Inbox Cupid Takes Daily Deals to the Next Level with Daily Dates

by Geoff Dutton

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inboxcupid

Instead of offering email subscribers a new deal per city each day, a new Minnesota startup launched last week called Inbox Cupid is delivering a daily dater per city.

The brainchild of co-founder Kareem Ahmed, the goal is to conveniently and automatically connect local singles in a virtual speed dating kind of way.

Once enrolled, you receive a daily date in your inbox which you can simply ignore, glance over and consider or send an initial message if the person seems like someone you would like to get to know more. It’s so easy in fact that you don’t even need to go to to the website (or any dating site) whereas you simply check your email — something you’re already doing on a regular basis.

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NE Minneapolis’ Rocware Starts PO SaaS Business — Family Style

by Geoff Dutton

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RocwareIf you’ve owned your own products business, then you likely know how much time and effort it can take to issue and manage Purchase Orders (POs).

Minneapolis-based Rocware has recently appeared on the Minnesota technology scene and is ready to transform the way businesses manage their POs through a connected online system that makes interacting with business partners less painful.

Two of the three Co-founders — James Erck and John Erck — experienced the hassles of issuing and managing purchase orders first hand when John started a new business with his father called Extreme Bubbles . Around the same time, his brother James had also recently started a product based business called MPLS Ink.

As John recalls, “We were spending most of our time administrating our businesses, as opposed to growing them. The tools available at the time were all ‘accounting centric’ as opposed to how we thought about our businesses, which you could characterize as ‘product centric’.” That’s when the Erck brothers brought in sister Sarah Erck Welle and formed a partnership with one simple mission in mind: make it easier to run a product based business using new tools.

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Kipsu Turns Painful Bathroom Situations Into Business Opportunity

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Kipsu “Without going into too much detail, let me describe a scenario everyone can relate to,” says Kipsu co founder Joseph Rueter.

I proceed to brace myself for another pitch from the compulsive starter and charismatic entrepreneur.

“I’m taking a bathroom break at a conference, about to present,  when all of a sudden, realize that I’m going to be delayed…” he continues with an awkward excitement that draws me in, curiously listening in anticipation of where this is all going (sometimes you really never know).

“Do you know what happened…there was no toilet paper in my stall!?!?”

To someone like Rueter, a man who see’s a world swirling with unlimited problems just waiting to be flushed out by the creatively ambitious, his inexcusable situation was simply deemed opportunity in disguise.

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Sartell Startup Rolls Out Computer Programming STEM Curriculum

by Geoff Dutton

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Logix LearningAs you should know by now, the US has fallen behind in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education efficacy compared to other super powers.  A symptom of this problem hits especially close to home, where Minnesota was recently graded 9% on K-12 computer science standards.

And you should also understand how important these disciplines are going to be for us to have a shot at regaining our competitiveness — as a country and a state.

To address this issue head on, a new startup called Logix Learning has introduced a 12-week STEM course for high school level educators and learners.  The curriculum has an emphasis on IT/programming — beginning with the basics of computer applications, followed by designing and developing a game, finished with creating a marketing plan for said game. Logix Learningoffers  the curriculum, called GAME:IT, built on the open-source Game Maker platform.

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PlugBot Attacks the Future of IT Security

by Geoff Dutton

The PlugBotImagine this: I walk into a large company and, with a little social engineering and my amazing charm, I’m able to get passed the receptionist. With me, I have a small computer about the size of a power adapter that I simply plug into any outlet that’s somewhat hidden.

I was able to build this small computer with cheap hardware from manufacturers like Gumstix or Ardunio with little hardware knowledge and basic programming skills. I now have a “pivot point” into the large company’s network — and quite possibly — full control over any computer connected to that network.

This is exactly what Jeremiah Talamantes, founder of RedTeam Security, predicts will be the next threat in IT security. To combat it, he invented The PlugBot, an open source a covert hardware bot device designed for use during physical penetration tests.  PlugBot is a small computer with an ARM11 cpu, about 512mb of ram, an ethernet port, built in wifi, SD card slot, a USB port and even a small solid state hard drive; it’s powerful enough to scan, collect and deliver data remotely.

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Velolet Launches Online Rental Service for Serious Cyclists

by Geoff Dutton

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VeloletPedal biking has grown to become such a big part of Minnesota that Bicycling Magazine recently named Minneapolis the number one bike city in America.

It’s only fitting that new Minnesota startup Velolet (bike + lend) was founded here as a bike rental hub. Velolet connects bicycle owners — individuals and businesses — with an instantaneous global market.

The website consists of two sections: The first is the area where cyclists can list their own bikes for rent with a photo, description and daily rental price. The second is the default homepage where people can quickly search for inventory in a given location.

Considering some airlines charge up to $200 each way, the service is ideal for those who don’t want to ship their road bikes when they travel. Combined with the inconvenience of transporting (either in whole or disassembled), co founder and CEO Dan Cleary initially conceived the idea out of personal necessity.  He describes the business model as common sense, saying “by putting bikes to work, we are enabling owners  to better monetize their assets and by lowering the hassle and total cost, we save cyclists time and money.”

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Concrete Software Gears up to Play with the Big Boys this Year

by Geoff Dutton

Concrete SoftwareThe Eden Prairie-based mobile game developer has found its groove after eight years and now it’s ready to accelerate.

In 2003, Keith Pichelman and Mike Lehne left their positions at Digital River to launch Concrete Software and began building games and apps for all different types of mobile devices, including Nokia Series 30 and 40, Palm Pilots and various other J2ME-based phones. Their first big success was Aces Texas Hold’em in early 2004; when sales skyrocketed, they become recognized in the mobile industry to the point that Nextel (pre Sprint) approached them to collaborate on mobile game development.

Throughout the following years, Concrete Software continued to grow, although its products remained divided between games and mobile apps (such as to-do lists, productivity logs, etc.). It wasn’t until late 2009 that Concrete Software dropped the apps and went straight gaming, a move that would redefine the company’s mission of creating premiere, cross-platform mobile games.

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Niche Software Technology Helps Researchers Make Sense of Survey Data

by Geoff Dutton

AlgentaIf you have ever worked with massive amounts of data you already know that a single column heading in a dataset of 10,000 columns isn’t the easiest to work with.

Colectica, a new software product from Algenta, sets out to solve that problem through advanced metadata organization aligned with the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) standard approach for sharing data among researchers.

Co founders Dan Smith and Jeremy Iverson have been working full time on commercializing Colectica since 2006 using contract work as a funding source as well as receiving grants from the National Institues of Health. Each is also part of the Technical Implementation Committee for DDI.

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thisCLICKS launches ‘When I Work’ to ease the pain of scheduling

by Geoff Dutton

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Although Chad Halvorson had the original idea in the late 90’s (while working in a grocery store), he finally had the resources lined up to go forward with WhenIWork.com in July 2009.

A product of thisCLICKS, When I Work was created to solve the problem of irregular shift scheduling for employees and managers in retail chains, coffee shops, restaurants, student work study jobs, etc. . The software as a service  is able to notify employees of work schedules and shift changes via the mobile web, email and even text message. For example, an employee can remotely request a shift change, alerting other employees automatically rather than having to contact each employee and/or manager separately.

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University of Minnesota Tech Entrepreneur pitches ‘Juxtapose’ at annual BizPitch competition

by Geoff Dutton

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Last Tuesday, the University of Minnesota Entrepreneurship Club featured it’s sixth-annual BizPitch competition where eight student contestants were given 90 seconds to pitch their idea/product/plan to a panel of judges, potential investors and the crowd of peers for real-time feedback and potential prizes.  Three of the eight pitches were tech related: College Life Today, Cirris (concept) and Juxtapose.

Juxtapose (v.) – To place side by side, especially for contrast or comparison.

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