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Press Release

St. Cloud’s New ILT Academy Launches 3 New Cohorts for ‘Underestimated’ Entrepreneurs in Greater Minnesota

St Cloud, MN – ILT Academy (ILT) announces its latest series of cohorts across Greater MN, the ILT Academy Regional Cohorts. These three cohorts are Sponsored by FastLane 94 (West and Central, MN Economic Development Groups), Innovate 218 (Northwest, MN Economic Development Groups) and NOW Innovators Network (Northwest, MN Economic Development Groups). ILT Academy focuses on underestimated entrepreneurs from traditionally underserved geographies and communities in rural, urban and informal settlements. Over the last two years ILT Academy has hit its stride, training over 420 emerging entrepreneurs using a blend of design innovation, design thinking and the lean startup model in their innovative virtual training academy environment. 

“Unlike the majority of incubators and accelerators, which do a great job at supporting more tech-based entrepreneurs, the team at ILT Academy focuses on the other 99% of entrepreneurs that often get overlooked by traditional startup programs and Venture Capital funds. ILT Academy gives the opportunity to learn while challenging the founder's thinking to dream big and give them a shot at connecting with the right resources and investors along the way. We've been fortunate to grow our company with refined strategy through ILT Academy programming, and we've also been connected to investors through the process.” Clare Richards, CEO of Impacks. 

ILT Academy cohorts represent many of Minnesota and now North Dakota’s newest emerging entrepreneurs in nearly every sector of business, including smaller yet scalable business models, service-related businesses, and several highly scalable tech businesses. The latest companies to graduate from ILT Academy’s advanced cohort have been recognized by many of MN Top Entrepreneur organization’s regional entrepreneur competitions – BETA Showcase, MN CUP, The Ignite Cup, The Rink, and Trailblazer Pitch Competition. Also, many of these startups have secured much needed early-stage investments from local angel and venture groups, banking loans and LaunchMN innovation grants. 

"ILT Academy has created a space for early innovators to develop their ideas from concept to business. By elevating founders across the state, ILT Academy has established a valuable pipeline of technology startup talent we may have otherwise overlooked based on geography", says Shelisa Demuth, Executive Director at BETA.

ILT Academy’s innovative approach seeks to uncover and advance innovative and breakthrough ideas that have the potential to scale. It gives entrepreneurs access to an innovation process focused on rapidly developing ideas, creating consumer demand, and rigorously validating product-market fit, with an emphasis on getting-to-market and growing. This is a modern approach to economic development, building capacity for innovation and creating new communities of entrepreneurs who can better define and capture the market opportunity.

“ILT Academy is a critical frontline resource for new and emerging underestimated entrepreneurs across rural Minnesota,” said Brian Voerding, VP for inclusive Entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation. “Their accessible approach to immersive cohort programming has transformed the ability of entrepreneurs who historically have faced barriers to launching businesses, accessing capital to sustain and grow their enterprises.”

ILT Academy is one of Minnesota’s newest education startups. Their innovative education-as-a-service platform includes innovation and product development workshops, and 10-week certificate programs that offer a practical approach for ecosystem leaders, community leaders and business leaders to unlock the talent in their community and enable more BIPOC-, Women-, Veteran- and rural-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to launch, obtain funding and grow. The centerpiece for ILT Academy is their two virtual programs - the 10-week lean startup innovation and 10-week advanced lean startup training programs. Both include interactive & hands-on education and training, founder showcases, access to mentors and local and regional resources. 

“Through these programs we give access to education and training normally reserved for Silicon Valley startups or 4-year institutions like MIT or Stanford’s D. School. Now emerging founders can receive world-class training and easily join the entrepreneurial ecosystem regardless of their geography, gender, race and economic disadvantage,” said Nick Tietz, Founder and CEO of ILT Academy. “For the last three years, ILT Academy has been working tirelessly to build up a new community of underestimated entrepreneurs and we are proud to be in partnership with so many ecosystem leaders, community leaders and entrepreneurs to highlight the untapped potential of people in all our startup communities across Minnesota and beyond.” 

ILT Academy latest Ecosystem Partners include:

Now Innovators Network 2023 C21 Cohort: (Northwest Minnesota - Bemidji, East Grand Forks, Warroad, Thief River Falls, Park Rapids, and all areas in between).

Innovate 218 2023 C22 Cohort: (Northeast Minnesota - Aitkin, Carlton, Duluth, Grand Portage, Grand Rapids, Milaca, Mora, Princeton, Two harbors, and all areas in between).

Fastlane 94 Network 2023 C23 Cohort: (West and Central - St. Cloud, Alexandria, Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Brainerd, Fergus Falls, Elk River, Becker and all areas in between) + Fargo, ND. Each Program concludes with a virtual capstone expo style event called the Virtual Founder Showcase. Tickets are available now and can be purchased for our two virtual events here:

RSVP for C21 Founder Showcase – Monday, April 17th 6-9 pm

RSVP for C22/C23 Founder Showcase – Wednesday, April 19th 6-9 pm

About ILT Academy

ILT Academy is an educational organization built by industry-leading professionals that includes community programs, intensive bootcamps and a sequence of certificate programs focused on critical thinking, design innovation and startup entrepreneurship. ILT Academy courses are an intensive educational experience designed to empower innovators and entrepreneurs who want to learn the most important skills needed to commercialize ideas, develop successful early-stage ventures and create high growth businesses. 

To learn about ILT Academy go to
Technology. Startups. Stories. Minnesota.