Who will be the next Medtronic? What will be Minnesota's next breakthrough industry? James Walsh will provide the latest information and commentary on the people, companies and trends driving innovation in Minnesota. From visionary entrepreneurs to game changing technologies, this blog offers a window into the future of Minnesota's economy.

Posts about Minnesota entrepreneurs

Minnesota Cup names 49 semi-finalists

Posted by: Updated: June 12, 2012 - 3:05 PM

Statewide entrepreneurial competition Minnesota Cup named its semi-finalists this week.

The 49 semi-finalists were picked from more than 1,000 applicants and were selected based on the quality of their business ideas. The contestants will now compete to be one of three finalists in their specific divisions: clean tech and renewable energy; bioscience and health IT; high tech; as well as in the general and student categories.

Division finalists will be announced on Aug. 20. Then, the finalists will compete to win their divisions and vie for the contest’s grand prize of $40,000.

Below are the semi-finalists in the high tech and bioscience divisions. A full list of semi-finalists can be viewed here.

BioScience and health IT

-Fitness Formulary, a fitness and nutritional supplements firm

-General Blood, a blood products provider

-Omicron Health Systems, a firm that helps clinicians better manage health care delivery

-OrthoCor Medical, a maker of a device that provides relief from arthritis and joint pains

-Pneumatic Structures, a firm that creates pneumatic structures used to improve cystic fibrosis vests and make devices such as removable splints and casts

-Quantitative Insights, a software platform that aims to help in the diagnosis of breast cancer

-United Medical Innovations, a medical device firm

-Tychon Bioscience, a biotech firm

-Tartoos, a firm that deals with injection site management

-Walkasins, maker of a device that helps patients improve their walking mobility and balance

High tech

-BuyerCurious, a website that eases the home-buying process

-ConnectToMe, an app that helps people exchange contact information

-CoraCove, a firm that creates online apps to process forms

-Heroic, a website that links people looking for work with paid errands

-Mashalot, a social shopping marketplace that collects the buying intent of individuals and groups

-PatentCore, an online database on patent examiners

-PointStack, a program that gives customers reward points by tracking their credit or a debit card purchases. The points can go toward cash for charities or discounts at stores.

-PreciouStatus, an app that provides updates on loved ones at care facilities, such as an elder at a nursing home.

-Proliphiq, an interface that filters experts on certain topics and ranks how helpful they are

-TelemetryWeb, a business that analyzes data from Internet-connected sensors and devices and puts it securely online

-TinderDocs, a firm that provides detailed analytics to companies on how their documents are viewed and used online

Inventors pitch products for a chance to sell them on TV

Posted by: Updated: June 6, 2012 - 12:11 PM

Thirty inventors will compete in Downtown Minneapolis today for an opportunity to sell their products on TV.

They’ll have only five minutes to make their best pitch in front of AJ Khubani, CEO of direct marketing firm TeleBrands Corp. and the Minnesota Inventors Congress. Promising products could get deals signed with Khubani’s company, said event spokeswoman Deena Rosenberg.

“Each person has a chance,” Rosenberg said.

The inventors were picked out of 400 applicants, with a handful of contestants from Minnesota. Their products had to fix a common problem, reach a mass audience and cost less than $20. Minnesota inventors will pitch a range of ideas from bed sheets with pockets for items like tissues and glasses to a device that helps consumers peel rinds off of oranges and grapefruits.

The presentations will be at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Downtown Minneapolis from 9 a.m. to around 2 p.m. It’s possible that more than one inventor could get a deal or none will get funded. Rosenberg said all the entrepreneurs will receive feedback from the judging panel.

Project Skyway's second class will make presentations to investors

Posted by: Updated: May 30, 2012 - 8:56 AM

Four tech firms from Minneapolis accelerator Project Skyway will present their business plans to local investors on Wednesday.

The companies are: YumZing, a business that lets users review dishes at restaurants; HypeSpark, a firm that encourages users to endorse brands on social networks; Energy Resource Insights, an information database for the energy industry; and Political Harmony, which lets voters choose candidates and campaigns to reach hard-to-poll voters.

The businesses are part of Project Skyway’s second class. Project Skyway offers promising tech firms perks such as workspace, funding and access to mentors and developers in exchange for a 9 percent equity stake.

The presentations will start at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at New Century Theater in Downtown Minneapolis. There will be a live webcast available at tech news website TECHdotMN: tech.mn/kns0h.

OrthoCor Medical secures $2.4 million in angel investment

Posted by: Updated: May 10, 2012 - 10:26 AM

OrthoCor Medical, the Minneapolis-maker of a knee brace that provides relief from arthritis and joint pains, said it has secured $2.4 million in angel investment.

The company said it will use the money to market its products.

“…We are excited to meet the huge demand for our Active Knee System by expanding our sales efforts,” CEO John Dinusson said in a statement.

OrthoCor sells a knee brace that provides heat and electromagnetic therapy to patients. The device is strapped around the knee and two small disposable “pods” snap into docking stations, delivering heat and activating the therapy.

The company has raised a total of $5 million in angel investment since it was founded in 2007.

The firm named Patrick Carroll as its national sales director. Carroll was eastern regional sales manager at medical device business Exos Corp.

8thBridge launches new Facebook marketing tool

Posted by: Updated: April 24, 2012 - 1:02 PM

Minneapolis-based tech start-up 8thBridge Inc. on Tuesday launched a new Facebook marketing tool that allows consumers to go beyond clicking the “like” button on products.

The new tool, called Graphite, lets customers use new verbs such as “want,” “need,” or “have” to describe their relationships to various brands. For example, if a customer viewing a dress on American Apparel selects the “want” button next to the item, it will post on that customer’s Facebook page that she wanted that dress, which could cause friends to buy it for her.

Already, 8thBridge said more than a dozen retailers will use the new marketing tool, including American Apparel, Hallmark Cards Inc. and Oscar de la Renta. Each brand will be able to customize their own verbs. For example, Hallmark will use buttons that say “Smile,” “Love,” and “LOL.”

“We believe Graphite will usher in a new era of social commerce by making it easy to integrate social shopping capabilities in existing channels,” said Wade Gerten, CEO of 8thBridge.

8thBridge is entering a growing $7.7 billion social media ad revenue market, according to data analytics firm eMarketer Inc. Most of that revenue comes from Facebook.

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