A Workday With Sai Bezawada of Giftbomb

by Admin

Physical gift cards are so 2017. As the CEO of Giftbomb, Sai Bezawada has helped bring surprise gifting to the Minnesota masses with an easy-to-use app. Just select your local business, choose the recipient and dollar amount and boom — your new best friend gets a text with personalized gift card (that they’ll hopefully then share with you). Fried rice, challenges with team rhythm, and a very no-nonsense iPhone background — this is A Workday With Sai Bezawada.

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Casey Shultz Named Executive Director of BETA

by Alex Skjong

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The search is over — Casey Shultz is officially the new Executive Director for BETA. Shultz is the first woman to lead the organization.

“I’m thrilled to continue working with the broader entrepreneurial community to inspire the next generation of Minnesota-based entrepreneurs and carry on BETA’s ‘founders-first’ values,” Shultz said.

Shultz takes the reins from Reed Robinson, who announced plans to step back into a Board of Directors position late last year, and should be a familiar name for anyone tapped into the Minnesota tech scene. She previously served as the director of Twin Cities Startup Week, successfully boosting the event’s diversity by working with organizations including 26 Letters, Lunar Startups, and the Glen Nelson Center. That effort to increase inclusion in the community will continue to be a focus.

“80 percent of founders in our most recent cohort are women or people of color,” she said. “I plan to continue building strong relationships with leaders in our community who can share BETA as a resource to underestimated founders who may not otherwise know that we’re a valuable (and free) resource for them.”

We caught up with Casey Schultz and Reed Robinson last fall to talk all things BETA and Twin Cities Startup Week. Take a listen, and be sure to subscribe for future episodes.

A Workday With Mary Kay Ziniewicz of Bus Stop Mamas

by Alex Skjong

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Family. Business. Community. That’s what Bus Stop Mamas is all about. With those hefty themes in mind, how does Founder/CEO Mary Kay Ziniewicz find time for something like lunch? Short answer — she doesn’t. It takes flexibility, focus, and a lot of work to help connect stay-at-home moms (and dads) with temporary, part-time, or full-time work that fits into a hectic schedule. Mary Kay still carves out a little time for some good old fashion Netflix binges, though. From A.M. to P.M., here’s a peek inside a workday of the lead mama.

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Bright Health Hires Former Target Exec As New CFO

by Alex Skjong

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Hot off one helluva funding round, Bright Health has announced its new CFO. Cathy Smith, a former Target executive, will replace Don Powers and oversee the Minneapolis-based health insurance startup’s financial health which, just as a another reminder, is doing quite well.

“Bright Health’s approach to crafting broad-reaching, consumer-centric healthcare solutions is unique within the market,” Smith said in a release. “I’ve also been impressed by Bright Health’s exceptional leadership team… I’m thrilled to join them to create one of the country’s most innovative consumer healthcare brands.”

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You Gotta Believe: Lunar Startups’ Danielle Steer on the Importance of Community Support, Cohort 3

by Valerie Lockhart

Lunar Startups - Cohort 3Applications are currently being accepted for Lunar Startups’ Cohort 3. There are roughly 50 applications already submitted, another 20 in the process, and the accelerator is looking for even more. The organization’s goal is to choose 15 of at least 100 applications to move forward into the official cohort. Once accepted, the startups will begin to receive a number of benefits, including funding, training, access to experts and mentors, and regular boosts to their organizational confidence. We touched base with Danielle Steer, managing director, for a little insight into what makes a great Cohort 3 candidate and why supporting early-stage ideas in the community is so important.

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Launch Minnesota: Cultivating Capital, Talent, and Culture in 2020

by Valerie Lockhart

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Launch Minnesota Coffee and Conversation event December 2019

This week, Launch Minnesota hosted a “Coffee and Conversation” event at its new space in Osborn370 in downtown St. Paul. We caught up with Neela Mollgaard, executive director, for an update on how the first quarter has gone and what’s coming up for Launch Minnesota in 2020.

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Clinician Nexus Raises $1.5 Million in Seed Round

by Alex Skjong

Twin Cities-based startup Clinician Nexus has announced that it raised $1.5 million in a seed round of fundraising, bringing the company’s total investments to $2.3 million. The round was led by Chicago’s Hyde Park Venture Partners with additional contributions by the non-profit hospital Cedars-Sinai as well as Minneapolis-based firms Sofia Fund and Great North Labs. The company also participated in the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator program last summer.

“Great North Labs invests in teams that meet a critical need and engage deeply with customers,” Pradip Madan, managing partner at Great North Labs, said in a statement. “Clinician Nexus meets both criteria.”

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Q&A With the Managing Director of the UnitedHealthcare Accelerator Powered by Techstars

by Alex Skjong

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The UnitedHealthcare Accelerator Powered by Techstars Demo Day featured a wide range of ambitious and interesting medtech startups. We’ve already taken a look at the class roster, but we decided to catch up with the program’s managing director, Matt Miller, for a little postmortem of the 2019 event and a look ahead at what the 2020 edition will bring.

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Twin Cities Startup Week 2019: Looking Back (and Ahead) With Director Casey Shultz

by Alex Skjong

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If you attended Twin Cities Startup Week in October, you probably took ample advantage of the two main community hubs. Based in the IDS Center in Minneapolis and Osborn370 in St. Paul, these destinations offered a welcome respite from the high energy of TCSW, not to mention a handy networking opportunity.

What you probably don’t know is that the Minneapolis hub could’ve looked a lot different if not for an 11th-hour helping hand from KNOCK, inc. just two weeks before the event’s kickoff. Up until that point, TCSW wasn’t sure it had furniture donated for the space which, to put it lightly, would’ve created a distinctly different vibe from the ultra-comfy Herman Miller collection that ended up there.

That assist from the Minneapolis creative agency is, really, what TCSW is all about — community. And it’s community that proved to be a crucial component of the event’s success, especially for its first-time director, Casey Shultz. Read More »

MN App Aims to Freshen Up Date Night With Curated Experiences

by Valerie Lockhart

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A little over two years ago, Austin Bohlig was looking for someone to go golfing with. He wasn’t necessarily looking for a date, just to connect with a like-minded person who wanted to go out and do the same kinds of things that he enjoyed. All of the dating apps he tried weren’t giving him the outcomes that he wanted, so he did what any other tech-focused, entrepreneurial-minded individual would do — he decided to create his own. “Let’s Go: Find New Experiences” launched in April of 2018 and is now available for both Android and iOS.

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