The Minnesota Cup—a statewide entrepreneurial contest that is awarding a record $300,000 in prizes this year—has announced which 21 finalist teams will advance to the next round.
The Minnesota Cup, now in its 10th year, solicits the next breakthrough ideas from the state's entrepreneurs and drew a record 1,300 applicants. Forty-five percent of those entries came from teams including at least one female member, the largest female representation in the competition's decade-long history.
In June, organizers narrowed the pool to 70 semifinalists, and it has now whittled down that list to 21 finalists.
Here is a look at the just-named finalists, including the entrepreneurs behind them and where they are located. Some are just emerging while others, like Locally Laid Egg near Duluth, have previously generated headlines. Links have been added to those that have websites.
• 75F—Deepinder Singh, Blue Earth County
• Friction Reduction—Gary Pozarnsky, Hennepin County
• Pelican Lake Holdings—Robert Anderson, Grant County
• Locally Laid Egg Company—Jason Amundsen, St. Louis County
• Punk Rawk Labs, Inc.—Alissa Barthel, Hennepin County
• Trovita Health Science—William Brown, Hennepin County
• DocentEDU—Matthew Nupen, Washington County
• JenTra Tools—Travis Kelley, Cass County
• YOXO—Jeff Freeland Nelson, Ramsey County
• Elevate—Joe Stanton, Dakota County
• InfiniRAM—Martin Fenner, Washington County
• OMG Transit—Matt Decuir, Hennepin County
Life Science/Health IT:
• Andas Inc.—Joseph Jensen, Hennepin County
• SpineThera—Jeff Missling, Hennepin County
• SynapseBLUE—David Sullivan, Hennepin County
• Begins with a Dreamer—Joy McBrien and Kristi Hemmer, Hennepin County
• Twin Cities Mobile Market—Leah Driscoll, Ramsey County
• Verde Environmental and Medsaway—Carter Anderson, Dakota County
• Tech Bank, LLC—Austin White-Pentony, Hennepin County
• Ilos Videos—Sean Higgins, Crow Wing County
• Jonny Pops—Connor Wray, Rice County
The 21 finalists will receive public-speaking training from St. Louis Park-based Spoken Impact prior to giving live presentations before their respective divisions' review boards in late August.
On August 27, the Minnesota Cup will name the division winner (and runner up) in each of the contest's seven divisions. Each of those division winners will receive $30,000 in seed capital (with the exception of the Student and Social divisions, which will be awarded $20,000 each), and one runner-up from each division will receive $5,000.
Division winners will then advance to the final round—and the grand prize winner, which will net an additional $50,000, will be announced at a September 10 event at the University of Minnesota. The winner will also receive financial, management, legal, and accounting advice from leaders from Minnesota's business community.
"Representation in this year's Minnesota Cup competition finalist pool is deep and wide," Minnesota Cup Executive Director Melissa Kjolsing said in a statement. "We're reaching a broad range of entrepreneurs from across the state. I'm so pleased to point out that in 2014, six of our finalist businesses hail from greater Minnesota, and five finalist teams are led or co-led by women."
The winners of the 2014 Minnesota Cup will be profiled in Twin Cities Business magazine later this year. Read about last year’s winners here.