Three Takeaways From Project Deadpool

by The TECHdotMN Team


We recently embarked on the monotonous yet important task of analyzing and updating a large chunk of Minnesota’s technology companies in the database. This phase of audit was simply intended to clarify which companies were still alive/active and which ones were not/dead, as viewable here.

There were approximately 550 companies that had been tagged as “startup” over the recent years, representing about 25% of the overall database!

There is no exact definition, though anything really early stage was a “startup” (more on this later). These were the takeaways from the review:

1. Before there was Y, there was X.

A visible pattern of starts and stops over time, where the founder/entrepreneur created and launched something, repeated, until finding traction. Three clear cut examples include:

  • Aaron Kardell (ConnectED – Send On Cue – iGarageSale – – Mobile Realty Apps – HomeSpotter)
  • Clay Collins (LeadBrite – LeadPlayer – LeadPages)
  • Parag Shah (Prodality – LunchBox – PurchaseBox – ForMyChildren – BookBottles – Vemos)

This indicates that experimentation (hypothesis and action combined with some scientific measurement followed by adjustment) and persistence can pay off, and there remain a number of entrepreneurs actively engaged in this method in pursuit of traction.

2. Closure by sector.

Consumer (deals & subscriptions), Fintech (lots of ‘cause’ fundraising and payments) and edtech experienced the most concentrated cluster of false starts. Maybe these areas seemed easier to break into and succeed at than they actually are?

There is a visible opportunity for the hungry entrepreneur or thirsty investor to identify dead assets and that retain value;  something as simple as acquiring the IP of the customer list, relationships, or development chops of a dead/languished asset.

3. The numbers tell it like it is.

Roughly 80-90% of those that have entered the database over the past seven years are no longer operating at all, probably 50% of those still active are operating as zombies – not profitable nor scalable – rather just existing in limbo. Maybe 1-5% have made it to a point of becoming a sustainable and scalable business. That’s the reality of this stuff, and entrepreneurship is about letting the market determine what it values enough to pay for – or not – the axiom of business.


  • Frank Jaskulke

    Thanks for doing these updates – putzy work but very useful.

    Noticed two more:
    – Cardiocom is still listed as active. They were purchased by Medtronic and now operate as Medtronic Care Solutions run by Sheri Dodd
    – Clinical Healthcare Solutions and eVertias are both listed though Clinical Healthcare Solutions notes the name was changed to eVeritas. Or Maybe you all are keeping the name change records so as to track that?

    Thanks for the great work.

    • Jeff Pesek

      Thanks Frank. Updated Cardiocom; actually have a sub-segment coming out devoted to tracking acquisitions directly within the database, where this will fall into.

      And Clinical Healthcare Solutions did change name to eVeritas (which we do chronicle), thought the company is on “hiatus” aka dead until proven otherwise :/

      Keep em coming! The HealthTech guide release will equate to a big update to the Healthcare related companies in the database over the coming weeks as well.

  • LittleDuke

    Thanks for re-validating what has been socialized in other disparate data sets, namely that:

    1. 90% of businesses are going to fail — likely within the first year
    2. Of those that DO stay afloat during year one, another 80% will also be gone by the end of year two.

    This means that for every 100 companies started today, approximately 10 will survive their first year, and another 1-3 will see their third birthday.