10 Minnesota Companies Named Semi-Finalists in 2019 MEDA Million Dollar Challenge
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:
- Asdal—A Minneapolis-based workflow software provider
- Aviaxin—A St. Paul-based poultry vaccine technology company
- Civic Eagle—A workflow solutions provider based in Minneapolis
- DiaspoCare, LLC—A Minneapolis-based medication access and payment company
- Litty Solar—An energy solutions company based in Brooklyn Park
- Metamodix Inc—A medical device company based in Plymouth
- The Oxygen Plan—A St. Louis Park-based company offering a stress reduction program
- Phenomix Sciences—A weight loss program company based in Rochester
- The Sioux Chef—A Minneapolis company focused on education and accessibility of indigenous foods
- 26 Letters—A St. Paul-based data and research firm focused on increasing inclusion and engagement
“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.