Entrepreneurs at Twin Cities Startup Week looking for people 'to make a difference'
Every year, the nonprofit Beta hosts Twin Cities Startup Week, a weeklong series of seminars, discussions, demonstrations and networking events tailored to building the area's startup ecosystem.
This week, thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, academics and corporate executives have been attending events across the Twin Cities designed to help them grow and finance their businesses, change their work culture or simply improve the metro's tech and innovation industry.
We asked some attendees what they're hoping to learn , and why they're involved in Startup Week.
Derek Rucker, St. Paul
Chief technical officer, StoryForge; angel investor
"I'm a tech guy, a data guy. I'm much more comfortable in the code and the stack side of things, but my startup requires marketing and PR in a huge way. We require creatives and we require the development of a community. I don't know how to do these things, and neither does my daughter, who is the CEO. So, while we can create the platform for creative folks to improve their output and improve their craft, I can't get the message out, not by myself. I need to find people who are able to help me and willing to help me."
Tyler Hitzeman, St. Paul
"I'm bootstrapped right now. I'm interested in grants and loans and other government things, but it's all very vague and confusing for me. There's a couple of sessions on that and a couple of other sessions on how to go about being a bootstrapped founder and how that's different from venture-led businesses. The venture stuff is so loud and noisy; I need a little info on how to do it the way I want to do it."
Charlotte Clark, Kansas City, Mo.
Co-founder, chief technology officer, Foresight
"I'm just hoping to meet more startup, like-minded people. People who want to help founders and want to make a difference. I hope to bring some of that knowledge about how to build and thrive [in a] startup ecosystem in Minneapolis and bring some of that possibly to Kansas City. Really just open to meeting lots of new people and just making connections."
Jordan Johnson, Minneapolis
Founder, CEO, Axon Athletics
"I have this vision to protect and preserve the sport experience for our young athletes and I also know our young athletes can't afford or aren't going to pay for those types of services. To me it relies on the leaders within these sports organizations to be willing to step forward and help in some shape or form. However, I also understand that there's the barriers that they're facing too, (being) between a rock and a hard place. So it's trying to figure out how do we model the business in such a way that it's mutually beneficial for the student-athletes, the schools, but also the mental health professionals that are working with our athletes as well."
Lisa J. Smith, St. Paul
Founder, CEO, Smith Co.
"As a startup and as an entrepreneur, I have an ability in the Twin Cities to have a platform, especially as a female-led organization, to talk about what I'm doing and to try to spread my message as business to get new business. I'm also here to connect to the ecosystem of entrepreneurship in the cities, which was much bigger than I ever could have imagined. It's pretty amazing. … I'm looking for more innovation and a better understanding of how to connect up to potential investors in the future if I want to scale. I'm really interested in better understanding that, but because I'm not a tech-focused firm and I'm looking at entrepreneurship from a service perspective, I'm hoping I can connect to other individuals who are interested in that as well."
Cole Stevens, Minneapolis
Vice president, co-founder, Bridgemakers
"I'm 20 years old, and I'm starting an organization. And what I've come to realize is company culture is huge. I've done the logistics. I've done the fundraising. I've done all that stuff, and I'm coming to realize some of the most the simple things is actually the biggest, most important thing about your whole company. Company culture, helping me be a better leader and sharing power and creating a culture of winning and a culture that is comfortable, fun, exciting and reflects our values is something that I'm really, really looking for."