Check back each month for the Original Thinker Series as we explore local innovation in entrepreneurship, the arts, and our community one pioneering mind at a time.
“The future of retail is no longer ‘where did you get that product’ but ‘what did you search,’” says Darrin Levine, CEO and Founder of ASDAL Inc. And he should know, it’s what he does.
Darrin’s company, ASDAL – an acronym that stands for A Seller’s Daily Amazon Life – is unique for a number of reasons. For starters, they offer comprehensive Amazon store management. To explain this, Darrin uses the following comparison: When you go to the mall, each store has a marketing manager, a display manager, an inventory manager, and lots of software keeping things straight on the back end.
“[It’s] the same concept on Amazon,” Darrin says. “We have a store manager who oversees everything, we have an account support specialist who can fix the files and templates, and content creators who do design, writing, product copy and EBC (enhanced brand content).” ASDAL can take responsibility for the whole package (literally and figuratively) including inventory storage, repackaging, and forwarding.
The second thing that makes ASDAL unique is their single-minded focus on brands. They will only take on clients who own a trademark but – once they do – will help them navigate the strict rules for registering and launching trademarked products on Amazon. Part of this launch process is removing unauthorized resellers of a product. Darrin and his team have made themselves experts in this process – they know exactly how to submit cases to Amazon to remove 90-100% of third-party sellers.
Finally, ASDAL is paving the way for others in the online retail industry by developing a proprietary software called GRIT. “There is yet to be an enterprise level software for brands to understand where their products are at,” says Darrin. Most of the current software is made for third-party sellers. Because their focus is on trademarked products and they are in the trenches every day managing branded accounts, the ASDAL team is creating an all-in-one tool that combines inventory management, PPC (pay-per-click advertising), keyword tracking, inventory forecasting, sales and reporting.
Despite the hype, only 8% of retail sales happen online. However, according to reports by eMarketer and One Click Retail, in 2017 Amazon was responsible for 44% of all ecommerce sales – roughly $196.75 billion. Darrin spends a lot of time analyzing this tech giant and he has notice Amazon moving from a third-party seller’s platform towards a brand-driven platform. “When online retail sales start reaching the 12-15% range more brands are going to have to step on Amazon,” says Darrin. His prediction is that by 2020 companies with trademarked products will need to hire their own Amazon specialists and teams – or hire ASDAL.
There are many things that set Darrin apart as an original thinker but arguably most admirable is that he recognizes, respects, and defends original thinking in others. Many of the clients he works with will discover that others have been reselling their trademarked products at wholesale levels without their knowledge. “I do see us as champions to retain smaller companies’ revenue,” says Darrin. He has a special contract for small, local companies who need an ally in their corner – someone to clear the field of unauthorized sellers and set their brand up online. After that, he’s only a click away. “This is kind of a Minnesota nice thing [we do],” says Darrin. “If you need help just call me.”
To learn more about ASDAL Inc. visit their website or reach out to the team at email@example.com.
Written by Christopher Christenson, Program & Event Coordinator, at the James J. Hill Center. Have an idea of a person or organization to feature in this series? Send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When then-head librarian Joseph Pyle hired “Miss Helen K. Starr, of the Library of Congress” as head cataloger in 1918, he probably didn’t suspect he was hiring the woman who would see the Hill Reference Library through its arguably most significant era.
Pyle recognized Starr’s skills: “Miss Starr has had unusually valuable experience and comes with the highest recommendations from those familiar with her work.” But we don’t need to take his word for it.
As the first Hill cataloger, Starr had the immense duty of creating a cataloging system out of nothing. Fortunately, her experience as a head cataloger at the prestigious Library of Congress meant she was up to the task.
When Pyle passed away in 1930, Starr was the clear successor as head librarian, and she stayed in that role (while still continuing as head cataloger) until her retirement in 1948. Not only was she the longest-running head librarian here at the Hill, but she also saw the library through the challenges of the Great Depression and World War II—and seized the opportunities presented by these hardships, resulting in our highest visitation ever in 1941.
Starr responded directly to the needs of community. When the St. Paul Central Public Library began reducing hours during the Depression, Starr chose to expand our collection to provide ample reading material for students. She also increased the Hill’s open hours and purchased new furniture, creating a “40 percent increase in the seating capacity” (only to be followed by more such purchases throughout her tenure). In addition to filling the gap for the public library’s regular visitors, Starr also remarked that “many young men prepared for Civil Service examinations while others studied in the Library in connection with WPA projects.”
These changes were appreciated: “Many unemployed men have had their courage renewed, their outlook broadened and their understanding of complex economic phenomena clarified by constant reading and study at the Library.”
In 1935, Starr had air conditioning installed, a system which used artesian well water circulated throughout the building (much more affordable than mechanical cooling), meriting a praiseful article in Heating, Piping and Air Conditioning.
During the Second World War, Starr faced new challenges. While admittedly there was “no expectation of air raids” here in St. Paul, Starr saw it as her duty to take precautions. An air raid shelter was created in the ground level, and blackout curtains hung through the library. European periodicals were becoming difficult to maintain, specifically—and not surprisingly—the highly-regarded German chemistry journals.
During the war, libraries nationwide, and at the Hill, suffered large drops in attendance, at least partially because many people were being drawn to service and the armed forces. However, Starr did notice an increase in scientists and engineers from local war plants coming in to use our resources. The Hill continued its role of being a place for people to come, learn, and apply their knowledge to improve the community.
Join us at the Hill to hear from other trailblazing female leaders. Our program Taking the Lead is a series of free discussions exploring the complex and rewarding ecosystem of women entrepreneurs. Compelling topics moderated by some of the Twin Cities most recognized leaders and joined by diverse panels of professionals sharing their insights, perspectives and experiences. The next discussion will be on April 20th with moderator Jamie Millard, Executive Director of Pollen, as she and her panel discuss Women: The New Rules.
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@example.com.
Chris Carlson is an entrepreneur, actor, lawyer and the founder of NarrativePros dedicated to coaching stronger connections. Chris is setting the standard for the Soft Skills Revolution to unleash your efficiency, effectiveness and maximize your input.
Life would be so much easier if everything stayed the same, wouldn’t it? Preparing for that speech or meeting or interview would be a heck of a lot easier if you new exactly what was going to happen, right?
We would adapt to the precise moment when the projector would break. We’d jump right on the last-second agenda change. We could prepare for that last question no one would ever expect.
Awesome concept, right? Well, not exactly. Quite the opposite, in fact.
First of all, the world isn’t like Groundhog’s Day. Something about the second law of thermodynamics and time’s arrow. Change is our only constant. Besides, look how unhappy Bill Murray became. Like it or not, we depend on change. Luckily, that’s a skill that you can develop.
One of the highlights of my career has been to work alongside academy award winning actor, Mark Rylance. He has a shelf of awards for his acting, but he’s also a generous director and mentor.
In a play he wrote and directed, I played a snowmobile riding, Norse, frost giant. In most plays, the director gives actors blocking and expects them to always follow it. Mark didn’t. Instead, he described the relationship between characters onstage. If a character moved one way, we would react and respond instead of moving in a rehearsed and rigid fashion that was constructed for us.
His commitment to chaos was so great that he would also change things he thought were working too well. If he thought something became routine, he would break it up and force us back to reacting to it.
This experience gave me a certain comfort in chaos. Through rehearsing in what appeared like chaos I developed an appetite for unpredictability. Because of this method, I actually joined the audience by encountering aspects of the play for the first time every night, together, with them.
Befriending chaos through practice is the first step to handling unexpected moments with ease.
We can “rehearse spontaneity” with the people we seek to connect with. Instead of hoping that things unfold like we plan, we can plan on unpredictability. We can hold on tightly to the points we want to make. But at the same time, let go of particular thoughts or ideas that hold us back.
Here is an excises to try:
- Think of your “Big Idea” and a few supporting words.
- Talk through them enough times so that you’re as clear and concise as you can be.
- Write down what you said.
- Read it aloud.
- Now re-draft to get the words perfect.
- Print out your final copy. Place the paper in front of you and turn it over.
- Talk through your “Big Idea” and supporting thoughts without using any of the words on the paper in front of you.
You have just written your own mini-script. Now that you know your steps you can do the dance.
Results May Vary in Delight
Many of my clients do not like the exercise above. It takes work and commitment. What happens though is almost always a delight to them and me. They engage with the change.
They find new words to share the ideas and the “idea” is now fresher than ever. I hear them thinking, not talking. The words they wrote disappear, replaced by thoughts and authenticity.
Isn’t that what we all want? To be with someone who can conquer change. That’s real. That’s worth listening to?
Hear Everyone but Listen Only to Yourself
Remember the idea and forget the words. There is power and presence in that concept. When you listen to yourself everyone will hear you.
Guest writer: Chris Carlson
Visit @NarrativePros for more information.
If you’ve spent some time at the Hill, you may have noticed the 12 numbered rooms along the south wall of the building. These doors, while now office spaces and bathrooms, once served as study rooms that housed a myriad of researchers, authors and artists.
One such author by the name of Mr. Richardson B. Okie spent almost every day between the war years of 1938 and 1942 in study room 6. This particular study room is located on the mezzanine level, directly behind the large painting of James J. Hill on the Reading Room wall. Mr. Okie was a St. Paul-ite who took to study room 6 so well that he even came in on his wedding day.
We tracked down one of Mr. Okie’s published stories that showed up in the May 1941 edition of The Atlantic magazine, which was of course penned in study room 6. It’s an article called, “When Greek Met Greek. A Story,” which is a fictional account of whistling men recalling the tales of ancient Sparta.
The study rooms at the Hill harken back to a time when the book collection comprised of topics in every subject (with the exception of law, medicine, and fiction). They supported the “serious researcher” that James J. Hill envisioned would be attracted to his library. While many of the original books that Mr. Okie would have poured over are now gone, we look to our Empire Builder collection on library floor “5” for our oldest titles – look for the bright green dots on the book spines to spot one.
Learn more of the story behind the Hill Center, these images and the epic building in our Cabinet of Curiosity Tour every third Thursday at 10:30AM. In this one hour experience you will go back in time, up and down catwalks, through vaults and peek in hidden nooks and crannies. Our October tour is coming up so get your tickets early!
Written by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leah Kodner, Business Librarian from the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters each month for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press. Recently she connected with presenter Richard Krueger. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on October 7, 2017.
According to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the Consumer Price Index for the cost of college textbooks increased 88 percent between January 2006 and July 2016. By comparison, the average increase for all items in that same time period was 21 percent.
Richard Krueger knew that this has been a problem for many students, and he and his partners came up with Swapzit to help solve the problem. Swapzit allows users to list the textbooks or other items they want to get rid of, along with a textbook or other item they need, and Swapzit arranges a multi-party swap, giving all users the item they want in exchange for the item they no longer need.
Name: Richard Krueger
City you live in: St. Paul
City of birth: St. Paul
High school attended: Archbishop Brady High School, West St. Paul
College attended: St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis
Name of company: Swapzit
Business Start Date: June 1, 2012
Number of Employees: 4 founders
Number of Customers: Over 1,000
Q. What led to this point?
A. Myself and the other three founders, Jake Wiatrowski, Lucas Krause and Jamie Weber, have made successful careers out of leveraging technology to automate manual processes and compiling data to gain insights and make better decisions. Most of us currently work in the Business Intelligence field.
We exist in that sweet spot between generations where we aren’t intimidated by new technology, nor do we take it for granted. We’ve seen so much innovation in our lives, from the inception of call waiting on land lines, to having access to the sum of human knowledge in the palm of your hand. We want to make a positive impact in the world, and we’ve grown up with technology being the tool to make that impact.
Q. What is your business?
A. The Swapzit business is one of identifying and retaining value. We call it “Worth Finding.” We live in a world of abundance where most people have things stored in their closets, basements and garages, and yet many of us lack the wealth to get the things we need and want. Swapzit provides a medium for people to get the maximum value possible from the stuff they have by getting them the things they actually want and need.
Swapzit is a platform which uses an advanced algorithm to identify complicated multi-party exchanges. What does that mean?
Let’s say that you’re a student that has an engineering textbook you don’t need anymore, and your next class is an art class. You could sell your textbook back to the bookstore at a 90 percent loss, and then kick in another few hundred dollars to get your art book. You could try to find a student who happens to have the textbook you want and also happens to want the textbook you have. You’ll spend days looking, and you’ll likely not succeed in finding someone.
What Swapzit does is arrange multi-party exchanges, so you send your engineering book to someone who needs it, and another person ships their art book to you. By including more than two people, sometimes up to six, Swapzit makes the likelihood of you getting your book, for just the cost of shipping, an almost certainty, and we make it extremely easy.
Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. Because we’re older professionals, each of the Swapzit founders has built a professional network. We’ve leveraged our networks to formally establish an 11-person advisory board of professionals who are some of the most successful in the marketing, advertising, legal, startup, and IT worlds.
Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Jake, Lucas, and I met while working for a startup. We routinely talked of starting our own business. Years later, Jake and I were working on the University of Minnesota campus. We’ve all heard about the triple digit percentage increases in the cost of tuition and books. Working on campus, it was impossible for us to not think about the debt these kids were incurring. Over the course of a lunch, Jake challenged me to find a solution. Later that day, Swapzit.com was registered.
Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. The Swapzit algorithm, and Swap-Management protocols, are capable of solving many problems associated with broken markets….READ FULL ARTICLE
You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.JJHill.org.
In celebration of Twin Cities Startup Week 2017, the James J. Hill Center thought they would share their top 5 tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
- Find the best data and use it
You need solid information and data to support your start-up, whether you are writing a business plan, researching venture capital or looking for business leads. A few hot tips: IBISWorld is the best database for industry information, PrivCo is your bet for hard-to-find private company information and SimplyAnalytics is perfect for demographic information that can be used to inform you on developing into new markets. You can find all of these databases at the Hill…and they are free to use.
- Learn from those who have traveled the same path
At the Hill, we provide a lot of opportunities to do just that. Meet the Expert is a perfect example of a program that connects you with experts across fields of law, marketing, digital, business development and more. Find the missing link for your start-up in this speed-dating style program.
- Show up
You’ve heard it before “the world is run by those who show up.” Try out a networking event or attend 1 Million Cups St. Paul. By showing up, you’ll get the double benefit of learning more about the start-up landscape in the Twin Cities, as well as an opportunity to share your dream and find those willing to support you along the way.
- Look for help from those who know
Thinking about writing a business plan, starting a non-profit, or moving your product into a new market? Try our Database Deep Dive series to take the edge off the research. These free workshops occur twice a month and will offer the best tips and tricks to navigating our databases. We love to answer questions, so come ready to dig in!
- Remember you’re part of something bigger
Chipping away at a new start-up can bring up a number of feelings, but isolation doesn’t have to be one of them. Consider us your new home-base for your business. The Hill is a powerful space ripe with a rich tradition of entrepreneurial wins. Come use our free Wifi, sit and work, bring your lunch or use our resources to build your dream. Do you think you are one of the “original thinkers” that James J. Hill wanted to attract to his library? We think so. Come in and give us a try.
Written by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. If you have more questions about the reference library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or email@example.com.
Chris Carlson is an entrepreneur, actor, lawyer and the founder of NarrativePros dedicated to coaching stronger connections. Chris is setting the standard for soft skills training across the region and will be sharing his tips and tricks in our monthly blog Soft Skills Revolution. Come back the first Tuesday of each month and learn key steps to unleash your efficiency, effectiveness and maximize your input.
A Breath Away
There is so much in the world we have no control of. That’s why it’s always nice for me to remember that the greatest gift I can give myself, and others, is to just… breathe.
The practice of deep breathing is at the core of connecting with yourself in front of an audience. By the end of this post, you’ll be in on the greatest secret of successful performers and yogis alike.
The Pains in the…
By now, most of you know that I’m a speech coach. So it won’t come as a surprise if I trot out the fear of public speaking as a pain point (by the way, the latest poll has public speaking second to snakes).
In a bit I will cover the direct benefit deep breathing has on public speaking. First, I want to add some other pretty horrible pains most of us have faced in our life:
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- attention deficit disorder
Deep breathing has been shown to help with ALL of these.
Ancient Benefits We’re Catching Onto…
The primary benefit of deep breathing is its calming effect on the body.
People from cultures all over the world have practiced deep breathing for a millennia. How this works is only recently becoming clear to scientists according to an article in New York Times on Why Deep Breathing May Keep Us Calm. Isn’t it nice when science recognizing the benefit of something we’ve been doing all along?
The point is: breathing from your diaphragm calms your body down. And a calm body calms your mind.
The Nuts and Bolts
The key to deep breathing lies in understanding how we breathe. When I give workshops, I often ask everyone to take a deep breath in. I watch as chests heave and shoulders go up.
Many people assume since air goes into our lungs, that’s also what drives breathe. Close, but no cigar.
The diaphragm is a parachute-shaped muscle that sits under your lungs. That’s the muscle chiefly responsible for drawing in your breathe. Despite what my workshop attendees show me, it’s not the muscles around your chest.
The crazy thing is, you already “know” this. Everyone of us breathes quite efficiently when we don’t think about it. Watch someone who is extremely relaxed and you’ll see their belly move up and down more than their chest.
That’s because the diaphragm is contracting to pull in breath. The stomach and surrounding muscles get out of the way and expand outward. This is another reason most people don’t breath efficiently–people are vain. They are concerned about keeping their bellies tucked in.
Speakers, Listen Up…
Deep breathing does two important things for speakers. First, it calms them. Everyone gets nervous to some degree. Deep breathing stems the fight or flight reaction we get when we step in front of a crowd.
Second, deep breathing strengthens and supports a speaker’s voice. With adequate breath, a speaker can speak longer, louder and with greater range. You don’t have to be a performer or singer to benefit from more volume or a fuller voice.
You Can Do It!
Whether you’re a speaker or a stressed-out blog reader, you can start deep breathing now. There is nothing fancy or complicated about deep breathing. The process begins with an awareness of your breath.
- Put one hand on your stomach
- Put the other on your chest
- Take a deep breath in
Since you’re doing this, I will assume you are not familiar with deep breathing technique. This means that, probably, you felt your chest move as much or more than your stomach.
Here’s a cool trick I just found out while writing this: Google “deep breathing”. You should get a one-minute guided breathing exercise. I shouldn’t be too surprised since I read that Google teaches breathing to its employees.
Don’t believe me, though. Go Google it! And breathe…
Guest writer: Chris Carlson
Visit @NarrativePros for more information.
As we wrap up Welcoming Week (Sept. 15 -24) at the James J. Hill Center we wanted to share some of the great tools and resources we used to work towards being more inclusive, welcoming and open to all communities.
The Hill is proud to be an active member of Welcoming America. Launched in 2009, Welcoming America has spurred a growing movement across the United States. Their award-winning social entrepreneurship model is beginning to scale globally. As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, Welcoming America supports the many diverse communities and partners who are leading efforts to make their communities more vibrant places for all.
As communities change and grow, we all need to work together to ensure that all members of our communities, both new and old, feel welcome and included. Tools to support this idea can be so helpful. Welcoming America has provided those tools and resources. They connect leaders, community, government and nonprofit sectors so they can work together to provide a network of support and communication. These connections help bring great institutions and people together to make things happen.
During welcoming week the Hill leveraged new relationships to pull together a string of great institutions: The International Institute of Minnesota, Saint Paul College, Grow MN, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Neighborhood Development Center and many more. Through small dinners, large panel discussions and short presentations we discussed important and relevant topics such as diversity in our entrepreneurial community, the new American workforce and the needs of minority-owned businesses. These conversations were enlightening and informative, but did show how many more steps we need to take to continue to build and grow and truly be a welcoming Minnesota.
To do this we must all get involved, join the conversation and remain open. Here are some great tips that we have learned and initiated here at the Hill since joining Welcoming America.
First understand your local context:
1) Look at local economic priorities and immigrant assets
2) Look at the data that tells your local immigrant story
3) Engage in existing programs and partners
4) Talk with immigrant entrepreneurs
A great first step to try each of those four items is to join us at the James J. Hill Center. You can either review data through our free databases, engage in one of our topical presentations or panels or join one of our networking sessions.
Here are four things you can do on your own to support our local immigrant entrepreneurs:
1) Be a champion
2) Be a connector
3) Fill in the gaps
4) Make it your own
These steps will help us all grow and will ensure that our community and economy continues to prosper, grow and succeed. Visit the Hill or go to Welcomingamerican.org to find out more about how you can help your community become more inviting for all.
There is very strong data to support investment in minority owned businesses in Minnesota. Data from the 2012 Survey of Business Organizations and the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs 2015 reveal these important insights.
1) Minority business created more jobs than the largest employer in Minnesota: The Mayo Clinic, the largest MN employer, employed 39,000 jobs, estimate of DEED. Minority owned businesses as a group in comparison, employed over 70,000 people with an annual payroll of $1.7 billion.
2) The number of minority businesses grew faster than non-minority businesses: While the number of minority businesses grew by 53 percent during the period 2007-12, the number of non-minority businesses declined by 3 percent.
3) Minority business job growth increased at a higher rate than non-minority businesses: While minority businesses achieved a 68 percent growth in jobs during the period 2007-12, non-minority business jobs grew by only 10 percent.
4) The number of minority female owned businesses grew faster than female owned businesses: While the number of minority female businesses grew by 78 percent during the period 2007-12, the number of non-minority businesses grew by 19 percent.
5) The number of minority veteran owned businesses grew faster than veteran owned businesses: While the number of minority veteran businesses grew by 130 percent during the period 2007-12, the number of veteran businesses grew by 6 percent.
6) The fastest growing industries for minority firms were mining, utilities, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, management and other services: The number of minority owned firms in five out of 18 industries more than doubled between 2007 and 2012.
Most of minority businesses are at the critical stage with sales between $100,000 and a million dollars. Policy attention is needed to help them grow. Our study of African immigrant entrepreneurs revealed that they needed most help with marketing and new product development apart from access to capital. Female entrepreneurs had unique needs compared to male entrepreneurs. Most of these entrepreneurs received very little help from public or non-profit organizations.
Research shows the minority economic status improves when minority entrepreneurs are successful as the wealth base of the community expands.
Bruce Corrie is Professor of Economics and Associate Vice President for University Relations at Concordia University-St. Paul.
Leah Kodner, Business Librarian from the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters each month for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press. Recently she connected with presenter Amanda Leightner. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on September 9, 2017.
Startups need publicity. Without publicity, nobody will know that a startup exists, what it does, or why it matters.
Startups also benefit from being part of a startup community, where entrepreneurs support one another and share their expertise. These startup communities also need publicity, in order to share news about events, resources for entrepreneurs, and more.
Amanda Leightner was impressed with the Rochester startup community but saw that it lacked publicity. She started Rochester Rising both to provide publicity for Rochester entrepreneurs and to inform outsiders of all that the Rochester startup community has to offer.
Name: Amanda Leightner
City you live in: Rochester
City of birth: Pittsburgh, Pa.
High school attended: Highlands High School, Natrona Heights, Pa.
Colleges attended: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Name of company: Rochester Rising
Business Start Date: July 18, 2016
Number of Employees: 1
Q. What led to this point?
A. I’m a trained molecular biologist with over 12 years of experience in biomedical research. Even though I spent 6 years obtaining a PhD and continued to do postdoctoral studies, I knew that a career in science was not for me. After graduating from Mayo Graduate School, I decided to do my postdoctoral research at the UMN and spend that time gaining experience to try doing something else.
I had always enjoyed writing, and thought I could explore a career as a science or medical writer, but at the time I lacked the experience. I did an internship with Life Science Alley Association, where I really got interested in the science business community in Minnesota.
Afterwards, I got in touch with a researcher I had worked with at Mayo Clinic, Jamie Sundsbak, who ran a supportive group for life science entrepreneurs in Rochester called BioAM. A few months later, I received a call from Jamie asking me to help him build up a website and online presence of BioAM and help share stories of life science innovation in Minnesota.I wrote stories about science entrepreneurship around the Minneapolis area and built up this web presence for about a year and a half, calling it Life Science Nexus.
In January 2016, I completely took over running and operating Life Science Nexus. That May, I decided to go full in on being an entrepreneur myself with the online news site. I moved from Minneapolis back to Rochester to be in closer contact with Jamie as I grew the business. After living in Rochester for only a few weeks, I realized how much the entrepreneurial community as a whole was growing, and how little anyone was talking about it.
In July, Life Science Nexus was pivoted into Rochester Rising to amplify the stories of all entrepreneurship, expanding beyond life sciences, and focusing in on the Rochester area. Now I run all aspects of the business as a solo entrepreneur.
Q. What is your business?
A. Rochester Rising is an online news site that amplifies the stories of entrepreneurship occurring in Rochester. We put out several articles and a podcast every week taking an in-depth look at Rochester startups and innovative small businesses and really take the time to understand the person behind the business and how they started it in Rochester.
Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. The entrepreneurial community in Rochester is a fantastic resource. You can always find someone who is a few steps ahead of you who is willing to give advice and encouragement.
Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. Even a few years ago, there was not much of an entrepreneurial community in Rochester. While still small, we now have an entrepreneurial core that is growing every day…READ FULL ARTICLE
You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.JJHill.org.