MinneSpark gives you $1,000 for your idea, no strings attached

by Mike Bollinger

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Have a killer idea but need a little push to get you going?  What if that little push was a grand?

In the coming year, MinneSpark—the latest initiative from Minne*—will award grants of $1,000 to Minnesota-based teams who demonstrate to a set of “trustees” their ability to use the small amount of cash to leap from an idea to a working startup.

MinneSpark hopes to raise the $1,000 needed for each grant by collecting $100 from 10 people (the trustees). Trustees will pay a minimum of $100, which earns them 1 vote in the selection process. Trustees can purchase additional votes (and therefore more strongly influence the decision of who is awarded money) for $100 per vote. People interested in becoming a trustee can apply online.

The money awarded is truly a grant—no strings attached. There is no exchange of equity, no entitlement to future revenue or profits, no obligation to run errands or pickup dry cleaning for those who gave you the cash. Further, winners will receive help in the form of mentoring from the trustees and services from sponsors.

This is not a new model. ScaleWell, an organization based in Chicago, has already used this model to award one grant to Unatronics, and as of this month is taking applications for the second grant.

“This is about doing more with less,” says Luke Francl, one of Minne* partners. “It’s an experiment, really—what kind of cool things can be done with $1,000?”

Individuals/teams/companies can apply for the MinneSpark grant starting today. The application deadline is April 30th at which point voting will follow, and winners will be announced at MinneBar on May 22nd. The grant awarded at MinneBar will be at least $1,000 (reportedly, it may be higher if fund raising goes well). Do your part to make sure it does goes well: become a trustee.

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