Today marks the commencement of the sixth annual statewide business plan competition known as the Minnesota Cup. Designed to seek out, support, celebrate and promote Minnesota’s newest and most innovative business ideas, the Cup spans six distinct divisions: General, High Tech, Bio Science, Student, Clean/Renewable Energy and Social.
This year, the program boasts over $130,000 in cumulative prize money and numerous ancillary benefits. In its essence, the purpose of the Minnesota Cup is two fold: not only is it stepping stone for Minnesota Entrepreneurs but it’s also a systematic vetting mechanism for the established business community.
From the press release,
“The 2009 competition finalists have taken their Minnesota Cup experiences and gone on to secure more than $8 million in capital and broker numerous business partnerships, collaborations and distribution agreements.”
Last year, we witnessed the coronation of Alvenda as they won both the High Tech division and the overall MN CUP, resulting in 40k (combined) seed capital and a mix of professional services; later that winter, the startup went on to raise 5mm “series A” from Splitrock Partners. Past years notable High Tech (and related) winners, placers or finalists include: IntelAccount (Finalist; 2006), ID Insight (3rd place overall; 2006), Muve (1st place overall; 2007), Reshare Software (Finalist; 2007), My Wonderful Life (2nd place overall; 2008), Zipnosis (Student Winner; 2008) and Packet Power (Clean and Green division winner; 2009).
The winner of this years High Tech category will receive $20,000 in seed capital, business organization (or services of similar value) from the law firm of Gray Plant Mooty and accounting assistance from Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company, LLP. Finalists will be featured in a Twin Cities Business supplement (Fall 2010), detailed feedback of their final written entry and oral presentation and the opportunity to present their plan to a review board of esteemed business leaders. Semi-finalists receive invitation to attend a exclusive reception at the James J. Hill Reference Library and the opportunity to be paired with a University of Minnesota alumni mentor with extensive entrepreneurial experience. All entrants receive access to “BizToolkit” from the James J. Hill Reference Library to assist with their plan, one year, complimentary subscription to Twin Cities Business and “A valuable experience that will help advance their ventures.”
In anticipation of today’s launch, we caught up with Scott Litman, Co founder of the Minnesota Cup, for a brief chat about this years competition– from a tech entrepreneur’s perspective:
Deadline for submitted online applications is 11:59 PM on May 21, 2010. (Last year, there were approximately 200 total participants total in the High Tech division. The precise number of High Tech business plans remains unknown but was estimated at 75).
7-10 High Tech semi-finalists will be announced on June 14th and will be invited to a reception at the James J. Hill Library (date TBD).Semi-finalists will be asked to write an in depth business plan by July 23rd.
After the review board has reviewed all semi-finalists business plans, 3 finalists will be announced on August 19th. Finalists will make oral presentations to the review board on August 31st. The 2010 High Tech winner will be announced at this time.
The winner of the High Tech division will compete against five other Minnesota Cup division winners for the Minnesota Cup grand prize on September 9th. Grand prize winners receive an additional $20,000 in seed financing.
Your 2010 High Tech division judges:
* Scott Litman – Co-founder, Minnesota Cup & Managing Partner, Magnet 360
* Michael Gorman – Managing Director, Split Rock Partners
* Sima Griffith – Founder, Aethlon Capital
* Joel Lebewitz – Partner, Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company, LLP
* Sam Richter – Chief Executive of SBR Worldwide and SVP/Chief Marketing Officer, ActiFi
*Joy Lindsay – President and Co-Founder, StarTec Investments, LLC
* Doug Ramler – Principal Co-Chair, Entrepreneurial Services Group, Gray Plant Mooty Law Firm
* Mark Usem – Hedge Fund Manager, Usem Bergstrand Capital Management, LLC
* Marti Nyman – Managing Partner, Altavail Partners
Nothing but the best for all of this years participants…let’s take home the grand prize again this year on behalf the the High Tech division!!