Once asked why he hadn’t performed since the 1960s, composer–comedian Tom Lehrer replied, “What good are laurels if you can’t rest on them?”
Talk to Minnesota businesspeople, younger and older, and you’ll hear that many fear we’ve squashed our laurels flat. Culturally speaking, we’re still feeding off Wendy Anderson’s walleye on the cover of Time and savoring the perfumed gust of air from Mary Tyler Moore’s hat toss.
Time for fresh laurels. Founded this spring, Mojo Minnesota aims “to provide a unique voice and support to Minnesota-grown innovation and shine the light on amazing new technologies developed here that will propel us into becoming a top-five nationally ranked state for innovation and growth.” The founders include such local notables as venture capitalists Joy Lindsay and Rick Brimacomb, venture attorneys Ernest Grumbles and Brad Lehrman, entrepreneurs Jeff O’Dell and Damian Novak, and innovation instigators Mary Meehan and Kim Garretson.
They can’t achieve those goals alone, of course. And Mojo’s not alone: Start-up online news and data source TechdotMN is advocating for emerging “garage companies” and building a database of companies and connections; another start-up, Minneapolis-based Generate, a self-described “matchmaker” of companies and innovation consultants, hosts a forum called Innovation Minnesota, which includes several of the biggest companies in Minnesota.
We’re hoping Mojo represents the start of the next big things in the state. There are numerous younger, entrepreneurially minded people who are champing at the bit. It’s time to give them some help. That, of course, includes funding.