As a competition for the best breakthrough business ideas in the state, the Minnesota Cup knows a thing or two about innovation and managing rapid growth. It has seen countless living examples of fresh ideas put into action, and expansion, from the 3,500-plus companies that have contended for the title.
So when it came time to plan the fifth annual competition, cofounders Scott Litman and Dan Mallin decided to do some innovating of their own and execute version 2.0. Changing the program would help accommodate the ever-growing number of competitors while also implementing the pair’s long-term vision for the Minnesota Cup.
The biggest change to the competition is its new division structure. In the past, contestants competed in a free-for-all in which a high-tech entrepreneur, for example, may face off against a medical device inventor, a renewable energy firm, and other competitors from a wide variety of industries. Now the Minnesota Cup breaks down into six divisions: BioSciences, Clean & Green, General, High Tech, Social Entrepreneur, and Student.
With this new set up comes the need for a bigger prize pool, so the total amount of seed capital awarded jumped from $70,000 last year to more than $125,000 this year. Contestants first compete to win their division and its $20,000 prize in seed capital ($5,000 for the student division). Then the six division winners vie for the grand prize: the Minnesota Cup, an additional $20,000 in capital, and other business services.