Why one startup left Minnesota


When we first met Logix Learning in early 2011, the (then) Sartell-based startup had just rolled-out a STEM tool for high school educators and learners called GAME:IT — designed to teach basic level computer programming and core game development skills to students.

Simple and straightforward, STEM education is undeniably a pain point in our society (especially within Minnesota).

Logix Learning was eventually forced to change it’s name to STEM Fuse due to trademark infringement, but meanwhile the company also moved out of Minnesota, relocating to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Why?

CEO and founder Carter Tatge spoke earlier today at the EduTech 2012 Showcase and Forum, explaining how STEM Fuse had grown to serve 300 schools across 3 countries and 30 different states.  Afterwards, we talked one on one about the very personal decision to move his company (and family) to South Dakota.

“I had a hard time finding investors when we were starting…but when I called South Dakota, things moved quick.  [Additionally] when we were talking with the Minneapolis Public School system, I even offered to give it to them for free, but couldn’t ever get a response from them.  South Dakota just wanted to get the product into their schools and over a year later I still haven’t heard back from Minneapolis. We have a passion to improve STEM education, but Minneapolis just didn’t work.”


  • http://twitter.com/curtprins Curt Prins

    I feel his pain. Minnesotans’ risk adverse nature will always hinder start-ups looking for seed funds, not to mention finding early adopters. I ran across many in my efforts who wouldn’t take a trial for free.

    After a while, you start to realize that these risk-adverse companies don’t deserve the innovation that you provide. Best to stop feeling frustrated and start feeling pity for these firms. There’s always risk in experimenting with any new technology, but there’s often also a reward.

    Seems the State of South Dakota earned that reward from STEM Fuse.

  • http://twitter.com/hardy101 Matt Hardy

    Great talk today at EduTech 2012. Awesome product. Sorry to lose you to our neighbors on Minnesota’s “west coast.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13906327 Frank Jaskulke

    Stinks to lose them to South Dakota! I wouldn’t let this one example demonstrate that Minnesota is too risk averse. It very well may be, but let me offer an alternate theory:
    South Dakota needs this more than Minnesota does. Minnesota is home to many successful startups, realitively large amounts of investment capital and a large cadre of large companies to acquire small companies. South Dakota is not. South Dakota is hungier and thus more willing to roll out the red carpet.
    The result is we sometimes lose good companies.
    I think the significant question is how many can we afford to lose? No one wins 100% of time. At what point is the win rate too low? I’ve been talking with a Health IT comapny that is moving here from the east coast. My organization is working with 4 different medical device companies that are moving here from all over the world. And I’ve also worked with companies that have closed up and moved to greener pastures.

  • http://twitter.com/ThompsonAder Thompson Aderinkomi

    Great article Jeff. This is not an isolated incidence. I think that MN cannot afford to loose even one start up, New York and the Bay Area can afford to miss a few. MN is not there yet. But both of the previous comments are valid.