jjhillLogo

Author Archive

Seeking a Healthy Snack, She Founded a Business

Each month the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently we connected with presenter Angela Gustafson. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on November 4, 2017.

In 2015, the Food Marketing Institute asked U.S. consumers how they would rate the healthfulness of their diets. The findings stated that 71 percent of U.S. shoppers believed their diets could be healthier.

Having access to healthy options that are both high in quality and taste is not always easy. However, Angela Gustafson was dead set on creating a healthy option for her family. Little did she know how it would translate to helping fill a consumer need. After experimenting in her kitchen for over a year, Gustola Granola was born. With loads of passion and creativity she stepped in the world of food entrepreneurship and hasn’t looked back.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Angela Gustafson
Age: 48
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: Iowa City, Iowa
High school attended: John Marshall High School, Rochester, Minn.
College attended: UW Madison

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Gustola Granola
Website:www.gustolagranola.com | @gustolagranola
Business Start Date: June – October 2013 (produced out of home kitchen for Linden Hills Farmers Market); June 2014 (re-started in a commercial kitchen, producing for retail store shelves)
Number of Employees: 1 (me) plus one husband, four kids and a local dream team.
Number of Customers: 200 retail locations and online sales through our website

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I worked at Hy-Vee in high school and was quickly drawn to branding and packaging. I majored in marketing at UW, and fell in love with co-ops, farmers markets and Birkenstocks. I served in the Peace Corps as a small-business development volunteer with my husband on the Dominican Republic-Haiti border from 1994-1996. I lived and worked downtown, in the great city of St. Paul, out of college and post-Peace Corps. With our third child on the way, I took a break from Corporate America. I found myself trying to find or create the “best” recipe for everything. I took inspiration from both my mom and mother-in-law, both great cooks and in cooking for my own family of six. Then I hit upon a great one … like most of us do. Took it to a farmer’s market … like fewer of us do. It was just supposed to be a fun summer adventure.

Q. What is your business?
A. Gustola Granola is a Twin Cities-based, premium packaged granola company. Gustola Granola is a premium, knock your socks off, super crunchy, home-made tasting, satisfying anytime, anywhere, different-from-all-of-the-rest granola.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I lean on my husband for wisdom and my kids for youthful optimism. I also lean on Minnesota’s tight network of food entrepreneurs. I have oversight of production and distribution, marketing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, customer service, fulfillment, etc. It’s a great way to have a pulse on all aspects of the business, but I look forward to the day when I have more resources.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Rocky (our boxer) and I run early every morning. When I get home, kids start waking up and the bustle is on. I think more than anything, I was looking for a sustaining, healthy, post-run snack, to power me through busy mornings … as well as fill the house with those magical smells. Not crazy about available options in the stores, I started tinkering with granola at home…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 www.jjhill.org.

Continue Reading

Safe Travels Are Her Mission — and Passion

Each month the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently we connected with presenter Sheryl Hill. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on October 21, 2017.

Having access to reliable knowledge about travel safety is important for anyone planning an overseas trip. However, a 2015 survey by CMO Council and GeoBranding Center noted that 38 percent of those surveyed relied primarily on friends and family for information about travel safety and security.

Word of mouth information isn’t necessarily the most reliable. After the death of a son who was studying abroad, Sheryl Hill decided to do something about this lack of reliable knowledge, and created Depart Smart to teach travelers about travel safety and help them create action plans to deal with emergencies.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Sheryl Hill
Age: 61
City you live in: Minnetrista
City of birth: San Antonio, Texas
High school attended: Erie High School, Erie, Colo.
College attended: Saint Mary’s University, Minneapolis

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Depart Smart
Websites: http://departsmart.org and http://travelheroes.org
Business Start Date: April, 2016 (Rebranded from ClearCause Foundation, founded in October 2010)
Number of Employees: 5
Number of Customers: 6

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I am founder and executive director of Depart Smart, a world speaker, author of Walking on Sunshine, NRG a Divine Transformation-a spiritual memoir and USA Book News Award finalist. I have been featured in People You Need to Know 2012, ABC, CBS, NBC, Washington and Huffington Post, Newsweek, USA Today, and others. My husband Allen and I have been a host family to eight international youth. Our 16-year-old son, Tyler, died a preventable death on a People to People student trip to Japan in 2007. The reality of poor consumer travel safety and awareness is the passion behind our purpose. We have one surviving son, Alec, who is a biomedical engineering senior at University of Wisconsin.

Q. What is your business?
A. The only consumer-driven travel safety course to help you and the ones you love Depart Smart with an action plan to avoid risks, get help and get home safely. Most people don’t know how.

Did you know that that 911 is not the international number for emergencies? Or that Americans can be arrested in some countries for having premarital sex? Of the thousands of people who have taken a 10-point eye-opener travel safety quiz, most can’t correctly answer more than 3 questions. One travel reporter missed 9 out of 10. This lack of safety knowledge routinely puts international travelers at risk, and tragically even results in avoidable deaths. Now we’re launching a solution with our Travel Heroes Safety Certification course.

The course covers six essential international travel chapters and helps you create your custom Safety Action Plan — what you need to do to avoid risks, get help, and get home from your destinations if tragedy strikes. It takes about one hour and should be a prerequisite to travel.  It can save your life.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I am fortunate to have a league of advisers I rely upon. We have been leaning heavily on Media Relations Inc. for publicity, Maslon for legal services, OffiCenters for networking and administration, Paul Taylor – MN Cup Advisor, AIG Travel, and Travel Leaders for counsel and partnerships.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Our son, Tyler, died a preventable death while participating in a student program in Japan in 2007.  We published TylerHill.org to warn and inform others so it wouldn’t happen again….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 www.jjhill.org.

Continue Reading

“Wait Training”: My Perfect Business

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 has learned the value of “waiting” during her years as an entrepreneur and business owner and shares her experiences with us each second Tuesday of the month.

This​ ​week​ ​is​ ​Twin​ ​Cities​ ​Startup​ ​Week​ ​and​ ​we​ ​are​ ​in​ ​full​ ​swing​ ​with​ ​all​ ​things entrepreneurship.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​have​ ​made​ ​the​ ​decision​ ​to​ ​launch​ ​your​ ​startup,​ ​I’m​ ​pretty​ ​sure​ ​you have​ ​a​ ​well​ ​drafted​ ​business​ ​plan​ ​which​ ​details​ ​everything​ ​about​ ​your​ ​product​ ​or​ ​service,​ ​the daily​ ​operations,​ ​managing​ ​business​ ​finances​ ​and​ ​startup​ ​capital​, ​and​ ​you​ ​are​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​begin.

When​ ​I​ ​started​ ​my​ ​business, ​it​ ​was​ ​very​ ​important​ ​for​ ​me​ ​to​ ​know​ ​everything​ ​there​ ​was​ ​to know​ ​about​ ​building​ ​a​ ​sustainable​ ​and​ ​thriving​ ​business.​ ​I​ ​enlisted​ ​the​ ​assistance​ ​of​ ​a​ ​business coach​ ​to​ ​help​ ​draft​ ​my​ ​business​ ​plan.​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​countless​ ​hours​ ​researching​ ​success​ and failure ​stories​. ​I​ ​obtained​ ​memberships​ ​in​ ​various​ ​networking​ ​associations​ ​with​ ​a​ ​goal​ ​of creating​ ​new​ ​business​ ​relationships. I​ ​felt​ ​good​ ​about​ ​my​ ​marketing​ ​efforts​ ​and connection​ ​to​ ​my​ ​target​ ​customer​ ​base.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​armed​ ​with​ ​a​ ​plethora​ ​of​ ​case​ ​studies​ ​and research. ​I​ ​was convinced I would​ ​avoid​ ​the​ ​typical​ ​business​ ​pitfalls​ ​of​ ​entrepreneurs before​ ​me​ ​and​ that ​I​ ​would​ ​successfully​ ​make​ ​it​ ​past​ ​the​ ​critical​ ​first​ ​three​ ​years.

One of the​ ​major​ ​things​  ​ ​I​ ​did​ ​not​ ​uncover​ ​in​ ​all​ ​of​ ​my​ ​planning​ ​and​ ​research​ ​was​ ​the​ ​reality​ ​that​ ​the main​ ​ingredient​ ​fueling​ ​my​ ​entrepreneurial​ ​drive​ ​might​ ​be​ ​the​ ​same​ ​ingredient​ creating​ ​my​ ​potential​ ​failure.​ ​​Tucked​ ​neatly​ ​inside​ ​my​ ​drive​ ​to​ ​succeed,​ ​my​ ​push​ ​toward excellence​ ​and​ ​a​ ​good​ ​work​ ​ethic​ ​was​ ​the ever-so-positive-sounding,​ ​yet​ ​very​ ​destructive concept of – ​ ​perfectionism.

We​ ​live​ ​in​ ​a​ ​world​ ​that​ ​idolizes​ ​perfectionism​ ​and​ ​it​ ​is​ ​presented​ ​as​ ​the​ ​standard​ ​of performance​ ​for​ ​success​ ​as​ ​an​ ​entrepreneur.​ ​Perfectionism​ ​sounds​ ​like​ ​a​ ​good​ ​business practice.​ ​It​ ​sounds​ ​like​ ​the​ ​description​ ​of​ ​a​ ​high​ ​achiever​, ​and​ ​I​ ​fell​ ​into​ ​the​ ​trap​ ​of​ ​waiting​ ​for perfection​ ​in​ ​many​ ​areas​ ​within​ ​my​ ​business.

But​ ​here’s​ ​what​ ​I​ ​learned…perfectionism​ ​is​ ​a​ ​fancy​ ​word​ ​for​ ​fear.​ ​Striving​ ​for​ ​perfection​ ​felt like​ ​a​ ​safe,​ ​yet​ ​lofty​ ​business​ ​goal.​ ​Perfection​ ​sounded​ ​as​ ​though​ ​I​ ​was​ ​operating​ ​at​ ​my​ ​best. Many​ ​times,​ ​I​ ​prolonged​ ​a​ ​potential​ ​business​ ​decision​ ​or​ ​sabotaged​ ​a​n​ ​opportunity​ ​by failing​ ​to​ ​move​ ​forward​ ​because​ ​perfection​ ​guided​ ​me​ ​toward​ ​stagnation​ ​and/or​ ​forfeiture.

Striving​ ​for​ ​excellence​ ​in​ ​business​ ​and​ ​waiting​ ​for​ ​perfection​ ​can​ ​seem​ ​very​ ​similar,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​had to​ ​quickly​ ​decipher​ ​the​ ​difference​ ​​​between​ ​the​ ​two.​ ​For​ ​me,​ ​striving​ ​for​ ​excellence​ ​comes from​ ​a​ ​place​ ​of​ ​gratitude​ ​and​ ​contentment.  I am grateful​ ​for​ ​the​ ​highs​ ​and​ ​lows​ ​peppered throughout​ ​my​ ​business​ ​journey.​ ​​ ​Perfection​ ​can​ ​often​ ​come​ ​from​ ​a​ ​place​ ​of​ ​lack​ ​and insecurity.​ ​Perfection​ ​creates​ ​the​ ​mindset​ ​of​ ​not​ ​having​ ​enough,​ ​never​ ​having​ ​enough​ ​and​ ​it sucks​ ​the life out.​

​Perfectionism​ ​can​ ​be​ ​overcome,​ ​but​ ​just​ ​like​ ​anything​ ​else​ ​worth achieving:​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​recognize​ ​it​ ​and​ ​then​ ​have​ ​a​ ​plan​ ​to​ ​overcome​ ​it. So ​as​ ​you​ ​prepare​ ​to​ ​launch​ ​your​ ​first​ ​business​ ​or​ ​scale​ ​your​ ​current​ ​business,​ ​ask​ ​yourself​ ​are you​ ​moving​ ​forward​ ​in​ ​excellence​ ​or​ ​perfectionism.


You can read more about Junita Flowers on her website at favorabletreats.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   In addition we are pleased to have Junita join us at the  James J. Hill Center on October 26th from 9AM to 10AM  as she moderates our TAKING THE LEAD panel discussion focusing on the complex and rewarding ecosystem of women entrepreneurs.  This month’s topic will be on the “Growth Strategies and Plateau Pains ” This program is free and open to the public.  

Continue Reading

A Textbook-Swapping Platform that Could Change the World

Leah Kodner, Business Librarian from the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters each month for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently she connected with presenter Richard Krueger. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on October 7, 2017.

 

According to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the Consumer Price Index for the cost of college textbooks increased 88 percent between January 2006 and July 2016. By comparison, the average increase for all items in that same time period was 21 percent.

Richard Krueger knew that this has been a problem for many students, and he and his partners came up with Swapzit to help solve the problem. Swapzit allows users to list the textbooks or other items they want to get rid of, along with a textbook or other item they need, and Swapzit arranges a multi-party swap, giving all users the item they want in exchange for the item they no longer need.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Richard Krueger
Age: 44
City you live in: St. Paul
City of birth: St. Paul
High school attended: Archbishop Brady High School, West St. Paul
College attended: St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Swapzit
Website: www.swapzit.com
Business Start Date: June 1, 2012
Number of Employees: 4 founders
Number of Customers: Over 1,000

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. Myself and the other three founders, Jake Wiatrowski, Lucas Krause and Jamie Weber, have made successful careers out of leveraging technology to automate manual processes and compiling data to gain insights and make better decisions. Most of us currently work in the Business Intelligence field.

We exist in that sweet spot between generations where we aren’t intimidated by new technology, nor do we take it for granted. We’ve seen so much innovation in our lives, from the inception of call waiting on land lines, to having access to the sum of human knowledge in the palm of your hand. We want to make a positive impact in the world, and we’ve grown up with technology being the tool to make that impact.

Q. What is your business?
A. The Swapzit business is one of identifying and retaining value. We call it “Worth Finding.” We live in a world of abundance where most people have things stored in their closets, basements and garages, and yet many of us lack the wealth to get the things we need and want. Swapzit provides a medium for people to get the maximum value possible from the stuff they have by getting them the things they actually want and need.

Swapzit is a platform which uses an advanced algorithm to identify complicated multi-party exchanges. What does that mean?

Let’s say that you’re a student that has an engineering textbook you don’t need anymore, and your next class is an art class. You could sell your textbook back to the bookstore at a 90 percent loss, and then kick in another few hundred dollars to get your art book. You could try to find a student who happens to have the textbook you want and also happens to want the textbook you have. You’ll spend days looking, and you’ll likely not succeed in finding someone.

What Swapzit does is arrange multi-party exchanges, so you send your engineering book to someone who needs it, and another person ships their art book to you. By including more than two people, sometimes up to six, Swapzit makes the likelihood of you getting your book, for just the cost of shipping, an almost certainty, and we make it extremely easy.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. Because we’re older professionals, each of the Swapzit founders has built a professional network. We’ve leveraged our networks to formally establish an 11-person advisory board of professionals who are some of the most successful in the marketing, advertising, legal, startup, and IT worlds.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Jake, Lucas, and I met while working for a startup. We routinely talked of starting our own business. Years later, Jake and I were working on the University of Minnesota campus. We’ve all heard about the triple digit percentage increases in the cost of tuition and books. Working on campus, it was impossible for us to not think about the debt these kids were incurring. Over the course of a lunch, Jake challenged me to find a solution. Later that day, Swapzit.com was registered.

Q. What problems does your business solve?

A. The Swapzit algorithm, and Swap-Management protocols, are capable of solving many problems associated with broken markets….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 www.JJHill.org.

Continue Reading

Adding a Little Sweetness to the Mix

Leah Kodner, Business Librarian from the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters each month for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently she connected with presenter Scott Dillon. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on September 23, 2017.

TripAdvisor’s 2014 “TripIndex Cities” puts Minneapolis as the ninth most inexpensive city in the United States to have a night on the town. However, the average cost of two cocktails is still listed at $20. While not prohibitively expensive, $10 cocktails are not a thing that many people can afford to consume on a regular basis.

Scott Dillon was interesting in saving money by making his own cocktails, so he took a cocktail class and learned about shrubs. Shrubs are drink mixers made from apple cider vinegar, fresh fruit, and cane sugar. He was hooked and began making his own shrubs, and The Twisted Shrub was born.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Scott Dillon
Age: 43
City you live in: Edina
City of birth: Richmond, Va.
High school attended: Midlothian High School, Midlothian, Va.
Colleges attended: University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: The Twisted Shrub
Website:www.thetwistedshrub.com
Business Start Date: October 2015
Number of Employees: 1, soon to be 5
Number of Customers: 40 retail stores in the Twin Cities area, plus Amazon Prime

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I spent 19 years in sales at General Mills before being let go in the downsizing efforts in 2014. So, with the support of my wife and family, I had the amazing opportunity to have a harmless mid-life crisis before deciding what to do with the rest of my career.

So I dabbled in many different hobbies (took magic lessons from a local magician, ushered for the Twins, passed Level 1 of the Master Sommelier certification process, to name a few) while trying to decide what to do next. One of my goals was to make better cocktails at home. I’ve grown tired of paying $12-$15 for high-end cocktails at bars so we signed up for a cocktail class at Parlour Bar in Minneapolis to learn about how to make better drinks. It was at this class where I first heard of shrubs.

I fell in love on the spot and decided I would never work for a company again. I was going to figure out how to start my own food company. Long story short, we launched The Twisted Shrub at the Linden Hills Farmers Market just 118 days after that fateful cocktail class. We are now on Amazon Prime and in 40+ retail stores across the Twin Cities with plans to accelerate in a significant way over the next six months and beyond.

Q. What is your business?
A. The Twisted Shrub specializes in the hand-crafted production of shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars. Shrubs have been around for centuries as a method to preserve fruit using vinegar and sugar. In the 1700s, the Colonials made shrubs from leftover fruit at the end of the harvest. They used the shrubs to flavor drinks in the winter months for sustenance and to provide people with necessary vitamins and nutrients until the following spring growing season.

We use just three simple, all-natural ingredients to make our shrubs: apple cider vinegar, fresh fruit, and 100 percent cane sugar. That’s it. We take our time, too: every batch of The Twisted Shrub takes two days to craft. Shrubs are drink mixers that create intensely complex, delicious, zing-filled cocktails and sodas without any muddling or infusion. For cocktails, simply add equal parts shrub, spirit, and soda water. For sodas, add three parts sparkling water to 1 part shrub for a refreshing, non-alcoholic quencher.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. The Twin Cities is chock full of amazing resources for startups, especially in food and beverage. Notably, AURI (Agricultural Utilization Research Institute) and GrowNorthMN have both been instrumental in helping us understand the resources available and steps to take in order to take an idea and make it into a business.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Simply put, I wanted to make better, more interesting drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) in the comforts of my own home. Shrubs empower you to do that in just seconds.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. The Twisted Shrub provides an easy, fuss-free way to craft exceptionally delicious, complex, zing-filled, better-for-you cocktails and sodas at home at a fraction of the cost….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 www.JJHill.org.

 

Continue Reading

She Tells Rochester’s Startup Stories

Leah Kodner, Business Librarian from the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters each month for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently she connected with presenter Amanda Leightner. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on September 9, 2017.

Startups need publicity. Without publicity, nobody will know that a startup exists, what it does, or why it matters.

Startups also benefit from being part of a startup community, where entrepreneurs support one another and share their expertise. These startup communities also need publicity, in order to share news about events, resources for entrepreneurs, and more.

Amanda Leightner was impressed with the Rochester startup community but saw that it lacked publicity. She started Rochester Rising both to provide publicity for Rochester entrepreneurs and to inform outsiders of all that the Rochester startup community has to offer.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Amanda Leightner
Age: 32
City you live in: Rochester
City of birth: Pittsburgh, Pa.
High school attended: Highlands High School, Natrona Heights, Pa.
Colleges attended: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Rochester Rising
Website: www.rochesterrising.org
Business Start Date: July 18, 2016
Number of Employees: 1

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I’m a trained molecular biologist with over 12 years of experience in biomedical research. Even though I spent 6 years obtaining a PhD and continued to do postdoctoral studies, I knew that a career in science was not for me. After graduating from Mayo Graduate School, I decided to do my postdoctoral research at the UMN and spend that time gaining experience to try doing something else.

I had always enjoyed writing, and thought I could explore a career as a science or medical writer, but at the time I lacked the experience. I did an internship with Life Science Alley Association, where I really got interested in the science business community in Minnesota.

Afterwards, I got in touch with a researcher I had worked with at Mayo Clinic, Jamie Sundsbak, who ran a supportive group for life science entrepreneurs in Rochester called BioAM. A few months later, I received a call from Jamie asking me to help him build up a website and online presence of BioAM and help share stories of life science innovation in Minnesota.I wrote stories about science entrepreneurship around the Minneapolis area and built up this web presence for about a year and a half, calling it Life Science Nexus.

In January 2016, I completely took over running and operating Life Science Nexus. That May, I decided to go full in on being an entrepreneur myself with the online news site. I moved from Minneapolis back to Rochester to be in closer contact with Jamie as I grew the business. After living in Rochester for only a few weeks, I realized how much the entrepreneurial community as a whole was growing, and how little anyone was talking about it.

In July, Life Science Nexus was pivoted into Rochester Rising to amplify the stories of all entrepreneurship, expanding beyond life sciences, and focusing in on the Rochester area. Now I run all aspects of the business as a solo entrepreneur.

Q. What is your business?
A. Rochester Rising is an online news site that amplifies the stories of entrepreneurship occurring in Rochester. We put out several articles and a podcast every week taking an in-depth look at Rochester startups and innovative small businesses and really take the time to understand the person behind the business and how they started it in Rochester.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. The entrepreneurial community in Rochester is a fantastic resource. You can always find someone who is a few steps ahead of you who is willing to give advice and encouragement.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. Even a few years ago, there was not much of an entrepreneurial community in Rochester. While still small, we now have an entrepreneurial core that is growing every day…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 www.JJHill.org.

Continue Reading

New App Reflects the Changing Goals of Health Care

Leah Kodner, Business Librarian from the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters each month for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently she connected with presenter Jared Sieling. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on August 26, 2017.

A 2010 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality entitled “National Inpatient Sample” found that rates of hospital stays for pulmonary heart disease rose 112 percent between 1997 and 2010, the third highest growth rate behind renal failure and prolonged pregnancy.

Heart disease is a growing problem, and its treatment requires an increasing amount of resources from doctors and hospitals. Jared Sieling saw firsthand the impact that mobile health care apps could have on managing chronic conditions, and he created Chanl Health to fill this void for individuals with pulmonary heart disease. Chanl Health is a software program that allows doctors to give patients a care plan through their mobile app, and then allows the doctors to monitor the patients’ progress.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Jared Sieling
Age: 32
City you live in: Maple Grove
City of birth: Grand Rapids, Minn.
High school attended: Watertown-Mayer High School, Watertown, Minn.
Colleges attended: Gustavus-Adolphus College and University of Minnesota

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Chanl Health
Website: www.chanlhealth.com
Business Start Date: January 2017
Number of Employees: 3

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I’ve always been a science and technology nerd, but after completing my degrees in physics and electrical engineering, I shifted into software development and got really interested in the science behind the human interaction with technology and how we can integrate tech smoothly into our daily lives to help us become healthier and happier people. I got into the Quantified Self movement and started the (Twin Cities) chapter, bought all the latest trackers and gadgets, and began a career developing software for behavioral change researchers at universities across the country. Over the past 8 years I watched the research behind these applications progress and consumer interest grow, but I didn’t see effective, science-based solutions emerging in the health care industry and getting into the hands of actual patients, so I decided to branch out and do it myself.

Q. What is your business?
A. At Chanl Health, our mission is to empower patients with cardiovascular disease in making healthy behavioral choices while recovering from a procedure or dealing with their condition. To do this, we provide a software platform to hospitals and clinics that allows them to offer a mobile “companion app” to their patients. The app converts the patient’s care plan into an easy to follow daily task list, providing reminders and tracking of medication, exercise, self assessments and educational material. It also integrates with popular brands of wearables and home monitoring devices that a patient can use, and is able to analyze the tracked data to deliver concrete feedback on progress to both the patient and their care team.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I’ve been fortunate to recruit some great advisers and mentors who have given me strong guidance when I’ve needed it. The Beta.MN organization has also been really great in connecting local founders and making it really easy to get quick questions answered.  Most recently, we’ve pulled together a group of health-related startups here in the Twin Cities and are co-working in a shared office space. This has been really great to essentially expand each of our small teams and surround ourselves with others who are going through the same issues on a daily basis….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 www.JJHill.org.

Continue Reading

Collection Curiosities: Book Sets

Among the many interesting items one finds when combing the shelves of the James J. Hill Center’s library collection are several dozen book sets. Included are biographies; histories of places and events; personal papers of presidents, diplomats, explorers and businessmen; and government records. Publication dates reach as far back as the early 1800s (some before the birth of Mr. Hill himself).

The oldest? Sparks’s American Biography, a ten volume set originally published in 1834. It set out to include, according to its editor, “all persons, who have been distinguished in America, from the date of its first discovery to the present time,” with the hope that it “would embrace a perfect history of our country.” Though the more familiar faces of this early period of American history are absent, it sheds light on others who were believed important at the time. Beginning with John Stark, an American officer in the Revolutionary War, it tells of other early war heroes as well as physicians, inventors, engineers, and even a little-known signer of the Declaration of Independence. These individuals represent some of the most notable figures of the 18th and early 19th century, many whose lives began nearly three hundred years ago or more, and, perhaps, were those whom Mr. Hill might have admired or even emulated.

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.

Continue Reading

“Wait” Training: Failure Happens

 

The waiting period between the date you finalize your business plan and the date your business is profitable and thriving, can be described as the heart and soul of the entrepreneur’s experience. You’ve completed the research, your financial projections are solid, you’ve secured the necessary capital to prepare for your official launch date and you are ready to hit the ground running. But what happens when the lived experience looks nothing like the researched plan? What happens when failure after failure seems to be the only predictable constant? Well, my best advice is: failure happens…expect it, embrace it and excel beyond it.

Let’s be real…in today’s culture, the thought of failure is romanticized. There are books, blogs and business features focused on the “art of failure” which oftentimes project a straight line from failure to success. While such depictions make for good reading, they rarely get to the reality of failure.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced many painful failures balanced by notable successes in the pursuit of building a profitable and thriving business. While my business plan is the foundation upon which my business is built, the failures and missteps are critically important to the success and longevity of the business venture. Failure is inevitable. You have to decide if it will suffocate your dreams or resuscitate the possibilities. Below, I’ve listed my three-step process of dealing with failure as an entrepreneur.

  1. Expect it!
    Being a true Minnesotan, I plan for failure much like I plan for road construction. I know it’s coming, it has the potential to make life very frustrating, it may temporarily throw me off track, but it is necessary to improve the overall condition.
  2. Embrace it!
    My southern grandmother had a saying, “bought sense is better than given.” This piece of advice means we often value things that cost us something, more than we value things freely given to us. Failure is an opportunity that costs us something. Whether a financial setback or human heartache once we embrace the reality of failure we can reset, learn and get ready start again.
  3. Excel beyond it!
    Plastered on my wall are notes to self that list my goals and vision statement. Failure can easily take our thoughts down a rabbit hole of negativity. In order to excel beyond a failed experience focus on the long term goals rather than the immediate disappointment. Failure happens. Use it to your advantage and excel beyond the original plan!

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about your process for excelling beyond failure. Contact me at bit.ly/FavTreats.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

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.

Blog

Calendar

X