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Angel Investing 101

An angel network is a group of investors who make individual investment decisions. In the case of Gopher Angels, our accredited investors collaborate on any deals of interest. There is a disciplined approach to this process and we have an administrative director who manages the due diligence.

An angel fund requires a minimum investment by angels of X dollars to go into a pool or fund to be managed by an individual or by a committee who deploys the dollars.

Seeking and using angel dollars should come after funding by friends, family, and self financing.

Angels generally invest in seed sage or early stage companies. By our definition seed stage is conceptual with a business plan supported by research to validate the business model.

Early stage is further along. It has a minimum viable product/prototype, a patent or being tested in the market with potential customers. The business can be pre-revenue but with some proof of concept. Better yet, there will be some level of revenue with paying customers.

While each fund/network/individual have their own criteria, here are some highlights:

  1. An exit such as an acquisition or an IPO where there is a return on investment within 5 to 7 years.
  2. Angels look for companies that can scale with a significant market potential.
  3. A team with relevant experience. This can be management but also can include a strong board of advisors.

So when angel investors pass on what could be a very successful business it is because there may not be an exit in sight, the company is not tapping into a large market potential or concern that the team does not have the skills to execute.

 

Further reading:

  • Rob Wiltbank, “Investment Practices and Outcomes of Informal Venture Investors”
  • Guy Kawasaki, The Art of the Start
  • Brad Feld, Venture Deals

 

David Russick is an established entrepreneur and angel investor. Russick is co-founder, Managing Director, and Board Member of Gopher Angels.  Russick was also founder and CEO of TUBS, Inc., a family owned waste and recycling business operating in the Twin Cities, Denver and Cleveland.   In addition, Russick serves on the Board of Advisors for the Dakota Venture Group.  Russick has been featured in the “Star Tribune,” “Twin Cities Business,” and the “Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal.” “Twin Cities Business” named him a “2014 People to Know – Finance.”  

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His Tap Runneth Over — to Your Doorstep

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 Isaac Tut. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on January 27, 2017.

What if a good beer could arrive at your door like a pizza? According to the Brewers Association, the craft brewing industry contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016. That is a lot of beer. Minnesota alone has about 110 craft breweries and they appear to be growing at a steady rate.

This increase in beer selection is changing the consumer palate, however the ability to access those craft beers is not always the most convenient. Isaac Tut and his college roommate thought this presented an opportunity. What if instead of running to the taproom they ran for you? Thus was born “Running Tap” — the first craft beer delivery service providing a selection of beer straight from the barrel to your living room.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Isaac Tut
Age: 28
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: Akobo, South Sudan
High school attended: Northfield High School
College attended: St. Olaf College and University of Minnesota

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Running Tap
Website: www.running-tap.com
Business Start Date: June 2017
Number of Employees: 10
Number of Customers: 500-600

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?

A. I was born in South Sudan, a region that had been engulfed in war for about 60 years. I lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia until I was 11 years old. In 1999, my family and I got accepted by the UNHCR, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, and gave us leave and status to enter the U.S. We were really lucky because only 1 percent of families in refugee camps ever get relocated. After being relocated to Austin, Texas, close family friends from Minnesota drove all the way down to pick us up and bring us to Minnesota to live.

After years of assimilating into the American culture, I learned English and excelled in school, landing me the opportunity to play soccer and run track at St. Olaf College, while doing my studies. Once done with my undergraduate degree in physics and mathematics, I continued my education at the University of Minnesota and later graduated in Aerospace Engineering.

I worked at Seagate Technology as an application and design engineer for about two years and decided to quit in 2016 in pursuit of a startup company with an old college buddy. After six long months of legal research, market development, and working with (state alcohol authorities) on the business plan and getting approval, Running Tap officially began to operate and deliver craft beer to customers roughly seven months ago. We are super excited with the results we have seen so far, and the customers are more than delighted to hear that they can order craft beer at the convenience of their home or office. The service can be thought of as a consolidation of the brewery experience into one delivery at the customer’s discretion.

Q. What is your business?
A. Running Tap is Minnesota’s first taproom delivery startup that aims to be more than an online liquor store, they aim to be the place for those looking to get good beer and get it at the leisure of their comfort place. Place your order online and our delivery team will pick it up fresh from the taproom and bring it to your door.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. We are a small team of five people, plus the driving team. We talk amongst ourselves for solutions, and sometimes look to friends and family for help.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. It all started with my college buddies working late and trying to get beer delivered. Assuming it wouldn’t be much different than ordering anything else online, we were surprised at the hoops we had to jump through, and frustrated that none of our favorite local brews were available….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.

 

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West Meets East Africa in Frozen Food Venture

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 Matt Glover and Mariam Mohamed. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on January 13, 2017.

According to IBIS, world frozen food production is a $35 billion dollar industry with $1.7 billion in profit. Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York-based Strategic Resource Group says “Frozen foods are going through a new renaissance this decade … we’re seeing a move away from traditional frozen entrees to popular ethic food.”

Hoyo, a local Somali food company, is certainly jumping on that bandwagon and is quickly discovering its audience. With a passionate mission to create needed jobs in their community and grow a greater appreciation and access to authentic Somali cuisine, the partnership of Matt Glover and Mariam Mohamed has flourished. They are not only filling the gap but our appetite, with delicious ethnic cuisine.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Matt Glover, Mariam Mohamed
Age: Matt, 35; Mariam, 59
City you live in: Matt, Minneapolis; Mariam, Shoreview
City of birth: Matt, St. Paul; Mariam, Mogadishu
High school attended: Matt, White Bear Lake High School; Mariam, Banadir High School
College attended: Matt, Ohio State University; Mariam: Fresno State, State University of New York, Syracuse

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Hoyo
Website: www.hoyosambusa.com
Business Start Date: July 15, 2015
Number of Employees: 8
Number of Customers: Currently selling in 16 Stores

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. Matt: I received a philosophy degree from Ohio State University and a Masters in Global and Cultural studies from Bethel University. I have always loved travelling and interacting with people from other cultures. I lived for a year in Rome and spent time in east and Southeast Asia. Since moving into the Phillips neighborhood my wife and I along with our three young children have had the opportunity to engage more deeply with members from the Somali community. It has been an honor to hear their stories and to learn about the wonderful things their community has to offer. In particular we have enjoyed their food and we began exploring ways to make it more prominent in the U.S.

Mariam: I received a master’s degree in plant science, Fresno State, California; Master’s degree in Statistics from Syracuse, New York.

Q. What is your business?
A. We are a Somali food company. We hire Somali mothers to make food they have been making their whole lives. We then package and distribute those products to grocery stores and delis throughout the Twin Cities. Our primary product is Sambusa, a triangular pastry filled with spiced beef or Lentils.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. We have an advisory board of seasoned business veterans that are committed to our success. Partners in Food Solutions, a nonprofit affiliated with General Mills that mobilizes professional expertise to help food startups in emerging markets, has been a tremendous help for us.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A.  I, Matt, started a consulting company that consulted ethnic restaurants on western service standards. I was introduced to Mariam and her husband Ali for advice on working with Somali restaurants. My wife and I also had a desire to help create a more equitable job market for Somali mothers. When Mariam heard about our consulting business and our desire to empower Somali woman, she immediately identified a frozen Sambusa company as the perfect opportunity. I agreed that this sounded like a great idea and asked if she would consider co-founding it with us. She agreed and we enlisted her sister who is known as one of the best Somali cooks around. We have since used her recipes and techniques as our products.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. First, Hoyo solves the problem of lack of access to authentic Somali cuisine. Our vision is to make Somali Sambusa as common as tacos in western cuisine. In order to do so we will make Sambusa available everywhere. This is also giving Somali woman a tangible way to share a piece of their rich culture.

Second, we are providing a vehicle for employment for women who have not yet worked in the United States. By developing a product our employees have been making their whole life, we are a launching point into the greater workforce by providing skill training and career history….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.

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Her Chocolates Combine Honey, Artistry and Inspiration

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 Susan Brown. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on December 30, 2017.

According to an article in the July 2017 edition of INC., researchers in Rome and L’Aquila, Italy, say they’ve demonstrated a clear link between the consumption of chocolate and strong brain function.

Entrepreneur and artist Susan Brown has believed this all along and by combining both her passion and smarts has created a whole new level of chocolate. By fusing the benefits of cacao with the medicinal and ancient healing power of honey she has created an exceptional culinary experience that combines health, beauty and love all in one small bon-bon.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Susan Brown
Age: 58
City you live in: St. Paul
City of birth: Buffalo, NY
High school attended: Wheat Ridge, Colo.
College attended: University of Colorado, Boulder

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Mademoiselle Miel
Website: www.mademoisellemiel.com
Twitter: @MadameMiel
Business Start Date: April 9, 2011
Number of Employees: 8 part time
Number of Customers: We sell in multiple store locations in both Minnesota and California and have a honey kitchen and showroom in St. Paul.  Each location has a steady flow of customers.

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?

A. I founded Mademoiselle Miel in St. Paul in 2011, bringing together my passion for innovative art and minimalist design with my love for the natural world, the culture of cuisine, and the rich historic flavor of local surroundings.

I was working as an artist by the time I was in high school and have spent my life developing that talent, originally nurtured by my mother. I’ve worked in many mediums but chocolate has been an extraordinary outlet for me. It has brought together many of the things that are important to me and has also allowed me to create an experience for others.

There’s so many interesting things about chocolate, honey and bees. I was inspired to start keeping bees by my father-in-law who was a farmer in River Falls, Wis., after a visit to France (where I focused on all things bees and honey). I discovered that the Paris Opera House had been keeping bees on their roof for quite some time. I thought if they can do it in Paris, we can do it in St. Paul. I was the first rooftop beekeeper in the cities for some time. Now it is more widely accepted and supported by the public. I knew the flavor of the urban honey would make an exceptional filling for my bon-bons.

Now, 11 years later, we take care of over 33 hives, housed on the rooftops of several businesses throughout St. Paul and Minneapolis. My classic bonbons are filled with the honey and decorated with my signature artist’s touch: 24-karat gold leaf. I continue to find inspiration in multiple sources and support many cultural movements — from ecological awareness, to social justice, to Slow Food — but the bees’ work is where Mademoiselle Miel chocolate begins, artistic expression and artisanal method is where it becomes complete.

Q. What is your business?

A. We make house-made chocolate using fair trade, single origin cacao and local maple sugar; honey bonbons featuring St. Paul rooftop honey and assorted confections and creations.

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

 

A. I ask other chocolate makers, chocolatiers and artists when I get stuck. Legacy chocolates, Kul, St. Croix Chocolates and Chocolat Celeste are some of the local chocolate people who have been really helpful.

Q. What is the origin of the business?

A. Honey became the sweetener of choice because of its beneficial properties and ease of digestion. I realized its potential has not been tapped as a sweetener and began a lifelong quest to develop recipes and a lifestyle using good, clean food. My goal was to keep the food elevated so that I matched the quality of the ingredients with flavor and presentation….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.

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A Business Venture is Their Latest Adventure

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 Kelly Koster and Nick Hansen. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on December 2, 2017.

As the world’s population becomes increasingly mobile, people have become more interested in exploring the more off beat and remote areas of the world. In 2016, travel and tourism made a total contribution of $7.61 trillion to the global economy. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization international travel will rise to 1.8 billion people by 2030.

Kelly Koster and Nick Hansen from Anywhere Apparel are ongoing explorers who have a passion to go anywhere and everywhere in the world — but with a little more ease. They are determined to help real people access the real world with a lot less baggage.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Kelly Koster and Nick Hansen
Age: Kelly 36; Nick 35
City you live in: St. Paul
City of birth: Kelly: Augusta, Ga.; Nick: Minneapolis
High school attended: Kelly: Onalaksa, Wis.; Nick: Chippewa Falls, Wis.
College attended: Kelly: Communications undergrad at UWEC, MBA at UST, Master of Liberal Studies at U of MN; Nick: Computer Science undergrad at UW Madison, MBA at UST, Masters of Financial Mathematics at U of MN

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company:  Anywhere Apparel
Website: https://anywhereapparel.com
Business Start Date: March/April of 2014
Number of Employees: 2.5 (two full-time, one part-time)
Number of Customers: About 600

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. We (the co-founders, Nick and Kelly) met in college and started dating shortly thereafter. We discovered a mutual love of travel, saving up enough money for the next plane ticket, and just throwing a few things in a bag and roaming around other countries or continents. Neither of us wanted to carry much since we’d be switching towns every couple of days. After over a decade of experiences, and realizing we still couldn’t find a brand or products which fit our lifestyle, we decided to take the leap and see if we could make it ourselves: an all-purpose travel kit to go anywhere.

Q. What is your business?
A. Our business is two equally important things: a product set and a brand philosophy. Our brand stands for going out in the world and exploring as much of it as you can. Our products run with this mission to take just the few things you need to explore the world and designing them very clearly to that purpose. They aren’t just technical items (though our designs are extremely technical), but they’re also versatile styles to address the widest range of social situations you might encounter anywhere in the world.

Currently, we have designed and manufactured our flagship products: our women’s Antipodes Coat which and our men’s Stowaway Jacket, which not only has a small, internal backpack in the interior liner and several other hidden features, but transforms into a functional satchel.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. We first turn to family and friends. It’s incredible how much you can do with support from people you know — the amount of money you’d need to professionalize those first photos shoots, or product feedback sessions, or getting a website built, adds up extremely quickly.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. We love to explore. The trips we’ve taken are rarely spent in one spot; they often involve rail passes, all-you-can-fly tickets, rented cars and motorbikes, lots of walking, and lots and lots of different places to sleep. This screamed opportunity — when the needs posed by an activity you love dearly in life isn’t addressed by anyone effectively, and you hear the same feedback from other people, there’s both a brand and a design opportunity. After some soul-searching and a career change, we decided to take the leap…..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.

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Her T-shirt Line is For Wearing, Caring and Sharing

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 Lori Myren-Manbeck. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on November 18, 2017.

According to Forbes, there are five reasons Social Entrepreneurship is the new business model: “It connects you to your life purpose, keeps you motivated, brings you lasting happiness, helps you help others and is what today’s consumers want.”

Lori Myren-Manbeck with her company Inclusivi-tee is doing just that. By combining her passion for change, her belief in social justice, her love of the earth and her support of the arts, she is spreading and sharing a positive message of hope to all and giving back in the process.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Lori Myren-Manbeck
Age: 53
City you live in: Eden Prairie
City of birth: Maquoketa, Iowa
High school attended: Sibley High School, Sibley, Iowa
College attended: Grinnell College for bachelor’s degree; University of Rhode Island for Ph.D.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Inclusivi-tee, PBC, Inc.
Website:www.inclusivi-tee.com
Business Start Date: March 27, 2017
Number of Employees: We have 5 board members, including myself, and several paid consultants.
Number of Customers: We currently have about 50 subscribers and are also working with several organizations/businesses to design shirts for their brands or for specific events.

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I decided to start Inclusivi-tee in late 2016 when I realized that I needed to do more to make a difference and support causes I felt passionately for. I could not simply sit by and expect someone else to do the work. Since working on Inclusivi-tee, I have become stronger, more passionate and better informed. I have met amazing, diverse, wonderful people and challenged myself in ways I never thought possible. No matter what happens in the future, this is a journey I had to take.

Q. What is your business?
A. Inclusivi-tee is a quarterly subscription-based T-shirt club in Minneapolis. We have pledged to promote equality, conservation and social justice through the sale of beautiful wearable art. In addition to selling T-shirts and donating 100 percent of profits to progressive local and national nonprofit organizations, Inclusivi-tee spreads its mission through social media outreach and participates in marches, rallies and other events that make the world a more inclusive and accepting community.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I have been very fortunate to receive consistent help during the formation of Inclusivi-tee, starting with the unwavering support of my husband Ray Caron, my sister Bobbi Boggs and my best friend, Negebe Sheronick. Beyond this initial support the most important thing has been asking for assistance even when doing so is difficult. I have a wonderful board of directors, including Negebe, Bobbi, Katherine Manbeck, my daughter, and Shalette Cauley Wandrick, a Minnesota native and activist. Additionally, when I was creating a business plan I had help from BJ Van Glabbeek and Roger Cloutier who had the business knowledge I lacked. I turned to Clockwork to complete Inclusivi-tee’s website and am working with Lola Red on public relations.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. I first conceived of Inclusivi-tee in mid-November 2016 as a direct response to the continuing and increasing divisiveness I was witnessing. I wanted to create a company that consistently promotes and supports social and earth justice. T-shirts were chosen as our medium because they are accessible to everyone and provide a perfect canvas for our positive, hopeful message. Because art is an important barometer of social justice and the art community is negatively impacted during times of oppression, we choose to pay artists to create our beautiful shirts…..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.

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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.

 

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The Evolution of Embossers

Of the many changes that our library has seen over the past century, one that is easy to overlook is the way we mark our books. When we first opened, our librarians embossed each new book they added to the collection. Labels on the embossing stamps show we were still embossing books into the early 1970’s. Sometime thereafter, we began instead to mark our books using ink stamps.

We recently uncovered several of our old embossing stamps, and our librarians are going to start using them again. There are several benefits to embossing as opposed to ink stamping. Firstly, inks can negatively affect paper, making it degrade over time, whereas embossing only adds an indent or small holes to the paper and therefore does not cause as much long-term damage.

Secondly, embossed books are harder to steal than books stamped with ink, because the skilled thief can laboriously remove traces of ink, but the only way to remove traces of embossing is to remove the embossed page itself. And finally, aesthetics. Embossed books look and feel nice. There is a timeless feel to them, something that brings to mind classic libraries with beautiful old books. In addition, an embossed stamp looks the same every time, whereas ink stamps often appear messy.

For all these reasons and in deference to our history, we are going to bring our embossing stamps out of retirement. Stop by sometime to see some of our new materials, embossed as of old!

The story of these tools and the epic building will be further explored in the Cabinet of Curiosity Tour every third Thursday at 10:30AM. Go back in time in this one hour tour, up and down the catwalks and through the vault in a nooks and crannies inspired experience.  Our June tour sold out, so get your tickets early!


The oldest embosser, which creates a raised impression of our corporate seal.


The corporate seal created by the oldest embosser.


The newest embosser (really a perforating stamp), with a 1971 note instructing librarians to stamp the page after the title page of a book.


The perforated stamp.

The ink stamp currently used by librarians, which marks the date as well as the name of the library.

Ink stamps create a less aesthetically pleasing stamp than embossers or perforators.


Written by Leah Kodner, James J. Hill Business Librarian. If you have more questions about the reference library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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Bridging Digital Divides

On May 16th and 17th of 2017 the  James J. Hill Center was happy to house an important conference presented by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.  The conference was on Digital Inclusion.  It was an eye opening experience to understand the full scope of our digital world and the work that needs to be done to ensure all people have access and opportunity to grow in our continually growing digital community. We felt NDIA was an important organization for others to know about and took a few minutes to chat virtually with their Director, Angela Siefer.

What do you want people to know about NDIA and what sets it apart?
NDIA is a unified voice representing digital inclusion programs across the country. This role is unique. It is why we exist. Local digital inclusion programs are doing the incredibly hard work of  increasing home broadband access, running public broadband access labs, teaching digital skills and getting appropriate devices into the hands of the most disadvantaged among us.

NDIA does this through:

  • Developing and empowering a community of practice of digital inclusion programs in our communities.
  • Discussing the full definition of digital inclusion, related challenges and solutions with decision makers and partners.

How did your organization begin?
In the spring of 2015, representatives of local digital inclusion programs and national digital inclusion advocates launched the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). We did so because federal policy was being discussed that would impact the work of local digital inclusion programs yet the expertise of these programs (even the existence of these programs) was not part of the discussion. NDIA currently represents over 250 affiliates, most of whom are community based organizations, libraries and local government entities with digital inclusion programs.

What do you feel has been NDIA’s biggest impact so far?

  • Developing definitions of digital inclusion and digital equity that have furthered an understanding and increased awareness of programming gaps.
  • Influencing federal policymaking (including the modernization of Lifeline).
  • Influencing local policymaking, particularly through Digital Inclusion Trailblazers.
  • Strengthening programs through information sharing online and at our annual gathering Net Inclusion.

What has been the largest hurdle and / or success your organization has faced?
NDIA is a bootstrap startup nonprofit program. Starting with nothing has been both a challenge and a strength.

What advice would you give to businesses and organizations regarding digital inclusion efforts?
Look for potential partners.  The most impactful programs are those that work collaboratively in their communities and have trusted relationships with the individuals they are serving.

What do you see for the future of our digital world?
Technology will keep changing and more digital divides will develop. We as a society can shrug our shoulders or we can work together to create solutions that strengthen our communities.

To read more about NDIA and their continued efforts to increase a unified voice for digital inclusion please visit their website at digitalinclusion.org.  

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The Hill Reference Round-Up

Blue Prints to Business Plans…
building-plans-sept

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!

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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.

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