Ten Minnesota businesses are among the 22 semifinalists for this year’s Million Dollar Challenge, a minority entrepreneurism competition held by the Metropolitan Economic Development Association.
“There is nothing that compares to the power a minority entrepreneur can have if they are given the resources and capital to see their vision come to life,” said MEDA board chair Barbara Butts Williams in a statement. “This competition allows their dreams to come to fruition, and I believe these 22 entrepreneurs are incredibly deserving of this opportunity.”
In the second year of the competition, the semifinalists were chosen from more than 500 applicants—which far exceeded the approximately 220-person candidate pool of the inaugural edition.
“For these competitions, the second year is always bigger than the first,” Gary Cunningham, then-CEO and president of MEDA, told TCB in May, when applications opened for the 2019 Challenge. “We’ve had people from all over the country apply because there’s very little money available in the patient capital market for minority entrepreneurs, so people flock to it.”
Cunningham has since departed MEDA for a job in Washington, D.C. but the competition—which is the largest minority entrepreneurial competition in the country—continues.
Minnesota companies competing this year include:
“The Million Dollar Challenge applicants this year were cutting-edge entrepreneurs and incredibly innovative thinkers, which made this decision even more difficult,” said Butts Williams. “We chose these semi-finalists because they are bold, inventive, and ready for the caliber of this competition.”
The businesses will compete in a speed-pitching event, open to the public, in St. Paul July 31. From there, finalists will be selected to move on to the Boot Camp for Successful Pitches stage. The winners will be named at a final pitch event during Twin Cities Startup Week in October.