How can Minnesota be Better? Meet Saturday’s Minnebar panelists


Minnebar UnconferenceMinneBar is an (un)conference aimed at getting those in Minnesota’s tech and design communities together to discuss topics that interest them. This Saturday (5/22) from 9-6,  a crowd 500 plus will gather at Best Buy headquarters for one of Minnesota’s premier tech events – now on its fifth evolution.

Mike Bollinger and I will be facilitating/moderating a session focused on the Minnesota startup culture, aptly titled: “How can Minnesota be better?

“Check your Minnesota nice at the door and break out the alter ego for a candid yet pragmatic conversation about the circumstances surrounding Minnesota’s startup community and (by extension) the future of Minnesota tech. A working framework will explore the concepts of:

risk-heritage-entrepreneurialism-capital-media-legacy orgs-competition-leadership-strength-weakness-opportunity

Facilitated by two Minnesota entrepreneurs passionately committed to seeing early-stage Minnesota tech be all that it can be, this session poses one simple question with no easy answer.”

Below are the five hand-picked panelists who will be sharing their unique perspectives on the notion of  “improvement”.  Are there other local thought leaders, experts, executives, stakeholders and numerous people or parties equally interested in and actively working towards improving Minnesota’s startup culture?  Absolutely! This was the best we could do to pull together a diverse and complimentary group of qualified/concerned individuals  on such short notice.  This session will be held during the second part of the day, likely between 2-5;  please indicate your interest here so the organizers can anticipate the demand for this and any other sessions you’re attending.  If you have a question for the panel just leave it in the comments or grab us day of  :)

Rob Weber W3i MinnebarRobert Weber – W3i

Robert Weber co-founded W3i in 2000. As CEO, from inception through November 2007, and as VP of Business Development thereafter, Rob grew W3i into a leading distributor of consumer applications.   Rob shared the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award with his twin brother, and partner, Ryan Weber. Rob was also named to the 2007 Inc. 5,000—CEO’s Under 30 list.  Rob received his B.S. in Entrepreneurship from St. Cloud State University. He is a Board Member of W3i and is a private angel investor in a number of music, game, and mobile application start-ups.

Jon Dahl Zencoder MinnebarJon Dahl – Zencoder

Jon Dahl is a hacker and entrepreneur who co-founded Slantwise Design in 2003, which became Minnesota’s leading Ruby on Rails development shop. He has since moved into the startup world, and is currently co-founder of Zencoder, a Y Combinator-backed startup that builds cloud computing tools for web and mobile video. In between, he blogged at Rail Spikes, received an MA in Theology, and founded Tumblon, a web-based startup for parents of young children.

Marti Nyman Altavail Partners MinnebarMarti Nyman – Altavail Partners

Marti Nyman is Managing Director of Altavail Partners, LLC, an innovation, strategy and business acceleration consultancy. Marti is a 25 year veteran of the energy, telecom and consumer retail sectors with expertise in developing and launching new growth businesses for Fortune 500 companies including GE, Ericsson, ADC and most recently-the formation and launch of Best Buy’s Venture Capital practice. At the University of Minnesota, he teaches a graduate level course on Corporate Venturing at the Carlson School of Management and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Gary S.Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship.  He is also on the Advisory Board of two startup companies.

Chris Smith Coral Group MinnebarChris Smith – Coral Group

Chris Smith is a Minnesota based venture capitalist and a partner with Coral Group where he invests in communications and entertainment technologies.  Chris is currently on the boards of three venture-backed companies, Firetide, Entone and FON Wireless – which are changing the way we access the internet and what we consume.

Dan Grigsby MinnebarDan Grigsby

Dan Grigsby builds software-based businesses in emerging market segments. CV: Founder/Merchant Planet, an early e-commerce company that was acquired by Microsoft.  Founder/PayMe, the only-ever successful competitor to PayPal; sold for a 20X investor ROI.  First hire on the turn-around team at Qualys, an early SaaS company that now dominates the vulnerability management space.  Founder/Mobile Orchard, which became the #1 iPhone developer news-site and podcast.  Stints as an  interim-CTO and doing executive business development.  Co-founder/MinneBar and MinneDemo.  One of MPLS/St. Paul Magazine’s 75 “Best Brains,” recipient of the “40 Under 40” and “40 Minnesotans On The Move.”  Entrepreneur In Residence at the Carlson School of Management.