Connie Evans, of Association for Enterprise Opportunity, (left) and Y. Elaine Rasmussen, Social Impact Strategies Group (right) at ConnectUP!; Photo by Anna Min

A diverse group of 130 entrepreneurs, investors and others in the "entrepreneurial ecosystem" set out to try to "fix capitalism" this week as part of the first ConnectUP! MN summit in Minneapolis.

"This is about making connections. … This is about the people who are overlooked," said Y. Elaine Rasmussen, chief executive of Social Impact Strategies Group and the main producer of ConnectUP!, during her opening remarks this past Wednesday.

The day-and-a-half conference at the Radisson Blu in downtown was dedicated to connecting small business owners, investors, city leaders and non-profit representatives with each other.

What made the summit standout from other typical networking and investment events was that it focused on micro-businesses led by women, people of color, LGBTQ, or others from a "marginalized community." Investors were looking for investment opportunities under $100,000.

"We are here today to fix capitalism. … It is working really well for a few people at the tippy top," said Susan Hammel of Cogent Consulting, who also helped to produce the conference.

Entrepreneurs could engage in one-on-one counseling sessions with legal and financial experts. Many of the sessions centered around securing capital such as "securing the bag: investor landscape and capital options" and "know your numbers: financials for side-hustles."

"This is unique in a sense that it is putting me in direct connection to people with access to funds," said Tiffany Dykes, a grant writing and fundraising consultant and conference attendee.

The summit preluded the Minnesota Council of Foundation Conference. ConnectUP! was sponsored by a range of partners including the Bush Foundation, the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota, Nexus Community Partners and others.

DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy (right) and Adair Mosley, president and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities, paneled a discussion at the summit; Photo by Anna Min