Drone racing tech, a cancer patient gift registry, a peer-to-peer boat rental platform—these are among the 10 startups that will have the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors Friday at Beta.MN’s Backers event.
Backers grew out of Beta.MN’s popular Showcase program, which launched in 2014. Think of Showcase as the place entrepreneurs first share their idea with the public in a science-fair style event with the goal of getting expert guidance on how to set up their business. The new Backers event, which made its debut last fall, is for companies that have been through startup accelerator Beta.MN’s six-month program and are ready for investors. The hope for Backers, says Beta.MN executive director Reed Robinson, is pair the right stage investor with the right stage of company. The first Backers event resulted in nearly 80 meetings for startups. Robinson is not aware of any deals yet finalized, but he says conversations between attending startups and investors are ongoing.
Robinson says eight investment firms are slated to attend the invite-only Backers event—half of which are local, and half of which are out-of-town firms.
“The Backers series is an exciting step forward for the Twin Cities startup ecosystem,” says Robinson. “It’s the first program of its kind to intentionally engage active, early-stage investors [from] outside of Minnesota to explore opportunities within the Twin Cities market.”
Melissa Carmichael, strategic innovation manager at Bremer Bank—Beta.MN’s Backers partner—adds that Backers also serves as a rally for established local investors.
“We’re hopeful that the series will not only accelerate investment in local small businesses,” says Carmichael, “but also serve as a platform for educating and activating would-be angel investors, further increasing the investment activity in local startups.”
Each participating startup will have five minutes to pitch on stage to all attending investors, and then Beta.MN will arrange 20-minute private meetings between the entrepreneurs and interested investors. The rapid-fire interview-style meetings will occur on-site immediately.
“[The style] was effective and efficient,” says Andrew Murphy, of Loup Ventures, on their experience at the inaugural Backers event. “It gave us a quick intro to help us figure out if the company was worth digging into further.”
The 10 startups selected for this round include three companies that just completed their six-month Beta.MN program, and seven companies from previous cohorts. They are:
In addition to hosting Backers, on Thursday, Beta.MN will also host Showcase—the accelerator’s flagship event. Showcase features 14 startups exhibiting their products and services to the visiting investors, media, and the general public. Participanting startups range from a date night assistance app, to a pregnancy guidance service, a job search tool, a child development resource platform offering books and activities, and more.
The full list of Showcase businesses is as follows:
Showcase will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Machine Shop in Minneapolis. To register, click here. Those interested in the Backers event can find more information here.
Update: Due to inclement weather, the Showcase event has been postponed to Wednesday, May 8.