Casey Shultz has had what she calls “an eclectic career.” Her first job was in wealth management. Then she got in on the ground floor at CouchSurfing International, the precursor to Airbnb. She started her own portable photo-booth business and sold it to move to California’s Silicon Valley. She took a job at Citrix and then was the only woman at Serverless Inc., where she managed business operations. “I always keep coming back to startups and entrepreneurs,” she said. Last month, Shultz was named executive director of Beta.MN, a Twin Cities nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs get their business ideas off the ground. She and her husband, a Minnesota native, moved to St. Paul a year ago with their 2-year-old daughter and miniature Goldendoodle.
Q: You were hired by Beta.MN last February to run Twin Cities Startup Week. What drew you to Minnesota from the San Francisco Bay Area?
A: The Bay Area is such a grind. I was feeling really burned out from the constant pressure of trying to make it. My husband and I had our first child, we weren’t saving any money, it was a good time to think about where to put down roots long term. I already knew all the great things the Twin Cities had to offer: food, culture, a great education system. I didn’t know there was this thriving entrepreneurial scene where really smart people are working on challenges that matter. I mean, the next Candy Crush isn’t going to be built here. It’s more likely, how do we disrupt global transportation systems?
Q: What are some of your priorities as you move into the top job at Beta.MN?
A: Our goal has always been to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs in Minnesota. And once people are inspired to start companies, we want to be the premier place to get resources and ensure that their company is successful. We’ve had a lot of success in the Twin Cities. I want to focus our energy on making Beta the go-to place for early-business founders and first-time founders statewide. We have a goal of tripling our impact in greater Minnesota in the next three years. We also want to make sure Beta is inclusive to all entrepreneurs. In our most recent accelerator program, 85% of company founders were women, people of color or both. I also want to make sure that once they’re in the program, they feel supported. Those are huge challenges and I’d love any support, whether financial or with expertise.
Q: How do you see your role?
A: We have so many brilliant people in the Twin Cities that I get to work with, including our corporate partners, government leaders, venture capitalists and our startup founders. I see my role as being a conduit for taking these amazing ideas and turning them into action. My strengths are in collaboration and getting the best people into the room to get the best work home. I’m going to be really focused on the relationship aspects of the organization — bringing together community support and making dreams happen.