hospitality visit their website or join the Hill Center for our 2017 gala “A Great Northern Evening” on Friday, October 27 and see Envision’s artistry in action.  Get your tickets now!

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A Legacy of Quality

The Hill believes it is important to profile not only startups and entrepreneurs but also some of the long standing businesses that make Minnesota unique. Surdyk’s has been a staple of our community for the past 80 years. The Hill Center is pleased to have them not only as a vendor, but as exclusive bar sponsor for our upcoming 2017 gala. We had the opportunity to chat with Catering Director Emily Dunne about their legacy of quality and the steps that got them where they are today. 

When and how did Surdyk’s Catering begin?
Surdyk’s is currently a 4th-generation family-owned and operated business. We’ve been making entertaining easy since 1934, holding the 11th Liquor License issued in Minneapolis after the repeal of Prohibition. Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop has long been considered the ultimate fine food and beverage destination in the Twin Cities, and in the past decade, we’ve expanded the brand into a wine bar at MSP Airport and a full-service food and liquor catering operation. It’s an exciting time of growth for this old business!

What do you want people to know about Surdyk’s and what sets you apart?
We’ve been in business for over 80 years. Needless to say, we’ve got a bit of experience selling and serving delicious things. Surdyk’s is best known for our incredible wine shelves, but a lot of folks don’t realize just how comprehensive the selection at our flagship store is. Whether you’re looking for a funky European cheese, the most obscure Mezcal, or the newest, hoppiest craft beer, our staff is passionate, knowledgeable, and eager to help. You just can’t get that on Amazon. If I had to define the essence of Surdyk’s, it would be that over the course of 80 years, we’ve always taken pride in providing great products and a great customer experience. We believe these two go hand in hand.

What is Surdyk’s really great at?
We are really great at making entertaining easy and approachable. Surdyk’s Catering was born out of a desire to make our superb products and equally superb service accessible to the Twin Cities events market. The formula is simple: great food, great drink, and great service are the ingredients for a perfect event. Our team supports every client every step of the way, from the first phone call to the final clean up. We believe this level of service would not be possible without a genuine, insatiable love of food and drink running through the veins of every single team member.

What are you most proud of?
I’ve been here since the inception of Surdyk’s Catering, so it’s safe to say that I’m proud of a lot. I’d have to say I’m most proud of our outright refusal to compromise on ingredients. A lot of companies have jumped on the farm-to-table bandwagon, but we’ve been doing this for decades. We source the best local, sustainably produced, organic ingredients available, and all of the food we serve is made from scratch in our kitchen. We work with as many local distilleries and breweries as we possibly can. We know our vendors. Maybe we don’t brag about that enough…

What has been the largest hurdle your organization has faced and what are steps you took to turn things around?
Growth is hard! I’ve always been a big advocate of responsible growth, which is even harder. We’ve had to build our team incrementally, which has meant a lot of long days and nights for me and my core team. That said, it is so exciting to finally recognize the moment we’ve “earned” the ability to hire for a new position. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished.

What are your hopes for Surdyk’s future?
I hope we can continue to build on the incredible legacy of quality associated with the Surdyk name. I want to make the owners proud. We don’t need to be the biggest or even the most popular catering company out there, but I hope at the very least to continue to grow this business to a point that people stop saying, “What? Surdyk’s does catering?!?”

For more information about Surdyk’s Catering visit their website or join the Hill Center for our 2017 gala “A Great Northern Evening” on Friday, October 27 and see Surdyk’s quality in action.  Get your tickets now!

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Door Number 6

If you’ve spent some time at the Hill, you may have noticed the 12 numbered rooms along the south wall of the building. These doors, while now office spaces and bathrooms, once served as study rooms that housed a myriad of researchers, authors and artists.

One such author by the name of Mr. Richardson B. Okie spent almost every day between the war years of 1938 and 1942 in study room 6. This particular study room is located on the mezzanine level, directly behind the large painting of James J. Hill on the Reading Room wall. Mr. Okie was a St. Paul-ite who took to study room 6 so well that he even came in on his wedding day.

We tracked down one of Mr. Okie’s published stories that showed up in the May 1941 edition of The Atlantic magazine, which was of course penned in study room 6. It’s an article called, “When Greek Met Greek. A Story,” which is a fictional account of whistling men recalling the tales of ancient Sparta.

The study rooms at the Hill harken back to a time when the book collection comprised of topics in every subject (with the exception of law, medicine, and fiction).  They supported the “serious researcher” that James J. Hill envisioned would be attracted to his library. While many of the original books that Mr. Okie would have poured over are now gone, we look to our Empire Builder collection on library floor “5” for our oldest titles – look for the bright green dots on the book spines to spot one.

Learn more of the story behind the Hill Center, these images and the epic building in our Cabinet of Curiosity Tour every third Thursday at 10:30AM. In this one hour experience you will go back in time, up and down catwalks, through vaults and peek in hidden nooks and crannies.  Our October tour is coming up so get your tickets early!


Written by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. If you have more questions about the reference library our our historic collection at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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Startup Tips from the Hill

In celebration of Twin Cities Startup Week 2017, the James J. Hill Center thought they would share their top 5 tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

  1. Find the best data and use it
    You need solid information and data to support your start-up, whether you are writing a business plan, researching venture capital or looking for business leads. A few hot tips: IBISWorld is the best database for industry information, PrivCo is your bet for hard-to-find private company information and SimplyAnalytics is perfect for demographic information that can be used to inform you on developing into new markets. You can find all of these databases at the Hill…and they are free to use.
  2. Learn from those who have traveled the same path
    At the Hill, we provide a lot of opportunities to do just that. Meet the Expert is a perfect example of a program that connects you with experts across fields of law, marketing, digital, business development and more. Find the missing link for your start-up in this speed-dating style program.
  3. Show up
    You’ve heard it before “the world is run by those who show up.” Try out a networking event or attend 1 Million Cups St. Paul. By showing up, you’ll get the double benefit of learning more about the start-up landscape in the Twin Cities, as well as an opportunity to share your dream and find those willing to support you along the way.
  4. Look for help from those who know
    Thinking about writing a business plan, starting a non-profit, or moving your product into a new market? Try our Database Deep Dive series to take the edge off the research. These free workshops occur twice a month and will offer the best tips and tricks to navigating our databases. We love to answer questions, so come ready to dig in!
  5. Remember you’re part of something bigger
    Chipping away at a new start-up can bring up a number of feelings, but isolation doesn’t have to be one of them. Consider us your new home-base for your business. The Hill is a powerful space ripe with a rich tradition of entrepreneurial wins. Come use our free Wifi, sit and work, bring your lunch or use our resources to build your dream. Do you think you are one of the “original thinkers” that James J. Hill wanted to attract to his library? We think so. Come in and give us a try.

Written by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. If you have more questions about the reference library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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Soft Skills Revolution: A Breath Away

Chris Carlson is an entrepreneur, actor, lawyer and the founder of NarrativePros dedicated to coaching stronger connections. Chris is setting the standard for soft skills training across the region and will be sharing his tips and tricks in our monthly blog Soft Skills Revolution. Come back the first Tuesday of each month and learn key steps to unleash your efficiency, effectiveness and maximize your input.

A Breath Away

There is so much in the world we have no control of. That’s why it’s always nice for me to remember that the greatest gift I can give myself, and others, is to just… breathe.

The practice of deep breathing is at the core of connecting with yourself in front of an audience. By the end of this post, you’ll be in on the greatest secret of successful performers and yogis alike.

The Pains in the…

By now, most of you know that I’m a speech coach. So it won’t come as a surprise if I trot out the fear of public speaking as a pain point (by the way, the latest poll has public speaking second to snakes).

In a bit I will cover the direct benefit deep breathing has on public speaking. First, I want to add some other pretty horrible pains most of us have faced in our life:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • depression
  • attention deficit disorder

Deep breathing has been shown to help with ALL of these.

Ancient Benefits We’re Catching Onto…

The primary benefit of deep breathing is its calming effect on the body.

People from cultures all over the world have practiced deep breathing for a millennia. How this works is only recently becoming clear to scientists according to an article in New York Times on Why Deep Breathing May Keep Us Calm. Isn’t it nice when science recognizing the benefit of something we’ve been doing all along?

The point is: breathing from your diaphragm calms your body down. And a calm body calms your mind.

The Nuts and Bolts

The key to deep breathing lies in understanding how we breathe. When I give workshops, I often ask everyone to take a deep breath in. I watch as chests heave and shoulders go up.

Many people assume since air goes into our lungs, that’s also what drives breathe. Close, but no cigar.

The diaphragm is a parachute-shaped muscle that sits under your lungs. That’s the muscle chiefly responsible for drawing in your breathe. Despite what my workshop attendees show me, it’s not the muscles around your chest.

The crazy thing is, you already “know” this. Everyone of us breathes quite efficiently when we don’t think about it. Watch someone who is extremely relaxed and you’ll see their belly move up and down more than their chest.

That’s because the diaphragm is contracting to pull in breath. The stomach and surrounding muscles get out of the way and expand outward. This is another reason most people don’t breath efficiently–people are vain. They are concerned about keeping their bellies tucked in.

Speakers, Listen Up…

Deep breathing does two important things for speakers. First, it calms them. Everyone gets nervous to some degree. Deep breathing stems the fight or flight reaction we get when we step in front of a crowd.

Second, deep breathing strengthens and supports a speaker’s voice. With adequate breath, a speaker can speak longer, louder and with greater range. You don’t have to be a performer or singer to benefit from more volume or a fuller voice.

You Can Do It!

Whether you’re a speaker or a stressed-out blog reader, you can start deep breathing now. There is nothing fancy or complicated about deep breathing. The process begins with an awareness of your breath.

  1. Put one hand on your stomach
  2. Put the other on your chest
  3. Take a deep breath in

Since you’re doing this, I will assume you are not familiar with deep breathing technique. This means that, probably, you felt your chest move as much or more than your stomach.

Here’s a cool trick I just found out while writing this: Google “deep breathing”. You should get a one-minute guided breathing exercise. I shouldn’t be too surprised since I read that Google teaches breathing to its employees.

Don’t believe me, though. Go Google it! And breathe…


Guest writer:
 Chris Carlson
Visit @NarrativePros for more information.

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Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know: Hustle Your Way Through TCSW 2017

Aleckson Nyamwaya has his beat on the pulse of the startup world in Minnesota.  He is an Associate at @gener8tor, contributor for @startupgrind, ambassador for @1millioncupsspl and a lover of all things tech & startups. We are pleased to have his monthly insight with our blog “Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know.”  Check back each month for his thoughts, observations and featured companies.

Hustle Your Way Through TCSW 2017

Make the most of Twin Cities Startup Week by following this networking guide.

TCSW is the premiere week-long entrepreneurship festival of the Twin Cities. Showcasing the best from the startup capital of the north! Over 100 events will take place across the Twin Cities, October 9th−15th, 2017. Everyone one and their cousins will be in attendance!!

Twin Cities Startup Week is just 2 weeks away!!! Naturally, I wrote a guide to help you navigate the week!

There are multiple events happening concurrently so this may be helpful to you if it’s your first time, if you are too busy to curate an itinerary for the week or if you just want a curated list from an insider!

For the full list of events, dates, times and locations please visit: http://twincitiesstartupweek.com/

Keynote Events

These are the events you should make time for! Especially if you are on a tight schedule and can only make it to 1, 2 or maybe 3 days out of the week!

1. Opening Night Party — Sunday

This is a high priority because it’s the kickoff party for TCSW! Everyone is attending to specifically kick off the week! Which means it will a more relaxed atmosphere, perfect for networking & making new friends.

2. MN Cup — Monday

Minnesota Cup is the largest statewide startup competition in the country! The evening will include a demo hour from our top 24 teams, recognizing our mentors of the year, presentations from the 2017 MN Cup division winners & runners-up as well as the announcement of the 2017 MN Cup Grand Prize winner. Over $450,000 will be awarded at the event!

3. Beta.MN Showcase — Tuesday

Beta.MN is an organization of friends & founders gathering together to support Minnesota’s startup community. Showcase is like a science fair for startups, with beer & music. There are no formal presentations, just local entrepreneurs demonstrating their products and services in an approachable, one-to-one setting. Attendees include founders, future employees, superfans, investors, friends, family members and anyone wanting to discover and celebrate local innovation.

4. gener8tor Minnesota’s Premiere Night — Tuesday

gener8tor is a nationally ranked, concierge startup accelerator that invests in high-growth startups! Premiere night is a celebration of gener8tor’s latest class of innovative startups!

5. Target + Techstars Retail Accelerator Demo Day — Wednesday

Techstars Retail, in partnership with Target is a three-month intensive startup accelerator focused on bringing new technology, experiences, products, and solutions to retail. Join us for Techstars Retail in Partnership with Target Demo Day in Minneapolis as our companies take the stage at First Avenue to present their businesses!

6. Minnedemo27 — Thursday

Minnedemo will feature some of the best the local tech talent has to offer. The rules are simple: 7 minutes, real working technology, and NO slides! This event attracts 700+ entrepreneurs, investors, enthusiasts etc. Please note: they are not sold out, Minnedomo has 3 ticket releases and their last one was on 10/5 at 7pm.

7. Twin Cities Startup Weekend Youth— Friday

Startup Weekend will propel students to launch creative businesses by pitching ideas, form teams around the top ideas, research their customers, and work intensely as teams to build a prototype that demonstrates the potential of their business. At the end, teams present their business and demonstrate their prototype to a panel of local entrepreneurs in a “Shark Tank Setting.”

8. Techstars Startup Weekend Twin Cities— Friday

Startup Weekend is an intense 54 hour experience, providing entrepreneurs a unique experience to create a company, product or service over the weekend. Individuals will pitch their ideas Friday night and form teams with other attendees. Wrapping up on Sunday, they’ll pitch their prototype app, website, product or service to a panel of startup judges.

9. Official Twin Cities Startup Week Awards — Join us as we close out Twin Cities Startup Week with the biggest party of the week. We will be holding our first annual Startup Awards ceremony alongside GoKart Labs.

Honorable Mentions

If you have time during the day, be sure to take advantage of the following events!

  1. Free co-working —  Take advantage of the free opportunities! Co-working spaces such as COCO are the backbone of the TC Startup entrepreneurship culture! (I myself work out of coco uptown).
  2. gener8tor office hours — gener8tor is a nationally ranked concierge startup accelerator, come meet with their Minneapolis team for office hours!
  3. Sofia Fund office hours – Sophia Fund seeks early stage, growth oriented, gender diverse entrepreneurial companies that have women leaders! Come meet with them for office hours.
  4. Angel Investing 101 — Brett Brohl, Managing partner of The Syndicate Fund is well regarded local investor!
  5. Healthcare.MN 5 year Anniversary Party — Healthcare.MN is a founding member and a strong supporter of the Twin Cities Startup scene. It’s a high quality event that attracts a great turn out! Food and drinks.
  6. Womens Pitch Fest — Female founders and women startup leaders will pitch their companies to Midwest investors and community supporters. Applications are now being taken. Entrepreneurs apply here.
  7. Muster Across America — Curated by Bunker Labs Mpls, a nonprofit by veterans, for veterans, to start and grow businesses. If you are not a veteran you will gain the military entrepreneurial edge. If you are a veteran you will gain the network to quickly grow your venture.
  8. Mpls Jr Devs — This event is for aspiring and junior software engineers to meet, learn from, and share experiences with one another.
  9. 1 Million Cups St.Paul — Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, 1MC is a community of innovators and entrepreneurship enthusiasts: Super high quality event!
  10. Mac Startups Demo Day 2017–16 Macalester students took part in Mac Startups, a student-run entrepreneurship incubator. After identifying problems in the Twin Cities community (and beyond) they developed creative products to solve these problems.
  11. Demo Night: Teams from Startup Weekend Youth – Come and see the progress made by several of the teams.
  12. Technical Architecture: Building and Scaling —Whether you are looking to start coding an application, building onto it, or scaling, technology is always changing. What works best for building something quick? What work best for scaling?. What languages work best for rapid prototyping, and what does scalable infrastructure look like these days?
  13. Saint Paul Start-up Crawl — Lets show Saint Paul some love! See where people make and create on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s brick-and-timber warmth to steam punk buzz, Saint Paul continues to drive innovation.
  14. Minimum Viable Marketing – Marketing is one thing almost every start-up struggles with — how much do you need to do, what talent do you need to do it right, and what sort of resources should you be spending? Panel + Q&A.
  15. Minnesota Start-Up Darwin Lessons — Taking a somewhat lighthearted look at some past mistakes by Minnesota companies, the presenters will talk about what happened and why and offer some tips on how your company can avoid the same fate.
  16. How to become a fundable founder— This talk will focus on the tactics a founder needs to adopt in order to be taken seriously within the startup world! Shameless plug for my event 😉

Conclusion

Twin Cities startup week is the premiere entrepreneurship festival of the twin cities! It’s a great opportunity for you to network, connect with other community members and forge new relationships!

Remember this is a once-in-a-year opportunity, so be sure to checkout the full schedule here.

See you there!

Want more hustling tips? Checkout my previous post Graduate’s Hustle Handbook To Entrepreneurship


You can tweet me @alecksonn or subscribe to my newsletter

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Be Truly Welcoming

As we wrap up Welcoming Week (Sept. 15 -24) at the James J. Hill Center we wanted to share some of the great tools and resources we used to work towards being more inclusive, welcoming and open to all communities.

The Hill is proud to be an active member of Welcoming America.  Launched in 2009, Welcoming America has spurred a growing movement across the United States. Their award-winning social entrepreneurship model is beginning to scale globally. As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, Welcoming America supports the many diverse communities and partners who are leading efforts to make their communities more vibrant places for all.

As communities change and grow, we all need to work together to ensure that all members of our communities, both new and old, feel welcome and included.  Tools to support this idea can be so helpful.  Welcoming America has provided those tools and resources.  They connect leaders, community, government and nonprofit sectors so they can work together to provide a network of support and communication.  These connections help bring great institutions and people together to make things happen.

During welcoming week the Hill leveraged new relationships to pull together a string of great institutions: The International Institute of Minnesota, Saint Paul College, Grow MN, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Neighborhood Development Center and many more. Through small dinners, large panel discussions and short presentations we discussed important and relevant topics such as diversity in our entrepreneurial community, the new American workforce and the needs of minority-owned businesses.  These conversations were enlightening and informative, but did show how many more steps we need to take to continue to build and grow and truly be a welcoming Minnesota.

To do this we must all get involved, join the conversation and remain open.  Here are some great tips that we have learned and initiated here at the Hill since joining Welcoming America.

First understand your local context:

1)      Look at local economic priorities and immigrant assets
2)      Look at the data that tells your local immigrant story
3)      Engage in existing programs and partners
4)      Talk with immigrant entrepreneurs

A great first step to try each of those four items is to join us at the James J. Hill Center. You can either review data through our free databases, engage in one of our topical presentations or panels or join one of our networking sessions.

Here are four things you can do on your own to support our local immigrant entrepreneurs:

1)      Be a champion
2)      Be a connector
3)      Fill in the gaps
4)      Make it your own

These steps will help us all grow and will ensure that our community and economy continues to prosper, grow and succeed. Visit the Hill or go to Welcomingamerican.org to find out more about how you can help your community become more inviting for all.

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Strong Data for Minority Own Businesses

There is very strong data to support investment in minority owned businesses in Minnesota. Data from the 2012 Survey of Business Organizations and the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs 2015 reveal these important insights.

1) Minority business created more jobs than the largest employer in Minnesota: The Mayo Clinic, the largest MN employer, employed 39,000 jobs, estimate of DEED. Minority owned businesses as a group in comparison, employed over 70,000 people with an annual payroll of $1.7 billion.

2) The number of minority businesses grew faster than non-minority businesses: While the number of minority businesses grew by 53 percent during the period 2007-12, the number of non-minority businesses declined by 3 percent.

3) Minority business job growth increased at a higher rate than non-minority businesses: While minority businesses achieved a 68 percent growth in jobs during the period 2007-12, non-minority business jobs grew by only 10 percent.

4) The number of minority female owned businesses grew faster than female owned businesses: While the number of minority female businesses grew by 78 percent during the period 2007-12, the number of non-minority businesses grew by 19 percent.

5) The number of minority veteran owned businesses grew faster than veteran owned businesses: While the number of minority veteran businesses grew by 130 percent during the period 2007-12, the number of veteran businesses grew by 6 percent.

6) The fastest growing industries for minority firms were mining, utilities, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, management and other services: The number of minority owned firms in five out of 18 industries more than doubled between 2007 and 2012.

Most of minority businesses are at the critical stage with sales between $100,000 and a million dollars. Policy attention is needed to help them grow. Our study of African immigrant entrepreneurs revealed that they needed most help with marketing and new product development apart from access to capital. Female entrepreneurs had unique needs compared to male entrepreneurs. Most of these entrepreneurs received very little help from public or non-profit organizations.

Research shows the minority economic status improves when minority entrepreneurs are successful as the wealth base of the community expands.

Bruce Corrie is Professor of Economics and Associate Vice President for University Relations at Concordia University-St. Paul.

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