Minnesota Cup Seeks Entries, Increases Prize Money

Minnesota Cup Seeks Entries, Increases Prize Money

The 10th annual entrepreneurial competition, which is the largest of its kind in the nation, is accepting entries, and $300,000 is up for grabs this year.

The Minnesota Cup is turning 10 and once again asking entrepreneurs to vie for some serious capital. This year the program will award $300,000 in prize money to winners in seven categories, with the grand-prize winner walking away with $50,000.

The Minnesota Cup has drawn more than 8,000 entrants in its 10 years in existence. This year entrepreneurs will have until May 9 to hand in their entries. Find more on the entry process here.

The competition provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs, inventors, or small business owners working on innovative new business concepts—or for those who have already started a business, but are generating less than $1 million in year revenue—to grow.

There are seven divisions: energy/clean tech/water; general; high-tech; life science/health IT; social; student; and food/agriculture/beverage, which is new this year.

Finalists from the last five years have gone on to raise nearly $75 million in capital to support the development of their business ideas.

“For the 10th anniversary of the competition, we hope to involve even more Minnesotans,” Minnesota Cup cofounder Scott Litman said in a statement. “When we started the Minnesota Cup, our hope was to have the competition be the first step in launching a business in Minnesota. To date, the Minnesota Cup has helped thousands of entrepreneurs build better business plans and work towards achieving business success.”

Each entry must contain a description of the product or service, explanation of the market size or opportunity, a sales and marketing overview, a brief operating plan, and financial projections and assumptions. After three rounds of judging, a finalist and runner-up will be announced for each division, with the finalist receiving a cash prize of $30,000 and the runner-up receiving $5,000, with the exception of the student and social divisions, which will be awarded $20,000. In addition, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is providing $25,000 in seed funding to the top entry from that region of the state.

After the first selection round, in June, judges will invite the top entries in each division to move on to the semifinals in July. Final division selection takes place in August, when category winners are announced.

The competition will culminate with an awards event on September 10 at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center. At that event, the judges will announce a grand-prize winner from the category winners—and that business will be awarded $50,000 in seed money.

Last year's grand prize went to Preceptis Medical, Inc., a medical device manufacturer developing surgical tools allowing ear tube procedures to be performed with reduced pain and surgical time for a pediatric patient. The company was selected from almost 1,100 entries. Recently, Preceptis Medical announced it had landed a $1.2 million investment from Gopher Angels, an angel investor network.

“I’m amazed by the publicity and support that our division and grand prize win has generated,” Preceptis Medical CEO Steve Anderson said in a statement. “Our participation in the Minnesota Cup provided strong affirmation to the medical community and our investors—and certainly helped us successfully close our Series A round of financing in January 2014.”

The winners of the 2014 Minnesota Cup will be profiled in Twin Cities Business magazine later this year. Read about last year’s winners here.