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

Reference Transformation & Relevance

We can’t officially wrap up National Library Week without reflecting on the week’s theme of transformation, and what that means to reference libraries like ours at the Hill Center.

When the value of a cultural institution is in question, it’s really the relevance of the institution that’s at stake. For reference libraries many times their relevance is translated into the number of visitors, number of clicks, and number of positive survey results – but even with this data, the impression of relevance can often times be missed. In order to truly understand relevancy, we need to understand our impact on a case-by-case basis and this is often times qualitative.  We need to ask questions like – have we transformed to meet the real needs of our community? Are we providing an inclusive space to think differently, share ideas and take risks? These questions are hard to measure but at the Hill Center we have begun to see the results.

James J. Hill has played a pivotal role in introducing me to the start-up culture. From presenting at 1 Million Cups and attending its many thought-leader panels, I have richly benefited from the proactive resources and seemingly infinite networking opportunities”  Entrepreneur

“The fact that I have this resource available to me, both the facility and research staff, is an absolute relief.”
Business Owner

According to IBISWorld, the Library industry forecasts a slow and steady growth in the next five years – whereas the online database and print book industries are forecasting a decline. This tells us that the nature of the traditional reference library is already transforming into new arenas. At the Hill, this means that beyond offering key business information, we don’t just rely on what we have – we rely on who we know – and what we can do.

At the Hill Center, we meet our community at every point in their entrepreneurial journey. Whether you’re thinking about starting a business or find yourself needing data to branch out into a new market – we have the “secret sauce” that will get you to the next level. What’s the recipe? We like to think our people make all the difference.

Being relevant isn’t just about having relevant information – it’s about having a welcoming space for ideas to fly. The Hill Center creates a space for meaningful engagement in our business community – and it shows. Come to a 1 Million Cups presentation on a Wednesday morning, and you will see the space transformed into a conduit for idea and talent sharing, and just sometimes that right connection to take your idea to the next level.

What I appreciate most about the Hill Center, is the continued commitment from staff to uphold the entrepreneurial spirit of our “founding father,” James J. Hill. The original entrepreneur, Hill didn’t take hard work for granted, and neither do we. We’re here to make that hard work a little easier for you, forging a path that will make a difference – and hard work is always relevant.

“Work, hard work, intelligent work, and then more work.” – James J. Hill


Composed by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. 
It you have more questions about the Reference Library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

Continue Reading

This is Not Your Grandfather’s Golf Shirt

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Matt Stang. As seen in the Pioneer Press, Startup Showcase on April 8th, 2017.

A 2016 article in Forbes entitled “The State of the Golf Industry in 2016” notes that golf is gaining popularity among the younger generation, with 6.3 million millennials playing golf annually.

Matt Stang noticed that these young golfers are not interested in buying expensive golf apparel that is often intended for an older market. He created Swannies to capture this younger market, selling affordable golf apparel that appeals to a younger market.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Matt Stang
Age: 25
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: White Bear Lake
High school attended: White Bear Lake High School
College attended: University of Minnesota

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Swannies
Website: www.swannies.co
Business Start Date: June 2015
Number of Employees: 8
Number of Customers: 500

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?

A. After attending the University of Minnesota, I spent two years in management consulting in Boston. I felt a strong desire to do something I felt more passionately about. After brainstorming the idea for Swannies on the side and garnering initial traction, I launched the company in 2015 with two college friends.

Q. What is your business?

A. Swannies is a lifestyle apparel brand for young and casual golfers. We’re creating modern golf essentials to replace the stuffy, elitist perceptions of the game’s past. Our goal is to change the image of golf by building not just an apparel company but a lifestyle brand.

Our products appeal to young and casual golfers. The Swannies brand and team — being young, casual golfers ourselves — appeals to this group from three key angles:

Price: our products are on average 40% cheaper than most of our major competitors’.

Style and Selection: modern lifestyle designs and clothing to be worn both on and off the course.

Branding: targeting younger golfers whom we believe are currently being unrepresented.

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

A. I surround myself with people that are smarter than me and have different skill sets. That way assumptions are being challenged and new ideas constantly arise…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 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

Continue Reading

Transformation from Innovation

“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to management than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely the lukewarm defense in those who gain by the new ones.”  –  Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527), Philosopher and playwright

I recently ran across this quote by Niccolo Machiavelli at the Hill entrepreneurial center and would have thought it was written today.  Not so, it shows that change has been a process of mis-acceptance for as long as man has innovated on new ideas.  

 I define innovation as the introduction of new and improved ways of putting ideas into action. In an economic sense, an innovation is accomplished with the first commercial transaction involving a new or improved product, process, or organizational business model. Innovation is then intentional attempts to bring about value from change. These values include; economic benefits, personal growth, increased satisfaction, improved group coherence, better organizational communication, as well as productivity and economic measures.  

Sound like entrepreneurism?  I think so, to the entrepreneur that means transformation of creative ideas to accountable, actionable changes.  Maximizing customer value and experience is a core principle in innovation.  The entrepreneur needs to understand that ‘emotion trumps logic’ and that their audience needs to feel and experience the value brought by their innovation.  

We are a society of habit and as Nicolo Machiavlli’s quote shows of the past, the same is currently true.  The creation of new must provide a value proposition that goes beyond current habits to prevent sabotage from those who feel threatened by change.  

To generate “Transformation from Innovation” identify and target market your change agents early so they may become your evangelists to help you articulate and promote your values. 


Jeff Brown p
ositively transforming the way people grow their personal business brand.
• Board Member, Coaching, and Strategy for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups
• Developing and transforming ideas into something superb
• Creating accountable strategies to helping clients where they are stuck or want to go

Continue Reading

The Heart of the Hill

In association with National Library Week we are celebrating our hard working Business Librarians, Leah Kodner and Alex Ingham.  Come in and visit with them and see how they can help you explore your next business steps.

How did you get connected to the James J. Hill Center?

Leah: I first learned about The Hill from reading the job board at St. Kate’s during my last semester working on my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. The more I learned about the library, the more I wanted to work there. I was hired in March 2014, shortly after finishing my MLIS, and this became my second professional library job.

Alex: I began my career at the Hill as an intern. Later a position opened in library services and I pursued it.

What does your day as a business librarian look like?
Leah: Throughout the day, I respond to reference inquiries via email, phone, chat, and in person at the library. I spend the majority of the day teaching patrons in the library how to use our databases and introducing them to new sources of information. During my downtime, I work on other projects, such as cataloging and organizing our print and archival collections.

Alex:  No two days are alike here at the Hill. While answering visitor inquiries – whether in-person, on the phone, or virtually – takes up the bulk of the day, a significant amount of time is spent on special projects, too. The Hill is home to a physical collection numbering in the hundreds of thousands and spanning nearly a dozen sub-collections, so tending to its upkeep and organization can be a colossal task at times.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Leah: I love the satisfaction that comes from helping the patrons. It’s great to help someone out who comes into the building stressed and apprehensive about the project they’re working on, and helping them find the information they need quickly and painlessly. Watching somebody leave  with a relieved smile on their face at the end of the day is the best!

Alex: I revel in a challenge and am always eager to give attention to the unconventional question that might come across my desk.

What do you want people to know about you?
Leah: I want people to know that they can approach me!  I’m happy to answer any questions about the library and about our resources. Remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question!

Alex: I come from a teaching and learning background and have always been drawn to libraries. The concept of community is one that equally excites me. The James J. Hill Center balances these two elements well and I could not feel more at home here.

What sets our reference library apart from others?
Leah: We’re a really unique institution. We’ve got the best publicly available business reference databases around. Using our resources, you can gather industry and competitive data for a business plan, build sales lists, learn the demographics of your target market, find funding sources, and more.

Alex:  The one-on-one support offered at the Hill is unparalleled. Our reference librarians are very knowledgeable and familiar with the resources we offer.

The James J. Hill Center mission honors the legacy of its founder by continuing to support entrepreneurial spirit in the 21st Century. We offer research, programs, and networking for each stage of business development. Our efforts also include services to the broader community through the hosting of cultural and artistic programming and events.  Visit us in downtown Saint Paul at 80 West Fourth Street, off the corner of Market and Fourth.  

Continue Reading

Introducing: Lindsey Dyer

Lindsey Dyer is the new Director of Library Services at the James J. Hill Center, and comes with experience from both public and academic libraries, as well as Target, Corp. and the Minnesota Historical Society. Lindsey lives in St. Paul with her husband and is the mom of three kids.  We took a few minutes to chat with her about her new position at the Hill.  Come in and join us at the Hill next week during National Library Week to meet Lindsey and her team and participate in free programming.

How did your journey with the James J. Hill Center begin?
The Hill Center inspired me to pursue a career in libraries back in 2005, when I worked here as a volunteer. It is easy to see why – the building draws you in and speaks for itself. Though I had since moved on to new professional opportunities, I maintained an admiration for the mission and staff – particularly the Hill Papers Archivist, Eileen McCormack, whose job I aspired to at the time. I am honored to be back!

What do you want people to know about you?
I am very interested in how library services fit into the broader user experience landscape when it comes to looking for and using information. Libraries have an important task, especially now, to be conduits for authentic and unbiased information that we use every day in business decisions. I think we’ve lost sight of why this is important to talk about. At the Hill Center, we have a unique opportunity to narrow that down to information that entrepreneurs in particular need to get to the next step in their business planning. It’s exciting and inspiring when our information becomes the turning point for a startup.

What has made the biggest impact on your career so far?
Working for both Target and the Minnesota Historical Society gave me a unique perspective on service and management. I like to think that I took the best from both worlds, specifically non-traditional approaches to what accessibility looks like, and have been working to implement some of these things at the Hill Center.

What has been the largest hurdle and success you have experienced in your career?
I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some talented entrepreneurs, and have had some real conversations about what they need to be successful. I am working towards the hurdle of transforming reference services at the Hill Center to best fit those needs. I want the library to not only give entrepreneurs information – I want us to be the difference between success and failure.

What is it about Minnesota and more specifically Saint Paul that keeps you here?St. Paul – or “Small Paul” – has been my home for 13 years, and it’s the ultimate charmer. I am especially drawn to historic homes, and in fact used to be the Site Manager of the James J. Hill House – the historic house museum to rival them all. This city has a rich history, and it shows.

The Hills’ mission honors the legacy of its founder by continuing to support entrepreneurial spirit in the 21st Century. We offer research, programs, and networking for each stage of business development. Our efforts also include services to the broader community through the hosting of cultural and artistic programming and events.

Continue Reading

A Heads-Up Approach to Motorcycle Safety

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter John Henry. As seen in the Pioneer Press, Startup Showcase on March 25th, 2017.

According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, there were 4,586 motorcyclists killed in collisions in 2014. Though this number is down from a peak in 2008, it is still high.

After witnessing a motorcycle crash firsthand, John Henry decided to find a solution. He learned that many car and motorcycle crashes happen because of ineffective brake lights which only light up when the brake is applied and not when a car is decelerating for other reasons. Because of this, drivers may not know that the vehicle in front of them is slowing down, leading to increased risk of collisions.

Henry created the Heads Up Braking System, attachable brake lights that respond to deceleration, not just the application of the brake pedal.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Innervision by Henry Inc.
Website: www.innervisionbyhenry.com; www.headsupbraking.com
Business Start Date: Started in 2000. Conducted a soft launch of its first product in 2016.

ENTREPRENEUR  PROFILE

City you live in: Minnetonka
City of birth: Cocoa Beach, Fla.
High school attended: Boca Ciega High School, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Colleges attended: University of Minnesota, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?

A. I started Innervision by Henry in 2000. I received my first patent for safety devices for recreational and sports vehicles and their drivers in March 2003. A second patent was granted in 2005 that expands on the first.

Prior to founding Innervision, I served in the U.S. Army. I am very proud of my military experience and very committed to contributing in this area.  My inventions will enhance U.S. military capability to provide increased safety in a variety of ways.

After completing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, I joined Best Buy, where I held a sales management position and was responsible for developing many of the earlier sales management procedures for the company. I went on to work at the University of Minnesota Medical School as associate administrator, responsible for operations and grants. While working full time at the university, I earned a Master’s degree in education and management. I held leadership positions in a number of university organizations and was promoted to director of minority affairs in the College of Human Ecology.  One of my major accomplishments while at the university was the development and implementation of minority student retention programs and mentoring programs at the university and within the Twin Cities community.

As a top pharmaceutical sales person for Bristol Meyers Squibb, I sold over $18 million for the neural science division, honing my sales skills. I left Bristol Meyers Squibb to devote myself full time to Innervision, the development of its product line, and my patent ventures.

Q. What is your business?

A. Innervision is the result of my creative application of technology to address critical safety issues beyond just vehicles, their drivers and riders. The first of 10 new products, the Heads Up Braking system (HUB system) is one of most advanced wireless braking light systems for motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles. Vehicles often decelerate through dynamic engine braking or down shifting…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 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

Continue Reading

Small start up with a BIG dream

Amanda Carlson is the Founder and CEO of Rookiework.  In celebration of Women’s History Month we had the opportunity to ask Amanda about her success so far.   

What is your business and how did your entrepreneurial journey begin?
Rookiework is unique as our entrepreneurial journey began with the dream and idea of a way to help other small business owners make their dreams a reality and a success.

Rookiework is a small start-up business, based in Minneapolis, MN, with a big dream: making small businesses competitive against large corporations. We believe in entrepreneurship and innovation, and we love small businesses and start-ups. Our contribution to the success of small businesses is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between them and talented students with complementing skills, and to give them the tools they need to succeed. We might just help some students pay for their education along the way.

What do you want people to know about you and your business and what sets it apart?
Rookiework is a very unique business where our success comes when we are able to help other small business owners affordably achieve their goals while helping college students.

Small businesses cannot afford the same luxuries as large corporations, and are often forced to perform non-core functions, such as web design or advertising, on their own. At the same time, talented students with these skills are struggling to pay for school and are forced to work in minimum-wage jobs. We believe talented students and small businesses can help each other. A student can provide services at a much lower cost that a consulting agency, and they would love to work with their talent and passion. Rookiework exists to create this partnership and help it succeed.

What or who has made the biggest impact on your entrepreneurial career so far?
To this point I would say the willingness of other small business owners that have overcome obstacles sharing their experiences and suggestions has made the biggest impact thus far. I believe networking in the small business community is the key to entrepreneurial success.

How does your entrepreneurial spirit contribute to the Twin Cities business ecosystem and community?
I believe our entrepreneurial spirit within Rookiework has and will continue to help grow the business community within the Twin Cities as we are here to help other businesses have access to an affordable tool to complete projects. We also help students within our community gain skills, experience, and funds. These are both beneficial to our local economy.

What has been the largest hurdle and/or success you have experienced as an entrepreneur?
The largest hurdle we have faced and we are actually working on still overcoming is getting our mission and name out into the community affordably. We are continuously brainstorming affordable ways to get our business known but as an entrepreneur it is a unique problem we face; to grow our business in an attainable manner. We continue to take leaps and strides to this hurdle and getting our name out there through perseverance.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs just getting out of gate?
I would say follow your dreams and work hard. Take all the advice you get and apply it in your own way to what you want to achieve. Being an entrepreneur is not easy and will take a lot of work no doubt, but every drop of sweat sleepless night is worth it.

What is it about Minnesota and how has it managed to keep you here?
We are very fortunate to be here. The Twin Cities in Minnesota is an extremely unique and successful economy with a vast array of opportunity. That is what drew Thomas to this market when he had the concept originally. I personally am a Northern Minnesota native and believe we have an endless list of benefits available to us here. We are Minnesota nice and helping others as a business and will continue to grow here to create more of these stories.

Amanda presented Rookiework at 1 Million Cups in 2016.  For more information on 1 Million Cups or to present your start up at the James J. Hill Center please visit jjhill.org or apply now.

Continue Reading

Mobilizing for Action with Jamie Millard

In celebration of Women’s History Month and the dynamic female leaders we have here in Minnesota we have been sharing insights and stories from some of Minnesota’s most influential and game-changing women.  Please enjoy our visit with Jamie Millard as she share’s her perspective, experience and profound beliefs regarding mobilizing a community. 

Jamie Millard is executive director of Pollen, a digital platform that breaks down the barriers of narrative, networking, and opportunity to build better-connected communities.  Jamie has been identified as a “2015 40 Under 40” by the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, as a “100 People to Know in 2015” by the Twin Cities Business Magazine. Nationally, Jamie was recognized in the Huffington Post as one of four millennial leaders, “doing important work to move us toward a more just and equitable society.”

How do you mobilize for action?
Over the past five years, I  have poured my soul and energy into the Minneapolis / St. Paul region by working closely to criss-cross networks. With connection comes relation and empathy. And as communities begin to cross-pollinate, we connect across our differences, and we begin to unlock the potential of universal possibility. There is no better world  than one where we each focus more on supporting those around us than ourselves. A world where we each work to be in greater relation to one another. Where we live to relate the unrelated.

What is your strength as a Leader?
Ever since I was little, I have always found myself as someone who speaks when there is a void or a lack of direction. I’m good at rallying the troops and I enjoy mobilizing for action. I see leadership as knowing how to be in tune with the moods and energy of those around you—adjusting everyone to be in tune together.

What have been some challenges and opportunities being a women in a leadership role?
Work culture was designed by the white, male breadwinner. It’s not designed to value empathy—and especially not vulnerability. When leadership doesn’t reward traits that are often stronger and more centered in women, then we have to hide those parts of ourselves. Or worse, if we can’t hide those traits, then we can experience serious consequences professionally.

This is also where I see great opportunity. In dismantling the traditional internalized work culture, we can make room to build a new culture. A culture that is less capitalistic and more human-centered.

What inspires you?
My Work Wife, Meghan Murphy. We co-founded Paper Darts together and we run Pollen Midwest together. She’s my go-to work partner on any and all projects. She’s also my best friend and honorary aunt to my daughter. When women can fully support and love other women in their projects and dreams, that gives me so much life, hope and inspiration. Work Wives are the future.

What Insights & advice do you have for other women?
Ask for help and fiercely support other women. And remember, everyone cries in the car (link: http://minnesotabusiness.com/everyone-cries-car).

For more information about Jamie Millard’s visionary work visit Pollen  and sign up for their monthly newsletter or attend an upcoming event.  In addition to her work at Pollen, Jamie serves on a Greater MSP task force to address the retention and attraction of emerging talent in our region. She is also a current member, and former board chair, of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network — Twin Cities. In 2009, Jamie co-founded the literary arts magazine Paper Darts, which is now a premier Twin Cities literary institution and has published more than 700 writers and artists. 

For more inspiring conversations about ground breaking professionals in our industry review some of our previous stories at jjhill.org/blog

 

Continue Reading

A Voice at the Table

In celebration of Women’s History Month we have asked groundbreaking female leaders in our community to share a piece of their story.  Rebecca Noecker is a community builder, an advocate for social justice, a wife and mother, and a proud resident of Saint Paul’s West Side.
In 2015, Rebecca was elected to represent Ward 2 on the Saint Paul City Council.  She is the youngest member of the Council and the first woman to represent Ward 2. 

For most of my life, I’ve been lucky enough not to think about gender.

Growing up, I took for granted the fact that my mother and father were both physicians, that they split the housework evenly, that no one would be there when my brothers and I got home from school. My mother’s mother also worked full-time, as an economist and a high school history teacher, while raising three children. In my young worldview, being a woman was no disadvantage at all.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize what an unusual environment I was raised in, and how the self-confidence that was baked into me by all the male and female role models around me helped me make my way in a world that still rewards traits that are typically male.

This has become especially evident to me in the world of politics and in a city like St. Paul where “old boys’ clubs”, like landmines, are all over and often invisible – until you’ve stepped on one.

At work, I’m surrounded by thoughtful, eloquent, socially aware women, many of whom occupy leadership positions. But even in the relatively progressive climate of City Hall, I sit through many meetings in which men do 95% of the talking – and not because of the quality of their ideas. At a recent meeting, after the two men in the room had left early, I looked around at the half-dozen smart women at the table – none of whom had yet said a word. “Okay,” I said. “Now that the men are gone, let’s hear from everyone else.” The best ideas of the meeting were generated in the next 30 minutes.

These experiences are making me more aware as a leader—and as a mom. I’m raising my two young boys not to take gender equality for granted, to recognize their responsibility to fight for it every day.

Continue Reading

Fizzy Energy: A Passion with a Prize

Sarah Nichols is the Founder and CEO of RSVTea,  She is a powerful, poised and passionate Minnesota entrepreneur on a mission to revive the power of celebration where everyone is invited. She took an idea with fizzy energy to a full fledged business.  In celebration of Women’s History Month we had the opportunity to ask Sarah about her success so far.   

What is your Business and how did your entrepreneurial journey begin?

My business is RSVTea, a startup beverage company that makes fizzy energy teas! I started brewing the company concept when I was a Junior at Macalester College and studying abroad in Vienna, planning for a career in international relations. I was prepping for the LSATs and tired of drinking too much coffee. I needed a pick-me-up, but I wanted something healthier than energy drinks and more exciting than flat iced tea. So I decided to make caffeinated tea bubbly and better for me with natural sugar substitutes. I prototyped recipes and had so much fun sharing them with my friends, that tea became my focus, and by the end of my study abroad program, I had a recipe, the start of a business plan, and a very dusty LSAT prep book. I left that book in Vienna and returned the U.S. excited to brew and bring a new kind of tea to town.

What do you want people to know about you and your business and what sets it apart?
I am a young founder. Although I just turned 23, my age combined with my entrepreneurial spirit gives me a dynamic energy that propelled the launch RSVTea. I graduated in May 2016 and began incubating the company in the Mac Startups summer program, and now have a strong board of directors, a strong brand, a product ready for distribution, and swelling momentum. We’re on a mission to revive the power of celebration, and we’re ready to bring a new type of tea party to the Twin Cities.

What or who has made the biggest impact on your entrepreneurial career so far?
My big brother, Taylor. He was born with severe disabilities and has been nonverbal his whole life. Although he can’t speak, Taylor has taught me more about this world than anyone else. More importantly, he showed me how I want to make a lasting, positive impact on this planet. The motto for RSVTea, “everyone’s invited” stems from my childhood with Taylor. I grew up seeing him intentionally and unintentionally excluded- but excluded nonetheless, and I wanted to change that with an inclusivity initiative. I wanted to bring people together to celebrate ourselves for what we are and not what we aren’t. So, this is a toast to Taylor for being my inspiration to change the world, the best hugger when I’m scared I may fail, and my biggest reminder that I am a powerful, poised, and positive force in this world.

How does your entrepreneurial spirit contribute to the Twin Cities Business Ecosystem and Community?
I contribute to the Twin Cities Business Ecosystem by being a young woman professional who is engaged with her community and building a resilient, local brand. I am an example that regardless of generation, the Twin Cities are a fertile place to start a successful company. I want to make opportunities like mine more accessible and dynamic for new and emerging entrepreneurs. I am especially focused for new graduates or current college students. I am still very involved with entrepreneurship at Macalester, and I am a firm believer that linking the Twin Cities institutions of academia with entrepreneurship initiatives is a paramount addition to the Business Ecosystem.

What has been the largest hurdle and / or success you have experienced as an entrepreneur?
My biggest hurdle and success as of now was starting RSVTea. The odds were certainly stacked against me. I was young, a solo founder, a first-time CEO, inexperienced in the beverage industry, staring down the barrel of student debt, little accumulated wealth, and a woman. I faced the odds, took a bet on myself, and dove all in. There was no time for me to fear failure. Fear is crippling, but failure is something one can get up from. I certainly stumbled and fell over the past 10 months, but I persevered because I was not afraid to take the bet on myself, even with all odds considered.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs just getting out of gate?
Start something for the sake of passion and not the sake of prize. Stories of Silicon Valley and Shark Tank deals give a luster and allure to entrepreneurship. But, there are times when it is not so glamorous or thrilling. There are times when things are rough, unstable, and in severe need of capital. But, if you really care about the problem you are solving, that flicker of passion will keep you navigating the dark and depressing scenarios all startups inevitably face.

What is it about Minnesota and how has it managed to keep you here?
I grew up on a farm in southern Missouri and came to Minnesota for college. Missouri is very similar to parts of rural Minnesota, but I fell in love with the Twin Cities. They are alive with countless new experiences, a swelling economy, and a cool patchwork of Midwesterners, East/West-coasters and newcomers. I consider Minnesota my home now, and I’m proud to be a T.C. Entrepreneur!

Sarah presented RSVTea at 1 Million Cups in 2016.  For more information on 1 Million Cups or to present your start up at the James J. Hill Center please visit jjhill.org or apply now

Continue Reading

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Patrons with accessibility needs please access our ground floor elevator entrance via Kellogg Ave at the back of the building. Please ring the doorbell on the right hand side of door and a Hill staff member will assist you. If you have questions or concerns please call 651.265.5500. We look forward to having you visit.

Blog and More!

X