Startups Wanted

by Mike Bollinger

Minnesota Emerging Software AdvisoryThe Minnesota Emerging Software Advisory (MESA) is looking to put 50 companies through their mentorship program over the next five years — and sign 11 by the end of this year.

To ramp things up, they are hosting an inaugural invite-only reception this Thursday, September 22, in downtown Minneapolis.

“We are ready to add value to emerging software companies with market ready product(s) and evidence of revenue potential that address a large opportunity,” says Kevin Spanbauer, founding mentor and spokesman for the group. “We’re not looking for ideas or concepts, rather companies with a vetted idea that have the ability and desire to become one of Minnesota’s next great software success stories.”

The event will feature a short presentation from current portfolio firm EmergingSoft, a panel discussion with the five founding mentors, and some ‘speed dating’ where prospective new portfolio companies will have a chance to sit down with the mentors one-on-one and discuss whether or not the MESA mentoring opportunity makes sense for them.

Todd Krautkremer, John Lewis, Jerry Grabowski, Jim Moar, Rick Engels, Tim Butler, Kevin Spanbauer, and (most recently) Barb Stinnett make up the current mentor roster.

MESA officially launched this past June, but the mentorship program has been in the works since 2009 when the group first started selecting and supporting beta portfolio companies. Their current portfolio includes four Minnesota software companies: ActiFi, Gimigo, RAI Stone Analytics, and EmergingSoft.

The group is adamant about not taking ownership or options in exchange for support, but does require an annual $250 – $1,000 engagement fee based on revenues.

“We’re a small group of seasoned Minnesota software CEOs looking to spark a movement to make Minnesota’s software economy rank among the most vibrant and respected in the nation,” said Spanbauer.

Thursday nights event will be hosted at tax consulting firm McGladrey when doors will open at 5:30pm for networking, and the program starts promptly at 6:00pm. MESA intends to invite 10-12 new companies to the event and interested + qualified startups are encouraged to connect; they are also interviewing additional CEO mentors to work with their portfolio companies and hope to announce some new additions in the near term.


  • Casey Allen

    This, everybody, is what builds an ecosystem.

    1. Have you had success in a past or current tech venture? If “no”, keep working. If “yes”, continue to #2.

    2. Are you advising or investing in startups, preferably both? If “yes”, fucking right. If “no”, go to #3.

    3. Get your fucking act together and re-invest.

    Good job Team Mesa, love to see this.