jjhillLogo
Error: Only up to 6 widgets are supported in this layout. If you need more add your own layout.

Startup Showcase: Helping First Responders Respond Accordingly

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 Nick Tietz. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on October 6, 2018. 

A 2017 two year study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that “Disabled individuals make up a third to half of all people killed by law enforcement officers.” And a recent research update by the Treatment Advocacy Center reinforces that “across the United States the unavailability of appropriate psychiatric treatment has forced people with mental illnesses into unnecessary — and too often dangerous — encounters with law enforcement officers, rather than medical personnel.”

Entrepreneur Nick Tietz saw a social need here, a market, and took steps in the only way he knew how — though technology. His ongoing interest in changing lives through technology has ultimately grown into the creation of a vital app that is not only changing lives but saving them.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Nick Tietz
Age: 41
City you live in: Brooklyn Park
City of birth: Bogota, Colombia
College attended: University of St. Thomas (BA – Journalism and Mass Communication); Minneapolis College of Art and Design – Animation; U of M – Naval ROTC Program

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Vitals Aware Services
Website: www.thevitalsapp.com
Business Start Date: The Vitals app was developed in partnership with the Autism Society of Minnesota. The service was launched August of 2017 in St. Paul.
Number of Employees: 10
Number of Customers: 1,366 Individuals, 26 public safety agencies in Minnesota and Ohio

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?

A. I’ve spent the last 15 years working for myself as a business consultant, technologist, user experience designer, and serial entrepreneur. I’ve designed more than 100 apps, crafted the strategy to help redefine the public education experience at Minneapolis Public Schools, and led multiple innovation efforts at Life Time Fitness to improve the employee experience and define the health club of the future.

Additionally, I’ve spent the past decade donating my time and creative services at PACER Center, where I serve on their Marketing Advisory Board, producing communication videos and helping with the production of their annual benefit.

I’m very passionate about helping others become the best version of themselves. I am focused on building technology that change people’s lives, so profoundly they can’t imagine living any other way.

Q. What is your business?

A. Vitals Aware Services is a new company creating technology for social good. We are makers of The Vitals App.

Vitals is the first and only company to have created a platform based on community created content and apps on law enforcement/first responder phones. Avoiding costly encounters between first responders and people with invisible and visible conditions and disabilities such as autism, mental health, and other disabilities.

Our community has many members with intellectual, developmental, behavioral disabilities and other mental health conditions such as autism, high anxiety, depression, dementia, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, down syndrome, Parkinson’s, fetal alcohol syndrome, bi-polar and schizophrenia.

Q. What is the origin of the business?

A. The Vitals app was developed by co-founders (Steve Mase, Nick Tietz, G.L. Hoffman, Jim Dolan and Rob Zink) in partnership with the Autism Society of Minnesota. We made this business because we were motivated to “give back” after learning about how vulnerable populations are at risk in their communities. Our idea was to give first responders crucial information at critical times, so tragedies can be avoided.

Q. What problems does your business solve?

A. The Vitals app will keep people safe by helping them communicate critical information in real time to police and first responders.

This is a new product offering in a new marketplace that hasn’t been served well. We are solving a major pain point for municipalities, individuals and first responders across the United States and beyond. The Vitals services works across any geographic boundary and is technology agnostic. Our product has been designed to improve existing police workflows, while closing the information gap that exists today between police and individuals in the community.

The more individuals and families that have the Vitals App the faster we can create safer communities across the U.S.

Q. What big obstacle or hurdle did you have to overcome?

A. Our biggest obstacle has been raising money to build this business. We worked on the business for a year before launching it publicly. We have self-funded this business and raised about a million dollars to build the technology and get this business off the ground. We are finally into our first equity round and are seeking additional investors to help us expand faster and move into additional communities across the U.S.

Q. What are you most proud of?

A. Getting calls from caregivers, parents and individuals thanking us for making a product that has saved their lives. When you build a product, you hope that people love it. But when you get to build a product that saves people’s lives, I’m still humbled that we can impact people’s lives in such a positive way.

 

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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

Continue Reading

Moving from Networking to Positive Mentorship Relationships that Last

Have you ever been faced with a difficult decision in your career and you desperately needed advice, but did not know who to call? Nine years ago, I began to understand the connection between networking, mentorship, and my personal board of advisors. When faced with difficult career decisions, I now rely upon my mentorship relationships that have grown into my personal board of advisors.

I first learned about a personal board of advisors while in law school. This board consists of people you trust and can turn to throughout your life when faced with difficult decisions or questions. Before I could begin building this board, I had to have the relationships in place to create it.

When I moved to Minnesota, I did not know anyone. Truthfully, I did not know where to begin in terms of creating a network. I happened to attend an event where a woman was introduced as “the most networked woman in Minnesota”. I figured if anyone could help me, this woman could.

During my first meeting with this woman she changed the way I thought about networking and mentorship. She also introduced the concept of a personal board of advisors. She taught me three lessons that I have not forgotten.

First, I needed to change the way I was thinking about networking. As a young professional, I was thinking about networking as a one-way street for me to connect with someone who could teach me something. I needed to recognize that I had something to offer as well. She told me to never leave a coffee meeting without asking, “How may I support you and your work?”

Second, whether networking or building a mentorship relationship, the foundation is relationship building. Relationship building requires a time investment. Invest the time in getting to know your new connections and what is important to them in their work. If a professional event comes up that may interest them, extend an invitation to attend together. Again, the key is not to think of this as one sided.

Third, for relationships that are thriving, consider adding those people to your personal board of advisors. I had to learn that an advisor does not need to be someone further along in their career or older. Someone starting out or younger may also serve as an advisor. What is most important is that your advisors are those you trust to be honest with you and that they can provide you with different perspectives.

I am so grateful for the people who took the time to meet with me for coffee and eventually become mentors and advisors. As a result of what I have learned through these relationships, I try to do the same for others looking to connect. You never know, your next mentee may be your next advisor.


You can read more about Tisidra Jones on her
website. She will also be moderating the panel for our event Taking the Lead: Lifting Up the Next Generation: Mentorship in the 21st Century. You can RSVP here for the event.

 

 

Continue Reading

Startup Showcase: Weaving Together a Company’s Culture and Mission

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 Rosalynn Verges. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on September 22, 2018. 

In the 2018 Forbes article “15 Best Ways to Build a Company Culture That Thrives,” John M. O’Connor from Career Pro Inc. states: “If your leaders don’t buy into cultural change and healthy cultural environments, don’t expect your employees or stakeholders to follow suit.” In a 2015 report by TruPath, turnover at companies with a poor culture is 48 percent while in contrast turnover at companies with a great culture is 14 percent.

All of this goes to show that having a company with a mission to “create great places to work” is truly necessary. That is exactly what Rosalynn Verges is set out to do with Fabric. She believes culture begins with a clearly defined message and great leaders who embody them. And with today’s unemployment levels and the “war on talent,” organizations need to be focused on their culture to attract and retain top talent.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Fabric
Website: www.befabric.com
Twitter: @befabric.com
Business Start Date: Oct. 13, 2017
Number of Employees: 3
Number of Customers: 20

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Rosalynn Verges
Age: 33
City you live in: Blaine
City of birth: St. Paul
College attended: University of Minnesota, Morris; University of South Dakota (post-graduate)

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A.  I grew up on the Eastside of St. Paul (go Knights!) and then did my undergrad at the University of Minnesota, Morris. After graduating from Morris, I moved to Sioux Falls, S.D., where I earned my Professional in Human Resources (PHR) Certification and studied organizational development, business operations and lean manufacturing through the University of South Dakota’s MBA program. I was fortunate early in my career to often have a seat at the table when it came to learning about how organizations functioned and understanding business operations. As a result, I am a process-focused person who loves figuring out the actions needed to reach a goal or produce a desired outcome. Which is probably why organizational development and leadership coaching became a logical progression for my career.

Q. What is your business?
A. At Fabric, we help businesses define who they are, what they do and how they do it. And we give them the tools to actually LIVE IT. Through developing their culture messages (their mission, vision, values and strategies) and coaching leaders on how to communicate and embody those messages, we help them gain organizational alignment. We provide workshops designed to define the most important yet often obscure areas of your business. We can help create the culture your employees deserve.  Everything we do at Fabric is centered on our vision which is to “create great places to work.” So all of our services are centered on creating healthy successful organizational culture.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. I’ve always wanted to own my own business and after 10 years in HR helping people create great places to work I knew that was where I wanted to focus my attention. Given my background in organizational and leadership development, creating Fabric was a natural fit.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. I think all organizations want to have great cultures they just often don’t know HOW to make that happen. Fabric takes the guess work out of that. We help organizations live up to their culture messages and create great places to work.

Q. Where did you pivot in your company’s journey?
A. One of the biggest pivots we made was not doing it all at once. We have a lot of vision for what Fabric can be and how we can create a community to support organizational leaders, but we decided — rather than trying to do it all at once — to start with the services we see as most valuable to leaders.

Q. What is your biggest obstacle?
A. Right now our biggest obstacle is exposure. Developing a presence can be a challenge. We know there are a lot of organizations out there who would benefit from our services, but it can be difficult to know how to reach them. We’ve found the most success by focusing on organizations that are already aligned with and understand our vision of creating great places to work…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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

Continue Reading

Startup Showcase: Food for Thought in Helping the State’s Business Growth

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 Lauren Mehler Pradhan. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on September 8, 2018. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, “Minnesota leads the nation in food patents per capita and has long been on the forefront of research and innovation in agriculture, food production and food safety.” In addition, Minnesota ranks among the top 10 in more than 20 agricultural products and is home to some of the nation’s largest agricultural and food production companies.

To accelerate this growth and build an interconnected ecosystem of support, The Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Business established “Grow North.” Since launching in January of 2017 the organization has already made its mark in the community and with Lauren Mehler Pradhan at the helm, sharing stories of success and lending support, the ongoing growth in the North is inevitable.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Grow North
Website: www.grownorthmn.com
Twitter: @grownorthmn
Business start date: January 2017
Number of employees: Me and two amazing interns
Number of customers: Sometimes too many to count.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Lauren Mehler Pradhan
Age: 36
City you live in: Hopkins
City of birth: New Brunswick, N.J.
High school attended: South Brunswick High School
College attended: Rutgers College

Q&A

Q. Who are you and what is your history?
A. I am the founding managing director for Grow North, a mom, a lover of food and deep believer in the impact that entrepreneurs and innovators can have on our food system. While I am originally from New Jersey, I am very proud to call Minnesota home for the last 14 years.

Q. What is your business?
A. Grow North is an initiative of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Business focused on accelerating Minnesota’s ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation in food and agriculture. We offer education, mentorship, and networking programming as well as create large events like Food, Ag, Ideas Week Oct 8-12.

Q. What is the genesis of the business?
A. Grow North was inspired by a cross-section of the community coming together through the MN Cup, a venture competition out of the Carlson School, and their Food, Ag, Beverage division. The division quickly became the fastest growing division in the Cup. Community leaders started asking how they could extend support and connectivity to the community throughout the year, and so the idea of Grow North as an ecosystem builder, resource hub and connector came to life.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. We believe that startup businesses will grow and scale faster and smarter if they are a part of an interconnected, supportive, sophisticated ecosystem. To make this happen, we focus on solving the problem of connectivity — to resources, individuals and organizations. If we can help entrepreneurs and organizations get the right connection at the right time, they will spend more time growing their business — fewer clicks, fewer coffees, more growth. We also want Minnesota’s community to be connected and visible across the globe, and so I spend time connecting with leaders in other cities to drive awareness and bring best practices back.

Q. What personal strengths or skill sets do you bring to the business?
A. Minnesota has so much here to be proud of, but for some reason we do not like to talk about it. I bring a little bit of east coast straight forwardness to my work and so I happily share stories about the remarkable individuals and companies that are here to anyone who will listen. I spent 12 years at General Mills before Grow North, so I bring industry experience, connectivity and an appreciation for the complexities of our food system.

Q. Where do you go when you need help?
A. I feel very fortunate that I have found mentors in the community who have acted as sounding boards, advisers, as well as shoulders to cry on. I meet with two entrepreneurs a week not only to provide support but also to keep me honest that Grow North programming remains relevant. My interns and colleagues at the Holmes Center are great and we brainstorm ideas all of the time….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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

Continue Reading

Startup Showcase: Busy Baby Mat Keeps Babies Busy So You Can Eat

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 Beth Fynbo. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on August 26, 2018. 

According to Reuters Top Trends in Baby and Child Care Market 2018 parents are constantly on the lookout for more convenient ways to make baby and child care easier. Grand View Research states that the global baby product market is expected to reach $121 billion by 2025. Not a bad business to jump into when you have an idea. This is exactly what Beth Fynbo did when she realized there was something missing from her baby equipment. With tenacity and resourcefulness, she has taken her idea into action. Beth’s new invention busies babies while putting restaurants and mommies at rest.

 COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Busy Baby LLC
Website: busybabymat.com
Business Start Date: Established the LLC in July 2017. Currently still working on product development and building the business. Hoping to have first sales in December 2018.
Number of Employees:  1
Number of Customers: No customers, yet.

PROFILE

Name: Beth Fynbo
Age: 41
City you live in: Oronoco, Minn.
College attended: Bachelor program for Business Management at MSU-Mankato after the Army and then earned a Master of Business with a concentration in Project Management from Colorado Technical University.

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A.  I was born and raised the daughter of an entrepreneur in Albert Lea, Minn. I started college at Minnesota State University, Mankato before joining the United States Army for a 10-year adventure around the world. I eventually returned to Mankato and completed my undergrad in Business Management. I then went on to complete a Master’s degree program in Business Management with a concentration in Project Management. I’ve been excelling in corporate work for the past 7 years, but have always felt a calling toward entrepreneurship.

Q. What is your business?
A. For parents of 6 to 16-month-old babies who like to eat out, but don’t like the stress of keeping the baby entertained, the Busy Baby Mat is here for you. The Busy Baby Mat’s tether system allows caregivers to attach a baby’s items to the mat, and regardless of an accidental drop or toss, they will stay within arm’s reach. The Busy Baby Mat also keeps baby protected from surface germs and has a place to put their food. What makes Busy Baby better are the suction cups under the mat that keep it in place and the tethers that keep toys or pacifiers within reach. As a bonus, the first accessories to the Busy Baby Mat, salt and pepper teething toys, come with the restaurant set. It all rolls up into a convenient carrying case that fits in most diaper bags and purses.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I was extremely fortunate to discover Bunker Labs, an organization that helps veteran entrepreneurs on their journeys. Through their launch lab program, a 12-week entrepreneurship course, I was able to learn how to start a business and was able to quickly develop a network of mentors to help me along the way.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A.  The idea came to me as I ate lunch with a few girlfriends and their young children. The babies were constantly reaching for things they couldn’t have, and then when the moms would give them something to play with, they would just throw it on the floor. It was so distracting! That night, I scoured the internet for something to buy that I could take with me to restaurants once my son was old enough to sit up in the high chair. When I couldn’t find something that would work, I started making it on my own from things around the house. My best friend had a baby the week after me, so I made one for her too. Another friend saw it in action and asked for one as well.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. Busy Baby takes some of the stress out of taking an infant or toddler out to eat. The main problem our product solves is keeping baby busy at the restaurant. It keeps all the toys within reach and everything free from germs, and as an added bonus, the silicone deadens the sound of banging….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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

Continue Reading

Startup Showcase: A Wearable Affirmation of the Energy Within

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 Jessica Hoch. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on August 11, 2018. 

Not all startups come from the tech, health care or agriculture, some are more alternative in nature and mind.

According to Fast Company from 2017, there has been a 40 percent increase in Google searches for “crystal healing” and nearly a dozen new crystal retail outlets have opened up in New York and Los Angeles in the past year. In addition the Global Wellness Institute states that the wellness industry made $3.7 trillion in 2015.

Jessica Hoch may not have seen this industry boom coming but instead felt a perfect connection between her love of yoga and her degree in Apparel Design. What originally started as gifts for friends and family turned into her company Moxie Malas, dedicated to self-love, personal power and peace.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Jessica Hoch
Age: 34
City you live in: Circle Pines
City of birth: Shoreview
College attended: UW Stout

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Moxie Malas
Website: www.moxiemalas.com
Business Start Date: July 13, 2015
Number of Employees: 1
Number of customers: 3,000 individuals / 42 retail partners

 

Q&A

Q. What is your history/Who are you?

A. My name is Jessica Hoch and I am the owner and creator of Moxie Malas. I have been a yoga teacher for over nine years and have a degree in Apparel Design; Moxie Malas was the perfect love child of the two worlds. What originally started out as gifts for my family and friends has blossomed into a collection of meaningful jewelry for the people who want what they wear to be intentional and a reflection of their personal journey.

I originally started making Malas because of my love for the energy and power behind the stones and crystals and what it does for the person wearing it. It brings me so much joy to create something for someone who is going to feel wonderful wearing it. Then to have them inspired to meditate because of it is an added bonus.

The jewelry combined with the energy of stones and crystals is the perfect vehicle for the message of self-love, personal power and peace within. We are all on a journey and need to be reminded of how supported and connected we all really are.

Q. What is your business?

A. Moxie Malas is Crystal Healing and Aromatherapy Jewelry inspired by the best version of you and created as a reminder that it already exists within. We also produce workshops and seminars on what it means to live “Peacefully Untamed.”

Q. What is the origin of the business?

A. I was looking for a way to share the message of personal empowerment in a way that made it accessible and approachable for people. I wanted to create something that would help to remind people of their own awesomeness each day.

Q. What problems does your business solve?

A. My business helps people to see the best in themselves and serves as a daily reminder. It helps keep people focusing on the positive in their lives and reminds them of how loved and supported they are on their journey.

Q. Where did you pivot in your company’s journey?

A. One of the biggest pivots we made as a company was figuring out production of the jewelry here locally. It has allowed us to grow and scale the business on the wholesale side of things.

Q. What personal strengths or skill sets do you bring to the business?

A. I bring a broader vision for the future of the company, helping it to keep moving forward. My heart and soul goes into the message of Moxie Malas, so I would say I also bring passion.

Q. What are you most proud of?

A. I am most proud of creating a product that has touched so many people on a deeper level. The idea that the message of the jewelry has helped someone in this journey of life is humbling and an honor to be a part of….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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

Continue Reading

Startup Showcase: Her Just Desserts Are Just That

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 Junita Flowers. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on July 28, 2018. 

There is a new trend in the way businesses are operating and interacting with their customers.  According to a recent study by Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends, “Organizations are no longer judged only for their financial performance, or even the quality of their products or services. Rather, they are being evaluated on the basis of their impact on society at large –transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises.”

Social enterprises, according to Social Enterprise Alliance, are, “Organizations that address a basic unmet need or solve a social problem through a market-driven approach.”

Junita Flowers and her company Junita’s Jar is doing exactly that. As a social entrepreneur she is working to solve a critical problem and build a sustainable business one delicious crumb at a time. With her amazing cookies made with love she is destined to improve people’s lives.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Junita Flowers
Age: 45
City you live in: Brooklyn Park
City of birth: St. Paul
College attended: University of Minnesota

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Junita’s Jar
Website: junitasjar.com
Twitter: @JunitaLFlowers
Business Start Date: June 2018
Number of Employees: 2

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I grew up in a very large immediate and extended family, so we spent a lot of time in the kitchen making food for a lot of people. Some of my best childhood memories stem from random conversations shared while prepping food and washing dishes. From birthday treats to holiday desserts, all of the cakes, cookies and pies were made from scratch by my mother and grandmother. After college and settling into my career within the nonprofit sector, I finally had some free time to recreate the recipes from my childhood. After a brief dessert Q&A conversation with my grandmother, I realized none of my favorite recipes were written down. With a goal of baking for myself, I began visiting with my grandmother, watching her re-create my favorite desserts while I recorded the ingredients and measurements. Many years later, I began baking just for fun, to celebrate special occasions with friends. This eventually led to the beginning of my cookie company.

Q. What is your business?
A. Founded upon my favorite childhood recipes and inspired by my personal path of overcoming domestic violence, Junita’s Jar is a mission-driven cookie company producing deliciously wholesome, ready-to-bake cookie dough and grab ’n’ go mini-cookie snack packs. Junita’s Jar is dedicated to making the taste of homemade cookies easy, accessible and super convenient for every day snack time options. We are more than a cookie company. We are on a mission to create a hope-fueled movement with every cookie purchase. We want to see people live well in well-loved moments. To encourage them to exceed expectations, time and time again. To empower a world without abuse. For those reasons, a portion of Junita’s Jar profits is donated to support education and awareness initiatives dedicated to ending relationship violence.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. The Twin Cities is filled with so many opportunities to nurture, support and encourage entrepreneurs at every level along the business journey. In addition to the continuous support from my family and friends, I have received support and training from a handful of various service organizations, corporations, nonprofit organizations and networking groups.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. In 2006, I started my first cookie company, Favorable Treats, at a local farmer’s market and a few pop-up shops. I operated Favorable Treats for 12 years, however, I had to stop and restart my business on three separate occasions due to a toxic and abusive relationship. Each time that I restarted Favorable Treats, I would experience a little more growth than the previous time, but it was a painfully difficult process….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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

Continue Reading

Startup Showcase: They Left Corporate America to Carve Their Niche

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 presenters Garrett Faust and Harrison Blankenship. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on July 14, 2018. 

In a world where trade wars are taking focus artisans can offer a unique view of successful localized manufacturing. According to Brookings Institute’s 2017 report “Five ways the Maker Movement can help catalyze a manufacturing renaissance,” artisans may catapult the next “industrial revival:” “By embracing the do-it-yourself ethos of the maker movement, communities across the country can renew a sense of local community and help rebuild American manufacturing from the ground up.”

Garrett Faust and Harrison Blankenship of Uptown Woodworks are a perfect example of that very ideal. After discovering their need for personal creativity, they made a successful departure from corporate America to create customized wood art with a local flare. Their fusion of talent, skill and curiosity define the future of the “maker-nation” and is truly an example of entrepreneurial success.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Names: Garrett Faust, Harrison Blankenship
Ages: Garrett: 27; Harrison: 27
City you live in: Garrett: St. Louis Park; Harrison: Minneapolis (North Loop)
College attended: Garrett: University of St. Thomas; Harrison: Gustavus Adolphus College

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Uptown Woodworks
Website: www.uptownwoodworks.com
Instagram: @uptown.woodworks
Business Start Date: March 4, 2016
Number of Employees: 2
Number of Customers: as of June 4: 738

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?

A. Garrett: I spent most of my childhood playing sports and doing things outdoors. I was always curious about how things were built and worked, which is probably what led me to get an engineering degree from the University of St. Thomas. During my senior year at St. Thomas, I took some entrepreneurial electives and fell in love with it. Once I graduated, I felt compelled to at least give engineering a shot since I had just spent four years earning the degree. It was when I was working for Rockwell Automation in 2015-16 that I felt the need for a creative outlet, which led me to find Nordeast Makers, the maker space that is now home to Uptown Woodworks.

Harrison: I grew up in the Lake Minnetonka area and have always been obsessed with lake life and the outdoors. My father was what I like to call a renaissance man. He was an entrepreneur, pro race car driver, private pilot, lifelong maker, hunter, world traveler, etc. He and my mother really inspired me to have a lot of interests growing up, some of which include DIY projects, being outdoors, playing the drums and a lot of drawing/designing. For the last five years, I have been doing paid social strategy and more recently doing the strategy for major brands. Once I saw what Garrett was working on, that creative side of me re-awakened. My marketing and social media experience complimented Garrett’s expertise perfectly. Two years later, we’re still having fun.

Q. What is your business?
A. Uptown Woodworks creates custom and personalized wooden wall art for both consumers and businesses. We take requests for custom wooden wall art and work with customers to design their vision. After a proof is finalized, we create the wooden wall art out of our shop in Northeast Minneapolis using laser cutters, a CNC router, as well as other typical woodworking equipment.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. Over the past couple years we have developed a network of individuals and local businesses we can reach out to when we need advice. We think the most important thing is to get involved in the community. Attending events like 1 Million Cups, and other Meetups around town are a great way to make connections. It’s amazing how this small business community wants to help one another by sharing knowledge, resources, connections and opportunities.

Q. What is the origin of the business?

A. Around Christmas 2015, Garrett was looking for creative outlets outside of his day job and found Nordeast Makers in Northeast Minneapolis. With just a monthly fee, the maker’s space gave him access to heavy duty equipment including laser cutter/engravers, CNC routers, 3D printers, and other tools. With a mechanical engineering background, Garrett quickly learned how to use the equipment. Around the same time, he and Harrison moved into a new apartment in Uptown.  One of the first things Garrett created at the maker space was a four-foot Minneapolis skyline. When he brought it home, Harrison was blown away by it. This was a light bulb moment. Harrison immediately wanted to get involved in what Garrett had found/started. They saw the State Hockey Tournament was approaching so they impulsively purchased a booth and created different variations of two hockey/tournament related designs. As they created pieces and shared them on their social channels, people began to take interest and ask for custom pieces for themselves. This started to snowball and has since turned into a sustainable business….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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

Continue Reading

Startup Showcase: Entrepreneur Meets Restaurateur with New App

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 Taranvir Johal. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on June 30, 2018. 

Talent defies age when it comes to entrepreneurship and 18 year old Taranvir Johal is proof of that. He already owns one company and has developed an app for another. With his eye on the game and his passion clear, Johal loves to “get his hands dirty.” With his new restaurant app Tavolo, he is jumping on the trend of transforming the restaurant experience.

In its first restaurant industry trends report, Skift Megatrends 2018, Skift Table says “restaurants are also looking to new technology to both enhance and — in some cases — define the in-restaurant dining experience … Touch-screen ordering, cashless transactions, and more personalization can make the experience more exciting for a guest.”

Johal has certainly taken a seat at the table and looked ahead at what restaurants need to be successful and his app Tovolo may just be the answer to fight the delivery boom.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Taranvir Johal
Age: 18
City of Birth: Queens, N.Y.
City you live in: Fargo, N.D.
High School Attended: Oak Grove Lutheran High School
College attended: University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Tavolo
Website: Tavoloapp.co
Twitter: @tavolo_app
Business Start Date: March 25, 2018
Number of Employees: 4

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I am an 18-year-old aspiring entrepreneur that loves to get his hands dirty. I am from Fargo, N.D., and fell in love with entrepreneurship while I was in high school. During my sophomore year, I attended the Yale Young Global Scholars program and met numerous individuals who were pursuing their passions. They inspired me to learn more about what I wanted to do with my life. During my senior year, I participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and launched my first company, Protein+. I just completed my freshman year at the Carlson School of Management and am extremely excited to see what the future has in store.

Q. What is your business?
A. Tavolo is an application that allows users to reserve a table, order, and pay at restaurants through their mobile devices. Moreover, Tavolo provides data to restaurants regarding how specific customers tip, server ratings and reviews, turn time per table, customer preferences, and customer profiles.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. We have created an advisory board with individuals who are more experienced and have more business knowledge than us. We selected these people over the course of two months and tried to incorporate individuals who we believed could help propel our company forward.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Our company started during TechStars Startup Weekend. Abdi Hassan, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, pitched the idea to us and (we) loved it. We ended up winning 2nd place at the event and began meeting with numerous entrepreneurs around Minneapolis who loved our idea as well. This eventually led us to speak at 1 Million Cups Saint Paul.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. Our business minimizes the time wasted while dining out at restaurants. Tavolo gives users full control of their dining experience. With the click of a button a consumer can order their food, request for a waiter, and even pay for their meal.

Q. Where did you pivot in your company’s journey? What big obstacle or hurdle did you have to overcome?
A. We initially wanted to be an application that allows users to order and pay for their meals prior to arriving to the restaurant. We eventually realized that consumers enjoy adding more items to their meal while they are dining. We decided to pivot and allow users to pay for their meals once they we done dining. We also learned that consumers dislike waiting for their server to come to their table. Therefore, we pivoted by creating a feature on the app that allows users to call their waiter simply by tapping their phone screen….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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

Continue Reading

Startup Showcase: Job Matchmakers

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 presenters Nathan and Alex Guggenberger. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on June 17, 2018.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.8 million jobs are projected to be created by 2024 and, according to employee-screening services company EBI, 75 percent of that workforce will be made up of millennials.

Alex and Nathan Guggenberger have been a part of those job seeking statistics and ultimately decided to help themselves by helping others find the best fit. With 42 percent of people searching through job boards but only 14.9 percent of hires happening from those boards, Alex and Nathan thought they saw an opportunity to make job searching more efficient, holistic and ultimately give back to companies with a higher retention rate. Thus the birth of Jobiki — helping job seekers explore, discover and find meaningful work.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Nathan and Alex Guggenberger
City you live in: Minnetonka
City of Birth: Minnetonka
High School Attended: Hopkins High School
College attended: Augustana University

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Jobiki
Website: www.jobiki.com|
witter: @jobikiHQ
Business Start Date: Sept. 2, 2017
Number of Employees: 2
Number of Customers: 12

Q. What led to this point?

A. Nathan and Alex grew up together. Why? Because we are siblings. I guess you could say we have always worked together. We actually “tried” to start a business when we were in elementary school. It was called “A.B.C. Gum.” We wanted to make a brand new gum that looked like it had already been chewed. We closed up shop after the R&D (research and development) phase because the gum came out rock hard. In all seriousness though, we have always been a duo that bounced ideas off each other. With me (Alex) having a degree in business and accounting, and Nathan having a background in software development, it just made sense.

Q. What is your business?

A. We help people find meaningful work by finding a meaningful workplace. For many, including ourselves, nothing is more daunting then searching for employment. You often don’t know where to start or even what opportunities are out there. The solution for many is to apply to as many jobs as possible, hoping that they will eventually hear back from someone.

At Jobiki, we do things a little bit differently. The Jobiki job search starts with finding the right company. Our platform allows job seekers to explore company cultures through photos, videos, benefits, amenities, and neighborhood data of companies near them. Using the Jobiki filters, job seekers can discover the perfect company that fits with their lifestyle and personal brand. With Jobiki we allow you to signal interest in a company with a simple click of a button. After explaining why you want to work for that company, Jobiki will send your information and résumé to our contact with that company.  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 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org

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 and More!

X