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She Tells Rochester’s Startup Stories

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.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Amanda Leightner
Age: 32
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.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Rochester Rising
Website: www.rochesterrising.org
Business Start Date: July 18, 2016
Number of Employees: 1

 

Q&A

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.

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