With new mentors, more startups and fresh grads — Minnesota Emerging Software Advisory (MESA) has momentum.
Founded in 2011 by Kevin Spanbauer and a core group of senior tech execs keen on “regenerating Minesota’s software economy,” the nonprofit group has steadily marched on over the years, recruiting one mentor and mentee at a time.
The approach involves matching up and coming software entrepreneurs with those who have earned various degrees of success and credibility, now seeking to reinvest into industry. MESA knows that if there is anyone’s advice worth taking, it comes from those who have been there and done that.
From there, pairs zone in on wildly important goals (WIGS) that drive towards new levels of accomplishment over the coming 3-6-9-12 months.
During a quarterly reception lasnight, MESA announced two new mentors: John Fox is an engineer from the super computer era, now operating as a technology manager and still coding as a part time hobby. Rob Juncker‘s experience dates back to the Gearworks days, since which he’s been with Shavlik and VMWare, currently a VP of engineering at LANDesk Software.
“I’ve been really impressed by the companies I’ve met so far, I don’t think most of Minnesota realizes the caliber of talent here,” Juncker says to surprise
Fox and Juncker join a revolving roster of roughly a dozen mentors who commit their time and intellectual capacities to give back through the systematic structure provided by MESA.
On the other side, there’s approximately 10 current portfolio software companies, including the newest trio: mobile asset and inventory tracking system GoCodes, enterprise content management suite Genus Technologies, and B2B marketing SaaS startup Elevate. All three will now start exploring their own WIGS with mentorship.
Recent grad Agile Frameworks says that MESA has helped them attract more customers in a way that tangibly moved their bottom line. Chad Halvorson, CEO of When I Work found “navigational support through cloudy waters” from his mentors Jeff Fritz and John Tedesco around the time he was raising his first round of capital.
“These relationships don’t stop here,” said mentor Jim Moar. “Graduation is a milestone as we build lasting relationships through MESA.”
Matching the more experienced with the less via mentorship is hardly a new concept, but to pull it off effectively is a dynamic challenge that’s tough to master. Three years into their mission, MESA has the momentum and potential of sparking the kind of large scale movement it set out to accomplish — one that establishes Minnesota among the most vibrant and respected software hotbeds in the nation.