[UPDATED] How Is Minnesota Tech Judging You?

[UPDATED] 4/9/19 8:00am CST – Minnesota Cup responds; Minnestar still pending.

[Original 3/27/2019] Demos, showcases, panels, accelerators, guest speakers – – basically everywhere and anywhere the Minnesota techie can appear turns out to be a place of judgement. This is especially for true for the founders & entrepreneurs out there.

At extension and with intention, the more limited the opportunity, room/space, or acceptance rate – the more subjective judgement is happening by design.

This is generally accepted human behavior, but what’s not known is how certain environments are passing their judgements on others in the Minnesota tech community in these situations which could lead to prejudice, favoritism, and conflicts of interest.

More specifically: how informed are people in this community about how they and others around them are being judged?

Some are very blatant with their judgements. For example, they will explicitly treat people differently based on their physical appearances which includes, though is not limited to manifestations of gender, race, and ethnicity.  

It’s here that you may be chosen for inclusion, access, maybe fame and fortune – or conversely – excluded based on your physical appearance or other such personal choices like religion, romantic interests, or choice of friendships.

Though TECHdotMN does not subscribe to these forms of judgement against others, it is a conscious choice those individuals and groups are making.   In this context, it’s clearly informative, because whether or not you want to be judged that way — at least you know you are.

But not all are as upfront and clear about how they pass judgements on.  When curiosity of the unknown is greater than the fear of it, then it’s right time for some real questions. While ‘Minnesota Tech’ is a broad brush, let’s begin by asking a few of the larger organizations that pass their judgements onto founders & entrepreneurs what those are:

Beta.MN – a Nonprofit company which chooses an annual cohort of startups (10-15) for mixed services – from space and stage time to investor introductions and cumulative targeted/custom resources.

Judgement criteria:

  • Publicly available judgement criteria? Yes: https://salesreach.io/storage/1081/GoodFit.pdf
  • Pay to play/participate: No
  • Gender: No
  • Race: No
  • Age: No
  • Ethnicity: No
  • Religion: No
  • Romantic preferences: No
  • Education: No
  • Friends/relationships: No
  • Notes: Executive Director Reed Robinson states “ No, [factors above] are not a part of BETA.MN’s selection criteria. We do constantly evaluate the accessibility of our program to ensure that we are either building or furthering talent pipelines that attract founders from all communities.”

Minnestar – A Nonprofit company which chooses seven local tech companies two twice a year to present on stage in front of a large community audience for their Minnedemo event.

Judgement criteria: 

  • Publicly available judgement criteria? No
  • Pay to play/participate: No
  • Gender: ?
  • Race: ?
  • Age: ?
  • Ethnicity: ?
  • Religion: ?
  • Romantic preferences: ?
  • Education: ?
  • Friends/relationships: ?

Notes: Executive Director Maria Ploessl has committed to providing more transparency, though has yet to.

Minnesota Cup – A Nonprofit company which hosts an annual ‘business competition’ that selects dozens of startups to participate and ultimately chooses one winner.

Judgement criteria: 

Notes: Executive Director Jessica Berg states: MN Cup applicants submit a variety of demographic details as part of their application, but our judges only see (and score) our applicant’s text responses to our questions about their ‘Opportunity’,’Plan’ and ‘Progress’ – all demographic data is not visible to judges, only the components central to understanding their business idea (along with some optional attachments – financial projections and/ or an MVP or diagram of their product should they choose to include it.) Any demographic information we collect is used by our MN Cup team to understand which communities we’re reaching/ connecting with/ serving – which helps us improve our outreach & relationships with entrepreneurs across Minnesota.

Additional groups/organizations/companies may be added in the future. More clarity, dialogue and understanding around this topic will lead to a better future for Minnesota tech though transparency in judgement. If anyone takes issue with the nature of the questions, you are encouraged to openly judge for yourself in the comments.