Whether you're an entrepreneur, investor, developer, or overall enthusiast, Minnesota offers a bustling start-up playground to explore.
Land of 10,000 lakes, craft beer, Fortune 500s, frigid winters, Honeycrisp apples, and the largest shopping mall in the country, Minnesota is also home to a startup community that rivals California and Colorado. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota entrepreneurs have created over 70,000 new businesses since April 2020 — higher than similar time periods in pre-pandemic. Additionally, Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship boasts that 80.13% of startups are still active after one year — higher than the U.S. national average!
What is a "Startup Community" and why should you join?
Not to be confused with small businesses, startups differ in that they "want to grow with of the goal of disrupting the market" versus looking to serve a local market with a smaller growth scale. A startup community is a group of entrepreneurs passionate about innovation. These communities often engage in informal and formal meetups, online social groups and pages, and signup for newsletters.
The startup scene isn't for everyone, but some reasons why it might be right for you and your business are:
1. Getting to learn from experienced founders across different industries.
2. Networking for potential customers, partners, and investment opportunities.
3. Being able to offer up your own advice or assistance.
If the startup community is right for you and your business development, we've compiled a list of ways for you to get involved in Minnesota.
How to Get Involved in the Startup Scene
Coworking spaces have seen a rise in popularity with the pandemic forcing a majority of corporate America to transition into working remotely. Coworking spaces offer the same amenities as a traditional office — printer, Wi-Fi, conference rooms, tea & coffee — along with a lot more. They offer a neutral work zone to work on independent projects, convenience and flexibility with your schedule, and a broader network of like-minded individuals, usually in the entrepreneurial and start-up trade as well. Since its origination in 1995 from a group of hackers in Berlin, coworking spaces have been a proven asset in business development due to the free flow of thoughts and ideas, and organized seminars and social events.
Related Reading: Virtual Workspaces in the Twin Cities
Cohorts & Organizations
Any and every opportunity to expand your horizons — aka your network — should be taken. Startup cohorts, groups, and organizations are a perfect way to do this. Not only are you introduced to like-minded and passionate individuals you would not have otherwise met, you are also introduced to a crazy amount of learning opportunities through events, seminars, newsletters, job opportunities, and even podcasts.
Some of our favorites cohorts or organizations to join include:
- Groove Capital, also known as "Minnesota's Most Active Early Stage Investing Community" is "where entrepreneurs go to get their first institutional investment." It also provides investors with a reliable platform and laid-out process so that they can invest with confidence. Founder of Groove Capital, Reed Robinson, is also the the person that brought us Twin Cities Startup Week — a huge thanks to them.
- BETA.MN is an organization of friends, founders, and sponsors that have come together to support Minnesota's startup community. They offer an abundance of different cohorts that bring investors and founders together, showcase emerging products, and host business experts. BETA.MN is the organization that puts on the annual Twin Cities Startup Week —a huge thanks to them as well.
- tech.mn is a hub of activity and resources for startups and entrepreneurs. They have an events calendar, newsletter, podcast series, and job board to keep you active in the Minnesota tech startup community.
- 1 Million Cups works to to bring anyone's big idea to life by providing tools and resources to break down barriers standing in the way of growing their business. It is a free program that began in 2012 and has since grown to over 163 communities in 40+ states with events organized by over 800 volunteers.
Twin Cities Startup Week "is an entire week of Minnesota-made innovations on display" put on by Beta.MN. with "inclusive events designed for teaching, reflecting, networking, and celebrating MN's diverse innovators." It is the second-largest startup week in the U.S., with over 17,000 attendees participating in 200+ events.
Flagship Bank has been fortunate enough to participate in Startup Week in previous years with forums covering topics like how to raise capital for your startup and social media marketing.
This year's TCSW will be September 17 - 24. Register today!
Related Reading: Twin Cities Startup Week
Minnedemo is often referred to as a "Geek Show & Tell". It showcases local working technology products through energizing and informative 7 minute demos, but NO POWERPOINTS ALLOWED. Examples of previous minnedemos include wearable LED, an app that lets you see the Earth from 300,000 feet up, and a tool that tracks your home's energy efficiency and performance.
Hack The Gap hosts an annual event inviting technologists who identify as women, LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) "to co-create technology solutions to address the challenges and opportunities they see in their communities using APIs."
This year's API Hackathon will be September 18 - October 2. Register today!
Minnesota Cup "is a community-led, public-private partnership supporting Minnesota’s entrepreneurs. [They] host an annual competition that reaches emerging entrepreneurs from across the state and connects them with education, mentorship and support to launch and accelerate the development of their new ventures. [Their] competition and events are totally free, and [they] take no equity in exchange for the seed funding give[n] away."
The 17th Annual MN Cup Final Award Ceremony will be September 20. Register today!
Top Startups in Minnesota
With a bountiful startup community — especially in the Minneapolis area — it is interesting to see which ones are excelling, no matter the industry and how they got their start. Here are just a few to keep your eye on:
Herbivorous Butcher was created by brother-and-sister duo, Aubry and Kale Walch, to share the dishes they ate growing up in Guam, but with a twist... all vegan. They own and operate a vegan butcher shop that sells "small-batch plant based meats that are always fresh, flavorful, and protein-rich so you never feel like you’re sacrificing anything for healthy and ethical eating." Their cause has never been more needed or more relevant. "Global demand for meat has tripled in the last 40 years, causing dramatic and unsustainable increases in greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution, intensifying pressures on land, water, fertilizer, feed, and fuel."
Hobby Farmer Canning Co has been a nationally recognized Good Food winner for the past two consecutive years with more growth and success to come. Their selling local hand-made goodies including zesty beets, flavored pickles, red hot peppers, maple syrup, and my personal favorite, switchel. Switchel is an all natural pre-biotic beverage that gives you energy, relieves inflammation, and is good for digestion. The gluten and preservative free drink is a delicious tasting alternative to sugary energy drinks and sodas, and makes a great cocktail mixer that will leave you without a hangover the next day. Speaking of hangovers... Hobby Farmer Canning Co is in the process of launching a unique product: Hard Switchel. It has all the same benefits as regular switchel, but boozy! It's not a beer, not a seltzer, and not a cider. It's hard switchel and is creating and serving a brand new niche in the market.
Dogs of Instagram was created by husband-and-wife duo, Ahmed El Shourbagy and Ashley Paguyo El Shourbagy, as a fun way to make someone's day and to "bring together the dogs of Instagram". It ended up growing a fan base of 4.2 million followers, became a one-stop guide for your dog's happiness and health, and launched a successful dog accessories company.
Level2 is a pioneering company committed to helping anyone overcome the burdens of Type 2 diabetes. Their goal is to help people beat diabetes and lift the physical, emotional and financial burdens that come with it. Partnering with UnitedHealthcare, Level2 is proud to say they can help put "America's top health challenge" in remission.
Ovative Group is an independent, digital-first media and measurement firm. Their team of marketing experts uncover insights in client’s customer data to drive business impact and build a competitive edge. Their goal: Fearlessly Unlock Potential. Ovative is delivering results in all things media, measurement, and consulting, and having fun while doing it.
Creative entrepreneurs and individuals are the engine of America's economy. They own businesses, are employed by businesses, and make our lives better. Flagship specializes in working with entrepreneurs, businesses, nonprofits and the individuals employed by them. Everyone needs a bank and we want to build a relationship with you by investing in you.
Find out how Flagship can help you get involved in the start-up community.