The Hustle

Confessions of a Twin Cities Startup Week Addict

Why Startup Week matters for Minnesota, and how to get involved.

Confessions of a Twin Cities Startup Week Addict
Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Startup Week

Hello, my name is Aaron Keller. I am a startup addict. I’ve been sober for 3 days now. Thank you. 

Back when the MN Cup came to life, I was in early as an mentor to entrepreneurs. When John Stavig from the Carlson School calls for a guest lecture on naming your next venture, I’m there. TechStars x Target shows up in town and I’m knocking on the glass to get inside and mentor. When entrepreneurs come looking for design, messaging and brand advice, my agency, Capsule, offers financing and all kinds of extras. The first step is admitting you have a problem. 

My addiction has been noted by a few, inside Capsule and throughout in my community. Before hauling me off to the nearest recovery center to dry out, let me reverse this case and prosecute those who are not yet addicted. 

Did you even know startup week was happening last week? Did you know we put on the second largest startup week in the country? Have you heard of the Bloomberg U.S. Startup Barometer and did you know that it’s current positive? Certainly you must have heard something as TCSW grew dramatically, rolling up Food Ag Ideas, Manova health summit, MN Cup, and Beta.MN, along with big corporations placing their CEOs on various stages. 

Last week was a startup addicts’ candyland. Why are you not involved?

Here are some of the things you missed by not having the hankering. 
  • Ecolab, General Mills and Cargill senior executives threw in for a more robust startup ecosystem here in Minnesota. 
  • The Grow North team along with Food Ag Ideas Week continued to push our community leadership in these sectors. 
  • More attention was given to our growing software, technology and digital ecosystem through a number of speeches and events. 

This writer’s big insight: we are a thriving entrepreneurial / startup community and if we keep throwing fuel on the fire, it will be good social and economic news for everyone. If you participated, there might have been some things to note that didn’t go as well, from the view of an average (not addicted) citizen. 

  • The events were spread out all over our great community, sometimes making it hard to figure out what was east, west north or south.
  • Keeping track of the paid vs free vs paid on a separate system made the digital navigation more of a scavenger hunt than an orchestrated event. 
  • There were a number of events “sold out” with plenty of free seats, which could have been the weather or the items above having an impact. 

When this week comes around again next year, I’ll be the guy on a North Loop corner with a megaphone. While I’ll admit I have a problem, its a problem you need too, because entrepreneurial activity is a solution for all of us. 

 

Aaron Keller
Co-founder and managing principal
Capsule

Aaron Keller is co-founder and managing principal of Capsule, a Minneapolis branding agency. He co-authored The Physics of Brand, and writes a monthly column for Twin Cities Business.

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