How to Navigate Twin Cities Startup Week
With upwards of 200 events, Twin Cities Startup Week can be both energizing and overwhelming. Now in its sixth year, organizers of the annual innovation and entrepreneurship showcase are thinking about ways to help the ever-growing base of attendees get the most out of the plethora of panel discussions, pitch events, networking and other opportunities around town from Oct. 9 to 16.
For the first time this year, events are grouped geographically by topic to make bouncing between happenings easier, says Reed Robinson, executive director of Beta.MN, the Minneapolis–based business development nonprofit that manages Twin Cities Startup Week.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, investor, or a corporate executive looking for the next big idea, check out these tips to help you make the most of the programming.
New This Year
A larger corporate presence. Target, Cargill, and 3M are all title sponsors this year; the growing list of corporate sponsors includes Microsoft and AWS.
Mother’s rooms for nursing women will be available at Twin Cities Startup Week city hubs.
If you aren’t usually able to get away from the office, this might be your year: For the first time, Startup Week straddles a weekend.
Limited on time? Here are some of our favorite events: (for a full calendar, visit twincitiesstartupweek.com)
Blacks in Technology (BITCon): This three-day event includes discussions and networking. Oct. 9–12, bitcon.tech
Food | Ag | Ideas Week Crash the Networks Happy Hour: This free networking event at Finnegans Brew Co. is designed to bring people together from all aspects of the food and ag industry. Oct. 10, foodagideas.com
Minnedemo: A small-format product showcase for tech companies. Oct. 10, minnedemo.com
MEDA Million-Dollar Challenge: This pitch event is the final step of the minority entrepreneurial competition. Oct. 11, meda.net
Beta.MN: An exhibition-style competition that offers insight into current innovation and lets entrepreneurs get grassroots feedback. Oct. 14, beta.mn
MN Cup awards ceremony: The grand-prize winners for the granddaddy of annual entrepreneurial competitions will be announced at a reception at UMN. Oct. 14, carlsonschool.umn.edu/mn-cup
B.A. Women x Creative’s Connector: A first-time panel discussion event about scaling business for female entrepreneurs. Oct. 15, bawomen.com
Techstars Farm to Fork Demo Day: Sponsored by Cargill and Ecolab, this is the capstone event for the food- and ag-focused startup accelerator program. Oct. 15, techstars.com
Wind-Down Wednesday with UEL: An event geared toward relaxation, to encourage entrepreneurs to take mental well-being seriously. Features massages, yoga, and more. Oct. 16, uelmn.org
TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS
Simon Okiror, chief marketing officer for Suprabook, a participant in the 2018 Beta.MN showcase, offers this advice to anyone with a startup:
- Get your business pitch down to 20 seconds so you can share it with as many people as possible at events.
- Be sure to get the contact info of people you meet. Follow up with them later.
- Prioritize happy hours, workshops, and other engagement-focused events over presentations to maximize opportunities to talk to people.
- Consider attending events that may not pertain directly to you, but would be of interest to people you want to meet—for example, an event aimed at investors.
- Between events, stay close to the action by using a downtown co-working venue where you’re likely to encounter others involved in Startup Week.
- Connect with reporters and media at events.
TIPS FOR ATTENDEES
- “Take note of the subject tracks and geographic clusters. To spend more of your day at events rather than traveling between them, pick morning and afternoon events in one place, and fill in the rest of your day around them.” —Mark Addicks, partner, Manova
- “Attend a balanced mix of both networking … and learning-based events.” —Diane Rucker, executive director, University Enterprise Laboratories
- “Be open to going with the flow—you may meet people who draw you to events you hadn’t considered.” —Kathy Tunheim, partner, Manova
- “Go to something you would not normally go to. With so many events at low or no cost, this is your opportunity to experiment.” —Lauren Mehler Pradhan, managing director, Grow North MN