James J. Hill Center Statement Regarding Current Closure

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An Online, On-Demand Marketplace for Car Repair

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Jacob Koelln. As seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on June 17, 2017.

According to the 2017 IBISWorld report “Auto Mechanics in the U.S.,” auto repair is a $63.8 billion industry, and that figure continues to rise.

Americans own more cars than ever before, and these cars need mechanics. Because of the expense required to maintain cars, it is important that consumers are able to find mechanics that they trust to perform any needed repairs.

Jacob Koelln created his company, CheckNGN, in order to connect consumers to a vetted and trusted network of mechanics, allowing them to post projects and accept bids from these mechanics and select the one that seems like the best fit.


Name: Jacob Koelln
Age: 33
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: Appleton, Minn.
High school attended: John Marshall High School, Rochester, Minn.
College attended: Augsburg College


Name of company: CheckNGN
Website: www.checkNGN.com
Business Start Date: February 2017
Number of Employees: 3 founders
Number of Customers: 20+ repair shops and 200+ users


Q. What led to this point?
A. I consider myself a thinker, solver, and entrepreneur who happened to be working in a corporate setting most of my professional career. I grew up in Rochester, son of Rev. Thomas Koelln and Dr. Rebecca Koelln who always encouraged me to follow what I believe in. I started my corporate work after graduating Augsburg College with a degree in Business Management and Management Information Systems. I have worked for various Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities area including Target Corp., United Health Group, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield — all of which have motivated me positively to start my own business. My motivation behind the mission of CheckNGN really resonates with me, and it gives me that “all in” feeling that is difficult to re-create outside of true entrepreneurship.

Q. What is your business?
A. CheckNGN is an automotive service iOS app that connects users with local independent repair shops. We screen (or vet) shops, and then invite them to join our private network of independent repair professionals. Once they’re part of our network, they’re then eligible to receive bids, which allows them to make a connection. The business model is predicated on a two-way interactive bidding platform that creates transparency in price, quality, and communication of a car service or repair need. Although price is certainly a benefit, the real value comes from the interaction between a car owner and repair shop.  By increasing communication and being transparent about the process, users not only get a fair price, but they also develop a lasting relationship with a repair shop that they can count on.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I’ve been blessed to have found some very helpful and purposeful mentors throughout my career, such as Aaron Eggert and David Jacobsen. Aaron and David are local businessmen, and I’ve had a personal friendship with both even before CheckNGN. We also have a very strong core team of founders….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.


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.