Meet Minnesota’s Radical Tech CEO #4: Igor Epshteyn

by Tristan Pollock

Igor EpshteynIgor Epshteyn founded Minneapolis-based tech consultancy Coherent Solutions 16 years ago with the purpose of helping technology ventures solve, scale and develop their software products and businesses. Today, he’s still a developer, but has since become a Radical CEO.

While building his business from the ground up to 250 employees across three offices — Epshteyn has ran, biked and swam some of the hardest races known to man.

Epshteyn migrated to the United States from Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, in 1992, only a few months after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Times were changing, and despite having already starting two successful businesses there by the age of 21, Epshteyn decided he wanted more stability in his life.

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RoadTab matches drivers with mechanics

by Tristan Pollock

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RoadTabMinnesota startup RoadTab hopes to make the car repair process as simple and easy as one, two, three with the introduction of a new online platform.

“I used to own a small car dealership,” explains Jacob Phillips, co-founder of RoadTab and attorney by trade.  “I was buying used cars from auctions and they always needed repairs. I thought that there must be a better way to do this.”

In partnership with Tiny Mission, the Web and app development shop who designed Fraser’s Apps for Autism, Phillips created RoadTab as a means to make the auto repair estimate process easier and less expensive.

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Record Together launches crowdsourced music marketplace

by Tristan Pollock

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RecordTogetherSix months ago, Twin Cities music producer Mike Bishop was in the middle of a recording session when the band he was working with sought a unique instrument that they didn’t have.

This wasn’t the first time, and Bishop knew it wasn’t going to be the last, as requests to add specialty instruments on tracks has become a common occurrence in the studio.

Craigslist, his current default method of sourcing, was hit or miss. Musicians would often show up late (or never), and sometimes not be the right fit at all. The search would start all over again, prolonging the pain. What happened next was what one can usually find before the creation of an entrepreneurial venture. Bishop thought to himself: There has to be a better way…but what would that look like?

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WeCo rethinks accessibility by design

by Tristan Pollock

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WeCoDuring your daily Internet activities you will pass over thousands of hidden coded lines — HTML, JavaScript, CSS, you name it. If you are a developer, you know what it looks like and how to use it, but you might have overlooked an important detail: not all visitors are created equal.

Many of us are purely visual, but there is a subset of Internet users that do not use website pages conventionally. That’s why St. Paul’s Wehrman Collaborative, or WeCo, was formed.

WeCo works with government, private and public companies, and nonprofits to improve online design from the code up, making sites much more accessible to many different kinds of complimentary technologies, including screen readers for the visually impaired, speech recognition and eye tracker systems for people with limited hand use, and many other devices.

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Minneapolis startup Fresh Vine brings tech to church

by Tristan Pollock

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fresh vineAfter revamping their name, software and branding in April, Fresh Vine — previously known as Nineteen05 — has developed the ultimate in web-based church management programs.

Priced at $195 per month, with multiple discounts available, Fresh Vine is highly affordable and “turns administrative offices into high-functioning machines,” says company president Paul Prins.

“Nonprofits and churches are much more concerned with what traction they’re getting towards their mission or purpose,” he continues. “Fresh Vine exists to help churches and other nonprofits better understand the engagement of those in their communities.” It’s a technology choice that is catching on across the nation.

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Ultralingua’s Apps for Aid initiative touching international nonprofits

by Tristan Pollock

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Ultralingua Apps for Aid Ultralingua has been developing language-translation software and mobile apps since ’97, but they still consider themselves a startup at heart. Maybe it has something to do with their wanderlust for the future,  close ties to young entrepreneurs in academia, and desire to make a difference in the world.

Founder and Carleton College professor Jeff Ondich launched the company after developing a small electronic French-English dictionary and saw the larger language gap as a challenge he could tackle.  As technology has evolved since  and mobile devices become globally accessible for the first time, this Minneapolis company is doing it’s part to have a positive impact on the less fortunate.

In January, when the 2010 Haiti earthquake killed 220,000 people and injured another 300,000, Ultralingua responded by providing a free Haitian Medical Reference Guide to help the cause. The app included a Haitian Creole-English medical dictionary, audio phrasebook, and anthropological reference guide enabling doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to communicate with Haitian-Creole speaking patients.  Accessed by via iPod touch by relief workers who were on the ground, the app had life-saving value.

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Minnesota e-commerce biz finds its cause

by Tristan Pollock

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Water Filters for CharityWaterFilters.net began on founder and CEO Jamin Arvig’s family room couch nearly ten years ago and has since become recognized nationwide as one of the fasting growing private e-commerce companies three years running by Inc. Magazine.

As such, the now 30-person operation moved on from “floral patterns and dust bunnies” to a state-of-the-art 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Zumbrota, Minn. to support 566 percent, 3-year growth that pushed annual revenues up over the $10-million mark.

WaterFilters.net may be a for-profit company, but the water runs deeper in this corporate culture.

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New Local Medical Intelligence Startup Has Global Implications

by Tristan Pollock

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e health portfolioImagine you’re in the Caribbean on a Mexican vacation. Out of the blue you get sick, really sick.

You’re rushed to a hospital, but the hospital can’t access your U.S. medical history, nor does it know if your disease has pandemic potential — because medical records are currently kept in paper form and take weeks (or more) to transfer.

The lack of real time access to medical information results in a misdiagnosis, or mistreatment of your condition. Months later the disease has spread across every continent in the world. How did this outbreak go unnoticed?

This example is eerily similar to what actually happened during 2009’s H1N1 influenza pandemic that reached rapid-outbreak levels in Veracruz, Mexico, and is exactly the type of question that Remi Douah, Sirleaf Ahamadu and Emmanuel Douah are answering with their public health intelligence company E-Health Portfolio.

The team aims to systematically change the way public health reporting works, specifically in third world countries. “If a nation isn’t healthy, it cannot function,” says Remi Douah.

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Fraser’s Apps for Autism

by Tristan Pollock

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FRASERIn a time when Y- and Z-generation teens and young adults are living such wired lives,  Minnesota-based nonprofit Fraser is engaging the rapidly rising number of adolescents on the autism spectrum with communication-focused mobile applications.

Founded in 1935, Fraser brings over 75 years of special-needs experience to its autistic clients in the form of two important new mobile apps for the iPhone and iPod touch: QuickCues and
My Healthy Smile.

QuickCues, launched in April 2010, combines four different in-app modules to address a variety of social scripts:

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Free Geek’s Garage Sale to Support Digital Inclusion Within Minnesota

by Tristan Pollock

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Free Geek Twin Cities Garage SaleFree Geek Twin Cities (FGTC), an initiative to bridge the digital divide and eliminate e-waste, is holding its first garage sale this weekend in Minneapolis.

Each computer for sale is refurbished by FGTC’s volunteer staff with the hope that the system will allow a family or individual to access technology that normally wouldn’t have been attainable. All proceeds from the garage sale will benefit Free Geek’s mission: to support those in need of access and to eliminate e-waste waste that is often associated with the disposal of computer equipment.

“Free Geek seeks to solve one problem—a lack of access to computers and technical knowledge among low-income Minnesotans—by reusing the products from another problem: the rapid obsolescence of computer hardware, and the resulting electronic waste,” explains FGTC Co-Founder Brian Dunnette.

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