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

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Innovations on the Shelves

The bookshelves in the James J. Hill Center are more than mere places on which to rest historic volumes. They tell a story which reflects the Hill’s vision of supporting innovation. Original to the building, our copper-toned shelves were designed and built by Snead & Company, a cast-iron that adapted with the times and “built a better bookshelf.”

Around the turn of the 19th century, public libraries were becoming increasingly popular, largely due to grants distributed by Andrew Carnegie. At this time, most libraries used wooden, fixed bookshelves. Snead & Co. recognized that these shelves were inadequate for these new, large libraries. They applied their metalwork expertise to design and patent innovative metal shelving that included features such as customizable shelf heights; a standardized length to introduce interchangeable parts; and more evenly distributed lighting. The goal of these shelves was both practicality and affordability, along with options for a fancy detailing.

 

Snead shelving took off—their shelves can be found in the Sterling Law Library at Yale University, the Vatican Library in Rome, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress, among many others.

 

Another feature of early Snead Standard Shelves is that they were load-bearing, yet another way Snead saved libraries money. Such is the case with the Hill shelves. More so than the grand columns gracing the Reading Room, our bookshelves are vital as structural reinforcements, holding the building up.

 

Of course, Snead & Co. never anticipated the ways this feature may cause problems in the future, as libraries today adapt to then-unbelievable electronic technology—the New York Public Library recently wanted to remove some shelves to create a larger services-oriented space, but were unable to do it due to the structural necessity of the shelves! Here at the Hill, we don’t quite have the same problem since our large Reading Room affords us lots of space for events.

  

Snead & Co. recognized a need in their community as public libraries grew in both size and popularity, and stepped up with innovative products for that market—forever changing the world of library shelving and, in turn, libraries themselves.  

 


Written by Ann Mayhew, Reference & Support Specialist, at the James J. Hill Center. 
If you have more questions about the reference library our our historic collection at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or [email protected].

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A B2B App for Keeping Fitness Centers’ Data in Shape

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 Prabhakar “KP” Karri. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on December 16, 2017.

Are you thinking about your 2018 fitness goals? Typically, staying fit and healthy is at the top of most people’s New Year’s resolution list.

According to a report on NBC, in January of 2017, there was a 315 percent increase around the search term “Gym.” The timing is no coincidence.

So, how do trainers deal with this influx of traffic and interest after the first of the year? How do they keep organized to keep you, the customer, invested? These are some of the same questions Prabhakar Kerri asked himself when he started training with Eric Mattson. Their outcome has not only been fitness on a whole new level, but a product that helps them help you keep that fitness resolution on task.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Prabhakar “KP” Karri
Age: 45
City you live in: Eden Prairie
City of birth: Vizag, India
High school attended: Timpany School, Vizag, India
College attended: Andhra University, University of New Orleans (MS Applied Physics), University of Minnesota (MBA Finance and Strategy)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Nymbl (“nimble”) Technologies
Website: www.nlytfit.com (“en-lite”)
Business Start Date: Sept. 21, 2016
Number of Employees: 10
Number of Customers: 10 (product launched in November)

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. Prabhakar “KP” saw an unmet need in the professional fitness industry when he was training with Eric Mattson. KP had always wanted to venture out on his own and had evaluated several business ideas in the past. So when he decided that his corporate job was unfulfilling, he researched the fitness industry and felt that Eric and he could help solve the problems he witnessed through innovative technology.

Q. What is your business?
A. Nymbl (pronounced “nimble”) develops innovative fitness solutions for professional trainers and coaches. Our products utilize mobile technology to drive efficiency, client satisfaction and retention, and business profitability, thus helping fitness trainers and coaches achieve their business goals and their clients’ fitness goals.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. We have an awesome board of advisers, which includes seasoned executives of Fortune 500 companies, successful investment bankers and fitness coaches who have all built successful businesses, and have led or advised multi-billion dollar businesses. We are also a collaborative team that is very talented and we are not shy about asking each other for help.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. It started with KP noticing Eric taking copious notes on a clipboard, entering information into two separate computers and still struggling to produce easy-to-understand, intuitive reports for his clients.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. At the present time, professional fitness trainers (either independent or small-studio owners) do not have a comprehensive solution to manage their clients’ workouts, schedules and payments….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.

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

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Seeking a Healthy Snack, She Founded a Business

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

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

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

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

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

COMPANY PROFILE

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

Q&A

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

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

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

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

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org.

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Safe Travels Are Her Mission — and Passion

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

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

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

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

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

COMPANY PROFILE

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

 

Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org.

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Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know: Hustle Your Way Through TCSW 2017

Aleckson Nyamwaya has his beat on the pulse of the startup world in Minnesota.  He is an Associate at @gener8tor, contributor for @startupgrind, ambassador for @1millioncupsspl and a lover of all things tech & startups. We are pleased to have his monthly insight with our blog “Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know.”  Check back each month for his thoughts, observations and featured companies.

Hustle Your Way Through TCSW 2017

Make the most of Twin Cities Startup Week by following this networking guide.

TCSW is the premiere week-long entrepreneurship festival of the Twin Cities. Showcasing the best from the startup capital of the north! Over 100 events will take place across the Twin Cities, October 9th−15th, 2017. Everyone one and their cousins will be in attendance!!

Twin Cities Startup Week is just 2 weeks away!!! Naturally, I wrote a guide to help you navigate the week!

There are multiple events happening concurrently so this may be helpful to you if it’s your first time, if you are too busy to curate an itinerary for the week or if you just want a curated list from an insider!

For the full list of events, dates, times and locations please visit: http://twincitiesstartupweek.com/

Keynote Events

These are the events you should make time for! Especially if you are on a tight schedule and can only make it to 1, 2 or maybe 3 days out of the week!

1. Opening Night Party — Sunday

This is a high priority because it’s the kickoff party for TCSW! Everyone is attending to specifically kick off the week! Which means it will a more relaxed atmosphere, perfect for networking & making new friends.

2. MN Cup — Monday

Minnesota Cup is the largest statewide startup competition in the country! The evening will include a demo hour from our top 24 teams, recognizing our mentors of the year, presentations from the 2017 MN Cup division winners & runners-up as well as the announcement of the 2017 MN Cup Grand Prize winner. Over $450,000 will be awarded at the event!

3. Beta.MN Showcase — Tuesday

Beta.MN is an organization of friends & founders gathering together to support Minnesota’s startup community. Showcase is like a science fair for startups, with beer & music. There are no formal presentations, just local entrepreneurs demonstrating their products and services in an approachable, one-to-one setting. Attendees include founders, future employees, superfans, investors, friends, family members and anyone wanting to discover and celebrate local innovation.

4. gener8tor Minnesota’s Premiere Night — Tuesday

gener8tor is a nationally ranked, concierge startup accelerator that invests in high-growth startups! Premiere night is a celebration of gener8tor’s latest class of innovative startups!

5. Target + Techstars Retail Accelerator Demo Day — Wednesday

Techstars Retail, in partnership with Target is a three-month intensive startup accelerator focused on bringing new technology, experiences, products, and solutions to retail. Join us for Techstars Retail in Partnership with Target Demo Day in Minneapolis as our companies take the stage at First Avenue to present their businesses!

6. Minnedemo27 — Thursday

Minnedemo will feature some of the best the local tech talent has to offer. The rules are simple: 7 minutes, real working technology, and NO slides! This event attracts 700+ entrepreneurs, investors, enthusiasts etc. Please note: they are not sold out, Minnedomo has 3 ticket releases and their last one was on 10/5 at 7pm.

7. Twin Cities Startup Weekend Youth— Friday

Startup Weekend will propel students to launch creative businesses by pitching ideas, form teams around the top ideas, research their customers, and work intensely as teams to build a prototype that demonstrates the potential of their business. At the end, teams present their business and demonstrate their prototype to a panel of local entrepreneurs in a “Shark Tank Setting.”

8. Techstars Startup Weekend Twin Cities— Friday

Startup Weekend is an intense 54 hour experience, providing entrepreneurs a unique experience to create a company, product or service over the weekend. Individuals will pitch their ideas Friday night and form teams with other attendees. Wrapping up on Sunday, they’ll pitch their prototype app, website, product or service to a panel of startup judges.

9. Official Twin Cities Startup Week Awards — Join us as we close out Twin Cities Startup Week with the biggest party of the week. We will be holding our first annual Startup Awards ceremony alongside GoKart Labs.

Honorable Mentions

If you have time during the day, be sure to take advantage of the following events!

  1. Free co-working —  Take advantage of the free opportunities! Co-working spaces such as COCO are the backbone of the TC Startup entrepreneurship culture! (I myself work out of coco uptown).
  2. gener8tor office hours — gener8tor is a nationally ranked concierge startup accelerator, come meet with their Minneapolis team for office hours!
  3. Sofia Fund office hours – Sophia Fund seeks early stage, growth oriented, gender diverse entrepreneurial companies that have women leaders! Come meet with them for office hours.
  4. Angel Investing 101 — Brett Brohl, Managing partner of The Syndicate Fund is well regarded local investor!
  5. Healthcare.MN 5 year Anniversary Party — Healthcare.MN is a founding member and a strong supporter of the Twin Cities Startup scene. It’s a high quality event that attracts a great turn out! Food and drinks.
  6. Womens Pitch Fest — Female founders and women startup leaders will pitch their companies to Midwest investors and community supporters. Applications are now being taken. Entrepreneurs apply here.
  7. Muster Across America — Curated by Bunker Labs Mpls, a nonprofit by veterans, for veterans, to start and grow businesses. If you are not a veteran you will gain the military entrepreneurial edge. If you are a veteran you will gain the network to quickly grow your venture.
  8. Mpls Jr Devs — This event is for aspiring and junior software engineers to meet, learn from, and share experiences with one another.
  9. 1 Million Cups St.Paul — Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, 1MC is a community of innovators and entrepreneurship enthusiasts: Super high quality event!
  10. Mac Startups Demo Day 2017–16 Macalester students took part in Mac Startups, a student-run entrepreneurship incubator. After identifying problems in the Twin Cities community (and beyond) they developed creative products to solve these problems.
  11. Demo Night: Teams from Startup Weekend Youth – Come and see the progress made by several of the teams.
  12. Technical Architecture: Building and Scaling —Whether you are looking to start coding an application, building onto it, or scaling, technology is always changing. What works best for building something quick? What work best for scaling?. What languages work best for rapid prototyping, and what does scalable infrastructure look like these days?
  13. Saint Paul Start-up Crawl — Lets show Saint Paul some love! See where people make and create on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s brick-and-timber warmth to steam punk buzz, Saint Paul continues to drive innovation.
  14. Minimum Viable Marketing – Marketing is one thing almost every start-up struggles with — how much do you need to do, what talent do you need to do it right, and what sort of resources should you be spending? Panel + Q&A.
  15. Minnesota Start-Up Darwin Lessons — Taking a somewhat lighthearted look at some past mistakes by Minnesota companies, the presenters will talk about what happened and why and offer some tips on how your company can avoid the same fate.
  16. How to become a fundable founder— This talk will focus on the tactics a founder needs to adopt in order to be taken seriously within the startup world! Shameless plug for my event 😉

Conclusion

Twin Cities startup week is the premiere entrepreneurship festival of the twin cities! It’s a great opportunity for you to network, connect with other community members and forge new relationships!

Remember this is a once-in-a-year opportunity, so be sure to checkout the full schedule here.

See you there!

Want more hustling tips? Checkout my previous post Graduate’s Hustle Handbook To Entrepreneurship


You can tweet me @alecksonn or subscribe to my newsletter

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Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know

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

The bad…

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Instead of tackling challenging problems, The Twin Cities eco-system will abuse & misuse these funds on stupid ideas that don’t deserve funding.

The Good…

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.

Conclusion

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.


Featured Resource:

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
To sign up for his monthly tech newsletter CLICK HERE.

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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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