Events in technology and business: A guide to Twin Cities Startup Week


Imagine an entire week of “Shark Tank,” but with entrepreneurial contests, demonstrations, job fairs and networking events spread throughout the Twin Cities.

From showcasing cutting-edge technology to co-working spaces, crypto-currencies and craft brewing, Twin Cities Startup Week aims to spotlight and inspire entrepreneurs through more than 200 scheduled workshops and gatherings.

It also aims to fund them.

Events, which run from Sunday through Oct.13, get underway with the awarding of $500,000 in startup funds associated with the Carlson School of Management’s Minnesota Cup — the largest statewide startup competition in the country. And that’s just one of several “Shark Tank”-like pitch contests on the docket.

Last year, two Startup Week events landed in St. Paul. And this year? The number is more than 40 — including an opening night party at Lake Monster Brewing in St. Paul’s “Creative Enterprise Zone” near Raymond Avenue.

“We’ve been working to bring people into St. Paul and show them it’s a city that has a lot going on, but sometimes we don’t do enough to highlight it,” said St. Paul City Council Member Chris Tolbert, a co-chair of the city’s “Full Stack St. Paul” business initiative.

“St. Paul’s strong showing at this year’s Twin Cities Startup Week is a fantastic reflection of our entrepreneurial community and its reputation,” said B. Kyle, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re looking forward to showcasing our talent, and our incredible spaces and amenities.”

A $25 “general admission” ticket gets you in most places, with the exception of a few designated “VIP” or “Signature Events” and partnering conferences.

A general admission ticket also comes with free rides on the Lyft Bus, an age-appropriate drink at the opening and closing parties, an event t-shirt, free fitness classes and free access to co-working locations throughout the week.

Students, nonprofit leaders and anyone who can’t afford the entry fee can ask for a “freebie” ticket, but it doesn’t come with a t-shirt or drink ticket.

Wondering about the rising generation? The week wraps up with a parent-child engineering hack-a-thon in Bloomington.

Here’s a quick look at select events that are sure to draw a crowd. For a complete calendar listing and registration information, visit twincitiesstartupweek.com.

Keep in mind that several partnering and related conferences, such as Blacks in Technology, Food-Ag-Ideas Week and the health-industry focused Monova Summit, are happening simultaneously and may require external tickets. And many events have already sold-out or are nearly sold-out.

SUNDAY, OCT. 7

Opening night party: The week officially kicks off with an opening night party from 5 to 8 p.m. at Lake Monster Brewing, 550 Vandalia St.

MONDAY, OCT. 8

General Mills: General Mills CEO and Chairman Jeff Harmening will join National Public Radio host Kerri Miller for a fireside chat on innovation in the world of food and agriculture. From 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul.

Minnesota Cup: The grand prize winner of the 2018 Minnesota Cup will be named following presentations from nine division winners. From 4 to 7 p.m. at McNamara Alumni Center’s Great Hall, 200 SE Oak St., Minneapolis.

Techstars: After three months of preparation, nine international entrepreneurs enrolled in the St. Paul-based “Techstars: Farm to Fork!” start-up initiative will pitch their innovations in food and agriculture technology to executives from Cargill and Ecolab. Happy hour is from 4 to 4:45 p.m., and pitches will be followed by a reception with the chance to meet with these new start-up CEOs 1-on-1. From 4 to 8 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St Paul.

TUESDAY, OCT. 9

Loans, Financing and Advice: Join the staff of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to learn about business assistance targeted to start-ups, including the Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Fund, the Angel Loan Fund, the Reservists and Veterans Business Loan Program, and more. From 9 a.m. to noon, inside the First National Bank Building’s street-level conference center, 332 Minnesota St., St. Paul.

Virtual Reality: Voxel Virtual Reality Parlour offers a group interactive experience where, according to the event announcement, you can “float in space, deep dive in the sea, paint a masterpiece or crush some zombies.” The virtual reality arcade doubles as a social venue and yes, there will be adult beverages available. Admission is $10 in advance or $20 at the door. From 8 to 10 p.m. at 550 Vandalia St., Suite 218, St. Paul.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 10

Crypto Breakfast: A showcase of crypto- and blockchain-related projects in the Twin Cities. From 8 to 10 a.m. at Ivy League Place, 475 Cleveland Ave. N., Suite 103, St. Paul.

Million Dollar Challenge for Minority Entrepreneurs: Up to 21 ethnic minority business owners will have five minutes apiece to pitch their ventures to a panel of judges. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter will deliver remarks along with Gary Cunningham, CEO of the business consulting nonprofit Meda. From 4:30 to 9 p.m. in the Travelers building’s Jackson Room, 385 Washington St., St. Paul.

THURSDAY, OCT. 11

Mentor Morning: Six executives from Sunrise Banks, Avisen Legal, Harbor Capital Group and other Midwest companies will meet with early-stage entrepreneurs in an informal breakfast setting. From 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Sunrise Banks Headquarters, 2515 Wabash Ave. St. Paul.

Sofia Fund: Spend 15 minutes talking business and finance with executives from the Minnesota-based Sofia Fund, a female-led team of angel investors who have been choosing winning companies for more than 20 years. From 9 to 11 a.m. at StarTec Investments, 333 S. Seventh St., Suite 1110, Minneapolis.

FRIDAY, OCT 12

Job Market: Come network with 21 start-up and early-stage businesses interested in students and job seekers. Meet executives from Sunrise Banks, the Nerdery, GoKart Labs, Mighty Spark Foods, Sports Growth Partners, Reve Consulting and others. From 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Carlson School of Management Atrium, 321 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis.

BIT Tech Fest: The Blacks in Technology conference will host a free exhibit and career fair featuring more than 50 employers, including Google, Best Buy, Health Partners and the state of Minnesota. Bring your resume and come ready for recruiters, workshops and panels, including a series of discussions related to cyber-security. Tickets are free but registration is required. From 11 to 3 p.m. at the InterContinental Hotel, 11 East Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul.

SATURDAY, OCT 13

BITCON2018: The fourth and final day of the inaugural Blacks in Technology conference runs from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. at various locations.

Design It! A Hack-A-Thon for Kids and Families: You and your child will have 2 1/2-hours to solve an engineering challenge and build a prototype with the tools provided. The Works Museum and Shattuck St. Mary’s School are hosting this kid-parent event featuring sketching, building, rebuilding, and collaborative engineering — plus pizza and a little yoga. Teams are limited to five members and require at least one adult. Best for kids ages 9-14. From 1 to 4 p.m. at The Works Museum, 9740 Grand Ave. S., Bloomington.

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