Upsie Event Opens New Space, Showcases Founders

by Valerie Lockhart

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“Live Life with Grace.”

These are the words that now hang above the new Upsie workspace in Osborn370 in downtown Saint Paul. These words, attributed to founder Clarence Bethea, seemed to be the ethos of an evening dedicated to christening the company’s new home. The Upsie ribbon cutting and fireside chat event was well attended by those who have supported Upsie and Bethea along the way. There were members of community groups such as Engineer Africa, Graveti, and Techquity which have all been invited to use the new space for upcoming community gatherings. Bethea’s vision is for this office space to be used regularly to foster networking, learning, and engagement in tech for those who have traditionally been underrepresented.

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A Workday With Casey Shultz of BETA

by Alex Skjong

As I write this, it “feels like” it’s -16 degrees Fahrenheit outside. That kind of temperature will make even the most diehard Minnesotan shiver. For Casey Shultz, however, it might actually conjure some nostalgic warmth. After all, she did grow up in Alaska. But her journey from freezing cold to sun-soaked warmth to, well, more freezing cold has led to her latest undertaking in the startup world.

And also backyard chickens.

This is A Workday With Casey Shultz, executive director of BETA.

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Q&A With the New CFO of Dispatch: California Sun, Minnesota Ice, and Coming Home

by Alex Skjong

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After closing a very successful sale of a company in California’s sunny central coast, Matt Ouska was searching for his next adventure. Ultimately, the siren song of the Midwest was too strong to deny. Now, Ouska is back in the state where he cut his teeth in the software and startup world, and he’s sporting a new job to boot — CFO of on-demand delivery software company Dispatch. We chatted with Ouska about what brought him to the role, what he’s bringing to the Dispatch team, and how it feels to be back home.

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Southern Minnesota Coworking Spaces Team Up For Passport Program

by Alex Skjong

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Six Southern Minnesota coworking spaces are joining forces to offer the “Greater Minnesota Coworking Passport” program. Participants in the program will be able to work in any of the six spaces including Mogwai Collaborative in Mankato, Launch Coworking Space in Austin, Collider Coworking in Rochester, Pi-Co.Works in Pine Island, Red Wing Ignite in Red Wing, and The Garage Cowork Space in Winona.

“We’ve been wanting to create a collaborative program like this in our region for a while now, and are thrilled to finally announce it!” Stephanie Braun of Mogwai Collaborative said in a release. “I think it’s an important gesture that we coworking directors come together to collaborate like this – to not only offer our entrepreneurs productive and professional working environments in a number of locations, but to also inspire more collaboration between the entrepreneurs themselves, and help jumpstart our region’s innovations in the process.”

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soona Secures $3.5 Million Seed 2, Points Lens at Austin Expansion

by Alex Skjong

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soona co-founders Hayley Anderson and Elizabeth Giorgi.

Say cheese! And by cheese, we mean the green kind — money.

Minneapolis-based photography and video studio soona has closed a $3.5 million Seed 2 led by Matchstick Ventures and Starting Line. The oversubscribed round comes less than nine months after the company’s initial seed.

“Our team has proven there is a clear need for a content creation player who can produce beautiful visuals at scale” Elizabeth Giorgi, soona co-founder and CEO, said in a release. “We believe soona has the best product, the best technology and the best customer experience and we can’t wait to bring it to more markets.”

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Four Minnesota EdTech Companies Will Take the Stage at ASU GSV 2020

by Valerie Lockhart

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Now in its 11th year, ASU GSV (a collaboration between Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley) has become the largest Educational Technology (EdTech) conference in the world and draws an international crowd with distinguished speakers and guests. Case in point, this year’s keynote speakers include Malcolm Gladwell, Charles Koch, Gloria Steinem, and Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy). And, as it turns out, this increasingly popular conference was founded in-part by Minnesota native, Michael Moe.

Even after 11 years, the ASU GSV is still finding ways to shake things up. This year, the conference will host a pitch competition — the GSV Cup Elite 200. The bootstrapped and seed-state companies selected for the showdown (March 30 – April 1) have just five minutes to craft a compelling pitch. Three winners will be chosen by a panel of judges from technology companies worldwide. The prizes at stake? $250,000 and $100,000 in Google Cloud credits.

For this inaugural event, four Minnesota EdTech companies have been chosen to present. We spoke with a representative from each of them to discuss what this prestigious honor means for their company.

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ECMC Group and gener8tor Team Up For New Accelerator Program

by Alex Skjong

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Minneapolis-based ECMC Group is activating its Wonder Twin powers with gener8tor to take the form of a seagull and ice gondola new accelerator — the OnRamp Education & Workforce Innovation Accelerator. Kicking off on July 30 and running through October 22, the program will accept five startups into the fold every year and provide a bevy of perks including a $100,000 cash investment, Minneapolis office space, individualize coaching and mentorship from the ECMC Group, and more. Haven’t penciled in your startup’s summer and early fall plans? Apply here.

“Partnering with gener8tor provides a unique opportunity to bring awareness, connections and capital to the Twin Cities—an area with a robust history of supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in education,” Josh Slayton, senior vice president of business development, research and innovation for ECMC Group, said in a release.

ECMC Group, ECMC Foundation, and gener8tor will also be sponsoring the OnRamp Education & Workforce Innovation Conference on June 24 at Target Field. The one-day event will feature three tracks ­— conference, startup, and networking — and is open for registration.

20 Startups Secure Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants in 2020’s First Round

by Alex Skjong

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The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Developments (DEED) awarded more than $672,000 in Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants to 20 tech startups across the state. Five individual founders also received a $7,500 housing and childcare grant.

In a release, DEED said the crop of companies represent the “most promising, innovative, and scalable technology businesses in the state.” Each of the grants require a one-to-one match in privately sourced funds, skyrocketing the potential for the investments to reach $1.3 million.

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A Workday With Yasameen Sajady of Maazah

by Admin

Ketchup? How positively gauche.

Sriracha? Closer, but too red.

If your go-to condiments are starting to wear thin, you might want to take a look at a local startup that’s churning out a “magic green sauce.” Maazah Chutney, founded by sisters Yasameen and Sheilla Sajady, is a blend of cilantro, ginger, garlic, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, jalapeno and salt. According to the company, the sauce compliments anything from pizza to fish. Culinary versatility, thy name is Maazah.

When the sisters started out, they were making just 30 bottles. These days (and after a boost from participating in Lunar Startups’ Cohort 2), they’ve expanded production to 800 bottle runs. That’s a lot of magic. That’s a lot of green. And that’s a lot of sauce.

This is A Workday With Yasameen Sajady, CEO and founder of Maazah.

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