At the kickoff festivities for Twin Cities Startup Week on Wednesday night, attendees networked at a reception flowing with food, drinks, soft lighting, and upbeat music. Many attendees were newcomers hoping to cement their presence in the startup community.
The kickoff party was held at the Target Plaza Center in Minneapolis. Event officials estimated at least 500 people attended the event.
Addressing the group, Twin Cities Startup Week Director Casey Shultz encouraged attendees to plan their week with others.
“You are in a group of a lot of really interesting people who have amazing ideas and amazing things going on, so make sure you’re talking to each other. Ask each other what you’re going to do this week,” Shultz said. “Maybe you can learn something from talking to someone else.”
This year, organizers are placing a big focus on accessibility. For instance, they’ve made it easier to walk between events, with several events slated to take along public transit lines. Organizers also have provided mother’s rooms for nursing women.
Among the newcomers attending the kickoff was Megan Singamsetty, who co-founded the Minneapolis branch of 99Yellow, a technology worker recruiting company that first launched in India in November 2017. Although Singamsetty enjoyed her previous job recruiting for a technology services company, she wanted the independence and satisfaction that comes from having control of the business.
This week, Singamsetty hopes to make connections with Minnesota startups that could become potential clients.
Neil Jirele, who founded the restaurant-focused startup AppyHour, attended the event to spread the word about his app as he looks to scale the business, gain user feedback, and find investors, advisors, and partners.
Braving a polar vortex, Daniel Rodrigues moved to Minnesota in February to start a lean principles and performance consultancy, TRG. Rodrigues wants to take lessons learned from improving processes in the manufacturing sector and apply them to other settings.
Rodrigues wants a full experience of Startup Week and has 31 events on his schedule throughout the next week. Being his own boss makes it easier to adjust his schedule to fit in all those events, he said. He most looks forward to sessions on analytics, partnerships, and the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).
Kevin Roberg-Perez, working on the early stages of a startup, made the move 10 years ago from doing in-house work with bioinformatics to consulting about it. Now, he wants to find ideas and data that will allow him to make an impact in the industry through a startup he has ownership over.
There is plenty of new and inexpensive technology that could be used to work with human health information, but enterprise software is holding companies back, Roberg-Perez said. He looks forward to meeting people professionally and casually this week, including at one of the events where the movie Yesterday will be screened.
Ryan Rudd, founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Lake One, has enjoyed seeing the startup community grow immensely over the past 10 years. He said Twin Cities Startup Week has taken an outward-facing approach to spread the word about the startup community and welcome people from outside the Twin Cities.