Aleckson Nyamwaya has his beat on the pulse of the startup world in MN. He is an Associate @gener8tor, a Dreamchaser @powermovesdev and a lover of all things Tech & Startups. We are pleased to have his monthly insight on Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know. Check back each month for his thoughts, observations and featured companies.
The Rise of Venture Capital in MN
And what this means for the startup community
It goes without saying, the Twin Cities startup ecosystem is less than mediocre. The good news is, there are many worthwhile initiatives underway to help change that. One of those efforts is venture capital. In late 2016 & early 2017, Minnesotans saw an increase of venture capital activity.
What this means for the local ecosystem
MEETINGS, MEETINGS, MEETINGS. The hype will inevitably lead the community to play a game called “Startup”. Suddenly everyone becomes an entrepreneur with an “Uber for X”. This will be a result of 2 things.
- The new VCs are first-timers, They are too excited about their new found “Gatekeeper” role which will lead them to make mistakes as they adjust.
- Instead of tackling challenging problems, The Twin Cities eco-system will abuse & misuse these funds on stupid ideas that don’t deserve funding.
In this day and age, VCs are expected to have a moral responsibility. Give back to the community in which you serve. The most valuable way to achieve this is through inspiring, mentoring and cultivating the generation of leaders. Perhaps through initiatives put in place by community leaders to develop the strong founders. Such as, mentorship, free mini accelerators, high school/college involvement, EIR programs etc.
My prediction is that half of these firms will fail, crashing and burning to the ground. Only time can tell, specifically the next 3–5 years. It’s important to note that, Minnesota’s early stage venture capital market is still in it’s infancy. Relative to older markets, such as silicon valley. Where firms like KPCB have reigned supreme before the 90’s to this day.
This is our golden age of entrepreneurs-turned-VCs. I am excited to see where this journey leads us.
Bunker labs: A national NOT-FOR-PROFIT 501(C)(3) organization built by military veteran entrepreneur to empower other military veterans as leaders in innovation.
Guest writer: Aleckson Nyamwaya
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With some recent archival projects on our plate an article from MPR News caught the attention of Lindsey Dyer our Director of Library Services. “File this under nostalgia: New book pays tribute to the library card catalog“ shares information about a new book from the Library of Congress entitled, “The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures.” It celebrates catalogs “as the analog ancestor of the search engine.” Library of Congress author, Peter Deveraux, states that “There’s tens of millions of cards here. It’s a city block long.” This was a very timely article considering some of the historic catalog items we recently found here at the James J. Hill Center. Lindsey recently took some time to dig up and share a few iconic treats from the vault.
Lindsey: Card catalogs are indeed “cabinets of curiosities” as are the ways we have kept track of information over time. Librarians worked tirelessly to create calm in the chaos of information, cutting and pasting any relevant facts and tid-bits. Take these snapshots in time from the 1980s – gems of nostalgia for Gen Xers and older millennials. What research paper would be complete without the help of the card catalog?
At the Hill, business librarians had a special task of identifying and capturing industry trends – like how Nike is taking over the sneaker industry, or the rise in fax machine sales. While the methods have certainly changed (we aren’t cutting out and taping facts to cards, though I have to admit that sounds cathartic), we still aim to find the best industry information there is, combing databases (paid and free), and translating that information.
We have been, and always will be, an entrepreneur’s best resource!
Visit the James J. Hill Center and it’s reference library Monday through Thursday 10AM to 5PM and check out all of the current resources. Also, ask one of our business librarians for some assistance with a database and see what gems of knowledge you can find to build you business success.
Lindsey Dyer is the new Director of Library Services at the James J. Hill Center, and comes with experience from both public and academic libraries, as well as Target, Corp. and the Minnesota Historical Society. Lindsey lives in St. Paul with her husband and is the mom of three kids. We took a few minutes to chat with her about her new position at the Hill. Come in and join us at the Hill next week during National Library Week to meet Lindsey and her team and participate in free programming.
How did your journey with the James J. Hill Center begin?
The Hill Center inspired me to pursue a career in libraries back in 2005, when I worked here as a volunteer. It is easy to see why – the building draws you in and speaks for itself. Though I had since moved on to new professional opportunities, I maintained an admiration for the mission and staff – particularly the Hill Papers Archivist, Eileen McCormack, whose job I aspired to at the time. I am honored to be back!
What do you want people to know about you?
I am very interested in how library services fit into the broader user experience landscape when it comes to looking for and using information. Libraries have an important task, especially now, to be conduits for authentic and unbiased information that we use every day in business decisions. I think we’ve lost sight of why this is important to talk about. At the Hill Center, we have a unique opportunity to narrow that down to information that entrepreneurs in particular need to get to the next step in their business planning. It’s exciting and inspiring when our information becomes the turning point for a startup.
What has made the biggest impact on your career so far?
Working for both Target and the Minnesota Historical Society gave me a unique perspective on service and management. I like to think that I took the best from both worlds, specifically non-traditional approaches to what accessibility looks like, and have been working to implement some of these things at the Hill Center.
What has been the largest hurdle and success you have experienced in your career?
I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some talented entrepreneurs, and have had some real conversations about what they need to be successful. I am working towards the hurdle of transforming reference services at the Hill Center to best fit those needs. I want the library to not only give entrepreneurs information – I want us to be the difference between success and failure.
What is it about Minnesota and more specifically Saint Paul that keeps you here?St. Paul – or “Small Paul” – has been my home for 13 years, and it’s the ultimate charmer. I am especially drawn to historic homes, and in fact used to be the Site Manager of the James J. Hill House – the historic house museum to rival them all. This city has a rich history, and it shows.
The Hills’ 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.
Blue Prints to Business Plans…
September at the Hill was buzzing with visitors from students to entrepreneurs researching blue prints to business plans. It is a prefect example of the vast amount of resources our Reference Specialists have at their fingertips.
Here are some examples of who, what and why people visited us!
- Over 110 researchers welcomed in September.
- Most researchers were from Minnesota, and a few traveled from Wisconsin.
- Several researchers this month came to use our resources to help them develop their business plans.
- The majority of our visitors in September self-identify as entrepreneurs.
- A student from the U of M studying architecture viewed historic building blueprints for a course project.
- One researcher explored sales data and patent information related to exercise equipment.
- We often welcome job seekers, but had one unique researcher this month, who works to support individuals with severe mental illness and conducted job searches on behalf of those individuals to locate potential workplaces near their homes to accommodate transportation limitations.
We look forward to seeing you at the Hill. Contact a Reference Specialist today!
“Great things never come from comfort zones”
Next week is Twin Cities Startup Week a celebration of the “startup capital of the north,” Minnesota. A great time to recognize innovation, creative thinking and economic empowerment. After reviewing some of the startups that have presented at 1 Million Cups St. Paul (every Wednesday 9AM at the Hill) we were impressed by the variety of individuals who made up these organizations, and the creative implementation of each idea.
We started to wonder what characteristic these entrepreneurs possess…these ground breakers, these innovators. We were surprised to find it was not the usual traits that often define a successful business person (i.e. professional, competitive, ambitious). The traits instead were holistic, passionate and creative – not typically the words used in day-to-day corporate environments.
Entrepreneurs are described as the artists of business, the breakers of the mold and the dreamers of our time. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages and races. Their services and products vary from small to large, specific to broad, for niche groups or the entire world. They are for profit and not for profit (some profitable, some just surviving). But all of them have one thing in common. They all start as a dream.
These risk takers go beyond their comfort zone and strive to create a new world. They are the inspiration behind new ideas and revolutions that shape our daily decisions and define our economic future.
After reading about these innovators of change, we wanted to thank them for their willingness to jump, to believe in an idea, to keep an open mind, flexible heart, a passionate belief AND the confidence to persevere when it doesn’t work the first time. We all can learn from them. We all can be a little more entrepreneurial every day.
“If it is still in your mind, it is worth taking the risk”
– Paulo Coelho, lyricist & Novelist-
You can imagine the vast array of questions a resource library gets asked in one day. In my brief time sitting at the JJ Hill Centers front desk on a Wednesday afternoon I was asked, “Can I look up every address I ever lived at?” and “Do you have a book that would show me where to find all the award emblems that can be given to student in school?” Our reference librarians can almost always find an answer and if not, they can point you in the right direction. We are a business reference library and we cover every business imaginable, which leaves us with a vast database of facts and details that people quickly discover can connect them to more information than they may have thought.
But, is there ever a question that is too off the chart to answer? In short, no. In December 2014 the Gothamist reported on a discovery found at the New York City Library. A reference librarian was cleaning house and found a large box of old reference questions from the 1940s and 50s. Questions varied from “What is a life span of an eyelash?” to “What percentage of bathtubs in the world are in the US?” to “Where can I rent a beagle for hunting?” Amazingly enough the system back then was the same as today and a reference librarian called them back with an answer. There were of course question where answers could not be found, but the fact that people asked gives a wonderful nod to the trusted resource a reference library held then and still does today.
Here at the Hill we believe there are no stupid questions. So, if you can’t find it when you search online and you want to dig deeper, contact us. As the esteemed and highly respected Carl Sagan once said “There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every questions is a cry to understand the world.” Come learn with us!
The first patent filed under the name “Google, Inc.,” was on August 31, 1999 – 17 years ago. It was initially started as a research project for “watermarking systems and methodology for digital multimedia content.” It has since become the primary tool for all things people question, wonder and need to know, BUT what did we do before Google and is there a human need to reconnect, be certain and have a trusted “human “source?
The James J. Hill Center is considered the oldest free reference library in the nation and still holds some of the most relevant business research in the country. Reference desks did not become a service until the late 1800’s. The Boston Public Library in 1883 was the first library to hire librarians whose primary purpose was reference and research. Over this century reference services grew to be a trusted direct personal assistant to readers seeking information. The invention of the computer, web and Google has drastically shifted that perspective but not eliminated it. As more time is spent in front of our computers and listening to automated voicemail there has been another shift.
A recent article on the New York Public Library (NYPL) proves reference desks are still a vital and growing way to find out anything from the odd and mysterious to the most challenging. The NYPL receives 300 inquiries per day and one of the number one comments is “Thank God I’ve reached a human being.” At the Hill though the numbers are smaller, the reaction is the same. Business researchers have access to databases and materials that are not easily accessible. This is not to say that reference librarians do not use the web to search for answers but they are experts at sifting through content, picking what is relevant and getting a trusted response, backed up with facts and put in one place.
So the next time you jump on Google and type in “Business Plan Templates” – why not consider coming to the Hill to ask an expert or research some of the most successful businessmen in history figured out. Reference libraries hold the backbone to our past and are the seed for our future.
By Leah Kodner, Business Reference Librarian
Are you looking for a new job or even thinking about switching careers entirely? At the James J. Hill Center, our librarians help people every day with the job search and career exploration process. We have a number of databases that can help you make the transition much easier and help you find your next job sooner.
Selecting an Industry
If you’re thinking of switching careers, you’ll want to do a little research first. You want to make sure that, whatever industry you choose to work in, there are going to be job opportunities. Looking up potential industries in our IBISWorld database is a good place to start. IBIS can tell you about the industry’s performance over the past few years and can give you its outlook for the coming years.
Another source for industry research is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal. The Business Journal publishes articles about industries every week. After learning about the state of your industry across the entire country in IBISWorld, you can use the Business Journal to learn how the industry is performing locally.
The “Current Performance” section of IBISWorld’s report on Libraries and Archives in the U.S.
Performing Industry Research
When you’re researching your new industry, there are a few things you’ll want to know. You’ll want to know what products or services the industry provides, what trends it’s been experiencing, and who it serves. IBISWorld, again, is a good place to go for that information.
To learn about all the recent developments within your industry, EBSCO is a useful tool. The EBSCO database is an article conglomerator, gathering articles from industry journals, news sources, and trade publications. It can keep you up to date on all the latest news within your industry.
Finally, you will want to learn what companies operate in your industry. It will be especially important to discover which companies are located near where you live, so you can begin to look for jobs within the industry. Luckily, we have some great sources for finding companies!
EBSCO articles about trends in the library industry
Finding Companies in Your Industry
The best way to find companies in your industry is to use Gale DemographicsNow. Gale allows users to build targeted lists of companies based on either the SIC or NAICS code for your industry. You can search for companies in any area of the country, choosing from states, counties, cities, Zip codes, or even a mileage radius from a specific address. Gale can also help you limit the size of companies you search for, using number of employees or annual revenue. You can narrow your search to companies with minority ownership, search for only company headquarters, and more. Clearly, Gale DemographicsNow is the most comprehensive way to build lists of companies.
Another way to find companies in your industry is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s Book of Lists. The Book of Lists contains “best of” lists that have been published in the Business Journal over the past year. These lists provide the top players in a given industry within the Twin Cities metro area. If you are looking to find a list of the local big players in your industry, this is the place to go.
We have a number of other databases that can find companies in your industry. PrivCo can find large private companies, Guidestar can find nonprofits, and Uniworld can find companies with branches in foreign countries. Between all these sources, you can find all the companies you want in your industry.
Gale DemographicsNow list of libraries in St. Paul
If you are interested in working for a specific company, it’s important to research them in-depth. Good sources for individual company research include EBSCO, Gale DemographicsNow, and PrivCo. EBSCO can give you all the latest news updates about the company. Gale DemographicsNow can tell you its size, year established, the number of branches, and its competitors. If the company is private, PrivCo can provide more information than you’ll find anywhere else. With our databases, you’ll learn all there is to know about the company you’re researching.
Part of PrivCo’s profile of The Library Corporation, a private company in the U.S.
Stop by The Hill today and let our librarians help you with your research! The James J. Hill Center is open Monday-Thursday from 10-5.
By Sehri Strom, Business Reference Librarian
Among our most popular print resources are the RKMA market research handbooks. Available in James J. Hill Center’s reference library, the RKMA series provides an overview of consumer demographics, market research methods, and industry information. Handbooks in the series examine international consumer markets; consumer use of the internet; leisure business; the travel and tourism industry; the restaurant, food and beverage industry; and sports marketing. Here we highlight three handbooks focused on consumer behavior, consumer marketing, and business-to-business marketing.
Need help identifying and describing your target market?
Consumer Behavior 2015-2016 contains information on consumer spending, consumer debt, retail spending, entertainment and leisure spending, consumer use of time, shopping behaviors, and more. Pinpoint and describe your target market using descriptions of consumers segmented by ethnicity, gender, generation, families with children, family caregivers, pet owners, and other characteristics.
Need an introduction to consumer marketing?
Consumer Marketing 2016-2017 provides overviews of marketing spending, market research methods, and market segmentation. Spending figures include the total amount spent by companies on marketing and advertising, spending by specific companies, and spending by advertising scopes, including television, internet, email, cinema, magazines, and radio. In addition to the spending overviews, learn about the use and effectiveness of digital marketing, email marketing, loyalty marketing, and several other types of marketing.
One of the hottest market research methods today is big data. This edition contains an overview of the amount companies spend on big data and the key players in providing analytics software, hardware, and consulting services. It also discusses marketing and advertising executives’ perceptions of big data and its potential applications and challenges.
The market segmentation section profiles consumers with brief descriptions and subcategories based on community, customer personality, household type, lifestyle, generation, socioeconomic status, and more. Examples of subcategories of community-based segmentation are Campus and Careers, Monied ‘Burbs, and Tractor Country.
The appendices contains directories for academic centers, MBA programs, Ph.D marketing programs, marketing analysts, associations, marketing blogs, online resources, periodicals, and market research and strategy services.
New to business-to-business (B2B) marketing?
Business-to-Business Marketing 2016-2017 can help you get started with information on B2B marketing tactics and their effectiveness, B2B spending, trade shows, and B2B advertising information. Create an effective marketing plan to fit your B2B product or service by learning about content marketing, customer relationship management, data-driven marketing, digital marketing, direct marketing, lead generation tactics, lead management, marketing automation, product marketing, and promotional events. Lists of trade shows, convention centers, B2B agencies, business news magazines, and top advertisers are also included.
The RKMA handbooks are a great resource for defining your target market and for learning about consumer marketing and B2B marketing. Visit The Hill and a business librarian will be available to help you find the answers to your market research questions. The James J. Hill Center is open Monday-Thursday, 10 am – 5 pm.
By Leah Kodner, Business Reference Librarian
One of the lesser-known databases at The Hill is the American Hospital Directory. The American Hospital Directory contains over six thousand records for domestic hospitals. Hospital profiles include contact information and statistical information regarding hospital costs, Medicare claims data, and more. It’s a very useful resource for anyone researching hospitals and the healthcare industry. So, how does it work?
Searching for an Individual Hospital
The American Hospital Directory can easily be searched for individual hospitals, using the search box in the upper right-hand corner. Hospital profiles are very complete and accurate and are updated regularly. The profile of the Hennepin County Medical Center, our example hospital from the photograph below, was in fact updated less than a week before this blog was written!
Hospital profiles begin by providing address, telephone number, website, and a map of the hospital’s location. Next, the type of hospital is listed. In the case of the Hennepin County Medical Center, this is listed as short-term acute care. We learn the number of employees, the number of patient discharges, total revenue, and number of Medicare-certified beds. Following this is the executive directory, providing the names of contacts such as the CEO, Director of Nursing, and Chief of Staff.
Next, we are given extensive statistics about the hospital. We learn the number of beds in each unit of the hospital (intensive care unit, nursery, etc.). We learn the revenue of each unit and get information about Medicare and Medicaid use in each unit. We get statistics about the number of discharges, the average length of patient stay, and the average number of patients seen in a day. We also get the total hospital revenue. We get statistics about the number of surgeries, the number of births, and the number of outpatients seen.
Next, we are given a list of all services provided in the various units, services such as sleep studies, spine surgery, kidney transplants, and physical and speech therapy. We are also given a list of accreditations held by the hospital and are told whether or not these accreditations are current. Finally, we learn the teaching status of the hospital. If it is a teaching hospital, we are provided with the total number of residents and interns. Between all of this information, we get a very complete picture of the hospital, its size, its specialties, and its accreditations.
HCMC’s statistics in the American Hospital Directory
The Advanced Search Feature
The American Hospital Directory can also be used to build a list of hospitals that meet certain criteria. Searches can be narrowed by geographic variables including city, state, zip code, or area code. You can search by the type of facility, including children’s hospitals, psychiatric wards, rehabilitation centers, etc. You can search by services provided, such as cancer treatment, heart transplant, hospice care, etc. You can search specifically for teaching hospitals. You can also limit your search by the number of beds, the number of discharges, and patient revenue. In all, your search can return a very specific list of hospitals.
American Hospital Directory’s Advanced Search
Who Uses the American Hospital Directory?
Here are some examples of the many possible applications of the American Hospital Directory:
- Job seekers in the medical industry use it to find lists of potential hospitals to work for;
- People researching the medical industry use the statistics to determine which parts of the country have strong medical markets;
- People with medical conditions research hospitals to find out their certifications and accreditations, and also to find out which hospitals are qualified to perform the procedures and services in question; and
- Medical students and potential medical students use it to search for nearby teaching hospitals.
These are just some of the potential applications of the American Hospital Directory! Stop by The Hill today and let our librarians show you how it works. The James J. Hill Center is open Monday-Thursday from 10-5.