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Author Archive

Allowing Gift Cards to Keep on Giving

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Tori Utley. As seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on July 15, 2017.

Gift cards have long been staples of holidays, birthdays, and graduations. Giving gift cards can be a good way to give cash in a way that appears more planned and thoughtful than simply a card with a $20 bill in it. However, many gift cards go partially or wholly unused. A 2015 survey of Canadian consumers by Ipsos found that 28 percent of respondents regularly left money on gift cards, with reasons ranging from not knowing the remaining value of the card to the inconvenience of carrying cards around.

Tori Utley, coming from the nonprofit sphere, realized the potential value of connecting this wasted gift card money with charities and nonprofits in need of funds, and she created Tinua to do just that.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Tori Utley
Age: 24
City you live in: Rochester
City of birth: Sacramento, Calif.
High school attended: Byron High School, Byron, Minn.
Colleges attended: Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Tinua
Website: http://www.wearetinua.com/
Business Start Date: 2017
Number of Employees: 3
Number of Customers: None yet

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. My background is in counseling and psychology — I’m a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in Minnesota. After working in treatment centers and working with a few human services nonprofits, I experienced a growing interest in the nonprofit sector. I started working for Mayo Clinic on the side but grew passionate about business, went for my MBA, and ended up working in both fundraising and product development at Mayo Clinic full-time. From these experiences, I launched two organizations — More Than An Addict, a nonprofit, and Tinua, a tech startup. My background is diverse with many experiences that don’t seem to mix together; however, it’s been the perfect blend of experiences to help me with what I’m working on today.

Q. What is your business?
A. Tinua is a tech startup building a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform where gift card funds can be donated to charitable causes. We’re building an infrastructure that can be licensed by nonprofits and giving platforms to accept gift cards as a form of donation. We’re launching our mobile app this month to test our platform, though we hope to eventually integrate our technology with giving platforms and donation software so people can donate gift cards wherever they choose to give.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I’m grateful to have wise mentors who have helped me get to where I am today. I’m also a member of a co-working space in Rochester called Collider Coworking, where we have community managers and other entrepreneurs willing to share advice, resources and connections.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. I was at Starbucks in 2015 and had 17 cents left over on my Starbucks card. There was nothing special about that day because I’ve had unused gift cards for as long as I can remember, but it got me thinking about how many times I’ve thrown away gift cards with a balance — even a small one….READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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Surmounting a Clothing Barrier for Female Muslim Athletes

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Fatimah Hussein. As seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on July 1, 2017.

The National Federation of State High School Associations’ report, “High School Athletics Participation Survey 2015-2016” finds that sports participation is growing among high school students.

While male students experienced a 33 percent increase in participation between 1992 and 2016, female students experienced an even greater increase of 66 percent during that same time period.

Sports participation is clearly an important part of student life, but for some students, participation is difficult. Participation can be especially difficult for Muslim girls. It can be hard for these girls to balance their religious and cultural desire to dress modestly and cover their hair while participating in vigorous physical activity.

Traditional hijabs are not designed for strenuous activity and can impede an athlete’s performance. Fatimah Hussein spent years working on ways to get Muslim girls more involved with sports, including setting up girls-only gym time. Eventually, she came up with the idea to create hijabs specifically designed to withstand the rigors of sports while still being modest and fashionable, and ASIYA Modest Activewear was born.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Fatimah Hussein
Age: 29
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: Mogadishu, Somalia
High school attended: Roosevelt High School, Minneapolis
College attended: St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: ASIYA Modest Activewear
Website: www.asiyasport.com
Business Start Date: January 2016
Number of Employees: 3
Number of Customers: 1,000+

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I was born in Somalia and moved with my family to Minnesota when I was 6-years old.  As a teenager, I started volunteering at a local community center, which is where I saw that girls were not going into the gym or trying sports nearly as much as boys were. I formed a nonprofit, the G.I.R.L.S. Program (Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports) to provide girls-only gym time several nights a week. I have continued my volunteer work, focused on helping our community of East African girls gain access to gym time and sports.

Q. What is your business?
A. ASIYA is a modest activewear company created to help enable more Muslim girls and women to be physically active and participate in sports, while upholding their religious and cultural beliefs. We are the first U.S.-based company to create sports hijabs focused on helping more youth get involved in sports.

Our first line of products are the sports hijabs. These products were designed by Muslim girls for Muslim girls, created and tested for top sports performance and intense physical activity.

ASIYA will be coming out with a line of activewear tops and bottoms, and also with swim hijabs later this year.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. We have a great group of mentor and volunteer advisers who have been great sounding boards, and they have helped us navigate a variety of business challenges.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. I founded ASIYA in 2016, after spending the prior decade supporting Muslim girls in athletics as a volunteer in Minneapolis. I had formed the G.I.R.L.S. Program. The girls in this program wanted to go on to play sports in their school and community sports teams, and they worked with myself, community members, and community partners to design sports hijabs and apparel that would allow them to play while staying true to their cultural desire to dress modestly….READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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Market Research Pitfalls

An attendee at a recent Database Deep Dive workshop asked a very important question about our resources. Are they biased? This is a question any business researcher ought to ask when pursuing new information. Nowhere is this more critical than when reading and evaluating industry data. Oftentimes companies will publish their own reports on the industry in which they operate. Always tread carefully. They may be motivated to have certain of the details reflect positively on their own company. This is problematic, though equally problematic is the fact that less biased information is not as widely available and not without an often prohibitively high cost involved.

Look no further than the business library at the James J. Hill Center. We offer visitors free access to databases like IBIS World and SimplyMap. These two resources in particular are of interest to those doing market research, a topic on which we will be presenting on July 11th. IBIS World provides reports on more than 700 industries worldwide. In business for nearly 40 years, its reports are written in-house by its own staff of independent analysts and updated annually. IBIS World is solely in the information industry, and with the myriad areas on which it addressed, its information is unbiased. It is also of a very high quality and quite valuable, used by hundreds of Hill visitors each year. Similarly, SimplyMap provides tens of thousands of variables relating to everything from demographics and consumer expenditures to sales and various market segments. Data comes from partners comprising some of the oldest names in market research like Nielsen and Simmons in addition to the United States Census. Users can be sure of the validity of this information.

These resources and others in our collection avoid the pitfalls, some of them recently outlined in a post by Inc. Magazine, of other less vetted products. Our business library staff at the James J. Hill Center is constantly testing our databases and soliciting feedback from visitors on their user experience. If you ever have a question, particularly about the validity of the information or data you encounter, let us know.

Written by Alex Ingham, Business Librarian, 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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An Online, On-Demand Marketplace for Car Repair

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Jacob Koelln. As seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on June 17, 2017.

According to the 2017 IBISWorld report “Auto Mechanics in the U.S.,” auto repair is a $63.8 billion industry, and that figure continues to rise.

Americans own more cars than ever before, and these cars need mechanics. Because of the expense required to maintain cars, it is important that consumers are able to find mechanics that they trust to perform any needed repairs.

Jacob Koelln created his company, CheckNGN, in order to connect consumers to a vetted and trusted network of mechanics, allowing them to post projects and accept bids from these mechanics and select the one that seems like the best fit.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Jacob Koelln
Age: 33
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: Appleton, Minn.
High school attended: John Marshall High School, Rochester, Minn.
College attended: Augsburg College

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: CheckNGN
Website: www.checkNGN.com
Business Start Date: February 2017
Number of Employees: 3 founders
Number of Customers: 20+ repair shops and 200+ users

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I consider myself a thinker, solver, and entrepreneur who happened to be working in a corporate setting most of my professional career. I grew up in Rochester, son of Rev. Thomas Koelln and Dr. Rebecca Koelln who always encouraged me to follow what I believe in. I started my corporate work after graduating Augsburg College with a degree in Business Management and Management Information Systems. I have worked for various Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities area including Target Corp., United Health Group, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield — all of which have motivated me positively to start my own business. My motivation behind the mission of CheckNGN really resonates with me, and it gives me that “all in” feeling that is difficult to re-create outside of true entrepreneurship.

Q. What is your business?
A. CheckNGN is an automotive service iOS app that connects users with local independent repair shops. We screen (or vet) shops, and then invite them to join our private network of independent repair professionals. Once they’re part of our network, they’re then eligible to receive bids, which allows them to make a connection. The business model is predicated on a two-way interactive bidding platform that creates transparency in price, quality, and communication of a car service or repair need. Although price is certainly a benefit, the real value comes from the interaction between a car owner and repair shop.  By increasing communication and being transparent about the process, users not only get a fair price, but they also develop a lasting relationship with a repair shop that they can count on.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I’ve been blessed to have found some very helpful and purposeful mentors throughout my career, such as Aaron Eggert and David Jacobsen. Aaron and David are local businessmen, and I’ve had a personal friendship with both even before CheckNGN. We also have a very strong core team of founders….READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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Joseph Pyle, Librarian and the Original “Original Thinker”

Deciding who to lead James J. Hill’s brand new reference library was an easy pick – look no further than Joseph Gilpin Pyle – newspaper editor and Hill’s very own speech writer and biographer. “In May, 1915, Joseph Gilpin Pyle, a long time friend of J.J. Hill, with the guidance of Hill himself, began the work of preparing the library book lists.” With close ties, Hill was sure to have a trusted partner in Pyle to create the vision for the reference library.

When Hill passed away in 1916, Pyle maintained leadership at the library – carefully selecting books from around the world to support this general research library. Many of these books were rare and valuable, which made a trip to the James J. Hill Reference Library even more appealing for both the common and advanced researcher.

By the time the doors opened in 1921, Pyle had acquired 10,000 volumes (many of which were selected by Hill himself), which was not an easy task during the early acquisition phase of WWI. Nevertheless, the library opened its doors and was an easy sell to the people of Saint Paul. The James J. Hill Reference Library welcomed nearly 23,000 annual visitors in the early years and upwards of 60,000 annual visitors during its peak years of the early 1940s.

To be sure, Pyle’s vision of the library as the hub for the “original thinker” stands today. Entrepreneurs and small businesses trying their hand at original products and services are at the hub of action at the Hill, and our resources are still the backbone of research to get a product from seed stage to for sale on the shelf.

Joseph Pyle, James J. Hill, and the story of this epic building on the National Registry of Historic Places will be further explored in the Cabinet of Curiosity tour every third Thursday at 10:30am. Go back in time in this one hour tour, up and down the catwalks, and through the vault in a nooks and crannies inspired experience. We’ll also explore some of Pyle’s original documents, including this immaculate scrapbook of newspaper clippings that Pyle collected from 1907-1911. Our June tour sold out, 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 at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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Catering to Success

Thao Moore is the chef and co-proprietor at local catering company, Green Mangos. She followed her passion for food and studied culinary arts at The Art Institutes International Minnesota and has experience working in the catering and restaurant industry. You can follow Thao on her culinary and life adventures through her blog, Small Bites. We had the opportunity to talk with Thao about her experiences running a business over the last 10 years.

What is your organization and when and how did it begin?
My husband Tom and I own a boutique catering business and started it in 2007. My employer at the time was relocating to another state so I decided it was time to follow my dream.

What do you want people to know about Green Mangos and what sets it apart from other catering companies?
We are passionate about what we do and we believe it shows in our food and service. When you hire us, you work directly with the owners and not a sales person. For us, it’s about quality and not quantity.

What has been the largest hurdle and/or success your organization has faced?
Since I have an Asian background, it’s hard to not get stereotyped into one style of cuisine. Over the years we’ve overcome that stereotype because we’ve now catered for many different people from all over the world.

What advice would you give to others interested in the catering businesses?
It’s never easy to start any business. Catering can be especially competitive, especially when you’re competing against large caterers. Focus on your vision and see it through. It’s extremely hard work, but the hard work will pay off.

What is your favorite part of catering at the Hill Center?
I love how the venue transforms from a reference library during the day to a magical event space at night. It almost appears to be two separate venues, which is why the Hill Center is great for both Corporate and wedding events.

What do you love most about Saint Paul, Minnesota and having your business here?
St. Paul has such a rich and diverse history. This is a great fit for us because we are a diverse company. St. Paul is a natural niche for us and our business.

 

The James J. Hill Center mission honors the legacy of its founder by continuing to support entrepreneurial spirit in the 21st Century. We offer research, programs, and networking for each stage of business development. Our efforts also include services to the broader community through the hosting of cultural and artistic programming and events.  Visit us in downtown Saint Paul at 80 West Fourth Street, off the corner of Market and Fourth.  

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Selling the Arts and Crafts of Good Cheese

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Alise Sjostrom. As seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on June 3, 2017.

Americans love cheese. Multiple surveys by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that Americans’ cheese consumption continues to grow.

Yet though it’s a long-established staple of our diets, cheese also continues to be trendy.

The National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot 2017 Culinary Forecast” lists the top up-and-coming trends on restaurant menus for 2017, as predicted by professional chefs. In the survey, 59 percent of respondents list artisan cheese as a hot trend on restaurant menus. This refers to cheese handcrafted by skilled cheesemakers, as opposed to being mass-produced.

Artisan cheese is unique, with more variety in texture and flavor. Having grown up on a dairy farm, Alise Sjostrom already had an appreciation of good cheese. Armed with her dairy farm background and studies in dairy marketing, she decided to launch her business, Redhead Creamery. Redhead Creamery not only produces a selection of artisan cheeses but also offers customers a firsthand view into the dairy farm and cheesemaking facility, giving them an added understanding of the process that goes into creating their food.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Alise Sjostrom
Age: 31
City you live in: Brooten, Minn.
City of birth: Sauk Centre, Minn.
High school attended: Sauk Centre High School
College attended: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of Company: Redhead Creamery, LLC
Website: www.redheadcreamery.com
Business Start Date: 2014
Number of Employees: 3 full-time, 2 part-time, and 1 summer intern
Number of Customers: With a distributor and direct sales, we are in 100+ retail and restaurant locations. During summer time, we see hundreds of people a week at our farm in our cheese shop and on our farm tours.

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. Since I was 17, I have been known as “Cheese Alise,” as I took on a passion for cheesemaking early in life. Now I’m three years into my full-time life as an on-farm cheesemaker working hand in hand with family. I grew up on the farm where I now live in west central Minnesota. After visiting Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese as part of the National 4-H Dairy Conference Tour, I came home to tell my parents that I was going to make cheese on the farm someday. After getting some good advice to focus on marketing for the time being and learn cheesemaking later, I decided to focus on dairy marketing in college, and then joined national food broker Acosta for a year after graduation. I then followed my husband’s job to Vermont, the hotbed of artisan cheese, where I got a job at Grafton Village Cheese Co. and visited nearly two dozen farmstead plants in the northeast. We moved to Wisconsin after two years, where I worked at Crave’s. After a while we moved back to my hometown to join a goat cheese dairy and I began working on my own farm. Our family milks 200 cows and uses 8 percent of their milk for the cheese plant.

Q. What is your business?
A. My business is farmstead, artisan cheese production. We make artisan cheeses ranging from Ridiculously Good Cheddar Cheese Curds to a clothbound cheddar, Little Lucy Brie, and North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster. We have an on-farm cheese shop where you can view the cheesemaking facility, try some delicious cheeses, and purchase other locally made products that pair well with cheese. Our dairy farm tours are on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I often reach out to other cheesemakers around the country and to the suppliers of our cultures and other supplies when I need help. The cheese industry is full of knowledge and the willingness to share it.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. I grew up on a dairy farm, and I decided when I was 10 years old that I would always find a way to come home to my farm. At the age of 17, cheesemaking became my way of coming back home. Through tours and experience at other cheese companies, we developed our business model, which continues to evolve….READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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She Wants to Open People’s Eyes to the Importance of Sleep

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Sarah Moe. As seen in the Pioneer Press, Startup Showcase on May 20, 2017.

A 2017 report by RAND Europe notes the startling cost of sleep deprivation among the working population. In the United States alone, sleep deprivation costs the country $411 billion annually. This cost comes from lost work (1.2 million days per year) and decreased productivity while at work.

Clearly, improving their employees’ sleep is an issue that corporations should take seriously. Sarah Moe, in her career as a sleep technician, saw this problem firsthand, and she came up with a solution: employer-sponsored sleep-health education. In 2015, she launched Sleep Health Specialists in order to address this need.

ENTREPRENEUR  PROFILE

Name: Sarah Moe
Age: 34
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: St. Paul
High school attended: Tartan Senior High School, Oakdale
College attended: University of Wisconsin, River Falls, and Minneapolis Community and Technical College

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of Company: Sleep Health Specialists
Website: www.sleephs.com
Business Start Date: April 2015
Number of Employees: 3
Number of Customers: Unknown

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I actually grew up wanting to be a nurse. I always loved the idea of helping people feel better. As I got older though, I realized my fear of blood was not going away so I looked into other medical fields that would allow me to help in that same capacity. I found the Polysomnography program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and decided to take a class just to see what it was about — I had never heard of the job of a sleep tech before. I was hooked after one hour — sleep was the most fascinating thing I had ever learned about.

After graduating with my degree in Polysomnographic Technology and passing my boards, I became a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist and performed overnight sleep studies for years. Working with those patients to solve their sleep issues were some of the best years of my life. There is no way to describe watching someone walk into a sleep lab sad and fatigued and walk out refreshed and full of hope. I loved every night. I was then asked to return to MCTC as an Adjunct Professor where I began teaching the future generations of RPSGT’s the in’s and out’s of sleep medicine. It was then that I had the idea for Sleep Health Specialists.

Q. What is your business?
A. Sleep Health Specialists provides sleep health education to local businesses and corporations. Basically, we work with companies to address their employees’ sleep concerns, creating healthier, happier, and more productive teams.

Our services include classes, training, and seminars revolving around sleep. In our workshops, employees will learn everything they need to start achieving the kind of sleep that will allow them to be their best selves.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I have needed quite a bit of help to create a successful business. With my health care background, starting my own business was daunting and confusing at best and seemingly impossible at worst….READ FULL ARTICLE

 

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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Aiming to Make Scheduling Meetings Simpler

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Keith Resar. As seen in the Pioneer Press, Startup Showcase on May 6, 2017.

A 2010 study by meeting scheduling tool Doodle entitled “Second International Study on Scheduling Trends” found that professionals spend an average of 4.8 hours per week scheduling meetings. That amounts to 10 percent of a typical 40-hour workweek.

Scheduling meetings takes time, and time is money. Especially for professionals in the sales realm, those extra hours wasted on scheduling represent time that could have been spent going after more sales and commissions. In an age when technology is an increasing part of our lives, it’s surprising that so many people still schedule their meetings the old-fashioned way, over the phone and email.

Having worked in sales himself, Keith Resar understood how much of his time he wasted coordinating calendars in order to schedule and re-schedule his meetings. From this frustration came the idea of Appointment.one, an online meeting scheduler that finds availabilities in potential meeting attendees’ calendars and helps select a time that works for all parties. Appointment.one also builds in the necessary buffer time required to travel to and from off-site meetings. Using Appointment.one, professionals can spend less time scheduling meetings and more time attending them, increasing productivity manifold.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Keith Resar
Colleges attended: Carleton College and Carlson School of Management
City you live in: Minneapolis

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Appointment.one
Website: http://Appointment.one
Business Start Date: March 2016
Number of Employees: 1
Number of Customers: Hundreds of customers across all platforms

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I began with a technical background before spending years in business development and sales. In my career, I found there just weren’t enough hours in the week to do what I needed to do, due primarily to too many no-show appointments. Trying to schedule and reschedule appointments was making it difficult for me to maintain my sanity. That’s where the idea for Appointment.one was born.

Scheduling meetings within an organization is easy since free/busy information is widely available to employees of that organization. However, this disappears immediately when looking between companies. When I wasn’t able to connect with someone via phone to sync up calendars I was wasting my time with endless back-and-forth rounds of email tag.

Q. What is your business?
A. Appointment.one is a web service that takes the guess work out of scheduling appointments, interviews, and product demos.  Once the entire team’s calendar is visible, phone tag and double booked meetings become a relic of the past.

Appointment.one is the new norm for scheduling professional appointments. Whether you’re selling, recruiting, or giving product demos — to name a few — scheduling meetings is the most frustrating part of your job. Once you’ve eliminated the friction from phone-tag and double booking, then everything changes.

Sharing your personal Appointment.one web link with contacts to schedule meetings, rather than suffering through email-tag, gives real-time visibility into the whole team’s calendar. Besides the basics — enabling colleagues to self-schedule appointments — our AI engine optimizes multiple schedules, balances personal/work calendars, and guarantees you’re never on the hook to drive across town for back-to-back meetings.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?

A. The metro area has a strong network that helps sound out technology, marketing, and other core contributors to entrepreneurial success. Outside of that, I heavily reference my personal network that is highly represented with sales professionals, freelancers, and others who have the same problem: too much friction scheduling meetings….READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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A Food Service That Thinks Inside the Box

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Frank Jackman. As seen in the Pioneer Press, Startup Showcase on April 22nd, 2017.

Subscription box services are gaining popularity in the U.S., especially among millennials. The 2016 Connected Shoppers Report by Salesforce Research found that meal kits and grocery subscription box services are the most popular type of such services among all generations, beating out clothing and beauty product services.

Meal kits make sense. They take the work and time out of planning meals, buying ingredients, and preparing those meals. Instead, individuals subscribe to the service, and the ingredients they need are delivered to their doors, along with an easy-to-follow recipe.

Frank Jackman and Mike Stalbaum were interested in capitalizing on this trend while also adding their own twist: a local focus. Both men wanted their new business to support their communities, and the best way to do that was to use only local ingredients and recipes created by local chefs. To further help the community, they donate a meal to a local hunger relief program for every meal delivery made. This local focus is reflected in the name of their business: Local Crate.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Frank Jackman
Age: 29
City you live in: Chanhassen
City of birth: Bellflower, Calif.
High school attended: Russell-Tyler-Ruthon High School, Tyler, Minn.
College attended: Minnesota State University Mankato

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Local Crate
Website: www.localcratemeals.com
Business Start Date: November 2015
Number of Employees: 3 full-time and 7 part-time
Number of Customers: Our ship radius reaches 77 percent of the population in Minnesota

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. My co-founder, Mike Stalbaum, and I met while working for a large food manufacturer with a broad reach into the lives of almost every household in America. The projects we were working on day-to-day and the food products we were creating left us unfulfilled with our careers. As our plan started to materialize we were aligned on creating a locally responsible company which meant sourcing as many products as we possibly could from Minnesota, working with Minnesota chefs, and giving back to local hunger relief efforts that have an impact in our communities.

Q. What is your business?
A. Local Crate is an online, direct-to-consumer meal-kit delivery business. Local Crate delivers fresh, local, pre-portioned ingredients and local chef-designed seasonal recipes weekly to your home or office. Plus, for every delivery, Local Crate donates a meal to our local hunger relief partners.

At Local Crate, we want to cultivate local responsibility while truly connecting people to real food and creating a unique culinary experience at home.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. Through our time spent in the Techstar’s Food+Tech program at Land O’Lakes and The MN CUP, we have gathered an amazing network of advisers along with our current partners that have been with us since day one. All these people are able to help and advise us when we need it.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Mike and I have a true passion for food and for the story behind the food we eat every day. We feel that over time people have lost their connection to food and it has just become a convenience play. We believe…READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE:

We are pleased to announce the completion of our elevator renovation at the James J. Hill Center. This project was financed in part with funds provided by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society and the F. R. Bigelow Foundation. It will greatly increase our ability to serve patrons with accessibility needs.

Please access our ground floor elevator entrance via Kellogg Ave at the back of the building. Please ring the doorbell on the right hand side of door and a Hill staff member will assist you. If you have questions or concerns please call 651.265.5500. We look forward to having you visit our brand new elevator!

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